Atherton, P.J.

Mea Culpa: Atherton, Collins, Femenella, and Pearce

It has been brought to my attention in the last couple of days by BP reader Freadrich43 that my understanding of the August 15th signing deadline for NCAA players has been incorrect. I had been operating under the impression that NCAA players leaving school did not have to be signed until August 15th of the year after they graduated. This, as it turns out, was incorrect and I thank Freadrich43 for bringing it to my attention. An NCAA prospect must be signed by August 15th of the summer following their graduation for their rights to be retained by the NHL club.

Site rules are that only players whose rights are held by the Lightning can be included on the Prospects page. That means that for the last year PJ Atherton was incorrectly included on the page. While this wasn't necessarily a catastrophic oversight considering Atherton played last season inside the organization under a minor league contract, we still strive for 100% accuracy. So, I apologize. The fault was mine.

The rule also will effect three other prospects who have been included on the Prospects page: Dustin Collins, Arthur Femenella, and Joseph Pearce. With Collins and Femenella both slated to appear for the Lightning in Traverse City at the start of September and likely to attend Norfolk Admirals camp later on in the Fall, I have been forced to decide what to do with them until their participation in those events are complete. The decision I've reached is to remove Pearce, who was not invited to Traverse City, from the page immediately and leave Collins and Femenella on until Bolt Prospects releases its Preliminary Rankings in early October. If neither receives an NHL contract by that time, they will be removed from the page as well.

Just to reiterate, I'm sorry. While it's not a huge mistake in the grand scheme of things, I know that our readers expect and deserve nothing less than complete accuracy. For the future, now that we have clarification on how the rule works, we will be sure to promptly and correctly update the Prospects page after an NCAA player graduates.


Lightning Choose Not to Sign Atherton

August 15th came and went quietly, and the Lightning did not sign prospect defenseman PJ Atherton. Despite scoring 5 goals and 29 points in 57 games as a rookie with the Johnstown Chiefs of the ECHL, Atherton was a casualty of the Lightning's overwhelming defensive depth in the minor league system signed over the course of the summer.

With the Lightning losing Atherton's rights, he will be removed from the Top-20 on the prospect page. In his place, enforcer Brandon Elliot will be temporarily moved into the Top-20. Just a note to those wondering when the '07 draftees will be added to the rankings: Bolt Prospects policy is to wait until after the Traverse City prospect tournament and Lightning training camp before placing new draftees into the rankings. This allows new players to prove themselves in a competitive environment against their peers in the organization and allows for a more accurate set of rankings to be generated. Typically, Bolt Prospects has released its Preliminary Rankings around the first or second week of October, so expect an update containing the 2007 draftees to be published then.

ECHL Game Night 4/6: Royals at Chiefs

Johnstown's season finale in Reading will be with a playoff spot on the line.


Morgan Cey allowed 4 goals on 32 shots in the loss. Gus Katsuras had 1 goal and 1 assist for the Chiefs while Marek Kvapil and PJ Atherton added third period goals during a failed comeback bid. Maxime Boisclair, Dimitri Tarabrin, Bryan Nathe, Grant Jacobsen and Radek Smolenak added individual assists.

Wheeling's loss to Trenton tonight eliminates them from the playoffs. Reading leapfrogs Johnstown into the final North Division playoff spot with the win tonight with the Royals sitting at 71 points and the Chiefs at 70 points. Both teams are tied with 32 wins in the win column. So it comes down to tomorrow at 7:05 pm in Reading. Winner moves on. Loser hits the links.

First Period
REA Hogeboom, (30) (Zappala, Smith), 1:56
JHN Katsuras, (11) (Boisclair, Tarabrin), 16:53 (PP)

Second Period
REA Becker, (10) (Werner, Hogeboom), 5:49 (PP)
REA Collymore, (15) (Zappala, Hogeboom), 10:31
REA Collymore, (16) (Saurette, Bala), 13:30

Third Period
JHN Kvapil, (3) (Katsuras, Nathe), 10:13
JHN Atherton, (5) (Jacobsen, Smolenak), 18:54 (PP)

Game sheet from

ECHL Game Night 3/30: Storm at Chiefs

All of a sudden, with Special K as the spark, the playoff math is starting to favor the Chiefs.


Ryan Munce made 24 stops for the win. The former Kings draft pick has won 3 of his last 4 starts. Radek Smolenak posted a 1 goal and 3 assist night to pace the Chiefs. Marek Kvapil added 3 assists and Gus Katsuras chipped in a pair of goals. Zbynek Hrdel had 1 goal and 1 assist and PJ Atherton had 2 assists to complete the list of 5 Chiefs players who posted multi-point nights. Defensemen John Adams and Ian MacLean had the team's other goals. Maxime Boisclair and Andrew Martens added individual helpers. Smolenak, Katsuras and Kvapil were named the game's three stars.

And just like that Johnstown is just 1 point out of a playoff spot with 2 games in hand on the Reading Royals.

First Period
JHN Katsuras, (8) (Boisclair, Hrdel), 2:10
TOL Martin, (11) (Walsh, Blight), 6:40
JHN Hrdel, (11) (Kvapil, Smolenak), 14:46 (PP)
JHN Adams, (3) (Kvapil, Smolenak), 18:22 (PP)

Second Period
JHN MacLean, (3) (Smolenak, Kvapil), 5:07
JHN Smolenak, (15) (Atherton, Martens), 8:20
JHN Katsuras, (9) (Atherton), 19:10 (PP)

Third Period

Game sheet from

Atherton Up, Kvapil Down

The Springfield Falcons have announced the promotion of defenseman PJ Atherton from Johnstown of the ECHL. In addition, the Falcons demoted right winger Marek Kvapil to Johnstown. Kvapil had been considered a potential NHL callup heading into the 2006-2007 season, but a disasterous year in the AHL has seen Kvapil busted down to Springfield's checking lines. After failing to score in some weeks, Kvapil's demotion is the final thud in an unremarkable campaign.

ECHL Game Night 3/21: Chiefs at Titans

Johnstown shows a flicker of hope.


Morgan Cey stopped 34 of 37 shots faced for the win. Gus Katsuras led the way offensively with 1 goal and 2 assists while fellow rookie Maxime Boisclair had 1 goal and 1 assist. Dimitri Tarabrin and Zbynek Hrdel had the other Johnstown goals with Doug Andress, Jean Desrochers and Andrew Martens adding individual helpers.

The win moves Johnstown six points behind Reading for the final North Division playoff spot with three games in hand. And, with Radek Smolenak and PJ Atherton back in the fold, maybe the Chiefs aren't quite ready to die just yet. Every game is a must win from here on out.

First Period
JHN Hrdel, (9) (Katsuras, Andress), 1:02
JHN Boisclair, (15) (Katsuras), 12:02
TREN Mondou, (20) (Pandolfo), 17:07 (PP)

Second Period
TREN Haggett, (19) (Pandolfo, Mondou), 7:02
JHN Katsuras, (7) (Boisclair, Martens), 17:42

Third Period
JHN Tarabrin, (16) (Desrochers), 8:04
TREN Bertoli, (22) (Zancanaro, Haggett), 14:39

Game sheet from

Atherton, Smolenak Return to Johnstown

According to, the Tampa Bay Lightning have reassigned rookie left wing Radek Smolenak and the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League have reassigned rookie defenseman P.J. Atherton to Johnstown.

Smolenak has 25 points (13g-12a) and 31 penalty minutes in 32 games with Johnstown and one assist and eight penalty minutes in 20 games with Springfield.

Atherton has 26 points (4g-22a) and 46 penalty minutes in 49 games with Johnstown and two points (1g-1a) and two penalty minutes in seven games with Springfield.

ECHL Game Day 3/18: Titans at Chiefs

By all appearances, Johnstown is done.


Morgan Cey allowed 5 goals on 26 shots in the loss. Gus Katsuras and newcomer Rob Lehtinen had the Chiefs goals with individual assists belonging to Zbynek Hrdel, Maxime Boisclair, Jean Desrochers and Dimitri Tarabrin.

Johnstown now finds themselves 8 points behind 5th place Reading for the final playoff spot in the ECHL North Division and while the Chiefs still hold games in hand that could get them back in the hunt, the sad truth is that with Randy Rowe injured and Stanislav Lascek, Radek Smolenak and PJ Atherton up in Springfield, this Johnstown team is running on fumes and looks like it is going to limp to the finish line of the season. Obviously for the Lightning it is going to be a long offseason as they ponder why a season that started with so much promise for their minor league system went so wrong.

First Period
TREN Bertoli, (21) (Riddle), 14:55
TREN Mondou, (18) (Tremblay, Haggett), 16:48 (PP)
TREN Riddle, (25) (Bertoli), 17:32

Second Period
TREN Pandolfo, (17) , 8:44
JHN Katsuras, (6) (Hrdel, Boisclair), 14:50

Third Period
TREN Tremblay, (4) (Bertoli), 16:26
JHN Lehtinen, (1) (Desrochers, Tarabrin), 18:57

Game sheet from

AHL Game Night 3/10: Bruins at Falcons

Ramo slays Goliath.


Karri Ramo stopped 38 of 40 shots faced for the win. Norm Milley led the way offensively with a pair of goals, including a shorthanded talley. Veteran Eric Healey had the game winning goal and added an assist. Individual helpers belonged to Radek Smolenak and PJ Atherton. In 4 games since his recall, Atherton has 2 goals, 3 points and, just as importantly, a solid even rating.

Brady Greco suited up but did not play in the game for Springfield. Milley, Ramo and Healey were named the game's three stars. Ramo and the Falcons ended a Providence winning streak which had reached six games.

First Period
SPR Milley, (21) (Smolenak), 4:49
PRO Krejci, (23) (Lashoff, Glenn), 18:35 (PP)
SPR Milley, (22) (Healey, Atherton), 19:44 (SH)

Second Period
SPR Healey, (24) , 2:20

Third Period
PRO LeClerc, (1) (Stuart), 9:32

Game sheet from

AHL Game Night 3/9: Pirates at Falcons

Gerald Coleman gets some small measure of revenge.


Karri Ramo allowed 4 goals on 34 shots in the loss. Daniel Corso and PJ Atherton had the Falcons goals. Individual assists belonged to Matt Smaby, Norm Milley, Dan Cavanaugh and Justin Keller. Tonight's game turned on a 5 minute high sticking penalty in the second period on Marek Kvapil which Portland cashed in on twice to assume a lead they never relenquished the rest of the way.

First Period
SPR Corso, (15) (Smaby, Milley), 6:53 (PP)

Second Period
POR Carter, (11) (Salcido, Wilson), 7:06 (PP)
POR Salcido, (6) (Carter, Wilson), 8:52 (PP)
POR Keith, (10) (Hartigan, Weinrich), 9:45 (PP)

Third Period
SPR Atherton, (2) (Cavanaugh, Keller), 7:37
POR Hartigan, (25) , 13:16

Game sheet from

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