From FoxSports North
Adam Wilcox came to the University of Minnesota campus this fall for a job interview of sorts.
The freshman from South St. Paul was in a competition with junior Mike Shibrowski to become Golden Gophers' starting goaltender. For the first few weeks of the college hockey season, Minnesota coach Don Lucia played each goalie for one game a weekend to see how they handled certain situations.
But there was one game — and perhaps even one play — in October when Wilcox seized the starting job and made it his own.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie estimates his first National Hockey League assist came about 200 feet from the Phoenix Coyotes net.
The Syracuse Crunch forward, up for more than a dozen games with the Tampa Bay Lightning last season, had chipped the puck past defenseman Rostislav Klesla, and his linemates, Trevor Smith and Martin St. Louis, were off to the races.
It wasn't the prettiest play, but it got the job done.
"Just a simple play," Labrie said. "Keep it simple. That's my type of game."
In his sixth professional season, Labrie has had to grind out a career by doing a little bit of everything on the ice.
The Lightning had five prospects at the 2013 Under-20 World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia, and four came away with medals.
Here’s a look how each prospect fared, and what their future might look like.
Nikita Kucherov, RW, Russia
7 Games Played, 5-3-8, +4, 4 PIM, 21 SOG
While Kucherov may only remember his missed shootout attempt against Sweden in the semifinals right now, years from now will look at his Bronze medal and be satisfied with his play throughout the competition. Kucherov was arguably Russia’s best forward in the tournament, though Mikhail Grigorenko (Sabres) was the only forward named among the team’s three best by the coaches at tournament’s end. In the opinion of TSN commentator Ray Ferraro, Kucherov was the team’s best forward. He and Grigorenko were by far the most consistent and dangerous forwards for the Russians at the event, and the two were responsible for 14 points together.
Florida Everblades 6 vs. Greenville Road Warriors 4
F Alex Hutchings, FLA: 1-0-1, E, 4 SOG, 0 PIM
Season totals: 26 GP, 10-11-21, -1, 22 PIM
D Charles Landry, FLA: 0-1-1, -1, 1 SOG, 0 PIM
Season totals: 28 GP, 1-7-8, +1, 21 PIM
F Maxime Langelier-Parent, FLA: Did not play
Season totals: 1 GP, 1-0-1, -1, 0 PIM
(Syracuse Crunch contract)
D Daniel Milan, FLA: 0-0-0, E, 1 SOG, 0 PIM
Season totals: 15 GP, 1-0-1, -1, 12 PIM
G Pat Nagle, FLA: Did not play
Season totals: 13 GP, 5-5-1, 0 SO, 3.47 GAA, 327 S / 371 SA (.881 SV%)
Florida managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat Friday night, scoring five third-period goals, capped off by Alex Hutchings' empty-netter, in a span of roughly fourteen minutes to stun divisional rival Greenville. Matthew Pistilli, newly acquired from South Carolina, scored twice in his return to the Everblades. Pistilli previously scored seventeen goals and eighteen assists for Florida over the course of thirty-eight games split between the 2010-2011 and 2009-2010 seasons. Andrew Yogan, the first Florida-raised player drafted (4th round, 2010) by an NHL team (the New York Rangers), opened the game's scoring for the Road Warriors. With his second assist in as many games, Landry now has his first point-scoring streak of the season. Hutchings returned to the scoresheet after going pointless in Florida's last three matches. Carolina G prospect John Muse backed up Rob Madore, who stopped twenty-four shots in the match, as Pat Nagle was inactive for the Everblades. Maxime Langelier-Parent, still recovering from an injury sustained early in the season, were inactive. Florida (15-12-6, 38 PTS) continues its road swing with a match against Gwinnett (23-12-1, 47 PTS), currently atop the South division standings, on Saturday.
Cory Conacher tries to not think about what could have been.
With the National Hockey League and the players’ association still working to resolve the lockout, the 5-8, 179-pound winger, who was expected to be a candidate for the Calder Trophy, knows that nothing is guaranteed.
"Even if the NHL figures it out and I get a chance to play in Tampa, I can't expect to be the best player and get all the points," Conacher said. "I have to do the little things that will help Tampa Bay win, and that's what is most important."
One season removed from hoisting the Calder Cup and being named the American Hockey League's Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player – the fourth player to achieve both in the same season – the 23-year-old Syracuse Crunch forward still doesn't take anything for granted.
It starts with the term "shutdown defenseman."
After that, Keith Aulie rattles off the rest of his responsibilities, memorized not in a mirror but through repetition on the ice.
"I try to go out there, play hard, finish my hits, make my first passes, be tough for their forwards to play against, kill penalties, and be consistent back there," Aulie said before taking a breath.
Likely set to at least challenge for a spot on the Tampa Bay Lightning blueline this season, Aulie has taken his talents to the Syracuse Crunch during the NHL lockout. A team that has been near the top of the Eastern Conference in points and penalty minute leaderboard all season, the Crunch welcomed the 6-6, 229-pounder’s ability to log substantial ice time.
Philip-Michael Devos' stay in the American Hockey League was supposed to be temporary.
After failing to make the Norfolk Admirals out of training camp last season, the undrafted forward earned himself a December call-up by posting nearly a point-per-game over his first 20 ECHL contests. Still, the boarding pass likely had "round trip" stamped on it.
Devos had other plans.
"When he came back up, he wouldn't let us send him down," former Admirals head coach Jon Cooper said. "We had all intentions of sending him back down, but he played so well for us."
By Peter Pupello, TampaBayLightning.com
Please excuse the United States’ neighbor to the north if the temperatures in Canada this time of year begin to feel a little bit warmer.
At least in and around the parts of Rouyn-Noranda, that is.
The city is home to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, whom since the arrival of Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Nikita Kucherov, have seemed to catch fire.
Since Kucherov joined the Huskies in a trade from the Quebec Remparts on November 21, the club has gone on to win seven of its previous nine games, including three straight.
Prior to the trade, Rouyn-Noranda had dropped five consecutive games, including two in a row by a score of 8-3. Kucherov, meanwhile, has elevated his game and has seemed to fit right in to his new surroundings as he emerges as a great talent at the Canadian junior level.
For the rest of this story, see TampaBayLightning.com.
By Damian Cristodero, Tampa Bay Times
University of Minnesota goalie Adam Wilcox claims he can solve a Rubik's Cube puzzle in "about a minute."
Yeah, right, said laughing Gophers goaltenders coach Justin Johnson. "Maybe if he was doing just one side."
No, really, Wilcox said, "It's just kind of learning patterns. You have to take it step by step."
And that is exactly how Wilcox has turned himself into one of the nation's top freshman goalies and one of the Lightning's most interesting and promising prospects.
For the rest of this story, see the Tampa Bay Times.
This week 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.
This week’s winner said good-bye to his club team with a dramatic exit.
The Prospect of the Week for December 10 is … Nikita Kucherov, RW, Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL – Canada)
A lot is expected of Russia this month at the upcoming World Junior Championships. The city of Ufa, Russia, is hosting the tournament, and the Russians will not settle for anything less than a gold medal.
With the NHL mired in a lockout, a lot of attention will be on the tournament from North America, too, especially in hockey-rabid Canada.
It’s a big deal.