Everett Silvertips defenseman Dane Crowley was not taken by the Edmonton Oil Kings in Tuesday's WHL expansion draft. The Everett Daily Herald had speculated early Tuesday that Crowley may be left unprotected. Tips General Manager Doug Soetaert was debating over whether to protect his potential professionals - Phoenix first rounder Peter Mueller and Crowley. Mueller, who signed an NHL contract last fall, can only play in the NHL with Phoenix or in the WHL - so he was to be protected. The paper considered Crowley an "even-odds bet to play professionally" next year. At 20 years of age, Crowley can play in the minor leagues.
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.
Everett 2 @ Prince George 8
Prince George wins best-of-7 series 4-2
The Everett Silvertips entered the 2007 WHL Playoffs with the league's best record, its top seed, and the top ranking in the entire Canadian Hockey League. In fact, Everett was ranked No.1 in the CHL 14 of the last 15 weeks of the season. They entered Game 3 of their Western Conference Semifinals series with Prince George with a 2 games to 0 lead on the Cougars, seemingly coasting to the WHL Conference Finals.
Prince George 4 @ Everett 3
Prince George leads best-of-7 series 3-2
The Prince George Cougars scored four third period goals Saturday night to erase a 3-0 deficit and put the highly-favored and top-seeded Everett Silvertips on the brink of elimination. The game winner for Prince George came near the 12 minute mark of the third on a power play goal by Colorado Avalanche draft pick Chris Durand. Everett outshot the visiting Cougars 39-23 for the game, including 21-4 in the second period. Real Cyr (undrafted) came up big in net for the Cougars, earning third star honors. Vladimir Mihalik, who injured his ankle blocking a shot in Game 4, had an even rating with an assist and minor penalty for Prince George. Dane Crowley was scoreless and had an even rating for the Silvertips. Game 6 shifts to Prince George on Monday night.
Everett 3 @ Prince George 4 (Overtime)
Best-of-7 series tied 2-2
The Prince George Cougars got an overtime goal from Nicolas Drazenovic (St. Louis Blues) to beat the top-seeded Everett Silvertips 4-3 and tie their series at 2. Down 2 games to 0 heading back to Prince George, the Cougars won both home games and not the series goes back to Everett for Game 5 on Saturday. Both Vladimir Mihalik (Prince George) and Dane Crowley (Everett) were scoreless and minus-1. Crowley had a minor penalty for tripping in the third period.
Everett 1 @ Prince George 5
Everett leads best-of-7 series 2-1
Prince George won a must-win game at home to inch closer to Everett in the clubs' Western Conference Semifinal series. The Silvertips still lead the series 2-1 after the Cougars won handily Tuesday night, 5-1. Vladimir Mihalik was scoreless and plus-2 for Prince George, and Dane Crowley was scoreless and minus-2 for Everett. Game 4 is tonight (Wednesday) in Prince George.
Prince George 2 @ Everett 3 (Overtime)
Everett leads best-of-7 series 2-0
Everett had a late third period goal to tie, then scored at 2:28 of overtime to take a commanding 2-0 lead over Prince George in their Western Conference Semifinals series. Prince George's Vladimir Mihalik was scoreless and minus-1, being on the ice for Everett's tying goal. Everett broadcasters indicated Mihalik had a strong game and made several strong defensive plays with his "big stick." Dane Crowley of Everett was also scoreless, but had an even rating with 2 PIM. Crowley received significant ice time in the third period as Everett was attempting to tie the game. He set up several scoring chances by jumping into the play and getting shots on net. He also had a big pokecheck of Devin Setoguchi in the mid-third when Prince George was pressing.
Game 3 is Tuesday in Prince George.
Prince George 2 @ Everett 3
Everett leads best-of-7 series 1-0
The Cougars' Vladimir Mihalik, fresh off signing a professional contract with the Lightning, was credited with his first career playoff goal, but it wasn't enough as Prince George fell to Dane Crowley and Everett 3-2 in Everett. The Silvertips used a 3-goal second period to take a 3-0 lead and hold on for a 1-0 series lead in the clubs' WHL Western Conference Semifinal matchup. Mihalik was credited with a goal when his shot bounced in off a Silvertips player. He also had 2 PIM and an even rating. Crowley was scoreless and even. Game 2 is tonight (Saturday) in Everett.
Western Hockey League -- Kal Tire Western Conference Semi-Finals
Prince George (31-30-3-5) vs. Everett (54-15-1-2)
Lightning prospects and defensemen Vladimir Mihalik (Prince George) and Dane Crowley (Everett) will meet in the Kal Tire Western Conference Semi-Finals starting this Friday. The two are the only Lightning CHL prospects remaining in the WHL or OHL playoffs (The Lightning does not have a prospect in the QMJHL).
Mihalik and Prince George swept Kamloops in the first round and haven't played since March 28. Crowley and Everett won their last two games against Spokane to take their opening round series 4-2. Prince George is the lowest seed of the remaining 4 teams in the Western Conference: Everett, Vancouver, Seattle, Prince George.
Everett won the season series against Prince George 3-2 with one win coming in overtime and another coming in a shootout. Mihalik had 2 assists, an even rating, and 14 PIM in 5 games against Everett. Crowley, with both Swift Current and Everett, had 4 assists, an even rating, and 2 PIM in 4 games vs. Prince George.
Series schedule (all times Pacific):
#1 - Prince George @ Everett; Friday, April 6 (7:35 p.m.)
#2 - Prince George @ Everett; Saturday, April 7 (7:05 p.m.)
#3 - Everett @ Prince George; Tuesday, April 10 (7:00 p.m.)
#4 - Everett @ Prince George; Wednesday, April 11 (7:00 p.m.)
#5 - Prince George @ Everett; Saturday, April 14 (7:05 p.m.) if necessary
#6 - Everett @ Prince George; Monday, April 16 (7:00 p.m.) if necessary
#7 - Prince George @ Everett; Wednesday, April 18 (7:05 p.m.) if necessary
One Lightning prospect sees his season end while another moves on.
Sudbury 6 @ Mississauga 3
Sudbury wins best-of-7 series 4-1
The OHL Eastern Conference's No.3 seed Mississauga IceDogs - the team with the second most points in the conference - is going home after 5 games. The Sudbury Wolves came out flying in Game 5, outshooting the IceDogs 16-4 in the first period and taking a 3-0 lead. Mississauga responded, outshooting the Wolves 21-5 in the second and 16-8 in the third, but the team could not get an equalizer. The IceDogs scored in the first 6 minutes of the third period to cut Sudbury's lead to 4-3, but the Wolves scored within 10 seconds of that goal and added an empty netter for the final score. Lightning center/winger Chris Lawrence had an assist and 6 PIM in the loss and now will wait for a contract offer from Tampa Bay. Lightning prospect camp invitee Travis Fuller (47 points in 43 games) could attract some interest from one of Tampa's affiliates for a tryout contract.
Lawrence finished the series with three goals and an assist in the five games. He was also minus-6 and had 14 PIM.
Everett 4 @ Spokane 1
Everett wins best-of-7 series 4-2
Top-seeded Everett got a go-ahead power play goal with 4 seconds left in the first period and held on until adding a couple of empty-netters to defeat Spokane 4-1 and win the opening round series 4-2. Lightning prospect and defenseman Dane Crowley was scoreless and even for the Silvertips. He finished the series with two assists in the six games and a plus-2 rating.