Choosing this month's award winner was admittedly the most difficult of the season. A handful of prospects had good months, but none stepped up and seized the award by the throat leaving Bolt Prospects to have to spend some time thinking over the selection. In Springfield, Eric Healey paced the Falcons offensively (12 GP, 4-9-13, 2 PIM, -4) while Norm Milley played several inspired games (12 GP, 4-4-8, 14 PIM, -9). However, given Springfield's difficulty in winning hockey games we were hard pressed to give the award to a Falcon. For similar reasons, Chris Lawrence (9 GP, 6-4-10, 10 PIM, +2 and 4 GP, 3-0-3, 8 PIM, -6 in the playoffs) was eliminated from contention after his Mississauga Ice Dogs were unceremoniously upset in the first round of the OHL playoffs. So, this months winner was narrowed down to...
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.
In Game Two of their Elitserien final series, MODO struck back to even defeating Linkopings 3-2. Lightning prospect defenseman Andreas Holmqvist was scoreless in the game. Former Springfield Falcon Zdenek Blatny had 1 assist and 2 penalty minutes in the match for MODO. The series is now tied at 1-1. Game Three is slated for Sunday.
Most embarassing game in Lightning history. Ever.
Johan Holmqvist allowed 4 goals on 12 shots before being pulled for Marc Denis who allowed 3 goals on 19 shots the rest of the way. Both were attrocious and I'm sure John Tortorella wished he had dressed Karri Ramo tonight instead. Jason Ward and Nick Tarnasky had goals in garbage time. Brad Richards, Shane O'Brien, Nolan Pratt and Ruslan Fedotenko got garbage tome assists.
The Lightning loss coupled with Atlanta's win tonight in Carolina makes the Thrashers the division champions. The Lightning's complete inability to secure winnable games against Florida in the final month of the season is the cause, and the Lightning have absolutely no one but themselves to blame. They should have been the 2006-2007 Southeast Division champions. They gave the banner away.
Tomorrow's game in Atlanta takes on diminished meaning. The Lightning will either finish with the #6 or #7 seed depending on what they and the Rangers do in their final games. A Lightning win and Rangers regulation loss gives Tampa a first round series with Atlanta. Any other set of results gives the Lightning a first round matchup with New Jersey. More importantly, Saturday's game will be a key opportunity to rebound psychologically from tonight's collapse. No one in their right mind would want to limp into New Jersey with a couple of season ending losses under these circumstances and try to upset such a battle tested franchise.
Game sheet from NHL.com.
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.
REA Hogeboom, (30) (Zappala, Smith), 1:56
JHN Katsuras, (11) (Boisclair, Tarabrin), 16:53 (PP)
REA Becker, (10) (Werner, Hogeboom), 5:49 (PP)
REA Collymore, (15) (Zappala, Hogeboom), 10:31
REA Collymore, (16) (Saurette, Bala), 13:30
JHN Kvapil, (3) (Katsuras, Nathe), 10:13
JHN Atherton, (5) (Jacobsen, Smolenak), 18:54 (PP)
Game sheet from ECHL.com.