Eurohockey.net is confirming that defenseman Joe Rullier has signed a contract to play with Lukko Rauma of the Finnish SM-liiga next season. Rullier was acquired from the Anaheim Ducks organization at the trade deadlime this season in exchange for defenseman Doug O'Brien. Rullier's departure leaves the Lightning in need of a veteran defenseman to anchor the blueline corps in Norfolk next season.
At the end of two periods in Moscow today at the 2007 World Championships, Russia and Lightning goaltending prospect Vasily Koshechkin had a comfortable 4-1 lead on Finland and seemed to be cruising to a 3-0 record.
Without being able to watch the game, it's unclear whether Russia stopped playing or Finland turned it on - or a little of both - but Russia had to get a late insurance goal that ended up being the game winner to beat Finland 5-4.
Koshechkin had stopped 12 of 13 shots through two periods before being peppered in the third to end up being 21 for 25 in the save department. Taking the loss for Finland was Lightning draft pick and Columbus Blue Jacket Fredrik Norrena.
Sunday night marked the end of the Norfolk Admirals' affiliation with the Chicago Blackhawks as the Ads lost Game Six of their opening round playoff series to Wilkes-Barrie Scranton 3-2. The first round draw seems almost unfair given both teams finished the regular season with a hefty 108 points in the standings. The Blackhawks are set to open a new affiliation in Rockford, Illinois while the Lightning will make Norfolk their new minor league home.
Lightning prospect Vasily Koshechkin got the start for tournament-host Russia yesterday against Denmark in Russia's first game of the 2007 IIHF World Championship. Koshechkin stopped 24 of 25 shots for the win, a rather easy 9-1 decision. Among the scorers for Russia were NHL stars Evgeni Malkin, Alexander Ovechkin, and Alexander Frolov. Russia leads Group D at 1-0. Alexander Eremenko, who plays for Ak Bars Kazan in the RSL, served as Koshechkin's backup.
Prince George 1 @ Vancouver 5
Vancouver wins best-of-7 series 4-1
The junior career of Lightning first round draft pick Vladimir Mihalik is over. The Vancouver Giants soundly defeated Mihalik and the Prince George Cougars Friday night to win their best-of-7 WHL Western Conference Finals series 4-1. The Cougars only managed 10 shots for the game to the Giants' 46. Vancouver will now meet Medicine Hat in the finals. Mihalik finished the playoffs with one goal and two assists for three points in 15 games. He had 17 PIM and a minus-3 rating. Mihalik, who is already signed, will see his next action in the summer prospect camp and tournament for the Lightning. He also vaults to the leading group of signed defensemen prospects for Tampa Bay that will be fighting for a spot with the Lightning next season.
Mihalik was the last Lightning prospect remaining in the Canadian Hockey League playoffs.
On a WDAE radio call-in show yesterday, Lightning GM Jay Feaster tipped his hat regarding some of his thinking going into next season's roster planning and payroll. Perhaps Feaster is using different mathematical techniques than me, but I can't seem to get his roster plan to add up with the payroll budget he says he's working with. And no one seems to be calling him out on it. So, I guess I'll take a shot...
Vancouver 2 @ Prince George 3 (overtime)
Vancouver leads best-of-7 series 3-1
The Prince George Cougars got an overtime goal by Devin Setoguchi to beat Vancouver 3-2 at home and extend their season by at least one more game. Game 5 will be back in Vancouver Friday night. Vladimir Mihalik was scoreless with an even rating for the Cougars, though according to both the Vancouver and Prince George papers, he had a night to forget. The Giants scored their second and game-tying goal after Mihalik turned the puck over in front of his own net. In overtime, he turned the wrong way during a Giant's rush and was beaten badly for a scoring chance that Cougars goaltender Scott Bowles came up big on. On the ensuing faceoff, Mihalik gained the puck and turned it over for another scoring chance. Just one of those nights.
In a recent interview with his hometown newspaper in Burnsville, Minnesota, Lightning prospect and graduating University of Maine defenseman Mike Lundin states he is currently in contract talks with the Lightning. Lundin played in three Frozen Fours with Maine and had 19 points in 37 games this year with the Black Bears.
"Iâ€™ve been in touch with them a lot throughout the year, and now that the year is over, there has been some contract talk," Lundin told thisweek-online. "From what Iâ€™ve heard this can be a long process, so Iâ€™m just going to have to stay patient throughout the summer and hopefully I will be with the Tampa Bay organization next year."
Vancouver 4 @ Prince George 1
Vancouver leads best-of-7 series 3-0
The Vancouver Giants put the Prince George Cougars on the brink of elimination last night with a decisive 4-1 win. Prince George had cut the lead to 2-1 in the early third period, but Vancouver responded with two even strength goals. Lightning prospect Vladimir Mihalik was scoreless and minus-1 for the Cougars.
The Johnstown Chiefs announced today that Tampa Bay Lightning will no longer be involved in managing the hockey operations of the Chiefs. As part of the restructuring of the Chiefs, VP of Hockey Operations Ryan Belec, Head Coach Frank Anzalone, Trainer Rodney Bogart and Equipment Manager Casey Taylor will not be returning to Johnstown. All four are employees of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
As part of the continuing affiliaton between Tampa and Johnstown, the Chief may have Tampa prospects playing there next season. The search for a new head coach, trainer, and equipment manager begins immediately.