Features

Articles that are feature stories.

Witkowski Learning from Increased Ice Time


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Luke Witkowski has learned many lessons in the first half of his rookie season.

The defenseman is surrounded by quality teachers, whether its a coaching staff with decades of experience in professional hockey or the many veterans that dot the Syracuse Crunch lineup.

But sometimes, the best lessons are taught through personal experience.

“These guys help him and we try to help him as much as possible, but I think sometimes you have to live through some of those mistakes,” said Crunch coach Rob Zettler. “You can tell a guy to move the puck quickly as much as you want, but sometimes he has to learn the hard way and get caught doing it.”

Prospect of the Week: February 3, 2014

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

The Prospect of the Week for February 3, 2014 is … Adam Wilcox, G, Minnesota Golden Gophers (NCAA – USA).

They call Adam Wilcox “the Iron Man.” The Gophers goalie and Tampa Bay Lightning sixth round draft pick (2011) has the Marvel Comics character on his mask and has played in nearly every game since starting his collegiate career with the University of Minnesota.

Sustr Focuses on Big Picture After Reassignment to Syracuse


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Despite being sent to Syracuse for more ice time, Andrej Sustr hasn't seen much game action.

The 6-8 defenseman, hurt on his second shift since being reassigned by the Tampa Bay Lightning earlier this month, practiced with the Crunch Tuesday. After missing five games, he is nearing a return to the lineup.

“It’s been pretty good,” Sustr said of working his way back into game shape Tuesday. “I’m aiming for this weekend.”

With Syracuse on a five-game losing streak, the addition of Sustr is a major shot in the arm to a struggling Crunch defense that has surrendered 23 goals in the past five games.

BP Mailbag: 1-30-14

Lots of questions this week, most of which involve speculating on future Lightning lineups. I'm the Miss Cleo of Lightningland, apparently.

Here we go...

What's the deal with the Reto Suri situation and where would he be on the depth chart? (@awoundedzebra1)

Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times reported earlier this week that Suri is indeed on the Lightning’s radar, but the club can’t talk to him until Suri, his agent, and the club work out an agreement enabling the 2014 Olympian to get out of his current contract. Suri told RTS.ch that he expects to sign with Tampa Bay.

Swisshockeynews.ch reported Suri got an out clause, but he hasn’t signed it and will take the Olympic break to consider it. The conditions are that if Suri returns to Switzerland from the fall until 2017, he has to return to his club team, Zug, and if he comes back mid-season, Zug only has to pay him half his due amount.

The site points out that Suri can wait until his Zug contract is over in 2015 and be free to do what he wants.

Panik Plans to Work His Way Back to Tampa Bay


By Jeremy Houghtaling

After skating in a red practice jersey Tuesday, Richard Panik reiterated his intentions -- he came to play.

In his first game of the season with the Syracuse Crunch Saturday, the 6-3 Slovakian winger posted an assist before absorbing a thundering check by the Hershey Bears’ Tyson Strachan. Panik quickly got up from the hit, and instead of taking the game off Sunday to rest and recuperate an apparent upper body injury, he was back on the ice against the Sound Tigers Sunday.

“He gamed it out against Bridgeport,” said Crunch coach Rob Zettler.

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