ECHL Playoffs Start Monday

There will be little time for the Johnstown Chiefs to celebrate as the ECHL has announced their first round playoff schedule. The Chiefs travel to Trenton to take on the Titans in Game One of their abbreviated playoff series at 7 pm. The match will be the first of three games in four nights as Tuesday night the Chiefs will face Trenton at home at 7 pm before going back on the road to Trenton for a potential deciding Game Three matchup, if needed, Thursday night at 7 pm.

Hard to say for sure, but I would guess Coach Frank Anzalone will rotate the goaltenders: Ryan Munce in Game One, Morgan Cey in Game Two and then perhaps back to Munce for Game Three. All subject to change, of course.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4/7

Prince George 2 @ Everett 3 (Overtime)
Everett leads best-of-7 series 2-0

Everett had a late third period goal to tie, then scored at 2:28 of overtime to take a commanding 2-0 lead over Prince George in their Western Conference Semifinals series. Prince George's Vladimir Mihalik was scoreless and minus-1, being on the ice for Everett's tying goal. Everett broadcasters indicated Mihalik had a strong game and made several strong defensive plays with his "big stick." Dane Crowley of Everett was also scoreless, but had an even rating with 2 PIM. Crowley received significant ice time in the third period as Everett was attempting to tie the game. He set up several scoring chances by jumping into the play and getting shots on net. He also had a big pokecheck of Devin Setoguchi in the mid-third when Prince George was pressing.

Game 3 is Tuesday in Prince George.

NHL Game Night 4/7: Lightning at Thrashers

Lightning limp into the playoffs after missing out on a chance to move into the 6 seed in the shootout.

TB-2
ATL-3 (SO)

Johan Holmqvist stopped 41 shots before allowing an uncustomary 3 shootout goals for his first career shootout loss. Vaclav Prospal and Filip Kuba had the Lightning goals. Kuba's 15 goals at season's end top Prospal's 14. Didn't see that one coming. Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Tim Taylor added individual assists.

The shootout loss slots the Lightning in as the #7 seed in the Eastern Conference. They will face #2 seeded New Jersey in the first round. Considering the Lightning were 3-1-0 in the regular season against the Devils and have one of the best records against the Devils over the past three seasons of any Eastern Conference team, this is definitely a series that the Lightning can win. The question is: are they right mentally after collapsing against Florida and evaporating in the third period and overtime against Atlanta in the regular season's final two games with so much on the line? Time will tell.

Game sheet from NHL.com.

Johnstown is In

Ryan Munce and Marek Kvapil save Johnstown's season by the barest of margins.

JHN-6
REA-3

Ryan Munce made a remarkable 49 saves on 52 shots in hostile territory on the road in an elimination game on the last day of the season. Have mercy. He took some guff from some of the BP users after being traded from the Kings organization, but you can't do anything but applaud what he's done in the last couple of weeks. Jean Desrochers potted a critical hat trick to lead the way offensively for the Chiefs. Gus Katsuras and Zbynek Hrdel added 1 goal and 1 assist while the other J-town goal came from Andrew Martens. Marek Kvapil, Johnstown's other savior, had 2 assists and Radek Smolenak and Ben Wallace had individual assists.

Wow. Johnstown was outshot 52-30 in the game but it didn't matter. Johnstown at 72 points finishes the season at .500 at 33-33-7 just 1 point ahead of Reading for the final North Division playoff spot. Johnstown now will face 4th place Trenton in an abbreviated first round series. Desrochers and Munce were named 1st and 2nd stars of the game.

First Period
REA Roussin, (8) (LaLonde), 1:31
JHN Desrochers, (15) (Wallace, Kvapil), 7:47
JHN Martens, (6) (Katsuras), 9:07
JHN Desrochers, (16) (Smolenak, Kvapil), 12:07 (PP)
JHN Katsuras, (12) (Hrdel), 13:28

Second Period
REA Zappala, (22) (Hogeboom, Werner), 4:02 (PP)
REA Zappala, (23) (Smith), 9:49

Third Period
JHN Desrochers, (17) , 18:30 (EN)
JHN Hrdel, (13) , 18:46

Game sheet from ECHL.com.

AHL Game Night 4/7: Falcons at Wolf Pack

ATO's shine in Hartford.

SPR-4
HFD-3 (SO)

Jonathan Boutin stops 46 of 49 in regulation and OT before stopping 3 of 6 in the shootout for the win. ATO signee Justin Fletcher led the way offensively with a pair of power play goals while fellow ATO signee Jacob Micflikier scored a power play goal of his own and also scored in the shootout. Sylvain Dufresne, Joe Rullier, Kyle Wanvig, Daniel Corso, David Spina and Eric Healey added assists. Spina, Micflikier, Stephen Baby, and Wanvig scored for the Falcons in the shootout. Fletcher and Boutin were named second and third stars of the game respectively.

Boutin sets a new personal best for his young career with his 9th win of the season and, for the moment, gets his save percentage back up to .900. Falcons now riding a rare two game winning streak during this horrendous second half collapse.

First Period
HFD Dubinsky, (20) (Byers, Degon), 2:11
HFD Immonen, (17) (Dawes, Korpikoski), 6:08

Second Period
SPR Fletcher, (2) (Healey, Corso), 14:41 (PP)
SPR Fletcher, (3) (Wanvig, Spina), 19:53 (PP)

Third Period
SPR Micflikier, (3) (Rullier, Dufresne), 6:58 (PP)
HFD Dubinsky, (21) (Byers, Reese), 12:51

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
SPR- Spina, Micflikier, Baby, Wanvig
HFD- Dubinsky, Jessiman, Bourret

Game sheet from TheAHL.com.

Saturday's Superleague Playoff Score

In Game One of the Russian Superleague finals, Magnitogorsk moved out to a quick 1-0 series lead defeating Kazan 5-2. Dimitri Kazionov was scoreless for Ak Bars in the game. Through 9 playoff games the 2002 4th round pick has 1 goal and 3 points with 4 penalty minutes and a +1 rating. Game Two is set for Sunday.

Bolt Prospects Prospect of the Month: March

Choosing this month's award winner was admittedly the most difficult of the season. A handful of prospects had good months, but none stepped up and seized the award by the throat leaving Bolt Prospects to have to spend some time thinking over the selection. In Springfield, Eric Healey paced the Falcons offensively (12 GP, 4-9-13, 2 PIM, -4) while Norm Milley played several inspired games (12 GP, 4-4-8, 14 PIM, -9). However, given Springfield's difficulty in winning hockey games we were hard pressed to give the award to a Falcon. For similar reasons, Chris Lawrence (9 GP, 6-4-10, 10 PIM, +2 and 4 GP, 3-0-3, 8 PIM, -6 in the playoffs) was eliminated from contention after his Mississauga Ice Dogs were unceremoniously upset in the first round of the OHL playoffs. So, this months winner was narrowed down to...

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4/6

Prince George 2 @ Everett 3
Everett leads best-of-7 series 1-0

The Cougars' Vladimir Mihalik, fresh off signing a professional contract with the Lightning, was credited with his first career playoff goal, but it wasn't enough as Prince George fell to Dane Crowley and Everett 3-2 in Everett. The Silvertips used a 3-goal second period to take a 3-0 lead and hold on for a 1-0 series lead in the clubs' WHL Western Conference Semifinal matchup. Mihalik was credited with a goal when his shot bounced in off a Silvertips player. He also had 2 PIM and an even rating. Crowley was scoreless and even. Game 2 is tonight (Saturday) in Everett.

Friday's Elitserien Playoff Score

In Game Two of their Elitserien final series, MODO struck back to even defeating Linkopings 3-2. Lightning prospect defenseman Andreas Holmqvist was scoreless in the game. Former Springfield Falcon Zdenek Blatny had 1 assist and 2 penalty minutes in the match for MODO. The series is now tied at 1-1. Game Three is slated for Sunday.

Lightning Choke Harder

Most embarassing game in Lightning history. Ever.

FLA-2
TB-7

Johan Holmqvist allowed 4 goals on 12 shots before being pulled for Marc Denis who allowed 3 goals on 19 shots the rest of the way. Both were attrocious and I'm sure John Tortorella wished he had dressed Karri Ramo tonight instead. Jason Ward and Nick Tarnasky had goals in garbage time. Brad Richards, Shane O'Brien, Nolan Pratt and Ruslan Fedotenko got garbage tome assists.

The Lightning loss coupled with Atlanta's win tonight in Carolina makes the Thrashers the division champions. The Lightning's complete inability to secure winnable games against Florida in the final month of the season is the cause, and the Lightning have absolutely no one but themselves to blame. They should have been the 2006-2007 Southeast Division champions. They gave the banner away.

Tomorrow's game in Atlanta takes on diminished meaning. The Lightning will either finish with the #6 or #7 seed depending on what they and the Rangers do in their final games. A Lightning win and Rangers regulation loss gives Tampa a first round series with Atlanta. Any other set of results gives the Lightning a first round matchup with New Jersey. More importantly, Saturday's game will be a key opportunity to rebound psychologically from tonight's collapse. No one in their right mind would want to limp into New Jersey with a couple of season ending losses under these circumstances and try to upset such a battle tested franchise.

Game sheet from NHL.com.

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