Talk Lightning Hockey with fans and staff at the BP Message Boards and follow us on Twitter and Facebook

Veteran Defenseman Taormina's Play Hits Full Potential With Crunch

By Jeremy Houghtaling

In three years, Matt Taormina has gone from struggling to find an AHL deal to being a league-leading defenseman

After a trade sent him from Syracuse to Springfield the season prior, Taormina was humbled as he searched for a home in the AHL and settled on a contract with Worcester in late September 2014. Now the 30-year-old is back with the Crunch, leads all AHL blueliners with 32 points and was selected to participate in the AHL All-Star Classic for a fourth time.

Taormina is embracing his role as a veteran leader as he continues to push for a spot in the NHL.

“If you have some down years, it will hurt you a little bit,” Taormina said. “I wasn’t at my full potential back then, and now I think I’ve really figured it out. I’ve stayed calm and steady, and I feel a lot more comfortable and confident than I have since early on in my career.”

3 Bolt Prospects Move in OHL Trades

The OHL trade deadline is Tuesday and for NHL fans bored with the lack of movement in the big leagues this season, there was plenty of action to take in – especially if you’re a Lightning fan.

Three Lightning prospects switched teams – two expected and one surprise.

NCAA Game Night: 1-8-17

No. 5 Boston University Terriers 5 vs UMass Minutemen 3 (Frozen Fenway)

D John MacLeod, BU: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season Totals: 16 GP, 0-4-4, +6, 16 PIM
2015-2016 Totals: 26 GP, 1-1-2, -4, 26 PIM

Playing on the Fenway Park grounds, BU got up 3-0 before UMass fought back to 3-2. The Terriers added a couple quick goals in the third period and despite a late goal against, coasted to a win. Bruins prospect Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson had two goals for BU. Team USA WJC hero Charlie McAvoy, also a Bruins prospect, had a goal.

CHL Game Night: 1-8-17

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Halifax Mooseheads 1 @ Saint John Sea Dogs 2

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: 1-0-1, +1, 4 PIM, 1 SOG, 3 Hits, *First Star*
Season Totals: 38 GP, 27-9-36, +8, 60 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 48 GP, 7-12-19, -5, 86 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: Did not play.
Season Totals: 28 GP, 25-20-45, +23, 29 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 58 GP, 33-40-73, +35, 57 PIM

C/W Otto Somppi, HAL: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, 10/18 FO, 1 Hit
Season Totals: 34 GP, 9-15-24, -10, 20 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 59 GP, 13-33-46, -15, 25 PIM

Boko Imama scored his 27th goal of the season early in the third period to break a 1-1 tie and lead the Dogs to a close win over Halifax. Saint John should get Team Canada stars Thomas Chabot and Mathieu Joseph back next game.

Ontario Hockey League

Kingston Frontenacs 1 @ Oshawa Generals 4

C Anthony Cirelli, OSH: 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 4 SOG, 13/23 FO, *Second Star*
Season Totals: 26 GP, 13-21-34, +18, 8 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 62 GP, 21-38-59, -15 27 PIM

In what would be his final game as a member of the Oshawa Generals, Cirelli had an assist and was named Second Star as the Gens beat the Fronts, 4-1. Cirelli was traded to Erie on Monday (more on that soon).

Western Hockey League

Kamloops Blazers @ Portland Winterhawks (postponed)

G Connor Ingram, KAM: - - - -
Season Totals: 24 GP, 14-9-1-0, 2.12 GAA, .935 sv%, 2 SO
2015-2016 Season: 61 GP, 34-15-5-4, 2.61 GAA, .922 sv%, 4 SO

Game was postponed due to inclement weather.

KHL Game Day: 1-9-17

CSKA 2 vs. St. Petersburg 3 (SO)
Nikita Gusev, St. Petersburg, 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 44 GP, 19-35-54, +31, 8 PIM

Nikita Gusev had a power play goal and potted the winner in the penalty shot session in SKA's 3-2 Shootout win over CSKA. He played 16:15 in the win. Gusev's linemate Vadim Shipachyov had a pair of helpers in the win.

NHL Game Night: 1-8-17 Lightning at Penguins

Better effort. Crushing result.


Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 6 goals on 40 shots for the loss. He actually played really well for the first 40 minutes of this contest, but a guy can only face so many breakaways, odd man rushes, and unmarked defenders with point blank chances. At this point, his confidence looks shot and the Lightning may be unnecessarily toying with the prospect of ruining a young player the hockey world had thought was incapable of being ruined.

First Period

Second Period
2:19 TB Drouin (12), (Filppula, Hedman)
6:44 PIT Sheary (10), (Rust, Crosby)
11:14 PIT Fehr (5), (Cullen)

Third Period
2:33 PIT Kunitz (4), (Maatta, Bonino)
3:28 PIT Wilson (5), (unassisted)
5:40 TB Namestnikov (5), (Drouin, Stralman)(PP)
7:50 PIT Kessel (13), (Crosby, Sheary)
17:20 PIT Letang (3), (Schultz, Cullen)(PP)

For 40+ minutes tonight was a much more spirited effort than we've seen of late. Imperfect, but the effort level and urgency level was there. Vlad Namestnikov even had a wide open wraparound that looked like a sure goal that would've knotted the game at 2-2 early in the Third Period. He blew the chance and then the wheels came off with the Lightning playing their 3rd in 4 days. This is a team that's played as much hockey as any team in hockey over the last 2.5 years and one that has largely had the same group of guys for that run with very few changes by Steve Yzerman. That probably has contributed to their proneness to injury and it probably explains how mentally, emotionally, and spiritually drained they've looked over this death march through the middle part of the season. Should they not find a way to snap out of it soon, wholesale changes will need to be made in the offseason. Rebuilding? No. But likely a retooling of the defense and lower lines, along with a strategic move or two on the scoring lines to inject something fresh into a stale and struggling group of players that need... something.

Luke Witkowski was -2 with 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 10:16.

Slater Koekkoek was -1 with 1 blocked shot in 11:10.

Matthew Peca had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 9:08. He was also 55% on 11 draws. I thought he had a small rebound today after two subpar games in a row the last couple of times out.

Adam Erne had 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 11:19. His linemates need to get used to how crafty he is passing the puck out of the corners and in behind the attacking cage.

Box score and extended statistics from

CHL Game Night: 1-7-17

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Saint John Sea Dogs 1 @ Halifax Mooseheads 4

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: 0-0-0, -2, 2 PIM, 6 SOG, 4 Hits
Season Totals: 37 GP, 26-9-35, +7, 56 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 48 GP, 7-12-19, -5, 86 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: Did not play.
Season Totals: 28 GP, 25-20-45, +23, 29 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 58 GP, 33-40-73, +35, 57 PIM

C/W Otto Somppi, HAL: 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, 11/25 FO, 1 Hit, *Second Star*
Season Totals: 33 GP, 9-15-24, -10, 20 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 59 GP, 13-33-46, -15, 25 PIM

Somppi scored on a deflection in the slot to give Halifax a 1-0 lead. The Mooseheads went on to win, 4-1.

Baie-Comeau Drakkar 4 @ Shawinigan Cataractes 7

W Dennis Yan, SHAW: 1-3-4, +1, 0 PIM, 5 SOG, 0 Hits
Season Totals: 35 GP, 28-22-50, +20, 40 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 62 GP, 32-37-69, +8, 86 PIM

Yan had a 4-point game for the fourth time this season. He has 23 points in his last 10 games.

Ontario Hockey League

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 6 @ Barrie Colts 1

W Boris Katchouk, SSM: 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season: 38 GP, 19-15-34, +7, 24 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 63 GP, 24-27-51, +7, 61 PIM

The Hounds improved to 8-1-1-0 in their last 10 games. They lead the OHL with 29 wins and 60 points in 40 games.

Niagara IceDogs 1 @ Hamilton Bulldogs 3

W/C Christopher Paquette, NIA: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season Totals: 37 GP, 12-17-29, -7, 14 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 57 GP, 5-11-16, -6, 18 PIM

Niki Petti (undrafted) had two goals for Hamilton.

North Bay Battalion 2 @ Peterborough Petes 5

D Matt Spencer, PBO: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season Totals: 31 GP, 5-15-20, +7, 33 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 60 GP, 5-19-24, -4, 46 PIM

W Jonne Tammela, PBO: Did not play
Season Totals: 2 GP, 1-0-1, +1, 2 PIM
2015-2016 (Finland): 37 GP, 5-8-13, +10, 16 PIM

The Petes scored three times in the third period to break a 2-2 tie and gain the win.

Western Hockey League

Tri-City Americans 2 @ Saskatoon Blades 0

D Libor Hajek, SAS: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM
Season Totals: 36 GP: 3-15-18, -9, 47 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 69 GP, 3-23-26, -19, 76 PIM

The Blades were shutout for the second game in a row. Rylan Parenteau (undrafted) had a 25-save shutout for the Americans.

Saskatoon Blades 0 @ Moose Jaw Warriors 4

C Brett Howden, MJ: 1-1-2, +1, 0 PIM
Season Totals: 28 GP, 20-24-44, +5, 27 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 68 GP, 24-40-64, -7, 61 PIM

Howden has 20 goals, but only one game this year when he’s scored more than once. He’s well on his way to a new career high for goals in a season.

Kamloops Blazers 2 @ Kelowna Rockets 3 (SO)

G Connor Ingram, KAM: Did not play.
Season Totals: 24 GP, 14-9-1-0, 2.12 GAA, .935 sv%, 2 SO
2015-2016 Season: 61 GP, 34-15-5-4, 2.61 GAA, .922 sv%, 4 SO

Ingram was back in the Kamloops lineup, but sat backup to December’s WHL Goalie of the Month, Dylan Ferguson (2017). Ferguson was second star, stopping 34 shots.

NCAA Game Night: 1-7-17

Northeastern Huskies 3 @ No. 13 Vermont Catamounts 4

C Ross Colton, UVM: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 5 SOG
Season Totals: 20 GP, 8-7-15, +3, 14 PIM

Vermont had a 4-1 lead and ended up holding on for a 4-3 win.

No. 7 North Dakota Fighting Hawks 7 @ No. 19 Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks 3

D Kristian Oldham, UNO: Did not play.
Season Totals: 8 GP, 4-2-1, 3.34 GAA, .893 sv%, 0 SO

North Dakota thrashed the Mavs by a 16-4 score over two games this weekend. Ouch.

Crunch Downed By IceCaps in Overtime

By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Syracuse Crunch had their chances in the third period, but couldn’t find the go-ahead goal.

The Crunch poured on the pressure and outshot the IceCaps 17-6 in the third, but St. John’s capitalized on a turnover to top Syracuse, 2-1, in overtime at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

“Very disappointing outcome, obviously,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said. “We had so many chances, especially in the third period where we were flying, skating, and playing with urgency. We made one mistake and the puck is in the net.

“This weekend was about that. Strong effort, strong game — we didn’t give much tonight — but the other team was very opportunistic and in both games we faced two solid goalies. It is what it is.”

AHL Game Night: 1-7-16 IceCaps at Crunch

Organization's week of frustration rolls on unabated.

SYR-1 (OT)

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 2 goals on 19 shots for the OT loss.

First Period
18:33 STJ Camara (1), (Brouillette)

Second Period
13:46 SYR Halmo (11), (Conacher, Vermin)(PP)

Third Period

1:24 STJ Audette (7), (Matteau, Brouillette)

Mike Halmo and Dominik Masin were the game's second and third stars.

Syracuse does move 1 point clear of Albany in the North Division by virtue of the Devils' loss to Lehigh Valley. Still, the team has been a very pedestrian 3-3-1-3 over their last 10 games and can (and honestly likely will) do better.

Box score and extended statistics from

Syndicate content