Saturday brought to a close USA Hockey's U-20 junior evaluation camp and it's four team round robin featuring a split squad of American juniors going up against U-20 teams from Finland and Sweden.
Finland's team happened to feature Lightning goaltending prospect Karri Ramo, who lost what essentially amounted to two one goal games. In the opening game of the tournament Ramo stopped 32 of 36 shots before USA Blue tacked on an empty net goal to skate away with a 5-3 win. In the final game of the tournament, Ramo stopped 31 of 34 shots losing a tight 3-2 decision to USA White. Ramo's tandem mate Aleksis Ahlqvist started the other two games of the tournament falling 4-0 to USA White and 5-0 to USA Blue.
Finland finished last in the tournament with the most anemic offensive attack of the round robin managing to scratch out only 5 goals of support in 4 games for their netminders. Ramo will now return to SM-liiga club HPK where he is expected to backup Miika Wiikman this season. He should also be considered a strong favorite to make Team Finland for this year's World Junior Championships behind Ilves' Tuukka Rask.
Big news came down today from tampabaylightning.ru webmaster Alexander Chelukanov regarding reports out of Russia that Alexander Polushin has been released by CSKA and picked up by Severstal Cherepovets.
With that in mind, here are some other transfers which have taken place with the Lightning's prospect system so far this summer:
Lightning Europe Playoff Extravaganza!!!:
After a sour start to the Junior A playoffs that saw Karri Ramo drop the first game of the series 7-2, Ramo and Pelicans A struck back today to tie the series at 1-1. Buoyed by a first star performance that saw Ramo stop 31 of 32 shots, Pelicans A beat TPS A 2-1 today to even the best of five. Game Three is slated for tomorrow, March 7th.
Ramo's resiliance in staking his team to a very important 2-1 win was undeniable today. Many young goaltenders' confidence and focus might have been shattered after seeing a shutout streak of 194:51 dissolve into a horrendous 4 goal third period like the one Ramo faced in Game One against TPS A. However, just as Ramo has already proven he has the advanced maturity to compete at the SM-liiga level this season, he proved today he also has the maturity to put aside a bad loss and once again elevate his game when the chips are down. Now with the series knotted up the Cinderella Pelicans A have shortened their series against second seed TPS A into a best of three where anything can happen.
February had been a tough month for Karri Ramo. Despite his solid performance at the Five Nations U-19 tournament for Finland, playing behind the worst team in the SM-liiga finally began to take its toll. For the entire month of January the 18 year old netminder from Asikkala gave the pittiful Pelicans a chance to win every night out. But as the days of February began to wane, so too did Karri Ramo's stats. By the end, Ramo had slipped to 27th in the league in save percentage posting a .898 mark with a 3.98 GAA.
Meanwhile down in Junior A a death struggle for playoff position was on as Tapparra A, Pelicans A, Jokerit A and Lukko A all battled to claim the final two spots on the table and the right to move on to the Junior A postseason. With Lahti's SM-liiga season long since doomed and Ramo's confidence fading, the Pelicans decided to send their prized young goaltender back to junior to save the junior team's sagging playoff fortunes.
Ramo did not disappoint.