CHL Playoffs Game Night: 3/24

WHL First Round -- WESTERN CONFERENCE

Game 3: (4) Seattle Thunderbirds 3 @ (5) Kelowna Rockets 2 (OT)
Kelowna leads Best of 7 series 2-1

G Torrie Jung, KEL:
Game: Did not play
Series: 0 GP

G Riku Helenius, SEA:
Game: Did not play
Series: 2 GP, 0-2, 3.09 GAA, .885 sv%

Seattle got back into the series when David Richard scored on the T-Birds’ 14th shot of overtime to narrow Kelowna’s series lead to 2 games to 1. Seattle made a change in net that could be permanent as Jacob DeSerres stopped 30 shots for the win. Kristofer Westblom stopped 37 for Kelowna while both Lightning drafted goaltenders watched from the bench.

USHL Game Night: 3/23

USHL
Ohio Junior Blue Jackets 6 @ Chicago Steel 3
W/C Luca Cunti, CHI: 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM, 5 shots on goal

Cunti’s goal was his 9th in 30 games with Chicago.

In, Out, and Up: First Edition

The last couple of years I've from time to time dabbled in trying to predict the future in terms of contract movement inside the organization in this post I like to call In, Out, and Up. This year is probably the most difficult of all to get a read on because of several non-contract members of the minor league affiliate in Norfolk making such strong pushes for contracts and uncertainty at the forward position at the top level in Tampa. Still, here are my best guesses on who gets into the organization, who gets kicked out, and who makes it up to Tampa Bay.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 3/22

QMJHL FIRST ROUND -- EASTERN DIVISION

Game 2: (5) Lewiston MAINEiacs 0 @ (4) Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 3
Cape Breton leads Best of 7 series 2-0

D Michael Ward, LEW:
Game: 0-0-0, 4 PIM
Series: 1 GP, 0-0-0, 4 PIM (was suspended for Game 1)

Cape Breton has won 4 straight over Lewiston in the past week, including regular season games. Game 3 of the series is Tuesday in Lewiston.

WHL FIRST ROUND -- EASTERN CONFERENCE

Game 2: (6) Brandon Wheat Kings 3 @ (3) Lethbridge Hurricanes 4
Lethbridge leads Best of 7 series 2-0

C Mitch Fadden, LET:
Game: 0-2-2, -1, 0 PIM, *Second Star*
Series: 2 GP, 0-4-4, -1, 0 PIM

Brandon scored early in the third to make it a 4-3 game but couldn’t come all the way back. Both of Fadden’s assists came on the power play. He’s been 2nd Star in both games so far. Game 3 is Tuesday in Brandon.

WHL FIRST ROUND -- WESTERN CONFERENCE

Game 2: (6) Everett Silvertips 1 @ (3) Spokane Chiefs 4
Spokane leads Best of 7 series 2-0

D Dane Crowley, EVT:
Game: 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIM
Series: 2 GP, 0-0-0, -2, 2 PIM

Spokane again got out to a 3-0 lead and never looked back. Game 3 is Tuesday in Everett and the Silvertips have a lot of work to do to get back in the series.

Game 2: (5) Kelowna Rockets 3 @ (4) Seattle Thunderbirds 1
Kelowna leads Best of 7 series 2-0

G Torrie Jung, KEL:
Game: Did not play
Series: 0 GP

G Riku Helenius, SEA:
Game: Loss, 23 saves on 26 shots
Series: 2 GP, 0-2, 3.09 GAA, .885 sv%

Kelowna will return home Monday for Game 3 with a commanding lead in the series and home ice advantage. Kristofer Westblom has played well as Kelowna’s No.1 with a 1.50 GAA and a .943 save percentage in two games. Five of Kelowna’s six goals in the series have come on the power play. The game winning goal Saturday was scored when a centering pass deflected off a Seattle skate and behind Helenius.

USHL Game Night: 3/22

Indiana Ice 3 @ Chicago Steel 5
W/C Luca Cunti, CHI: 0-1-1, +2, 2 PIM (roughing), 2 shots on goal

Chicago is on the verge of clinching a playoff spot.

Silver Lining

With tonight's loss and LA's win, the Lightning moved into the top spot in the Steve Stamkos sweepstakes, although they have a game in hand on the Kings.

NHL Game Night 3/22: Lightning at Panthers

Lightning had all the hustle, but couldn't bury the Panthers.

TB-2
FLA-4

Mike Smith allowed 3 goals on 25 shots for the loss. His puckhandling gaffe early in the game turned out to be the margin of difference.

Congratulations to Junior Lessard on his first goal as a member of the Lightning, and to Mathieu Darche who had an outstanding game. Shame on the homers in Sunrise for denying Darche a star of the game.

Matt Smaby was even in 8:38 with 3 hits and 1 blocked shot. He made a good block in the first period but got caught out on a couple of 1 minute plus shifts which might be part of why he sat in the second period (although there were a lot of special teams in the middle frame). In the third period he was pretty solid and even did some business from the point on one shift helping to keep a couple of pucks in the zone. I really like the pairing of Smaby and Mike Lundin that has been put together by the coaching staff because I feel like each player's strength helps cover up the other's weakness. It would have been interesting if Boyle hadn't dropped the skate on his wrist this year to see these two Minnesota boys develop together as a unit in Norfolk. If they can stick together and learn to read off of each other, they could be a really good second or third pairing for the Lightning down the road. I'm already seeing flashes of Lundin reading what Smaby is doing and making the right adjustments to cover for what Matt is doing.

The Panthers were flat lucky to survive this game. The Lightning outworked and out played them for the final 55 minutes of the game and didn't let up even when they fell behind by two goals. This is a team filled with character guys playing their rear ends off for jobs next season. If the Lightning can throw in another skill player or two up front, this can get interesting. Also, if they can get a post and a chain to keep Smith and Ramo closer to their net, that might not be a bad investment either.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Night 3/22: Devils at Admirals

Ads lose a tough one late.

LOW-4
NOR-2

Marc Denis allowed 3 goals on 31 shots in the loss.

First Period
LOW Vrana, (14) (Gionta, Khomutov), 4:46 (PP)

Second Period
NOR Klinkhammer, (12) , 2:32 (PEN/SH)

Third Period
NOR Segal, (9) (Tyrell, Lawrence), 3:43
LOW Bergfors, (11) , 8:22 (PP)
LOW Ryznar, (7) (Davis, Fraser), 12:40
LOW Marshall, (5) (Ryznar, Ruggeri), 19:38 (EN)

Rob Klinkhammer was named the game's second star. The young man may have earned himself an NHL contract.

Congratulations to Dana Tyrell on his second professional point in as many games.

Chris Lawrence has 4 assists in his last 5 games.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 3/21

QMJHL FIRST ROUND -- EASTERN DIVISION

(5) Lewiston MAINEiacs 3 @ (4) Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 8
Cape Breton leads Best of 7 series 1-0

D Michael Ward, LEW:
Game: Did not play (suspension)

King's pick Jonathan Bernier was lit up and pulled for Lewiston.

WHL FIRST ROUND -- EASTERN CONFERENCE

(6) Brandon Wheat Kings 1 @ (3) Lethbridge Hurricanes 2
Lethbridge leads Best of 7 series 1-0

C Mitch Fadden, LET:
Game: 0-2-2, E, 0 PIM, *Second Star*

After trailing 1-0 mid-way through the third period, Dwight King and Zach Boychuk scored on back-to-back power plays within a minute of each other to give Lethbridge the win.

WHL FIRST ROUND -- WESTERN CONFERENCE

(6) Everett Silvertips 2 @ (3) Spokane Chiefs 5
Spokane leads Best of 7 series 1-0

D Dane Crowley, EVT:
Game: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM (unsportsmanlike conduct)

Spokane got out to an early 3-0 lead and never looked back. Kyle Beach returned to the Everett lineup and was scoreless with 2 PIM.

(5) Kelowna Rockets 3 @ (4) Seattle Thunderbirds 2
Kelowna leads Best of 7 series 1-0

G Torrie Jung, KEL:
Game: Did not play.

G Riku Helenius, SEA:
Game: Loss, 23 saves on 26 shots

One of the two Lightning property goaltenders in this series got the start for their respective teams, but Helenius and Seattle couldn’t hold a 2-1 lead and dropped Game 1. Brady Leavold (undrafted) scored the GTG and GWG for Kelowna. His GTG came with 14 seconds left in the second period.

USHL Game Night: 3/21

USHL
Waterloo Black Hawks 3 @ Chicago Steel 4
W/C Luca Cunti, CHI: 0-2-2, E, 0 PIM, 2 shots on goal

After going scoreless on Wednesday, Cunti responded with two assists vs. Waterloo, including one on the power play.

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