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Point Signs Entry-Level Contract, Joins Syracuse

(Tampa Bay Lightning release) The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Brayden Point to a three-year, entry-level contract, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today. Additionally, Point has signed an AHL amateur try out contract to play the remainder of the 2014-15 season with the Syracuse Crunch.

AHL Game Night: 3-25-15 Crunch at Phantoms

Phantoms never had a ghost of a chance.

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LV-1

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 1 goal on 28 shots for the victory. He's won 5 straight starts and put together 4 straight quality starts in the process. His save percentage has steadily risen to .904 and he's building up confidence necessary for a solid playoff run.

First Period
SYR Mormina, (4) (Kunyk), 11:46 (SH)

Second Period
SYR Marchessault, (20) , 8:45
SYR Koekkoek, (5) (Martindale, Gourde), 10:56

Third Period
SYR Marchessault, (21) , 2:19 (SH)
SYR Courtnall, (7) (Vermin), 4:47
SYR Martindale, (11) (Courtnall, Dotchin), 8:12
LV Jones, (7) (Comrie, Gordon), 9:22 (PP)

Jonathan Marchessault, Justin Courtnall, and Gudlevskis were the game's three stars. Marchessault is currently tied for 6th in the league in scoring. Courtnall's got 5 points and a +5 rating in 7 games since joining the Crunch. At this rate, maybe the Lightning should've signed him the first run through the organization?

It's been a long road, but Syracuse has closed back within 1 point of Hershey for the 2nd seed in the conference. For the longest time, they looked to be locked into the 3 seed, but they're playing themselves into a spot to challenge for better position.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 3-24-15 Panthers at Lightning

Robbery.

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TB-4

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 36 shots for the victory. You hate to see a goaltender allow 3 in under 3 minutes like he did in the Second Period, but you applaud the mental toughness to not allow anything else the rest of the way.

First Period
5:49 TB Morrow (3), (Brown)
7:47 TB Johnson (26), (Callahan)

Second Period
6:16 FLA Jokinen (7), (Boyes, Gudbranson)
6:34 FLA Pirri (18), (Trocheck)
8:14 FLA Huberdeau (12), (Barkov, Jagr)

Third Period
1:30 TB Kucherov (27), (Sustr, Palat)
17:32 TB Callahan (22), (Killorn, Stamkos)

Ryan Callahan and Vasilevskiy were the game's first and second stars.

The Lightning didn't deserve a damned thing out of this game. Clearly they talked about their tendency to come out flat in games like these against lesser opposition and they quickly stormed out to the 2-0 lead. But, after the refs gifted a phantom boarding call on Kucherov to the Panthers, and the PK surrendered 5 SOG's in 2 minutes, Florida had the momentum pretty much the rest of the game. It was only by the grace of a great individual play by Kucherov on his wraparound goal and a horrific softie by Luongo on Callahan's goal that Tampa Bay escaped with 2 points. And, yeah, you'll take it, but it's another frustrating example of the team's mental weakness in games like these. It's weird to say you'd rather see top-tier opponents rather than the Jets and Panthers of the world, but you know the team simply hasn't put a 60 minute effort together anytime recently against opponents like the Jets or Panthers.

As I type, the Lightning have moved into a tie with Montreal at 99 points, with the Canadiens just having their game with Nashville tied at 2-2. We'll see how the rest of the night unfolds, but the pressure is still on Montreal to keep their meager lead atop the Atlantic Division.

Vladislav Namestnikov had 1 shot in 12:47. Like most of his teammates, his play evaporated in the final 40 minutes of action as they got pinned up in their own zone time and time again.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Prospect of the Week: 3-24-15

We continue our Bolt Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for his recent contributions on and off the ice.

The Bolt Prospect of the Week for March 24, 2015 is … Adam Wilcox, G, University of Minnesota Golden Gophers (NCAA – USA).

Playing goaltender for the University of Minnesota isn’t for the faint of heart. For everything positive – and Lightning prospect Adam Wilcox had plenty of positives in his first two years with the Gophers – the negatives are amplified to a level of criticism not seen in many hockey circles. Minnesota was the top-ranked team early in the year, then fell out of the rankings completely. As a result, Wilcox has trudged through a river of disparagement for inconsistent play and what amounts to not living up to the standard that he set himself.

Juniors Game Night: 3-22-15

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Playoff match-ups:

QMJHL-4 Quebec (Adam Erne) vs QMJHL-13 Cape Breton
QMJHL-8 Sherbrooke (Cameron Darcy) vs QMJHL-9 Charlottetown

Ontario Hockey League

Kitchener Rangers 0 @ Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 3

D Anthony DeAngelo, SOO: 0-1-1, +1, 4 PIM
With SSM: 26 GP, 15-36-51, +33, 51 PIM
With Sarnia: 29 GP, 10-28-38, +1, 64 PIM
Season totals: 55 GP, 25-64-89, +34, 115 PIM
2013-14 totals: 51 GP, 15-56-71, -34, 90 PIM

Anthony DeAngelo had the primary assist on the Soo’s first goal to extend his point streak to 25 games. He finishes the season with 89 points, and the Greyhounds finish the season with the league’s top overall seed. DeAngelo won the OHL and CHL scoring title for defensemen by 18 points. He was 25 points better the third place finishers, which included the WHL and QMJHL leading defensive scorers.

Playoff match-ups:

West-1 Sault Ste. Marie (DeAngelo) vs West-8 Saginaw
East-1 Oshawa vs East-8 Peterborough (Masin, who is out for the season)
Windsor (Cristiano DiGiacinto) did not make the playoffs

Western Hockey League

Kootenay Ice 2 @ Calgary Hitmen 3

D Ben Thomas, CAL: 0-0-0, +1, 2 PIM
Season totals: 60 GP, 7-24-31, +16, 28 PIM
2013-14 totals: 72 GP, 7-24-31, +11, 39 PIM

Calgary won the Central Division title by one point over Medicine Hat, thanks to a win over Kootenay on Sunday. Thomas finishes the year with the same point total as last year, but achieved in 12 fewer games. Calgary swept its weekend series with the Ice, and now gets them again in the first round of the playoffs.

Playoff match-ups:

East-3 Calgary (Thomas) vs East-6 Kootenay
Moose Jaw (Brayden Point) did not make the playoffs

NHL Game Night: 3-22-15 Bruins at Lightning

Stick that in your pipe, Jack Edwards.

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TB-5

Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 28 shots for the victory. Sad lack of net front coverage late in the Third by the Lightning allowed the garbage time goal that wrecked a solid stat line for Ben. Maybe the only blemish on the game.

First Period
0:33 BOS Bergeron (21), (Marchand, McQuaid)
5:49 TB Namestnikov (6), (Morrow, Brown)
10:47 TB Brown (3), (Palat, Carle)
11:02 TB Stralman (8), (Filppula, Namestnikov)

Second Period
7:54 TB Garrison (4), (Johnson, Carle)

Third Period
10:22 BOS Chara (8), (Smith, Pastrnak)(PP)
13:50 TB Palat (16), (Callahan, Kucherov)(PP)
19:12 BOS Paille (6), (Talbot, Campbell)

J.T. Brown, Steven Stamkos, and Vladislav Namestnikov were the game's three stars. Funny how the Bruins got distinctly less big and bad when Stamkos jumped on Marchand after his low-bridge hit on Filppula. What they say is true: the best way to handle a bully is to bloody their nose a bit. Between that and the early 4th line contributions, you knew this was going to be the Lightning's game. It'll be interesting to see how Cedric Paquette draws back into the lineup now, because all 4 lines are clicking reasonably well at the moment.

The victory puts the Lightning at 97 points for the season, meaning they've passed the 96 point mark we peg as the minimum threshold to comfortably make the playoffs. They're also still lurking just 2 points shy of Montreal for the division lead, and we can now officially make banner chasing the mission of the rest of the regular season.

Namestnikov had 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 14:42 of ice time. He might've run out of a little steam in the final 40 minutes of hockey and had at least one pretty awful turnover, which happened in the Second Period, but he's played very well overall. Well enough that I wouldn't be shocked if Namestnikov stays with the Lightning even after Paquette returns from injury. He's now 7 games shy of graduation from prospect status on the website with 9 games left on the schedule.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 3-22-15 Crunch at Falcons

Blujuspalooza continues.

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Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 1 goal on 14 shots for the victory. Not a typo. Light work for the Yak today.

First Period
SYR Courtnall, (6) (Blujus, Vermin), 10:25
SPR Adam, (14) (Chaput, Hoeffel), 16:52

Second Period
SYR Marchessault, (19) (Blujus, Richard), 3:04 (PP)
SYR Gourde, (26) (Ashton, Koekkoek), 19:40 (PP)

Third Period
SYR Angelidis, (18) (Mormina), 14:03

Jonathan Marchessault and Dylan Blujus were the game's first and second stars. Blujus with back-to-back multi-point games for the first time in his pro career.

Justin Courtnall continues to look like another Julien BriseBois trash to treasure conversion.

Things get interesting in the next couple of weeks for Syracuse as the amateur ranks yield some ATO opportunities for the Lightning organization. Specifically, Brayden Point could be a prime addition on an ATO for the Crunch, and an early exit from the NCAA tournament could put Matthew Peca in a Crunch jersey very soon, too. Both would be nice additions to a Crunch team in need of more speed and skill, especially up the middle.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Juniors Game Night: 3-21-15

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Sherbrooke Phoenix 3 @ Rouyn-Noranda Huskies 7

C Cameron Darcy, SHR: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0 SOG, 0 Hits
With Sherbrooke: 37 GP, 20-25-45, -7, 34 PIM
With Cape Breton: 19 GP, 1-13-14, -6, 14 PIM
Season totals: 56 GP, 21-38-59, -12, 50 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 65 GP, 35-47-82, +3, 51 PIM

In a possible playoff preview, the Huskies crushed the Phoenix, 7-3. If the two should meet in the first round, Sherbrooke gets the home ice advantage.

Quebec Remparts 4 @ Rimouski Oceanic 5

W Adam Erne, QUE: 1-1-2, -1, 0 PIM, 3 SOG, 13/30 FO, 0 Hits
Season totals: 60 GP, 41-45-86, +21, 102 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 48 GP, 21-41-62, -3, 65 PIM

Adam Erne and Quebec finished their regular season with back-to-back losses to the Oceanic. The good news is they won’t have to face Rimouski in the playoffs for a while as the Oceanic is the 1-seed and Quebec the 4 (of 16).

Ontario Hockey League

Windsor Spitfires 1 @ Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 12

W Cristiano DiGiacinto, WSR: 0-1-1, -1, 0 PIM
Season totals: 63 GP, 21-24-45, -15, 100 PIM
2013-14 totals: 50 GP, 17-11-28, +8, 101 PIM

D Anthony DeAngelo, SOO: 2-0-2, +6, 0 PIM
With SSM: 25 GP, 15-35-50, +32, 47 PIM
With Sarnia: 29 GP, 10-28-38, +1, 64 PIM
Season totals: 54 GP, 25-63-88, +33, 111 PIM
2013-14 totals: 51 GP, 15-56-71, -34, 90 PIM

Anthony DeAngelo was back in the Soo’s lineup after resting two games, and scored two of the Greyhounds’ 12 goals to extend his point streak to 24 games. The Soo plays Kitchener on Sunday, two points up on Oshawa for the best record in the OHL. DiGiacinto had an assist for Windsor Saturday and finishes the season with 45 points. He somehow escaped Saturday with only a minus-1 rating. His teammate Trevor Murphy was minus-10. DiGiacinto could sign with AHL Syracuse if the Crunch want some extra forward depth.

Western Hockey League

Moose Jaw Warriors 2 @ Brandon Wheat Kings 9

C Brayden Point, MJ: 1-0-1, -2, 0 PIM
Season totals: 60 GP, 38-49-87, +6, 46 PIM
2013-14 totals: 72 GP, 36-55-91, -27, 53 PIM

Needing a win to stay alive in the playoffs (plus needing some help), Moose Jaw was unable to stay with the conference-leading Wheat Kings and fell hard, 9-2. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway as Swift Current won again and clinched the final playoff spot in the division. Point scored a goal for the ninth-straight game. He could take that streak to AHL Syracuse if the Crunch want to add skill to their lineup. Point will return to Moose Jaw next year due to AHL age restrictions, but can join the AHL now because his junior team’s season is over.

NCAA Game Night: 3-21-15

No. 18 Harvard Crimson 4 vs No. 15 Colgate Raiders 2
ECAC Finals

F Brian Hart, HAR: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 35 GP, 7-9-16, +4, 19 PIM
2013-2014 totals: 30 GP, 7-8-15, -8, 20 PIM

Harvard claimed the 2015 ECAC tournament championship with a 4-2 win over Colgate. The Crimson will now play in the national tournament as part of the field of 16. Harvard’s win likely ensures Matt Peca and Quinnipiac will receive an at-large big into the field of 16.

No. 12 UMass-Lowell Riverhawks 3 vs No. 3 Boston University Terriers 5
Hockey East Finals

D John MacLeod, BU: 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 31 GP, 2-7-9, +16, 48 PIM
2013-2014 totals (USHL): 19 GP, 1-4-5, +1, 36 PIM

Boston University won the Hockey East tournament championship on the back of Jack Eichel’s two goals and assist Saturday. Eichel was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. MacLeod and BU will likely get a 1-seed in the national tournament.

No. 5 Denver Pioneers 5 vs No. 1 North Dakota 1
NCHC Third Place Game

F Brendan O’Donnell, UND: 0-1-1, -2, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season totals: 37 GP, 13-7-20, +11, 35 PIM
2013-2014 totals: 34 GP, 7-11-18, +7, 10 PIM

UND lost back-to-back games for the first time this season, falling in the third place game Saturday against Denver. UND is still a lock for the national tournament.

No. 15 Minnesota Golden Gophers 4 vs Michigan Wolverines 2
Big 10 Finals

G Adam Wilcox, MIN: Win, 22 saves on 24 shots, *Third Star*
Season totals: 37 GP, 22-11-3, 2.39 GAA, .913 sv%, 5 SO
2013-2014 totals: 38 GP, 26-6-6, 1.97 GAA, .932 sv%, 4 SO

Wilcox was named the Big 10 tournament Most Outstanding Player after making 22 saves in the finals against Michigan. Minnesota held a 1-0 lead in the second period before Michigan scored two power play goals. The first on a deke from in close that snuck under Wilcox’s arm, and the second on a back-door finish he had no chance of stopping. Minutes after Minnesota went up 3-2 in the third period Wilcox made a series of big saves on the Wolverines to maintain the lead. He was solid the rest of the way as the Gophers iced the game with an empty net goal. Minnesota and Wilcox had a lot of expectations on them coming into the year and have ridden a roller coaster of inconsistency for the majority of the season, but they’ve found their groove lately and their tournament performance was indicative of their potential. Watch out for the Gophers in the national tournament as they try to make their way back to the championship game. They lost to Union in the finals last year.

*USCHO poll used

AHL Game Night: 3-21-15 Comets at Crunch

Comets streak past Crunch in the Third.

UTI-4
SYR-2

Allen York allowed 3 goals on 36 shots for the loss.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
SYR Richard, (12) (Dotchin, Blujus), 5:41 (PP)
UTI Baertschi, (11) (Blain, Friesen), 6:54

Third Period
UTI Conacher, (6) (Andersson, Friesen), 2:00
UTI Shinkaruk, (9) (O'Reilly, Corrado), 4:01
SYR Marchessault, (18) (Richard, Blujus), 15:27 (PP)
UTI Baertschi, (12) (Friesen, Grenier), 19:15 (EN)

Tanner Richard was the game's third star. Dylan Blujus had his 3rd multi-point game of the season, ushering in a brief period of #Blujuspalooza.

Syracuse may have lost the war tonight, but at least the AHL's abbreviation for them isn't an acronym for Urinary Tract Infections. Escalate the rivalry with Grade A scalding rhetoric. It's always good for the soul.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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