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Erne Using New Perspective in Return to Crunch Lineup

By Jeremy Houghtaling

Adam Erne looked to make the best of a bad situation.

The Syracuse Crunch forward missed six weeks after being injured during a game against Hartford on Oct. 23. Unable to play, Erne used the time to get a new perspective and study the game from afar.

After returning to the lineup last weekend, Erne is using the knowledge he gained to help him on the ice.

“I haven’t had too many injuries through hockey,” Erne said. “It’s going to happen. It’s a part of the game. When it does, you just have to make the best of it and work hard, and use it as an opportunity to get faster and even more ready for the remainder of the season.”

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 7 is … Nikita Gusev, W, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL).

The Goose is loose, but he’s staying in Russia.

Lightning 2012 seventh round pick Nikita “The Goose” Gusev is having another all-star year in the KHL this season, sparking talk that the diminutive playmaker could be joining his good friend Nikita Kucherov in Tampa as soon as next season.

KHL Game Day: 12-7-15

Kazan 2 vs. Novgorod 1
Carter Ashton, Novgorod, 0-1-1, -2, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 30 GP, 8-7-15, +4, 24 PIM

Carter Ashton had a power play assist on Novgorod's lone goal in their 2-1 loss to Ak Bars Kazan. He played 17:34 in the match. Ex-NHLer Nikolai Zherdev also assisted on the goal.

Sochi 2 vs. Magnitogorsk 1
Vasily Koshechkin, Magnitogorsk, Loss, 34/36, 2.05 GAA, .944 sv%
Season totals: 31 GP, 13-11-6, 0 SO, 2.27 GAA, .919 sv%

Ex-Canadiens forward Andrei Kostitsyn had a goal for Sochi in their 2-1 win over Magnitogorsk.

Juniors Game Night: 12-6-15

Ontario Hockey League

Oshawa Generals 4 @ Sudbury Wolves 2

C Anthony Cirelli, OSH: 1-1-2, +3, 0 PIM, 3 SOG, 13/19 FO
Season totals: 25 GP, 7-15-22, -8, 19 PIM
2014-15 totals: 68 GP, 13-23-36, +34, 22 PIM

Cirelli finished a productive weekend with another goal and assist on Sunday, matching Saturday’s totals. He had three points in the first six games since returning from injury, but put up four points this weekend in two games.

Western Hockey League

Prince George Cougars 6 @ Vancouver Giants 5

D Ben Thomas, VAN: 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIM
Season totals: 32 GP, 2-9-11, -17, 21 PIM
With Vancouver: 18 GP, 2-6-8, -7, 11 PIM
With Calgary: 14 GP, 0-3-3, -10, 10 PIM
2014-15 totals: 60 GP, 7-24-31, +16, 28 PIM

Thomas had eight points in his first 12 games as a Giant, but is scoreless in his last six.

NHL Game Night: 12-6-15 Lightning at Kings

Soft goals and a dysfunctional power play.


Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 pretty brutal goals on 10 shots for the loss before giving way to Ben Bishop, who allowed 1 on 18 the rest of the way. 2 soft goals, 2 goal loss. Soft goals almost always tend to be the margin.

First Period
12:24 LA Andreoff (1), (Shore, Doughty)

Second Period
0:27 TB Boyle (1), (Callahan)
0:39 LA McNabb (1), (Kopitar)
3:47 LA Lucic (1), (Carter, McNabb)

Third Period

The Lightning came out flat the first 10 minutes of the game, but otherwise were respectable in this contest at even strength. They definitely generated enough chances, but LA has Jonathan Quick and the Lightning didn't get anywhere near that quality of goaltending to start the game.

Where the Lightning needed to help themselves, and didn't, was on an obscenely bad 0-for-6 night on the power play including completely squandering over a minute of 5-on-3 time. The whole unit is awful and I don't mean to pick on one guy, but Kucherov's got to come off the number one unit. He keeps passing up Grade A chances to shoot for telegraphed passes through the box that almost always get deflected or outright picked off. The guy who scored that scorcher of a shot on the rush against San Jose should not be this differential with the man advantage, but he is, and it's clearly in his head now. Mind you, I didn't like Palat in that spot on the number one unit either before he got hurt and the one guy I think could fix it (Drouin) isn't considered completely trustworthy by the coaching staff for his decision-making either. In any case, the other thing I'll say is that it might be time for Cooper to start to delegate the power play to an assistant to get a fresh approach and a fresh voice on the issue. The Lightning power play has been unwatchable since about the second month of LAST season, and they can no longer stay competitive being this inept.

The tough thing about losing this game is that it kind of makes Thursday's game against Ottawa a must-win. They're sitting at 10 points in this 10-game segment with 2 games left in it. 12's the minimum they need. You don't want to have to play Washington needing the 2 points just to not dig yourselves an even deeper hole in the standings. So, they must get that 2 points against Ottawa and hope they can get 1-2 points against the Caps to start to pay down that 5 point deficit they have overall for the season. That means they cannot, cannot, cannot, CANNOT, CANNOT, CANNOT come out flat on the first game home from a long road trip on Thursday against the Senators. Let me reiterate: the stakes are much larger than they appear on the surface. They CANNOT come out flat on Thursday on the first game back home from a long road trip.

Jonathan Marchessault had 2 penalty minutes, 5 shots, and 2 hits in 11:36. He had a good game. Got absolutely robbed by Quick on what looked like a sure goal, was feisty physically, and by-goodness he shot the puck. Decision time is upon us with regards to Marchessault's waiver status, and he's made the Lightning's decision really difficult over the past few weeks.

Joel Vermin had 1 hit and 2 blocked shots in 8:53.

Box score and extended statistics from

AHL Game Night: 12-6-15 Crunch at Devils

24 hours ago...


Adam Wilcox allowed 3 goals on 17 shots for the loss. He was relieved by Kristers Gudlevskis, who allowed 1 goal on 7 shots in the Third Period.

First Period
ALB Boucher, (10) (Burlon), 8:50 (PP)

Second Period
ALB Kelly, (1) (Gragnani, Sislo), 0:57
ALB Blandisi, (7) (Sislo, Gragnani), 17:54 (PP)

Third Period
ALB Novak, (2) (Sislo), 3:21

24 hours ago the Crunch were sailing toward a victory against Utica and looked like they were going to have a successful 3 games in 3 nights set over this weekend. Then the bottom fell out in the last 3 minutes against the Comets and they followed up that effort by getting shutout 4-0 by Albany tonight. Opportunities lost...

Box score from

KHL Game Day: 12-6-15

St. Petersburg 2 vs. Nizhnekamsk 1 (OT)
Nikita Gusev, St. Petersburg, 1-0-1, +1, 0 PIM, 6 SOG
Season totals (St. Petersburg): 13 GP, 6-6-12, +6, 0 PIM
Season totals (Khanty-Mansiysk): 23 GP, 7-7-14, +6, 4 PIM
Season totals: 36 GP, 13-13-26, +12, 4 PIM

Nikita Gusev had a goal in 20:21 of ice time in SKA's 2-1 OT win over Nizhnekamsk. Ex-NHLer Ilya Kovalchuk had the OT winner for St. Petersburg. Former Syracuse Crunch forward Dan Sexton had the lone goal of the match for Nizhnekamsk.

ECHL Game Night: 12-04-15 - 12-06-15

With Lightning forward prospects Henri Ikonen and Brian Hart reassigned to Greenville last Wednesday, the Swamp Rabbits had a three-in-three Thursday through Saturday at home.

Dec 3: Cincinnati Cyclones 3 at Greenville Swamp Rabbits 4
Dec 4: Cincinnati Cyclones 7 at Greenville Swamp Rabbits 6 OT
Dec 5: Norfolk Admirals 3 at Greenville Swamp Rabbits 0

F Brian Hart, GRN: 3gp, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season totals: 18 GP, 6-1-7, -3, 2 PIM, 34 SOG
Season totals (AHL): 3 GP, 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIM, 2 SOG

F Henri Ikonen, GRN: 3gp, 1-0-1, +1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 3 GP, 1-0-1, +1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals (AHL): 17 GP, 1-3-4, -3, 4 PIM, 14 SOG

Other Notables
G Allen York, GRN, injured reserve
Season totals: 4 GP, 0-4-0-0, 4.98 GAA, 0.858 SV%, 0 SO

D Charlie Dodero, GRN: 3gp, 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIM, 7 SOG
Season totals (ECHL): 16 GP, 0-3-3, -6, 22 PIM, 16 SOG

With top Lighting forward prospect Adam Erne returning from injury to the Syracuse Crunch lineup, Henri Ikonen was the low man on the pole and drew the reassignment to Greenville along with Brian Hart. Ikonen immediately made his presence felt in the Swamp Rabbits 4-3 win over the Cyclones Thursday night, scoring what would be the game winner with 5 minutes left in the 3rd on rebound put-in from the post. Neither Ikonen nor Hart would figure into the scoring for Friday night's wild 7-6 OT loss to the Cyclones or the 3-0 shutout loss to the Admirals on Saturday. Ikonen was recalled to Syracuse on Sunday, making his temporary assignment looking more like just an opportunity for him to get some quality ice time. Greenville has another 3-in-3 starting on Thursday with back-to-back games at home against Orlando and a Saturday night cross state trek to Charleston to play the Stingrays.

NHL Game Night: 12-5-15 Lightning at Sharks

Lightning survive bizarre Third Period to go 2-0 on California roadie.


Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 26 shots for the win, but left the game in the Third Period after a (uncalled!) high stick by Hertl went into his mask. Reports are that Bishop has some redness but thankfully no cut, no damage to the eye, and no damage to the bone around the eye. Thank goodness, because he's playing at a really high level right now. Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 8 shots in relief to get the Lightning across the finish line.

First Period
2:19 TB Kucherov (7), (Hedman)
11:20 TB Condra (3), (Sustr, Brown)

Second Period
13:35 SJ Tennyson (1), (Braun, Hertl)(PP)
16:44 TB Kucherov (8), (Stamkos)(PP)

Third Period
3:01 TB Boyle (6), (Brown)
8:26 SJ Ward (10), (Burns, Pavelski)(PP)
14:32 SJ Burns (10), (unassisted)(PP)

Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman were the game's first and third stars.

This was the tale of a really good, opportunistic, smart road game played by the Tampa Bay Lightning up until the 8:13 mark of the Third Period when all hell broke loose. The Lightning came out on the First Period and really caught San Jose flat, and turned possession into a slick goal by Kucherov and then a greasy goal off Condra's skate to develop the 2-0 lead. San Jose came back in the Second Period but the Lightning used a 5-on-3 goal by Kucherov to maintain the 2 goal margin. Early in the Third Period, Boyle potted a rebound goal set up by the scoring speed of J.T. Brown and this thing looked like it was going to be elementary. Then a post whistle scrum mysteriously led to Hedman alone getting called for cross checking and San Jose quickly got a cheap PP goal to pull within 4-2. Then Bishop leaves the game after scrambling from his crease holding his eye. Then Killorn takes a boarding call leading to the Lightning margin being cut to 4-3. Then the Sharks nearly score at the buzzer thanks in part to uncalled interference on Joe Thornton. So, what should've been an easy win after building a 3-goal margin turned into a big ball of anxiety.

I liked using Stamkos on the PK. A lot.

The victory gives the Lightning 10 points in this 10-game segment of the season with 3 games left to go. The California trip is already a success, and if they can manufacture a win tomorrow night against the Kings, or any points, they'll be set up well to pay down their debt and get back closer to playoff position. So, securing the 2 points tonight what tremendously important.

Jonathan Marchessault was +1 with 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 6:03. With all the penalty killing and the size the Sharks have, this wasn't a game that Jonathan ended up being used in a lot.

Nikita Nesterov was +1 with 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 8:48. Honestly, he's been quiet since coming back from Syracuse, and that's been a good thing. He's being efficient in his time that he does get on the ice.

Box score and extended statistics from

Juniors Game Night: 12-5-15

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Charlottetown Islanders 3 @ Saint John Sea Dogs 4

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: 0-1-1, -1, 0 PIM, 0 SOG, 2 Hits
Season totals: 26 GP, 3-9-12, E, 36 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 59 GP, 13-15-28, +2, 137 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: 0-2-2, +1, 2 PIM, 6 SOG, 1 Hit
Season totals: 26 GP, 12-12-24, +10, 31 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 59 GP, 21-21-42, +18, 46 PIM

Mathieu Joseph had two assists against Charlottetown and his brother, defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph, helping the Sea Dogs to a 4-3 win.

Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 6 @ Shawinigan Cataractes 2

W Dennis Yan, SHAW: 0-0-0, -3, 0 PIM, 7 SOG, 2 Hits
Season totals: 26 GP, 22-22-44, +1, 31 PIM
2014-2015 Season: 59 GP, 33-31-64, +23, 71 PIM

Dennis Yan had his eight-game point streak snapped. He hasn’t finished on the plus side of even in a game since November 14 – a span of seven games.

Ontario Hockey League

Oshawa Generals 4 @ Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 5 (OT)

C Anthony Cirelli, OSH: 1-1-2, -2, 2 PIM, 7 SOG, *Second Star*
Season totals: 24 GP, 6-14-20, -9, 17 PIM
2014-15 totals: 68 GP, 13-23-36, +34, 22 PIM

Cirelli went 14/27 on faceoffs for the Gens. The next highest amount of faceoffs taken was 16. The Soo tied the game with four seconds remaining in regulation, then won it in overtime with Cirelli in the box serving a tripping penalty. Former Lightning draft pick and two-time player, Drew Bannister, coaches the Greyhounds.

North Bay Battalion 2 @ Saginaw Spirit 5

W Mitchell Stephens, SAG: 1-2-3, +1, 0 PIM, 4 SOG, *First Star*
Season totals: 9 GP, 7-4-11, +3, 6 PIM
2014-15 totals: 62 GP, 22-26-48, -17, 44 PIM

Stephens has five points in two games since returning this weekend from a broken foot. He was also 11/16 on faceoffs Saturday.

Western Hockey League

Regina Pats 3 @ Moose Jaw Warriors 4 (SO)

C Brayden Point, MJ: Did not play
Season totals: 19 GP, 18-25-43, +9, 8 PIM
2014-15 totals: 60 GP, 38-49-87, +6, 46 PIM

Point has now missed eight straight games with a shoulder injury. He’s still considered day-to-day.

Vancouver Giants 1 @ Everett Silvertips 3

D Ben Thomas, VAN: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM
Season totals: 31 GP, 2-9-11, -15, 21 PIM
With Vancouver: 17 GP, 2-6-8, -5, 11 PIM
With Calgary: 14 GP, 0-3-3, -10, 10 PIM
2014-15 totals: 60 GP, 7-24-31, +16, 28 PIM

Vancouver fell in Everett, 3-1. Thomas is scoreless in his last five games.

United States Hockey League

Sioux City Musketeers 4 @ Team USA 7

D Ryan Zuhlsdorf, SC: 0-2-2, -2, 4 PIM
Season totals: 21 GP, 0-17-17, -8, 24 PIM
2014-15 totals: 56 GP, 3-19-22, +25, 58 PIM
(University of Minnesota signee)

Team USA swept the visiting Musketeers this weekend, winning Friday night and again Saturday. Kieffer Bellows (2016), son of former Lightning player Brian Bellows (Boston University commit, 2016 draft eligible), had a goal and four assists Saturday. His teammate Clayton Keller (Boston University commit, 2016 draft eligible) had a goal and five helpers.

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