Four Lightning CHL prospects are in playoff action starting tonight in the OHL and WHL. A look at the matchups:
Ontario Hockey League â€“ Eastern Conference
3 â€“ Mississauga (43-21-0-4) vs. 6 â€“ Sudbury (29-30-3-6)
Chris Lawrence and the IceDogs had the second best record in the Eastern Conference this year, but will have the No. 3 seed as East Division Champion Belleville automatically gets the No. 2. Mississauga and Sudbury split in 6 games this year, with one of Sudburyâ€™s 3 wins coming in a shootout. Lawrence led all IceDogs in scoring against the Wolves this year with 4-3-7 in the 6 games. The series begins tonight in Mississauga. Lawrence and IceDogs did not make the playoffs last season.
Like a great prize fighter, the Lightning continue to summon up the will to fight past any adversity.
Marc Denis made 34 stops for the win. Martin St. Louis broke his goal scoring slump with a pair of talleys with the other Lightning goal going to the suddenly hot Jason Ward. Brad Richards, Nolan Pratt, Eric Perrin, Vincent Lecavalier and Cory Sarich all had assists.
The win coupled with Atlanta's loss to San Jose moves the Lightning back to within 2 points of first place in the division. And, with one head-to-head matchup on the schedule, the team's division title destiny is back within its hands. Huge win tonight.
Game sheet from NHL.com.
And the season continues to grind down to the bitter end.
Interesting note for those looking for silver linings: Keller's goal totals pro-rate to about 20 goals for a full season had he not missed so much time with the injury he had in December. That's not a bad rookie campaign, especially for a player who is so undersized. That's something to build on, which is critical. Aside from Chris Lawrence, there's not much scoring help coming through the pipeline with the possible exception of the X factor that is the Kazionovs. So, whatever solutions to the minor league offensive woes there can be for next season have to come from within and have to come from the young forwards already under contract stepping up.
HER Werner, (1) (Laing, Arsene), 4:10
SPR Keller, (12) (Henrich, Milley), 8:41 (PP)
HER Tenute, (22) (Wilson, Klepis), 6:37
HER Miles, (1) (Hedlund), 11:40
SPR Wanvig, (14) (Healey), 3:54
HER Bourque, (20) (Steckel, Laing), 15:46
Game sheet from TheAHL.com.
Johnstown shows a flicker of hope.
Morgan Cey stopped 34 of 37 shots faced for the win. Gus Katsuras led the way offensively with 1 goal and 2 assists while fellow rookie Maxime Boisclair had 1 goal and 1 assist. Dimitri Tarabrin and Zbynek Hrdel had the other Johnstown goals with Doug Andress, Jean Desrochers and Andrew Martens adding individual helpers.
The win moves Johnstown six points behind Reading for the final North Division playoff spot with three games in hand. And, with Radek Smolenak and PJ Atherton back in the fold, maybe the Chiefs aren't quite ready to die just yet. Every game is a must win from here on out.
JHN Hrdel, (9) (Katsuras, Andress), 1:02
JHN Boisclair, (15) (Katsuras), 12:02
TREN Mondou, (20) (Pandolfo), 17:07 (PP)
TREN Haggett, (19) (Pandolfo, Mondou), 7:02
JHN Katsuras, (7) (Boisclair, Martens), 17:42
JHN Tarabrin, (16) (Desrochers), 8:04
TREN Bertoli, (22) (Zancanaro, Haggett), 14:39
Game sheet from ECHL.com.
Farjestads defeated Linkopings 4-3 in overtime in the opening game of their semifinal playoff matchup. Defenseman Andreas Holmqvist was held scoreless in the match for Linkopings.