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ECHL Game Night: 3-16-19 Steelheads at Solar Bears

Idaho Steelheads 2 @ Orlando Solar Bears 6

W Olivier Archambault, ORL: Did not play
(AHL contract)
Season Totals (ORL): 2 GP, 0-1-1, E, 2 PIM
Season Totals (SYR): 7 GP, 0-3-3, +2, 2 PIM
17-18 Totals (Allen, ECHL): 19 GP, 13-18-31, +12, 32 PIM
17-18 Totals (SJ & SYR, AHL): 41 GP, 12-11-23, +2, 35 PIM

W/C Troy Bourke, ORL: 1-3-4, +3, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, *First Star*
(AHL contract)
Season Totals (ORL): 20 GP, 10-24-34, +9, 16 PIM
Season Totals (SYR): 25 GP, 1-5-6, -3, 6 PIM
17-18 Totals (ADK): 22 GP, 10-22-32, +11, 18 PIM
17-18 Totals (SYR): 6 GP, 1-0-1, E, 2 PIM

C Mitch Hults, ORL: 0-2-2, +1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, *Second Star*
Season Totals (ORL): 28 GP, 6-14-20, -6, 20 PIM
Season Totals (SYR): 9 GP, 1-3-4, -2, 4 PIM
Season Totals (SD): 2 GP, 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM
17-18 Totals (Utah): 5 GP, 2-5-7, -2, 10 PIM
17-18 Totals (SD): 53 GP, 10-14-24, -10, 8 PIM

G Connor Ingram, ORL: Win, 28 saves on 30 shots
Season Totals (ORL): 6 GP, 3-1-0, 3.53 GAA, .901 sv%, 0 SO
Season Totals (SYR): 22 GP, 14-7-0, 2.26 GAA, .922 sv%, 6 SO
17-18 Totals (SYR): 35 GP, 20-11-0, 2.33 GAA, .914 sv%, 4 SO

C/W Otto Somppi, ORL: 1-1-2, +2, 0 PIM, 4 SOG
Season Totals (ORL): 13 GP, 8-8-16, +10, 4 PIM
Season Totals (SYR): 21 GP, 1-1-2, -2, 6 PIM
17-18 Totals (Halifax, QMJHL): 59 GP, 28-55-83, +39, 28 PIM

D Oleg Sosunov, ORL: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season Totals (ORL): 14 GP, 1-4-5, -5, 16 PIM
Season Totals (SYR): 5 GP, 1-0-1, +1, 2 PIM
17-18 Totals (Moose Jaw, WHL): 71 GP, 7-19-26, +35, 62 PIM

Orlando continues to play good hockey, this time beating visiting Idaho, 6-2, Saturday. The Solar Bears got another strong performance from Troy Bourke, who is still leading the league in points-per-game at 1.70. They also got a bounce-back performance from Connor Ingram, who was pulled in Wednesday’s game against Florida.

Orlando welcomed back Oleg Sosunov, who was reassigned to the Bears from AHL Syracuse. Matt Spencer went the other way back to the AHL.

The Solar Bears (34-21-4-1), who are 7-2-0-1 in their last 10 games, face off against the Steelheads again Tuesday.

NHL Game Night: 3-16-19 Capitals at Lightning

Alex Killorn temporarily burns down our website with a hat trick that stamps a Lightning statement win.

WSH-3
TB-6

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 34 shots for the victory. There was A LOT of puck luck that factored into at least a couple of Washington's goals, and you can also make the strong argument that Vasilevskiy's play in the Second Period and a few other times the Lightning defense was leaky was ultimately the margin in the contest.

First Period
8:35 TB Johnson (26), (Point, Kucherov)
10:33 TB Killorn (14), (unassisted)
12:06 WSH Carlson (12), (Kuznetsov)
15:56 TB Killorn (15), (Cirelli, Joseph)

Second Period
7:33 WSH Ovechkin (47), (Oshie, Carlson)(PP)

Third Period
2:45 TB Cernak (4), (McDonagh, Palat)
12:56 WSH Ovechkin (48), (Orlov, Connolly)
19:13 TB Killorn (16), (Kucherov)(EN)
19:58 TB Gourde (19), (Erne, Hedman)(EN)

Alex Killorn and Erik Cernak were the game's first and second stars.

This was a nerve-wracking game for Lightning partisans, but I think the overall evidence presented points to the Lightning having significantly improved in this match-up relative to the last time these teams played in the ECF. It wasn't the typical Lightning statement game where they blew a team out, despite what the score indicates, but they did start the game that way by dominating the First Period en route to building an initial 3-1 lead. They did not handle Washington's push back in the Second Period well, particularly from Washington's star players, and it took Vasilevskiy heroics for them to get out of the middle stanza with a lead. Fortunately, they upped their intensity in the Third Period, got a bit of help on a semi-soft goal allowed by Holtby, and that ended up being the GWG. They had ample opportunities to push that advantage to the all-important three goal margin but failed to do so, to my lament, and found themselves in a tight position late in the Third Period after a lucky end boards bounce gave Ovechkin a goal into an open side and a McDonagh penalty gave Washington a chance to tie on the PP. The Lightning ultimately pulled through though, thanks in no small part to a much improved PK (now tops in the league) and faceoffs (Tampa Bay won a staggering 65% of the draws on the night).

It was a mixed bag, but more good than bad in that bag. Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos managed an anemic 3 SOG between them, and none until the Third Period, while Victor Hedman at times struggled over the course of the evening (although his stat line at +2 did not reflect it). The Lightning's best players can play A LOT better than they did tonight, in my opinion, and yet the Lightning still had fairly convincing win. Why? Their third and fourth lines trashed their counterparts on the Caps. That was a big weakness in the ECF last season and arguably the Lightning's lack of depth may have been what led them to completely wear down and grind to a halt in Game Six and Seven of that series. In tonight's game, Alex Killorn may have triggered the end of days with a hat trick and I thought the Paquette line also spent the bulk of their time on ice inside the Washington zone on the forecheck. In other words, a bunch of the little things you need to go your way at playoff time (PK, faceoffs, lower line play) all flipped to the Lightning's advantage in this game where they weren't in the ECF last year. Small sample size? You betcha. But, there's also two more games against the Caps in the regular season to try and turn this game into a trend.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 3-16-19 Devils at Crunch

Volkov and company expand Crunch's North Division lead.

BNG-1
SYR-4

Martin Ouellette allowed just 1 goal on 18 shots for the victory.

First Period
4:02 SYR Andreoff (24), (Barre-Boulet, Verhaeghe)(PP)

Second Period
1:59 SYR Volkov (15), (Dumont, Tammela)
11:42 SYR Verhaeghe (28), (Stephens, Labrie)
19:24 BNG Schmelzer (10), (Saracino, Seney)(PP)

Third Period
19:02 SYR Volkov (16), (Andreoff, Thomas)(EN)

Carter Verhaeghe, Alexander Volkov, and Ouellette were the game's three stars. Volkov made a strong push late in the season last year to seal a 20-goal campaign and he looks to be following the same roadmap this season. He now had 4 goals in his last 5 games to ease up to 16 goals for the season.

Syracuse's win, coupled with Rochester's loss to Charlotte, pushes the Crunch up to a 3 point advantage in the race for the North Division crown. Now the schedule gets a little spicy with a short turnaround for a Tuesday/Wednesday back-to-back against the league-leading Checkers. Glass half empty man says, "Oh my goodness, if the Crunch drop both games they open the door for Rochester to take back the division lead!" Glass half full man says, "Sweep the set and the Crunch will have the best rest record in the entire league." The stakes are high this coming week.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

CHL Game Night: 3-15-19

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Rimouski Oceanic 4 @ Baie-Comeau Drakkar 6

C Jimmy Huntington, RIM: 1-0-1, -3, 0 PIM, 3 SOG, 0 Hits, 14/32 FO
Season Totals: 65 GP, 40-50-90 +41, 52 PIM
17-18 Totals (Vic): 68 GP, 18-40-58, +5, 42 PIM

D Radim Salda, RIM: 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM, 3 SOG, 0 Hits
Season Totals: 47 GP, 10-20-30, +17, 34 PIM
17-18 Totals (SJ): 62 GP, 10-31-41, -37, 78 PIM

C/W Gabriel Fortier, BC: 2-0-2, +1, 0 PIM, 5 SOG, 6/15 FO, 1 Hit
Season Totals: 67 GP, 35-48-83, +41, 27 PIM
17-18 Totals: 66 GP, 26-33-59, -11, 59 PIM

It was a good night for Lightning prospects as all three in the game scored goals, with Gabriel Fortier scoring twice. Fortier’s Drakkar beat Huntington and Salda’s Oceanic, 6-4. Huntington opened the game’s scoring before Baie-Comeau scored four straight goals. Rimouski cut the lead to 4-3 before the eventual game-winner was scored. Salda then scored his goal to make it 5-4. Fortier’s second was scored into an empty net to give the game its final totals. Huntington’s goal was his 40th of the season. Salda hit 10 and Fortier 35 goals for the year.

The two teams will close their regular seasons Saturday against each other. Baie-Comeau is the Q’s 3-seed; Rimouski is the 5. The league seeds all 16 playoff teams 1-16.

Ontario Hockey League

Owen Sound Attack 3 @ Kitchener Rangers 9

C/W Alexey Lipanov, KIT: 2-0-2, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, 0/3 FO, *Third Star*
Season Totals: 60 GP, 12-18-30, -37, 16 PIM
17-18 Totals (BAR, SBY): 55 GP, 14-25-39, -14, 10 PIM

Lipanov scored twice to earn third star honors as Kitchener beat up on visiting Owen Sound in a battle of field goals, 9-3. Kitchener will finish as the 5-seed in the West, six points ahead of the Attack. The Rangers, who close their season Saturday in Owen Sound, are 16 points behind No. 4 Guelph, its first round opponent.

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