Remember when I said maybe this wasn't the week the Admirals would make their move after all when Darche and Jancevski were called up? Shows how much I know. My only real regret: not being able to see the look on Springfield Republican writer Fran Sypek's face as the Lightning's "suspects" dismantled the Falcons.
Jonathan Boutin stopped 24 of 26 shots faced tonight to run his record to 6-2-2 this season. When you get at least a point in 80% of your starts, that's pretty darn good in my book.
NOR Klinkhammer, (2) (Stewart, Jones), 1:55
SPR McDonald, (4) (Thoresen, Reddox), 4:42
SPR Schremp, (4) (Kemp, Reddox), 1:01 (PP)
NOR Milley, (4) (Schneider, Fletcher), 7:58
NOR Milley, (5) (MacDonald, Wanvig), 9:50
NOR Keller, (2) (Mihalik, Jones), 18:41 (PP)
NOR MacDonald, (3) (Wanvig, Milley), 3:07
NOR Leach, (3) (Stewart, Jones), 14:10
Norm Milley, Craig MacDonald, and Kyle Wanvig were the three stars of the game.
But it's not just the veterans who were chipping in this week. Blair Jones is now riding a three game point streak posting 2 goals and 7 points over that span. Justin Keller is also riding a three game point streak with 1 goal and 4 points over that span. Further adding support offensively: Vladimir Mihalik with 3 assists in the last two games and Rob Klinkhammer with 1 goal and 4 points over the same span.
Norfolk now improves their record to 8-10-2 on the season and sets itself up well for a critical road trip through the division. With 18 points the Admirals are now in a three way tie with Hershey and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the 4th and final playoff spot in the division, 2 points back of 3rd place Binghamton and 3 points back of 2nd place Albany. Norfolk draws Albany on Wednesday and Friday nights before facing Bighamton next Saturday and Hershey next Sunday. 4 road games in 5 nights. The math isn't complicated, and the stakes are high. The good news is word on the street is Karri Ramo might be ready by next weekend to spell Boutin, who has almost exclusively carried the load for Norfolk over the past couple of weeks.
If the Ads play their cards right, they could be sitting at .500 or better by the end of next weekend and occupying a potential playoff spot. Not bad for a team that was close to being given up for dead just two weeks ago.
Game sheet from TheAHL.com.
In the new era of the NHL where the salary cap reigns, it is imperative clubs find and develop their own talent through their farm system. Since the lockout in 2004-2005, the Lightning has been forced to compete to stay at the top of the food chain by carefully shopping for affordable free agents and coordinating financially-sensitive trades. While other clubs have had the option of plugging multiple holes with cost-feasible prospects, the Lightning has been forced to look outside the organizational depth chart for help.
On Sunday at the Chilled Ponds Ice Sports Complex in Chesapeake, Radek Smolenak scored the game-tying and go-ahead goals to propel Team White past Team Blue 6-4 in the Admiralsâ€™ annual Blue vs. White intra-squad scrimmage game.
Boxscore (Team, Period/Time, Scorer, Assists):
1. BLUE 1/5:38 Rob Klinkhammer (Unassisted)
2. WHITE 1/9:40 Stan Lascek (Unassisted)
3. WHITE 1/10:14 Matt Radoslovich (Lance Monych, Vladimir Mihalik)
4. BLUE 1/11:50 Mike Falk (Rob Klinkhammer)
5. BLUE 2/6:21 Dana Tyrell (Mathieu Melanson)
6. WHITE 2/9:59 Radek Smolenak (Daine Todd, Vladimir Mihalik) (Power Play)
7. WHITE 2/13:20 Radek Smolenak (Marek Kvapil, Jay Holladay)
8. WHITE 3/7:58 Justin Keller (Brandon Elliott)
9. BLUE 3/16:24 Dana Tyrell (Unassisted) (Shorthanded)
10. WHITE 3/19:17 Justin Keller (Justin Taylor)
Penalties, goaltender stats, Norfolk cuts and scrimmage stats from the week on the flip.
Damian Crisdotero reports on his blog that prospect defenseman Vladimir Mihalik has been pulled from the Lightning camp roster due to a pulled groin muscle. He will be replaced on the roster by overage prospect David Schneider.
Erik Erlendsson also indicates on his blog that part of the Lightning's decision to remove Mihalik from Tampa camp was due to Mihalik having no realistic chance of making the team at this point in his career. Ouch.
NHL.com has a couple of articles out today regarding the Lightning's prospects. First up, John McGourty interviews General Manager Jay Feaster on the top prospects in the Lightning organization. Feaster gives his opinions on defensemen Matt Smaby, Andy Rogers, and Vladimir Mihalik, forward Blair Jones, and goaltenders Karri Ramo and Riku Helenius.
Next up Shawn P. Roarke interviews Helenius from the Team USA Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid, NY. Helenius talks about leaving Finland behind to join the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL.
Courtesy of Chad, Vladimir Mihalik smacks down a puny fly of an opponent.
Here's what we learned this week in communication with the Lightning:
2006 first round draft pick Riku Helenius made a successful return from major shoulder surgery when he suited up for Finland at an Under-19 tournament in St. Petersburg, Russia last month. The Lightning was in attendance when the goaltender played his first game since early autumn, but Finland was on their heels all night and Russia scored two power play goals to beat Helenius and Finland 4-0. Finland didn't fare much better in Helenius' second game, a 5-1 loss to Sweden.
While the GAA may not look ideal for the first rounder, the Lightning said he played well. The important thing to look at here is he's playing again and is in good health. In fact, after missing nearly all the 2006-2007 season, a healthy Helenius is now working out twice a day.
Prince George 1 @ Vancouver 5
Vancouver wins best-of-7 series 4-1
The junior career of Lightning first round draft pick Vladimir Mihalik is over. The Vancouver Giants soundly defeated Mihalik and the Prince George Cougars Friday night to win their best-of-7 WHL Western Conference Finals series 4-1. The Cougars only managed 10 shots for the game to the Giants' 46. Vancouver will now meet Medicine Hat in the finals. Mihalik finished the playoffs with one goal and two assists for three points in 15 games. He had 17 PIM and a minus-3 rating. Mihalik, who is already signed, will see his next action in the summer prospect camp and tournament for the Lightning. He also vaults to the leading group of signed defensemen prospects for Tampa Bay that will be fighting for a spot with the Lightning next season.
Mihalik was the last Lightning prospect remaining in the Canadian Hockey League playoffs.
Vancouver 2 @ Prince George 3 (overtime)
Vancouver leads best-of-7 series 3-1
The Prince George Cougars got an overtime goal by Devin Setoguchi to beat Vancouver 3-2 at home and extend their season by at least one more game. Game 5 will be back in Vancouver Friday night. Vladimir Mihalik was scoreless with an even rating for the Cougars, though according to both the Vancouver and Prince George papers, he had a night to forget. The Giants scored their second and game-tying goal after Mihalik turned the puck over in front of his own net. In overtime, he turned the wrong way during a Giant's rush and was beaten badly for a scoring chance that Cougars goaltender Scott Bowles came up big on. On the ensuing faceoff, Mihalik gained the puck and turned it over for another scoring chance. Just one of those nights.
Vancouver 4 @ Prince George 1
Vancouver leads best-of-7 series 3-0
The Vancouver Giants put the Prince George Cougars on the brink of elimination last night with a decisive 4-1 win. Prince George had cut the lead to 2-1 in the early third period, but Vancouver responded with two even strength goals. Lightning prospect Vladimir Mihalik was scoreless and minus-1 for the Cougars.