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Juniors Game Night: 12-17-15

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 4 @ Saint John Sea Dogs 2

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: Did not play
Season totals: 28 GP, 4-9-13, -1, 50 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 59 GP, 13-15-28, +2, 137 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: 1-1-2, -2, 0 PIM, 6 SOG, 2 Hits, *Second Star*
Season totals: 30 GP, 16-16-32, +10, 35 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 59 GP, 21-21-42, +18, 46 PIM

Mathieu Joseph had another 2-point night, but his third period points were not enough for the team to come back from a 4-0 deficit. Boko Imama is currently serving a 15-game suspension.

Ontario Hockey League

Saginaw Spirit 6 @ Windsor Spitfires 7 (OT)

W Mitchell Stephens, SAG: Did not play (WJC)
Season totals: 9 GP, 7-4-11, +3, 6 PIM
2014-15 totals: 62 GP, 22-26-48, -17, 44 PIM

W Cristiano DiGiacinto, WSR: 0-1-1, E, 4 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 28 GP, 12-15-27, +16, 46 PIM
2014-15 totals: 63 GP, 21-24-45, -16, 100 PIM

Windsor’s Brendan Lemieux (Sabres), son of former NHLer Claude Lemieux, scored his 15th goal of the season in the extra session to give Windsor the win. Both of DiGiacinto’s penalties were for goaltender interference.

Owen Sound Attack 5 @ Peterborough Petes 4 (SO)

D Dominik Masin, PBO: Did not play (WJC)
Season totals: 29 GP, 3-10-13, +20, 28 PIM
2014-15 totals: 48 GP, 7-19-26, -13, 68 PIM

D Matt Spencer, PBO: 0-0-0, +1, 2 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 33 GP, 3-12-15, +2, 29 PIM
2014-15 totals: 67 GP, 6-24-30, -15, 64 PIM

The Petes fared better against Owen Sound than their last game – a 7-0 loss – but the Attack got the better of them in the shootout. Owen Sound had a 3-0 lead in the game before Peterborough scored the game’s next four goals. The shootout went eight rounds before Owen Sound won it, 2-1. Matthew Mancina (undrafted) made 47 saves for the Petes.

World Junior A Challenge

Team USA fell to Russia, 7-4, Thursday in the semifinals of the World Junior A Challenge. Ryan Zuhlsdorf, who wore an alternate captain’s A for the Americans, had an assist. It looked on the broadcast like he was playing on the second defensive pair. He played a confident, responsible game and made some nice passes to send forwards into the offensive zone. He joined the rush at one point and had a weak-side wrist shot that hit the goaltender’s shoulder. Kris Oldham (pictured) didn’t start for USA, but came in to start the third period. USA’s starter allowed goals on the first three shots he faced. Oldham was beaten by a screened wrist shot from the center point that found its way through traffic, then later on a 2 on 1 where the puck carrier slid a pass around a sliding defender. It was one-touched in on the backhand into the far side of the net. There wasn’t much Oldham could do on that. He responded with 2-3 big saves in the mid-third period, including one on a breakaway by German Rubtsov, who had two goals in the game and was dangerous all night. The 6-1 forward is projected to be a late first or second round pick in this summer’s draft. Oldham took the loss, but is likely to get the start in the Bronze Medal Game Friday.

NOTES: Brayden Point is practicing at first line center and Mitchell Stephens is on the fourth line as Canada prepares for this month’s World Junior Championship in Finland. Dominik Masin (Czech Republic) and Jonne Tammela (Finland) are also in the tournament. Masin is the Czech’s captain.

Juniors Game Night: 12-16-15

Western Hockey League

Victoria Royals 3 @ Vancouver Giants 4

D Ben Thomas, VAN: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM
Season totals: 36 GP, 3-12-15, -15, 21 PIM
With Vancouver: 22 GP, 3-9-12, -5, 11 PIM
With Calgary: 14 GP, 0-3-3, -10, 10 PIM
2014-15 totals: 60 GP, 7-24-31, +16, 28 PIM

Thomas’ 3-game point streak was snapped Wednesday in Vancouver’s win over Victoria. Thomas’ career-high for points in consecutive games is four, set last season with Calgary.

World Junior A Challenge

Ryan Zuhlsdorf, Kris Oldham and Team USA advanced to the semifnals Wednesday with a 7-1 win over Switzerland. Zuhlsdorf was scoreless and Oldham sat backup. USA will play Russia Thursday.

Bolt Prospect of the Week

We continue our Bolt Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for his recent contributions on and off the ice.

The Bolt Prospect of the Week for the week ending December 16 is … Jonathan Marchessault, W, Tampa Bay (NHL).

Where would the 2015-2016 Tampa Bay Lightning be without Jonathan Marchessault?

To say injuries have affected the Lightning this year would be as understating as saying a school of rabid sharks with lasers affects where you can swim.

The Bolt Prospects Podcast, Volume 47

This week's “Johnny Grahame Edition” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast (also available on Lightning Power Play, Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:

· The No. 47
· The incredible irony in Toronto’s $tamkos hype
· The only situation where re-signing Stamkos works
· Stamkos a Sabre? Reading the tea leafs after trade news
· A theory that may just be reality. So long, Stamkos.
· Syracuse doing it’s job, but deserves more
· Interview with Cam Darcy

Correction: Grahame did not win a Cup as a backup goaltender with Carolina. He arrived after their Cup.

NHL Game Night: 12-15-15 Lightning at Maple Leafs

Character building victory for the weary Lightning.

TOR-4 (OT)

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 37 shots for the OT victory. None of his goals were brutally soft tonight, mind you, but you had goals resulting from rebound control in tight, sliding too far out of position to challenge a first shot, and another going through him under his arm. Point being: he can play better. And, for everyone who was ready to usher Ben Bishop out of town to anoint Vasilevskiy just a couple months ago: slow down.

First Period
2:59 TB Kucherov (12), (Namestnikov)
10:40 TOR Bozak (5), (van Riemsdyk, Parenteau)(PP)
18:03 TOR van Riemsdyk (9), (Bozak, Parenteau)

Second Period
11:34 TOR Rielly (4), (Komarov)
19:24 TB Stralman (3), (Kucherov)

Third Period
5:56 TB Blunden (1), (Gourde, Sustr)
6:32 TB Marchessault (4), (Killorn, Sustr)
13:28 TOR Winnik (3), (Polak, Spaling)

2:01 TB Namestnikov (6), (unassisted)

Vladislav Namestnikov was the game's first star. Well deserved because he was excellent from start to finish. He's now got double the goals of Valtteri Filppula and has edged ahead of Filppula in points despite playing fewer minutes. Oh, and one is +7 this year and the other is -9, too. I feel like Vladislav's clearly on the cusp of stardom and Filppula is borderline stealing money, which points to some difficult moves that Yzerman really needs to make happen.

Overall the game was 39 minutes of some of the worst hockey the Lightning have played all season followed by the kind of character-building moments that could allow the Lightning to come out a much better team by the end of the year if they can keep manufacturing points. The Lightning looked dead tired and flat as a pancake for most of the first two periods after playing on the tail end of a back-to-back and their 3rd game in 4 nights while also dealing with the clown show that is the Toronto media whenever Stamkos is in town. They looked dead late in the Second Period when the Toronto defense decided to revert to the norm and the Red Sea parted for Anton Stralman to cut the lead to 3-2. Game changing moment.

From that point on, the Lightning took control of the tenor of the game with two key strikes brought by fresh legs from the Syracuse Crunch. Toronto managed to get a seeing eye goal off a faceoff to salvage a point, but it's an absolutely amazing thing to see the Lightning athletically dominating a Toronto team late even after Toronto had a week off heading into this one. Namestnikov punctuated it by scorching past the Toronto 3-man unit to create his own breakaway and the game winning goal.

Bear in mind this is a Lightning team that has absolutely stunk at coming from behind in Third Periods the past couple of years. I haven't looked it up, but it feels like the Lightning have only won 3 or 4 games (including tonight) coming from behind in the Third Period the last 2 seasons, and they hadn't done it yet this year. They're learning how to win games when the goals don't come to them. They're learning how to win games when they're hurt. They're learning how to win games when they're tired. They're learning how to win games from behind. Sure, a lot of that education also came in the playoffs last year, but I want you to imagine what this graduate course in weathering adversity could lead to once Johnson, Palat, Drouin, Paquette, and all of Santa's other reindeer come off the IR. If I were the NHL, I'd be terrified if the Lightning can weather this storm and make the playoffs.

Jonathan Marchessault had a goal, 3 shots, and 1 blocked shot in 17:13. He was really good tonight. Caught some bad luck with his stick breaking leading to the 2-on-1 that led to the Rielly goal, but he stuck to it and got the goal to go ahead 4-3 in the Third Period. Note, he now also has more goals than the previously mentioned Filppula.

Yanni Gourde had a helper and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes and 1 blocked shot in 6:55. It's Gourde's birthday and his NHL debut, and it improved greatly once he got that interference call out of the way in his first or second shift in the league.

Nikita Nesterov was +1 with 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 9:45. He's still not where he was a year ago, and that's a little concerning.

Box score and extended statistics from

NHL Game Night: 12-14-15 Lightning at Blue Jackets

Lightning have multiple personality disorder in Ohio.


Ben Bishop was outstanding, allowing just 1 goal on 26 shots for the victory. Part of me wants to see him start again tomorrow versus Toronto.

First Period

Second Period
11:11 TB Marchessault (3), (unassisted)
16:46 CBJ Dubinsky (5), (Calvert, Foligno)

Third Period
6:13 TB Boyle (8), (Killorn)(SH)

Brian Boyle and Bishop were the game's first and third stars.

It seems like Columbus is always a strange place for the Lightning when they play there, and tonight was no different. The game split pretty cleanly into three acts.

First, the Lightning were awfully sloppy in the First Period with multiple turnovers in the no-no zone within 10 feet of either blueline. Ben Bishop had to be sharp to deny the resulting A chances, but it wasn't as if Columbus was athletically dominating Tampa Bay. The Lightning were just not sharp on their breakout passing or their decision-making with the puck.

For the following 30 minutes, the Lightning absolutely dominated Columbus. The Blue Jackets had next to no puck possession as the Lightning continually pressed the attack down low in the offensive zone. Unfortunately, the Lightning could never expand to a multiple-goal lead, and the specter of Columbus stealing a smash and grab win hung thick over the game. It was only a great effort play by Alex Killorn to create a shorthanded goal that put the Lightning a goal up in the Third Period.

Then there was the final 10 minutes of the game. Awful. Columbus ran roughshod over the Lightning physically while they pressed for the equalizer. Was it fatigue due to the Lightning being down to 10 forwards (again)? Perhaps, but that doesn't explain why the Lightning defense suddenly started losing players in coverage and losing every race to loose pucks. Columbus came within a half inch of tying the game on a puck that sat on the line behind Bishop. Only by the grace of a little slush did Tampa Bay manage to get out of town with the 2 points. I have no idea what to make of the team's effort tonight, if anything. I'll take it, though. Beats suffering a smash and grab loss.

That's a dirty team Columbus has, by the way. It has to be said. Scott Hartnell did his best to break Brian Boyle's ankle with a slash at one point and there were several plays where the Blue Jackets cross checked forwards into the boards on plays that could've been borderline boarding that weren't called. Hartnell deserved to get his clock cleaned by the two straight rights he was fed by Ryan Callahan right after the horn at the conclusion of the First Period. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

Jonathan Marchessault had a goal, 2 shots, and 1 hit in 8:40. He was gifted a turnover that was a perfect centering pass and he made no mistake with it. The guy is a pure finisher. There's no doubt about that.

Joel Vermin played 1:38. He had 1 shift. Made an awful turnover at his own blueline on a cutesy one-touch pass that led to the Lightning getting hemmed in for a minute and nearly falling behind because of it. And, to add injury to insult, he got injured on the play and didn't return. Guess that means Yanni Gourde is a lock to make his NHL debut tomorrow.

Nikita Nesterov was +1 with 1 blocked shot in 10:54.

Box score and extended statistics from

Darcy Making Most of Opportunity with Crunch

By Jeremy Houghtaling

Cameron Darcy scored his first professional goal Saturday. Maybe.

The Syracuse Crunch forward’s shot from the slot went into a crowd in front of the Toronto net, ended up in the back of the net, and was initially waved off due to a hand pass. After a video review, Darcy was awarded the game-tying goal that sent the game to overtime, but the tape has since been sent to the American Hockey League for verification.

Darcy isn’t sweating his stats. Instead, with so many players called up to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the rookie center is focused on making the most of his opportunity to be a regular in the Crunch lineup.

“Every time I’m on the ice and every game I get in, I get a chance to prove who I am as a player and I try to show the coaching staff that I can play the game well and I can make a difference when I’m in there,” Darcy said after practice on Monday. “I just need to take advantage of every opportunity I’m put in and just roll with it.”

Juniors Game Night: 12-13-15

Ontario Hockey League

Saginaw Spirit 3 @ Oshawa Generals 2

C Anthony Cirelli, OSH: 1-0-1, -1, 0 PIM, 3 SOG, 19/27 FO, *Third Star*
Season totals: 28 GP, 9-16-25, -9, 19 PIM
2014-15 totals: 68 GP, 13-23-36, +34, 22 PIM

Cirelli scored his ninth goal early in the first period to give the Gens a 1-0 lead, but Saginaw got the game’s final goal with under two minutes remaining to take the win. Cirelli was named third star of the game.

Kitchener Rangers 3 @ Windsor Spitfires 4 (OT)

W Cristiano DiGiacinto, WSR: 1-0-1, +1, 2 PIM, 3 SOG
Season totals: 27 GP, 12-14-26, +16, 42 PIM
2014-15 totals: 63 GP, 21-24-45, -16, 100 PIM

DiGiacinto’s 12th goal of the season opened the game’s scoring, and Windsor overcame giving up leads of 2-0 and 3-2 to win in overtime against Kitchener.

Peterborough Petes 0 @ Owen Sound Attack 7

D Matt Spencer, PBO: 0-0-0, -3, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 32 GP, 3-12-15, +1, 27 PIM
2014-15 totals: 67 GP, 6-24-30, -15, 64 PIM

Jake Dotchin’s old team (one of them) crushed the visiting Petes, 7-0, Sunday. Michael McNiven, an undrafted free agent signee of Montreal, had a 27-save shutout.

Western Hockey League

Vancouver Giants 4 @ Victoria Royals 2

D Ben Thomas, VAN: 1-0-1, +3, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 35 GP, 3-12-15, -15, 21 PIM
With Vancouver: 21 GP, 3-9-12, -5, 11 PIM
With Calgary: 14 GP, 0-3-3, -10, 10 PIM
2014-15 totals: 60 GP, 7-24-31, +16, 28 PIM

Ben Thomas scored his first goal since November 7, and it turned out to be the game-winner in Vancouver’s victory in Victoria. Thomas had four points over three games this weekend.

NOTES: Brayden Point (Canada) and Mitchell Stephens (Canada) survived the first round of cuts and will travel with Team Canada to Finland for pre-tournament action ahead of the World Junior Championships later this month. Point, who has been out injured, will return to action in Finland. He is expected to be a lock for the team. Dominik Masin (Czech Republic) is also preparing for the tournament, as is Jonne Tammela of Finland. In the USHL, Kris Oldham (USA) and Ryan Zuhlsdorf (USA) are in Canada competing in the World Junior A Challenge, which begins Monday.

In other news, Boko Imama was suspended 15 games for his actions Friday night in Halifax.

ECHL Game Night: 12-12-15

Greenville Swamp Rabbits 1 at South Carolina Stingrays 5

F Brian Hart, GRN: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 21 GP, 6-2-8, -3, 2 PIM, 38 SOG
Season totals (AHL): 3 GP, 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIM, 2 SOG

Other Notables
G Allen York, GRN, injured reserve
Season totals: 5 GP, 0-4-0-0, 5.61 GAA, 0.840 SV%, 0 SO

D Charlie Dodero, GRN: 0-0-0, -2, 15 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals (ECHL): 19 GP, 0-3-3, -10, 39 PIM, 18 SOG

Former Nashville Predator goalie prospect Mark Dekanich stopped 30 of 31 shots as the Stingrays stunned the Swamp Rabbits 5-1 Saturday night at the North Charleston Coliseum. Syracuse Crunch depth blueliner Charlier Dodero was given a spearing major and a game misconduct for spearing during a Stingray 3-goal first period. Greenville takes on the Solar Bears next Saturday and Sunday at home.

Crunch Rally, But Fall to Marlies in OT

By Jeremy Houghtaling

With the help of a video review, Syracuse rallied in the third period but couldn’t complete the comeback.

The Crunch erased a two-goal deficit in the final 17 minutes of regulation but the Marlies found the game-winner in overtime, as Syracuse fell to Toronto, 4-3, in at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday. The Crunch earned a point, but have dropped five-straight games.

“It was a good start, but they got the power play goal and we were on our heals for a period, and then we decided to play some hockey and play with energy,” said Crunch head coach Rob Zettler.

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