The Elmira Jackals of the ECHL have announced their playoff roster, and it includes two top Lightning prospects: goaltender Riku Helenius and defenseman Kevin Quick. Both players are slated to join Elmira at the conclusion of their AHL regular seasons with Norfolk. Helenius and Quick are eligible for the ECHL playoffs by virtue of having played in Augusta and Mississippi of the ECHL earlier this season.
N.A. Juniors Playoff Game Night: 4/5
Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 5 @ Quebec Remparts 3
Cape Breton leads Best of 7 series 2-0
D Michael Ward, CB: 0-3-3, +3, 2 PIM, 0 SOG, *First Star*
Playoff totals: 6 GP, 1-4-5, +4, 10 PIM
Season totals: 65 GP, 7-27-34, +9, 105 PIM
Cape Breton swept the series' opening games in Quebec City and their 2-0 lead heading back to the island looks huge. Wardâ€™s three assist sets a career high for assists in a game. He has reached three points in a game one other time, that coming December 28 vs. PEI (1-2-3) - his second game with the Screaming Eagles after being traded from Lewiston. Two of Ward's assists Sunday came on the power play and one was shorthanded. Game 3 is Tuesday in Sydney.
Luke Witkowski and West No.3 Fargo will begin their Best of 5 first round series with No.2 Omaha on Friday in Nebraska.
Unable to solve Munroe.
Craig Kowalski allowed 3 goals on 31 shots for the loss.
PHI Ratchuk, (5) (Munroe), 7:27
PHI Laliberte, (27) (Guenin, Matsumoto), 9:16 (SH)
PHI Laliberte, (28) (Matsumoto, Maroon), 17:37
Kowalski was named the game's third star.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
N.A. Juniors Playoff Game Night: 3/31
Another multipoint night for Fadden ... The Wright Stuff ... Tokarski and Spokane on the ropes ... Witkowski ready for the playoffs ... Barberio and Moncton defeat Cunti and Rimouski.
2-1/2 hours of my life I'll never get back.
Mike McKenna allowed 3 goals on 21 shots for the loss. That might've been his worst game as a member of the Lightning. Each of the Islanders' first two goals are ones Mike probably would like back and he made another big puck handling error that he managed to get away with. He's got one more start scheduled this season, and that's probably a good thing. You'd hate to go out like that after a pretty successful year.
00:23 NYI Park (14), (Joensuu)
14:52 NYI Martinek (5), (Gervais, Joensuu)(PP)
16:38 TB Pettinger (6), (Karsums)(PP)
09:14 NYI Bailey (7), (Comeau, Gervais)(PP)
The Lightning waited 35 minutes tonight to start playing. Watching grass grow would've been more exciting.
Noah Welch had 3 hits and 3 blocked shots in 19:04. He's been decent the past two games, which is shocking considering how poorly he'd previously played.
Zenon Konopka had a fight, 1 shot, 1 hit, and was 67% on draws in 7:42. He earned his game check.
Matt Smaby was beastly with 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, 7 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 22:22. He's been so much better since taking a game off to nurse his foot injury. Graduation Tuesday. Bring your digital cap and gown.
Paul Szczechura was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 1 blocked shot in 15:33. He was also 38% on draws.
Martins Karsums had 1 assist and was -1 with 6 penalty minutes, 2 shots, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 12:02. Like Welch, he's playing better in these past two games.
Matt Lashoff was -1 with 3 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 27:17. He lost a couple of physical battles that resulted in one puck going in the net and one being rung off the post. He didn't do his younger pairing partner any favors.
Vladimir Mihalik was -1 with 1 shot in 13:05 paired primarily with Lashoff. I thought this was his best NHL game thus far, but that may not be saying much. He looked more confident, but he's still a little slow to react to the play. The guy's a mountain and he had 0 hits. That's still a problem. I was, admittedly, surprised he got the call over Ty Wishart or Kevin Quick.
Undermanned Admirals finish their home schedule with a tough loss.
Riku Helenius allowed 3 goals on 29 shots for the loss.
PHI Kane, (16) (Syvret, Ross), 0:42
PHI Curry, (5) (Clackson, Ross), 11:21
NOR Zingoni, (6) (Jones, Segal), 2:32
NOR Jones, (19) (Lundin, Smolenak), 10:18 (PP)
PHI Kane, (17) (Syvret, Ross), 5:17 (PP)
PHI Laliberte, (26) (Kane, Guenin), 19:59 (EN)
Blair Jones was named the game's second star with his 19th goal of the season. The knock on Blair has been his consistency and his defensive play. Still, he finds himself just one goal shy of the magic 20 plateau. I'm still hoping he gets a game or two with the Lightning before the end of the year.
Mike Lundin now has 27 points. 30 is a do-able goal for the former Black Bear.
The good news is that Albany got pasted by Binghamton, so the Ads and Rats are still tied in the race to see who will occupy the division basement.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
N.A. Juniors Playoff Game Night: 3/31
Opening night of Round 2 in the CHL ... Cunti sets up game winner ... Screaming Eagles use 4 OTs to beat Quebec ... Tokarski shines, but Spokane comes up short ... Fadden another multipoint night.
Waiting for this team to mature is painful sometimes.
Karri Ramo allowed 5 goals on 39 shots for the overtime loss. Really, it was a tale of two games for Karri. He was playing very well through the first 32 minutes or so of the game, and then he made an incredibly stupid decision to throw his stick that resulted in a penalty shot and the wheels started to fall off a little. About two minutes later Karri, who I think was a little rattled and out of focus, didn't come out and challenge a shot from a rush coming down the wing and got beat glove side and suddenly the Lightning went from being solidly in control to being in a dog fight. The lesson is an important one: in regular season hockey, one mistake generally doesn't kill you. It's when you allow yourself to lose focus and things start to snowball that you lose hockey games. Karri was screened on New Jersey's third goal and hung out to dry on a bad line change on the game winner. He might want the rebound back on Jersey's fourth goal, but that wasn't egregious to me. But it was that one lull in focus that probably cost the Lightning a second point. Tonight was Karri's 40th NHL decision, so he will graduate from BP prospect status with his next one, but there's still much for the 22 year old to learn.
01:38 TB Artyukhin (6), (Melichar)
05:09 TB Stamkos (21), (St. Louis, Lashoff)(PP)
13:05 NJ Shanahan (6), (unassisted)(PS)
14:50 NJ Pandolfo (5), (Langenbrunner, Oduya)
18:29 NJ Langenbrunner (26), (Rolston, Parise)(PP)
02:41 TB Malone (26), (unassisted)
10:35 NJ Langenbrunner (27), (Zajac, Parise)
14:06 TB Karsums (1), (Pettinger, Krajicek)
01:21 NJ Parise (43), (Zajac, Martin)
It wasn't exactly a banner night in the goaltending or the defensive department, but there were some positives to point to up front. Steven Stamkos tied Brad Richards' Lightning rookie record for goals at 21. That record's good as gone.
Ryan Malone scored his 26th of the season, which is pretty remarkable considering how lost he looked with injuries early in the year. I confess, I wasn't a big proponent of the Malone deal in the offseason, because he didn't have a proven track record that merited handing him that much money. Well, now he's got a track record. He's one goal shy of matching last year's 27 goals and one would think with some health and some stability behind the bench, 30-35 goals should be within his reach next year. People have been comparing Ryan to Fredrik Modin, and I don't think the comparison is really that apt. Freddy was better along the wall and was far more of a sniper. Ryan isn't as good as he could be along the wall at his size and is more of a garbage man, although he has surprisingly good hands in open ice as evidence by his de-jocking on Brodeur on the breakaway tonight. In some ways, he's kind of the answer to the question, "What if Dave Andreychuk could skate?"
Noah Welch was +2 with 3 hits in 19:44. I can't believe I just typed that either.
Matt Smaby was -2 with 2 penalty minutes, 4 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 26:00. One of those minuses came on that bad change in overtime. Smaby is now 2 games away from graduation here at BP. Considering Tocchet's been rotating Ramo and McKenna, that means there may be a double graduation coming up Tuesday against the Penguins.
David Koci was +1 with 5 hits in 8:47.
Paul Szczechura was +1 with 1 blocked shot and was 38% on draws in 14:33. I thought he came out flying in the first period, but faded as the game went on. Maybe it was conditioning?
Martins Karsums can say he scored his first NHL goal on Martin Brodeur. How cool is that? He had 1 shot and 1 hit in 12:54. He also picked off a pass in the neutral zone and nearly generated a nice scoring chance for himself earlier in the game. He was better tonight than most every game thus far in a Lightning jersey.
Matt Lashoff dispenses PP assists like a Pez dispenser. He also had 1 shot and 2 blocked shots in a team high 27:40 tonight. He's got 7 assists in 9 games in a Lightning uniform. There ain't nothing wrong with that kind of production.
Desperate Phantoms claw the second point away from Norfolk.
Riku Helenius allowed 3 goals on 37 shots for the OT loss.
PHI Ratchuk, (4) (Clackson, Raduns), 15:37
NOR Konopka, (17) (Kinrade, Simek), 1:02
NOR Quick, (1) (Swanson, Kinrade), 2:58
PHI Sirianni, (11) (Kane, Syvret), 4:06
PHI Ross, (29) (Bartulis), 1:37
Kevin Quick, who scored his first career AHL goal, was named the game's second star.
Forward Brandon Buck was signed today to an ATO and was scoreless and shotless in his debut.
The point gained by Norfolk, coupled with an Albany loss, moved the Admirals into a tie with the River Rats at 69 points, with 5 games left for both teams in the season. Albany currently holds the tiebreak by having one more regulation win than the Admirals. Still a lot to play for.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
No quit in Norfolk.
Craig Kowalski allowed 2 goals on 36 shots for the win.
HER Bourque, (21) (Giroux, Kronwall), 0:51
NOR Jones, (18) (Konopka, Lundin), 14:55 (PP)
NOR Smolenak, (22) (Wishart, Segal), 16:36
NOR Swanson, (1) (Wishart, Konopka), 10:48
HER Giroux, (55) (Bourque, Kronwall), 1:01
ATO forward John Swanson, who was signed today out of St. Cloud State, potted the game winning goal in his first pro game and was named third star. Well played. Kowalski was the game's first star.
Radek Smolenak potted his 22nd goal of the season while Blair Jones inched closer to the 20 goal plateau by lighting the lamp for the 18th time this year. There are still questions about Jones' intensity, no doubt, but 20 goals has to make you stand up and take notice.
Ty Wishart returned to the ice for the first time in about three weeks and hit the scoresheet for helpers in duplicate for the first multi-point game of his pro career.
It kind of snuck up on me: but Mike Lundin has 26 points now in Norfolk. He has a very real opportunity to hit 30 points in about 50 AHL games with the Admirals. I know Darren Rumble really likes Lundin, but the question remains about how well he fits with what Rick Tocchet is trying to do in Tampa Bay. There's no doubt in my mind, though, that his time in the AHL this year has been beneficial to his development and some NHL team is going to reap the rewards next season with a better player.
Norfolk's win, its 30th of the season, and Albany's loss inches the Admirals within 1 point of climbing out of the division basement with 6 games to go in the season. The Admirals also improved to 20-14-4 on home ice with the victory. Norfolk's final two home games of the season are this weekend, meaning the worst the Admirals could finish on their home rink is 4 games over .500. However incremental it may be, there is progress in Norfolk, VA.
Box score from TheAHL.com.