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ECHL Game Night: 3-16-19 Steelheads at Solar Bears

Idaho Steelheads 2 @ Orlando Solar Bears 6

W Olivier Archambault, ORL: Did not play
(AHL contract)
Season Totals (ORL): 2 GP, 0-1-1, E, 2 PIM
Season Totals (SYR): 7 GP, 0-3-3, +2, 2 PIM
17-18 Totals (Allen, ECHL): 19 GP, 13-18-31, +12, 32 PIM
17-18 Totals (SJ & SYR, AHL): 41 GP, 12-11-23, +2, 35 PIM

W/C Troy Bourke, ORL: 1-3-4, +3, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, *First Star*
(AHL contract)
Season Totals (ORL): 20 GP, 10-24-34, +9, 16 PIM
Season Totals (SYR): 25 GP, 1-5-6, -3, 6 PIM
17-18 Totals (ADK): 22 GP, 10-22-32, +11, 18 PIM
17-18 Totals (SYR): 6 GP, 1-0-1, E, 2 PIM

C Mitch Hults, ORL: 0-2-2, +1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, *Second Star*
Season Totals (ORL): 28 GP, 6-14-20, -6, 20 PIM
Season Totals (SYR): 9 GP, 1-3-4, -2, 4 PIM
Season Totals (SD): 2 GP, 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM
17-18 Totals (Utah): 5 GP, 2-5-7, -2, 10 PIM
17-18 Totals (SD): 53 GP, 10-14-24, -10, 8 PIM

G Connor Ingram, ORL: Win, 28 saves on 30 shots
Season Totals (ORL): 6 GP, 3-1-0, 3.53 GAA, .901 sv%, 0 SO
Season Totals (SYR): 22 GP, 14-7-0, 2.26 GAA, .922 sv%, 6 SO
17-18 Totals (SYR): 35 GP, 20-11-0, 2.33 GAA, .914 sv%, 4 SO

C/W Otto Somppi, ORL: 1-1-2, +2, 0 PIM, 4 SOG
Season Totals (ORL): 13 GP, 8-8-16, +10, 4 PIM
Season Totals (SYR): 21 GP, 1-1-2, -2, 6 PIM
17-18 Totals (Halifax, QMJHL): 59 GP, 28-55-83, +39, 28 PIM

D Oleg Sosunov, ORL: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season Totals (ORL): 14 GP, 1-4-5, -5, 16 PIM
Season Totals (SYR): 5 GP, 1-0-1, +1, 2 PIM
17-18 Totals (Moose Jaw, WHL): 71 GP, 7-19-26, +35, 62 PIM

Orlando continues to play good hockey, this time beating visiting Idaho, 6-2, Saturday. The Solar Bears got another strong performance from Troy Bourke, who is still leading the league in points-per-game at 1.70. They also got a bounce-back performance from Connor Ingram, who was pulled in Wednesday’s game against Florida.

Orlando welcomed back Oleg Sosunov, who was reassigned to the Bears from AHL Syracuse. Matt Spencer went the other way back to the AHL.

The Solar Bears (34-21-4-1), who are 7-2-0-1 in their last 10 games, face off against the Steelheads again Tuesday.

NHL Game Night: 3-16-19 Capitals at Lightning

Alex Killorn temporarily burns down our website with a hat trick that stamps a Lightning statement win.

WSH-3
TB-6

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 34 shots for the victory. There was A LOT of puck luck that factored into at least a couple of Washington's goals, and you can also make the strong argument that Vasilevskiy's play in the Second Period and a few other times the Lightning defense was leaky was ultimately the margin in the contest.

First Period
8:35 TB Johnson (26), (Point, Kucherov)
10:33 TB Killorn (14), (unassisted)
12:06 WSH Carlson (12), (Kuznetsov)
15:56 TB Killorn (15), (Cirelli, Joseph)

Second Period
7:33 WSH Ovechkin (47), (Oshie, Carlson)(PP)

Third Period
2:45 TB Cernak (4), (McDonagh, Palat)
12:56 WSH Ovechkin (48), (Orlov, Connolly)
19:13 TB Killorn (16), (Kucherov)(EN)
19:58 TB Gourde (19), (Erne, Hedman)(EN)

Alex Killorn and Erik Cernak were the game's first and second stars.

This was a nerve-wracking game for Lightning partisans, but I think the overall evidence presented points to the Lightning having significantly improved in this match-up relative to the last time these teams played in the ECF. It wasn't the typical Lightning statement game where they blew a team out, despite what the score indicates, but they did start the game that way by dominating the First Period en route to building an initial 3-1 lead. They did not handle Washington's push back in the Second Period well, particularly from Washington's star players, and it took Vasilevskiy heroics for them to get out of the middle stanza with a lead. Fortunately, they upped their intensity in the Third Period, got a bit of help on a semi-soft goal allowed by Holtby, and that ended up being the GWG. They had ample opportunities to push that advantage to the all-important three goal margin but failed to do so, to my lament, and found themselves in a tight position late in the Third Period after a lucky end boards bounce gave Ovechkin a goal into an open side and a McDonagh penalty gave Washington a chance to tie on the PP. The Lightning ultimately pulled through though, thanks in no small part to a much improved PK (now tops in the league) and faceoffs (Tampa Bay won a staggering 65% of the draws on the night).

It was a mixed bag, but more good than bad in that bag. Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos managed an anemic 3 SOG between them, and none until the Third Period, while Victor Hedman at times struggled over the course of the evening (although his stat line at +2 did not reflect it). The Lightning's best players can play A LOT better than they did tonight, in my opinion, and yet the Lightning still had fairly convincing win. Why? Their third and fourth lines trashed their counterparts on the Caps. That was a big weakness in the ECF last season and arguably the Lightning's lack of depth may have been what led them to completely wear down and grind to a halt in Game Six and Seven of that series. In tonight's game, Alex Killorn may have triggered the end of days with a hat trick and I thought the Paquette line also spent the bulk of their time on ice inside the Washington zone on the forecheck. In other words, a bunch of the little things you need to go your way at playoff time (PK, faceoffs, lower line play) all flipped to the Lightning's advantage in this game where they weren't in the ECF last year. Small sample size? You betcha. But, there's also two more games against the Caps in the regular season to try and turn this game into a trend.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 3-16-19 Devils at Crunch

Volkov and company expand Crunch's North Division lead.

BNG-1
SYR-4

Martin Ouellette allowed just 1 goal on 18 shots for the victory.

First Period
4:02 SYR Andreoff (24), (Barre-Boulet, Verhaeghe)(PP)

Second Period
1:59 SYR Volkov (15), (Dumont, Tammela)
11:42 SYR Verhaeghe (28), (Stephens, Labrie)
19:24 BNG Schmelzer (10), (Saracino, Seney)(PP)

Third Period
19:02 SYR Volkov (16), (Andreoff, Thomas)(EN)

Carter Verhaeghe, Alexander Volkov, and Ouellette were the game's three stars. Volkov made a strong push late in the season last year to seal a 20-goal campaign and he looks to be following the same roadmap this season. He now had 4 goals in his last 5 games to ease up to 16 goals for the season.

Syracuse's win, coupled with Rochester's loss to Charlotte, pushes the Crunch up to a 3 point advantage in the race for the North Division crown. Now the schedule gets a little spicy with a short turnaround for a Tuesday/Wednesday back-to-back against the league-leading Checkers. Glass half empty man says, "Oh my goodness, if the Crunch drop both games they open the door for Rochester to take back the division lead!" Glass half full man says, "Sweep the set and the Crunch will have the best rest record in the entire league." The stakes are high this coming week.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 3-15-19 Wolf Pack at Crunch

Syracuse takes the North Division lead with smooth victory over Hartford.

HFD-2
SYR-3

Eddie Pasquale allowed 2 goals on 26 shots for the victory.

First Period
1:07 SYR Volkov (14), (Dumont, Conacher)

Second Period
19:27 SYR Andreoff (23), (Raddysh, Colton)

Third Period
1:56 SYR Stephens (10), (Katchouk, Brassart)
11:51 HFD Fontaine (9), (Gilmour, Beleskey)(PP)
18:53 HFD Lettieri (23), (Gilmour, Gropp)

Gabriel Dumont, Taylor Raddysh, and Boris Katchouk were the game's three stars. Katchouk made perhaps the play of the game with a Vincent Lecavalier-esque move around the corner on the rush and a behind-the-back pass that ended up being the goal that pushed the Syracuse lead to 3-0 that he chased with a roughing call and unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after starting a retaliatory scrap right after the goal. In other words, a Katchouk-ian microcosm of Katchouk-ianism. The goal gave the Crunch that all important three goal margin in the final frame. And, yes, Hartford did get the old false hope goal, but in the end the three goal lead remains a virtual death sentence for the trailing team in pro hockey.

With Rochester stubbing their toe against Charlotte, Syracuse moved one point ahead in the North Division while still holding a game in hand. Also of note: Syracuse is just a scant three points back of the Checkers for the best record in the entire AHL with both teams sitting on 14 games remaining on their schedules.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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