N.A. Juniors Game Night 3/17: Jung, Courtnall Advance

A Game 7 blowout in Victoria ... a tie-breaker nail-biter in Prince Albert ... Tokarski finishes as the WHL leader in 4 categories.

KHL Courting Harju?

The Swedish paper Norrbottens Kuriren is reporting that several teams in the Russian KHL are courting Lightning prospect Johan Harju and his teammate, Edmonton prospect Linus Omark. The Lightning reportedly had the inside track on signing Harju, who at 22 years of age was the second leading goal scorer in the Swedish Elitserien for Lulea, earlier in the season. However, the entrance of the Russian league into the equation complicates matters. NHL rookie contracts are capped at around $900,000, while wealthy Russian owners flush with cash are willing to spend lavishly on young stars like Harju, putting the Lightning at a disadvantage in a potential bidding war. The question is: will Harju choose the better lifestyle and top flight competition of the NHL, or will he choose to chase the big bucks behind the former iron curtain?

Harju is quoted in the report as saying, "The NHL is the dream and that is what I am aiming for." However, he didn't close the door completely, stating, "The way of life is a bit special in Russia, but it would also be an adventure in its own way."

More on this story as it develops...

NHL Game Night 3/17: Maple Leafs at Lightning

Lightning crumble in final 20:24.

TOR-4
TB-3 (SO)

Karri Ramo allowed 3 goals on 39 shots before allowing 2 of 6 shooters to convert for the shootout loss. He looked really good for the first 39:36 of the game. He was moving well. Following the puck. Then he overplayed on Jason Blake to allow the first goal and his fundamentals started to come unglued. His rebound control went straight to hell. His five-hole got big enough to drive a truck through. I give him credit for battling his way to get the point and he was game in the shootout, but that's a game Karri's got to help his team close out. Fundamentals. Fundamentals. Fundamentals. On the good side, he's claimed 6 of the last 8 available points.

First Period
13:39 TB Lecavalier (29), (Murphy, St. Louis)(PP)

Second Period
02:26 TB Stamkos (15), (St. Louis, Ramo)(PP)
02:36 TB Pettinger (5), (Karsums, Krajicek)
19:36 TOR Mitchell (9), (Blake, Stralman)

Third Period
03:24 TOR Blake (24), (Stempniak)
14:29 TOR Hamilton (2), (Devereaux, Stajan)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
TOR- Hamilton, Mitchell
TB- Lecavalier

Hard luck by the Lightning in the shootout as Stamkos and St. Louis both rang posts. Hint to Rick Tocchet: Lashoff's awesome at shootouts.

We'll have to see if the Lightning make a recall with Cory Murphy going down to injury. Vladimir Mihalik?

Noah Welch had 2 penalty minutes, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 18:29. If he plays every game down the stretch, he'll graduate and be a Bolt Prospects alumni. This saddens me. See: Stewart, Karl.

Matt Smaby was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 20:57. He was more subdued than usual tonight.

David Koci had a 10 minute misconduct, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 4:47.

Paul Szczechura was +1 with 1 shot and 2 blocked shots in 13:31. He was also 70% on draws. He looked good tonight. His whole line did with Pettinger and Karsums.

Martins Karsums had an assist and was +1 with 2 shots and 2 hits in 10:19. Still waiting for him to put it all together, but he was better tonight.

Richard Petiot had 2 hits in 18:59 against his former organization.

Matt Lashoff was -1 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 22:58. You can see why he was a guy the Lightning were willing to give considerably to get. His skating is smooth as silk, and he's got some skill. Between Lashoff, Ranger, and Meszaros the Lightning will have a ridiculously mobile defense next season. The downside with Lashoff? Tocchet needs to get him to take the body more in the defensive zone. If he can get that out of Lashoff, he's a top-four in this league. Even if he doesn't, he's a real nice number five d-man in the making; a great piece to add to the puzzle.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Matt Lashoff To Make Lightning Debut

Just as local Tampa Tribune beat writer Erik Erlendsson reported in his blog on Monday, the Tampa Bay Lightning have recalled defenseman Matt Lashoff from the Norfolk Admirals on an emergency basis today, Lightning Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton announced. Lashoff is expected to make his Lightning debut in tonight's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Lashoff, 6-foot-2 and 204 pounds, has skated in 16 games with the Boston Bruins this season, recording an assist and 10 penalty minutes. A 2005 first-round draft choice of the Bruins, Lashoff has appeared in 46 games with Boston during the past three seasons, recording a goal, seven assists and 22 penalty minutes. He played in two games with Norfolk this past weekend, recording two penalty minutes.

A native of East Greenbush, New York, Lashoff has skated in 164 games with Providence of the American Hockey League during the past four seasons, tallying 26 goals, 95 points and 181 penalty minutes. He was selected as a starter for the Planet/USA team at the 2007-08 AHL All-Star Game. Prior to turning pro Lashoff played three seasons of junior hockey with Kitchener of the Ontario Hockey League, recording 16 goals, 93 points and 284 penalty minutes in 162 games.

The Lightning acquired the 22-year-old from Boston on March 4, 2009 with Martins Karsums in exchange for Mark Recchi and second-round draft pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

N.A. Juniors Game Night 3/16: Chiefs Lose Chance at 3 Seed

WHL
Kelowna Rockets 1 @ Spokane Chiefs 0
G Dustin Tokarski, SPO: Loss, 23 saves on 24 shots, *Second Star*
Season totals: 54 GP, 34-18-0-2, 1.97 GAA, .937 sv%, 7 shutouts

Mark Guggenberger (undrafted) stopped 22 shots for his first WHL shutout as Kelowna wraps up the West’s 3 seed with a 1-0 win in Spokane over the Chiefs. Spokane managed just 4 shots in the third period. Brandon McMillan (Anaheim) scored mid-way through the first period for the Rockets, and Tyler Myers, Tyson Barrie and the rest of the Kelowna defense made it stand up. McMillian is a forward who now plays defense. Kelowna played without three injured regulars, including center Mikael Backlund (Calgary). Spokane was missing four defensemen and a forward who was suspended.

Spokane will host 5-seed Seattle in the first round, though they have one regular season game remaining Tuesday night against Tri-City. It’s doubtful many regulars will see action in that game, including Tokarski, who should finish as the league leader in GAA, save percentage (by 16 points), shutouts (tie), and shootouts (86%).

Fadden Team Co-MVP
Mitch Fadden and Predators pick Chet Pickard were named team co-MVPs by the Tri-City Americans during their team awards Sunday night. Fadden also took home the U.S. Cellular Three Stars award. Unofficially, Fadden had 9 first stars, 5 seconds, and 3 thirds.

NCAA Game Night: 3/15

Hockey East Tournament - Round 1 - Game 3
Massachusetts Minutemen 2 @ #4 Northeastern Huskies 3 OT
Northeastern wins best of three series 2-1
D John Wessbecker UMASS: 0-0-0, 1 SOG, Even, 2 PIM

John Tuckerman's second goal of the game came midway through the first OT period and sent the Huskies on to Round 2 and UMASS home. Its doubtfull that the Minutemen are Tourney bound so this may have been John Wessbeckers last collegiate game.

Bolts Reassign Josef Melichar to Admirals

The Tampa Bay Lightning have reassigned defenseman Josef Melichar to the Norfolk Admirals, Lightning Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton announced. There is no word on a possible replacement recall from Norfolk like Matt Lashoff, so it is anticipated that Marek Malik is ready to return to the Lighting lineup.

Melichar, a 6-foot-2, 222-pound native of Ceské Budejovice, Czech Republic, has played in 30 games with the Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes this season, recording eight assists. He made his Tampa Bay debut February 12 and has averaged 17:15 in ice time while recording four assists in 15 games with the Lightning.

Melichar has appeared in one game with Norfolk this season, making his Admirals debut on February 8 in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He has also appeared in 25 games with Albany of the AHL, recording a goal and five points.

Update:
Erik Erlendsson of the Trib says that Lashoff is expected to be called up tomorrow.

N.A. Juniors Game Night: 3/15

Luca! Luca! Luca! He's done it again! ... Barberio gets a goal against Ward's Screaming Eagles in regular season finale ... Another multi-point night for Fadden ... Jung stellar, but Edmonton's nearly choked this opportunity away.

AHL Game Day 3/15: Admirals at Phantoms

Admirals run out of gas late on the road.

NOR-2
PHI-3

Riku Helenius allowed 3 goals on 29 shots for the loss.

First Period
NOR Konopka, (14) (Bochenski, Lundin), 18:43 (PP)

Second Period
PHI Bartulis, (1) (Matsumoto), 0:40
NOR Zingoni, (5) (Hooton), 2:09
PHI Ross, (23) (Sirianni, Kane), 2:46

Third Period
PHI Ross, (24) (Kane, Curry), 2:40 (PP)

Pete Zingoni was named the game's third star.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

N.A. Juniors Game Night: 3/14

Capitals force Game 7 ... DeCoste and Wright score in season finales ... Spokane vs. Tri-City postponed due to food poisoning ... Jung and Edmonton lose, but get help from Saskatoon.

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