(4)Florida Everblades 2 vs. (1)Reading Royals 3
Quarterfinals: The best-of-seven series is tied 1-1
D Charles Landry, FLA: 0-0-0, -1, 0 SOG, 5 PIM (fighting)
Playoff totals: 8 GP, 0-1-1, -1, 9 PIM
Season totals: 51 GP, 4-12-16, +7, 33 PIM
Florida was able to split a two-goal deficit late in the first period but Reading answered early in the middle frame and, though the Everblades got within one again with several minutes remaining in regulation, was able to hold off the visitors in order to even the series at a game apiece. The Eastern Conference's best club during the regular season, the Royals again managed to more than double up the Everblades in shots, by a margin of 40-17. Florida again went 1-for-4 with the man-advantage while Reading was slightly more efficient in this contest than in the opening match, scoring once on five power play opportunities. Jesse Deckert was yanked in favor of Brady Hjelle after stopping just 11 of 14 shots in 20:18 of action. Hjelle played the next 38:21, fending off all 26 Royals shots in the process. The series now moves to Estero where both clubs will resume hostilities again on Wednesday night.
JT Wyman doesn't classify himself as a shootout specialist.
But after the Syracuse surrendered a three-goal lead in the third period, the Crunch forward found himself up in the shootout with a chance to win the game and clinch the East Division title.
Wyman tried to focus on the task at hand. He had an idea of where he wanted to shoot, and did his best to read Worcester Sharks goalie Alex Stalock.
"I'm not really thinking about that when I'm going down there," Wyman said of the division implications.
Wyman made it to the top of the circles and wired a shot over Stalock's glove. The goal emptied the Crunch bench, as the team celebrated the 4-3 win and the franchise's second division title and first since 2001-02.
Syracuse wins the AHL East Division title... barely.
Cedrick Desjardins allowed 3 goals on 22 shots before stopping all 3 shooters he faced in the penalty shot session for the SOW.
SYR Connolly, (31) (Sexton, Barberio), 11:39
SYR Devos, (7) (Connolly, Namestnikov), 3:50
SYR Johnson, (37) (Brown, Cote), 5:40
WOR Gogol, (4) (Comrie, Demelo), 6:37
WOR Hayes, (3) (Comrie, Tarasov), 8:20
WOR Tarasov, (14) , 12:26
SYR- Sexton, Connolly, Wyman
My God, they made that so much harder than it needed to be. Syracuse needed the win tonight to nail down the division title with Binghamton defeating Hershey, and they looked in good shape holding a 3-0 lead heading into the final frame against a non-playoff team. And then the bottom fell out. Thank goodness they were able to get the extra point in the skills gimmick, because if they didn't Binghamton coming to town tomorrow could've stole the division title with a regulation win.
Now tomorrow's game looks to be rather meaningless, and I wouldn't be surprised if certain key players like Mark Barberio, Connolly, and Johnson find most of their ice time given to younger players for precautionary reasons.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
(8)Rouyn-Noranda Huskies 4 @ (1)Halifax Mooseheads 6
Halifax leads Best-of-7 Semifinals, 1-0
W Nikita Kucherov, R-N: 2-0-2, +1, 0 PIM, 5 SOG, 0 Hits
Playoff totals: 11 GP, 9-11-20, +11, 10 PIM
Season totals: 33 GP, 29-34-63, +17, 14 PIM
With R-N: 27 GP, 26-27-53, +18, 12 PIM
With Quebec: 6 GP, 3-7-10, -1, 2 PIM
Bolt prospect Nikita Kucherov scored twice, but it wasn’t enough for the upstart Huskies to upset heavily favored Halifax in Game 1 of their semifinal series. Nathan MacKinnon, who will go top-3 in this summer’s draft, scored three times and added an assist. His teammate, Jonathan Druin, who is also expected to go top-3, had two goals and five points. Kucherov has five goals and eight points in his last two games. Game 2 is Sunday in Nova Scotia.
Ontario Hockey League
(E2)Barrie Colts 5 @ (E1)Belleville Bulls 0
Best-of-7 Eastern Conference Finals tied, 1-1
D Jake Dotchin, BAR: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM
Playoff totals: 10 GP, 0-3-3, +5, 19 PIM
Season totals: 66 GP, 4-18-22, E, 81 PIM
With Barrie: 28 GP, 2-6-8, -1, 42 PIM
With Owen Sound: 38 GP, 2-12-14, +1, 39 PIM
Barrie got to Bulls goalie Malcolm Subban early and often beating him five times en route to a 5-0 Game 2 win. Colts goalie Mathias Niederberger (undrafted) stopped 32 shots for the shutout. Game 3 is on Monday in Barrie.
Lightning prospect Tyler Johnson of the Syracuse Crunch was named the AHL’s Most Valuable Player on Friday, and responded to the honor by netting a hat trick in the Crunch’s 5-1 win over Norfolk later that night.
Former Crunch coach and current Lightning coach Jon Cooper took notice, and he wasn’t surprised.
“Not in the slightest,” Cooper said after the Lightning’s practice on Saturday.
“He’s probably got a little jump in his step. Not only a jump in his step just from coming up here then going back to his team, but his game probably slowed down a little bit, but to get news like that – which was totally deserved – you don’t want to go and lay an egg and he surely didn’t.”
Johnson played 14 games for the Lightning in the last two months, scoring three goals and three assists. He was sent back down to Syracuse on April 12.
The Spokane, Washington, native has an AHL-leading 36 goals and 64 points in 61 games with the Crunch this year. He was a free agent signing by the Lightning in March of 2011.
Practice Notes: Injured goalie Anders Lindback had a strong practice on Saturday and could start as early as Sunday against Carolina. Also, while Radko Gudas filled in for Sami Salo on the power play in Montreal (and the Lightning scored, though Gudas points out he never touched the puck), don't expect Gudas to be a mainstay on the Lightning's power play anytime soon. Though Gudas was introduced to man-advantage duty in Syracuse under Cooper, the Lightning coach said Gudas is slated for PK and 5 on 5 work in Tampa and Cooper is a believer in 5 on 5 plus one special team unit for most players - especially defensemen.
Gudas Jersey Buyers: Gudas said he probably won't keep No. 75 next year. He wore No. 3 in Syracuse in honor of his father, who wore No. 3. The 3-jersey is taken in Tampa Bay by Keith Aulie, but 13 and 33 are both open.
Bishop Mask: Ben Bishop's Lightning mask was supposedly delivered from Sweden to Tampa, but he was wearing his Senators cage during practice on Saturday. He was working with Franz Jean on being positioned for one timers delivered from behind the goal-line into the slot.