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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.

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.

What to Expect from J.T. Brown and Dmitry Korobov

In the wake of the rash of injuries suffered in yesterday afternoon's game in Boston, the Tampa Bay Lightning have announced they recalled RW J.T. Brown and D Dmitry Korobov from Syracuse of the AHL. Brown and Korobov are two of the team's older, more tenured prospects in the system and both will look to get an opportunity to test their progress against NHL competition. Here's what to expect from each player:

Lightning fans should be a little familiar with J.T. Brown given he had a short 5-game stint with the Lightning in the 2011-2012 campaign after signing as a free agent out of the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Brown has exceptional speed, above average skill, and willingness to stick his nose in on the forecheck despite possessing a slightly built frame. He looked to have a spot in Tampa Bay heading into the 2012-2013 season before the lockout and injury problems took his career track on a detour. Playing in Syracuse, Brown has since adopted to more of a two-way role playing on a checking line with Mike Angelidis in last year's deep playoff run, and in a complimentary winger's role as his alter ego, "J.T. Brownov," playing alongside Vladislav Namestnikov and Nikita Kucherov on the Crunch's top line so far this year. His grit and heavy shot are assets on that line. Brown's selection may mean that Alex Killorn will slide over to center and also signals that Jon Cooper may choose a more defensive-minded, two-way approach to dealing with the team's post-Stamkos injury reality.

Dmitry Korobov (pictured) will be looking to get his first taste of NHL action after signing as a free agent in the summer of 2012. Prior to joining the Lightning organization, the Belarusian Korobov gained a significant amount of experience playing for Dinamo Minsk in Russia's KHL. Last year, Korobov played on the top-two pairings for Syracuse for much of the season, and with Syracuse's youth movement along the blueline he's taken on an even greater role this year with the Crunch. Standing at 6'3" 230 lbs, Korobov's most obvious assets are his size and strength. He does not shy away from the physical game and does enjoy pursuing the big hit. He also has underrated puck-moving skills as demonstrated by the 22 points he put up with Syracuse last year to go along with a very solid +20 rating. Like Radko Gudas, Korobov is a fan of the hip-check. Korobov's weaknesses are that his skating, while adequate, sometimes suffers from sloppy footwork in his stop-starts and pivots and like any young defenseman, his decision-making sometimes isn't 100% spot-on. With the Lightning's lack of depth at this particular position, and Mark Barberio and Keith Aulie already struggling to begin with, Korobov has a golden opportunity right now to move up the depth chart quickly and make his case to stay in the NHL.

Bolts Finalize Roster; Demote Drouin, Connolly, Tyrell Among Others

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have reduced their roster by 10 today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced. The Lightning’s active roster stands at 23 players, with 13 forwards, eight defensemen and two goaltenders.

The following is a list of players and where they have been assigned:

Mike Angelidis Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
J.T. Brown Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
Brett Connolly Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
Jean-Philippe Cote Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
Jonathan Drouin Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Kristers Gudlevskis Florida Everblades (ECHL)
Dmitry Korobov Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
Nikita Kucherov Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
Matt Taormina Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
Dana Tyrell Syracuse Crunch (AHL)

The Bolts will open their season on Thursday night when they travel to Boston to take on the Bruins with puck-drop scheduled for 7:00 p.m.

Connolly, Johnson Returned to Syracuse

The Tampa Bay Lightning have reassigned forwards Brett Connolly and Tyler Johnson to the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.

Connolly, 20, has skated in five games with the Lightning this season, tallying one goal on 10 shots. He scored his lone goal of the season while on the power play last night against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound forward has also appeared in 67 games with the Crunch, registering 27 goals and 57 points to go along with a plus-15 rating and 51 penalty minutes. Connolly ranks second on Syracuse for goals and points and is third for assists with 30. The Campbell River, British Columbia native was originally drafted by the Lightning in the first round, sixth overall, in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

Johnson, 22, has played in 14 games with the Lightning this season, collecting three goals and six points to go along with a plus-3 rating and four penalty minutes. The 5-foot-9, 182-pound forward made his NHL debut on March 14 against the New York Islanders and recorded his first career NHL goal and assist on March 16 versus Carolina. Johnson ranks second among all NHL rookies in faceoff percentage at 59.5% (minimum 50 taken). The Spokane, Washington native has also appeared in 59 games with the Crunch, posting 32 goals and 58 points with a plus-28 rating. He ranks first on Syracuse in goals and points and has a team-high 11 power play goals.

Barberio to Make NHL Debut

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have recalled defenseman Mark Barberio from the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today. Additionally, defenseman Matt Taormina has been reassigned to the Crunch

Barberio, 23, has played in 70 games this season with the Crunch, posting eight goals and 40 points to go along with 44 penalty minutes and a plus-7 rating. He ranks third for assists (32) and fifth for points among AHL defensemen. The Montreal, Quebec native leads all Crunch defensemen in goals, assists and points. Of his eight goals this season, five have been recorded while on the man-advantage.

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound defenseman has skated in 212 career AHL games with the Crunch and Norfolk Admirals, posting 30 goals and 132 points with 111 penalty minutes. Last season, while playing for the Admirals, Barberio won the Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s top defenseman. He was also part of the Admirals team that won the Calder Cup, registering two goals and nine points in 18 games during the playoffs.

Barberio was drafted by the Lightning in the sixth round, 152nd overall, of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

Bolts Recall Tyrell, Connolly; Reassign Four Players

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have recalled forwards Dana Tyrell and Brett Connolly from the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today. Additionally the team has reassigned forwards Mike Angelidis and Ondrej Palat, along with defenseman Andrej Sustr and goaltender Cedrick Desjardins to the Crunch.

Bolts Reassign Tyrell to Syracuse; Recall Angelidis to Tampa

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have recalled forward Mike Angelidis from the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today. Additionally, the Lightning have reassigned forward Dana Tyrell to the Crunch.

Angelidis, 27, has skated in 64 games with the Crunch this season, recording 10 goals and 21 points to go along with 142 penalty minutes. He ranks second on the team behind Radko Gudas in penalty minutes. The current Crunch captain also ranks tied for first on the Crunch with two shorthanded goals.

Last season, Angelidis scored his first career NHL goal in his NHL debut on January 24 against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. The 6-foot-1, 212-pound forward skated in six games with the Lightning last season and collected a goal and five penalty minutes.

Lightning Assign Brian Lee To Syracuse

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have assigned defenseman Brian Lee to the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.

Lee, 26, has skated in 22 games for the Lightning this season, recording 16 penalty minutes. Lee ranks fifth on the club in hits with 49 and sixth with 28 blocked shots. The Moorhead, Minnesota native has appeared in 209 career NHL games, collecting five goals and 36 points with 124 penalty minutes.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound defenseman has played in 123 career AHL games, all with the Binghamton Senators, recording eight goals and 52 points.

Lee was originally acquired by the Lightning from the Ottawa Senators on February 26, 2012 in exchange for Matt Gilroy.

Lightning Name Jon Cooper 8th Head Coach in Franchise History

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning named Jon Cooper the eighth head coach in franchise history today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced. Cooper joins the Lightning after having spent the previous three seasons behind the bench of Tampa Bay’s top minor league affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals from 2010-12 and this season with the Syracuse Crunch, compiling a 133-62-26 (.661) record in 221 AHL games. Cooper will coach his first game for the Lightning on Friday night versus the New Jersey Devils. Effective immediately, Syracuse assistant Rob Zettler takes over as the head coach of the Crunch while Martin Raymond will join Zettler as an assistant. Dan Lacroix and Steve Thomas will remain behind the bench for tomorrow night’s game against the Buffalo Sabres, then continuing as Cooper’s assistants with the Lightning.

“We are very pleased to introduce Jon as our head coach today,” Yzerman said. “He has had success at every level he has coached and is extremely familiar with our organization, as well as our players. He has a tremendous record at all levels and we feel he is ready to make the move to the NHL.”

“There is no other team in hockey that I would rather be coaching than the Tampa Bay Lightning,” said Cooper upon accepting the position. “It’s quite a tribute to Steve Yzerman, Jeff Vinik and the organization they are building that they are proud to promote from within. I look forward to getting to know the players and getting to work right away.”

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