Connolly, Brett

Report: Lightning Close to Signing Top Ranked Bolt Prospect

Gregg Drinnan of the Kamloops Daily News, one of the WHL and junior hockey’s most respected writers, reports Lightning 2010 first round draft pick Brett Connolly has been signed by the Bolts to a standard three-year entry level contract.

The Lightning have not announced the signing, and may not until July, according to Damian Cristodero (@LightningTimes) of the St. Pete Times.

Erik Erlendsson (@erlendssontrib) of the Tampa Tribune tweeted that Connolly confirmed he has agreed to a deal.

Connolly, a native of Prince George, B.C. and captain of the WHL’s Prince George Cougars, is currently in Toronto involved in an intense training program in preparation for next season.

He was drafted sixth overall by the Lightning last summer, the first draft pick of the Jeff Vinik-Steve Yzerman era in Tampa Bay. The pick was scrutinized because Connolly had missed most of the previous season due to two hip injuries.

The winger played in 59 games this year for the Cougars, missing time only due to his participation for Canada at the World Junior championships, a minor knee injury, and a late shoulder separation sustained in the playoffs.

Al Murray, former head scout for Hockey Canada and current director of amateur scouting for the Lightning, told NHL.com last week the hip injuries were ancient history.

After Connolly’s 2010-2011 season was finished Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman said the 46-goal scorer needed to get stronger to help prevent injuries.

Connolly is in Toronto to work on just that.

"He'll stay [in Toronto] for the summer; he's made a significant commitment to put himself in every position to try and make the [Lightning] and to try and do as well as he can, so with added strength and confidence, we're anxious to see what he looks like in the fall training camp, but there will be no urgency to push Brett into a roster spot," Murray told NHL.com.

Because Connolly won't be 20 until May 2012, his options are to play for the Lightning or return to the WHL in the fall. He cannot play in the American Hockey League.

Connolly, who had 73 points in his 59 games last season, retained his spot as the Lightning’s top prospect in our recently released 2010-2011 Final Rankings.

North American Juniors Game Night: 3/30/11

[b][i]QMJHL[/b][/i] [b]QMJHL First Round [/b] [b] No.5 Gatineau Olympiques 4 @ No. 12 Rimouski Oceanic 3 (OT)[/b] [i]Gatineau leads best of seven series 3-1[/i] [i]D [b][url=/adam-janosik]Adam Janosik[/url][/b], GAT: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 3 SOG, 1 Hit[/i] Season Totals: 60 GP, 7-25-32, +17, 37 PIM Playoff Totals: 4 GP, 1-2-3, -2, 4 PIM Jean-Gabriel Pageau (2011) scored his third goal of the series at 5:41 of overtime to lift Gatineau to a Game 4 win over Rimouski. Game 5 is Friday in Gatineau. [b] No.2 Montreal Juniors 4 @ No.15 Halifax Mooseheads 2 [/b] [i]Montreal wins best of seven series 4-0[/i] [i]D [b][url=/charles-landry]Charles Landry[/url][/b], MTL: 0-0-0, +1, 4 PIM (roughing, checking from behind), 3 SOG, 0 Hits[/i] Season Totals: 57 GP, 11-29-40, +26, 30 PIM Playoff Totals: 4 GP, 1-0-1, +6, 8 PIM Montreal made quick work of the Mooseheads, sweeping them in four games. Landry finished the series plus-6. The top four teams in the Q all swept their opponents, as did No.11 seed Victoriaville, who swept the Titan 4-0. In this new format, all teams are re-seeded in the second round, so the Juniors will play the second-lowest seed to come out; likely No.8 Lewiston, who is up 3-1 on Moncton. [i][b]WHL[/b][/i] [b]Western Conference Quarterfinals[/b] [b] No.4 Tri-City Americans 5 @ No.5 Vancouver Giants 1[/b] [i] Tri-City wins best of seven series 4-0[/i] [i]RW [b][url=/carter-ashton]Carter Ashton[/url][/b], TC: 1-1-2, +1, 0 PIM[/i] Season Totals: 62 GP, 33-38-71, -6, 106 PIM Playoff Totals: 4 GP, 2-1-3, +2, 2 PIM Carter Ashton scored his second game winning goal of the series as the Americans made a clean sweep of the Giants in their conference quarterfinal series. Vancouver, needing a win to stay alive, only registered 18 shots in the game as they went out with a whimper. Ashton’s goal came in the late first period on the power play. [b]Western Conference Quarterfinals [/b] [b] No.2 Kelowna Rockets 4 @ No.7 Prince George Cougars 2 [/b] [i] Kelowna wins best of seven series 4-0[/i] [i]RW [b][url=/brett-connolly]Brett Connolly[/url][/b], PG: Did not play (injured - shoulder) [/i] Season Totals: 59 GP, 46-27-73, -5, 26 PIM Playoff Totals: 1 GP, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM The Cougars outshot the Rockets for the second straight game, but without their captain, leading scorer, and star player Brett Connolly, they couldn’t put the puck in the net enough and now are done for the year. Connolly missed all but half of a period in the series due to a shoulder separation. If he’s healthy, he can join the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL since Prince George is finished, but that’s a big “if” and Lightning GM Steve Yzerman may not want him rushing back into play to risk further injury. Despite missing a couple weeks with a knee injury, it was a successful year for Connolly, who flirted with 50 goals and played for Team Canada at the World Junior Tournament. Yzerman told the Tampa Tribune recently Connolly must get stronger if he is to play at the NHL level. Next year Connolly will either be back in Prince George or in Tampa with the Lightning as he cannot begin a season in the AHL until 2012, after he turns 20. [b]Western Conference Quarterfinals[/b] [b]No.7 Chilliwack Bruins 4 @ No.2 Spokane Chiefs 3 (OT) [/b] [i] Spokane leads best of seven series 2-1[/i] [i]C [b][url=/tyler-johnson]Tyler Johnson[/url][/b], SPO: 1-1-2, +1, 0 PIM [/i] Season Totals: 71 GP, 53-62-115, +27, 48 PIM Playoff Totals: 3 GP, 2-2-4, +1, 0 PIM Johnson had a goal and an assist, but was knocked out of the game in the second period after being elbowed by Chilliwack’s Tyler Stahl (pictured – Spokesman Review photo). Spokane had just scored to go up 3-0 when the incident occurred. Johnson, who had an assist on the goal being scored when the hit took place, is listed as questionable for Game 4. Stahl was given a major penalty and game misconduct and now faces a possible suspension. The Bruins scored the game’s next four goals. Kevin Sundher (Sabres) had both the game tying and overtime winning goals for the Bruins. Game 4 is Thursday in Spokane. The series is following a 2-3-1-1-1 format. [b]Eastern Conference Quarterfinals[/b] [b] No.1 Saskatoon Blades 3 @ No.8 Prince Albert Raiders 6[/b] [i] Saskatoon leads best of seven series 2-1[/i] [i]D [b][url=/teigan-zahn]Teigan Zahn[/url][/b], SAS: 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIM[/i] Season Totals: 72 GP, 3-20-23, +39, 133 PIM Playoff Totals: 3 GP, 0-2-2 +1, 2 PIM The Raiders came out flying, outshooting the Blades 22-6 in the first period, but needed a three goal third period to beat the WHL’s best team 6-3. Zahn was scoreless after his First Star award and two assists in Game 2. Brandon Herrod (undrafted) had two goals and was First Star for the Raiders. Game 4 is Thursday in Prince Albert.

North American Juniors Game Night: 3/29/11

QMJHL

QMJHL First Round

No.5 Gatineau Olympiques 4 @ No.12 Rimouski Oceanic 7
Gatineau leads best of seven series 2-1

D Adam Janosik, GAT: 1-0-1, -2, 4 PIM (hooking, slashing), 3 SOG, 2 Hits
Season Totals: 60 GP, 7-25-32, +17, 37 PIM
Playoff Totals: 3 GP, 1-2-3, -2, 4 PIM

Janosik’s sixth career playoff goal wasn’t enough as Rimouski got back in the series with a big home win over Gatineau. Game 4 is Wednesday in the former home of Vincent Lecavalier, Brad Richards, and Sidney Crosby.

No.2 Montreal Juniors 2 @ No.15 Halifax Mooseheads 0
Montreal leads best of seven series 3-0

D Charles Landry, MTL: 0-0-0, +1, 2 PIM (interference), 0 SOG, 0 Hits
Season Totals: 57 GP, 11-29-40, +26, 30 PIM
Playoff Totals: 3 GP, 1-0-1, +5, 4 PIM

Trevor Parkes (undrafted) broke a scoreless tie with just over a minute left in the game and Rapael Pouliot (undrafted) scored into an empty net 47 seconds later to give the Juniors a 2-0 win and commanding 3-0 series lead. Landry’s plus-5 rating is tied for second on the club in the playoffs. Game 4 is Wednesday in Halifax.

OHL

Western Conference Quarterfinals

No.8 London Knights 3 @ No.1 Owen Sound Attack 5
Owen Sound leads best of seven series 2-1

D Geoffrey Schemitsch, OS: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM
Season Totals: 45 GP, 1-19-20, +17, 14 PIM
Playoff Totals: 1 GP, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM
G Michael Zador, OS: Did not play (backup)
Season Totals: 31 GP, 19-5-1-1, 3.23 GAA, .888 sv%, 0 SO

He’s back! Geoffrey Schemitsch (pictured) played his first game since breaking his arm February 10. He did not register a point, but helped the Attack to an important Game 3 home win over upset-minded London. Game 4 is Thursday in London.

WHL

Western Conference Quarterfinals

No.4 Tri-City Americans 4 @ No.5 Vancouver Giants 0
Tri-City leads best of seven series 3-0

RW Carter Ashton, TC: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM (roughing)
Season Totals: 62 GP, 33-38-71, -6, 106 PIM
Playoff Totals: 3 GP, 1-0-1, +1, 2 PIM

The Ams scored once in the late second period and three more times in the third period to beat the Giants in Vancouver 4-0 and take a commanding 3-0 series lead. Ashton hasn’t registered a point since scoring the winner in overtime in Game 1. Game 4 is Wednesday in B.C.

Western Conference Quarterfinals

No.2 Kelowna Rockets 7 @ No.7 Prince George Cougars 6
Kelowna leads best of seven series 3-0

RW Brett Connolly, PG: Did not play (injured - shoulder)
Season Totals: 59 GP, 46-27-73, -5, 26 PIM
Playoff Totals: 1 GP, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM

Prince George put up a good fight, outshooting Kelowna 41-29, but didn’t get the goaltending they needed and fell 7-6. Connolly, who is publicly considered day-to-day with an upper body injury (shoulder separation), has not played since the opening period of Game 1. His season and possibly junior career is now potentially one game away from being over. (Note: His junior career would be over if he made the Lightning next season. He is not eligible to begin a season in the AHL until 2012. He could join AHL Norfolk – if healthy – this season when the Cougars are finished).

North American Juniors Game Night: 3/26/11

USHL

Fargo Force 3 @ Tri-City Storm 0
C Jimmy Mullin, FGO: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 47 GP, 20-33-53, +26, 24 PIM

Mullin had five points in his last three games coming into Saturday night’s game, but he’s probably fine “only” walking away with a much-needed win.

QMJHL

QMJHL First Round – Game 2

No.12 Rimouski Oceanic 2 @ No.5 Gatineau Olympiques 3 (OT)
Gatineau leads best of seven series 2-0

D Adam Janosik, GAT: 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG, 0 Hits
Season Totals: 60 GP, 7-25-32, +17, 37 PIM
Playoff Totals: 2 GP, 0-2-2, E, 0 PIM

Janosik (pictured) had a power play assist in the first period. Gatineau led 2-0 before allowing two third period goals to the Oceanic. Tye McGinn (Flyers) scored in overtime for the Olympiques. Game 3 is Tuesday in Rimouski.

OHL

Western Conference Quarterfinals – Game 2

No.1 Owen Sound Attack 1 @ No.8 London Knights 5
Best of seven series tied 1-1

D Geoffrey Schemitsch, OS: Did not play (injured - broken arm)
Season totals: 45 GP, 1-19-20, +17, 14 PIM
G Michael Zador, OS: Did not play (backup)
Season Totals: 31 GP, 19-5-1-1, 3.23 GAA, .888 sv%, 0 SO

Top-seeded Owen Sound is a Game 1 overtime goal away from being down 2-0 to eighth-seeded London. The Knights scored three second period goals and Michael Houser (2011) stopped 52 shots in the win. Game 3 is Tuesday in Owen Sound.

WHL

Western Conference Quarterfinals – Game 2

Vancouver Giants 4 @ Tri-City Americans 5
Tri-City leads best of seven series 2-0

RW Carter Ashton, TC: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM
Season Totals: 62 GP, 33-38-71, -6, 106 PIM
Playoff Totals: 2 GP, 1-0-1, +1, 0 PIM

TC held their one goal lead throughout the third period to win the game and take a 2-0 series lead. Emotions ran high as there was a full line brawl, including goalies, when the final horn sounded. Game 3 is Tuesday in Vancouver.

Western Conference Quarterfinals – Game 2

No.7 Prince George Cougars 4 @ No.2 Kelowna Rockets 7
Kelowna leads best of seven series 2-0

RW Brett Connolly, PG: Did not play (injured - shoulder)
Season Totals: 59 GP, 46-27-73, -5, 26 PIM
Playoff Totals: 1 GP, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM

Connolly left Game 1 in the first period with an apparent shoulder injury. He did not dress for Game 2. The Tampa Tribune reported Connolly has a shoulder separation, but Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said he was unsure how long Connolly would be out. PG had a 4-2 lead in Game 2 before Kelowna exploded for the game’s final five goals, including four in the third period. Game 3 is Tuesday in Prince George.

Western Conference Quarterfinals – Game 2

Spokane Chiefs 5 @ Chilliwack Bruins 0
Spokane leads best of seven series 2-0

C Tyler Johnson, SPO: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM
Season Totals: 71 GP, 53-62-115, +27, 48 PIM
Playoff Totals: 2 GP, 1-1-2, E, 0 PIM

Johnson didn’t hit the scoresheet but that didn’t hold the Chiefs back as they won big in Chilliwack, 5-0. Game 3 is Wednesday in Spokane. The series will follow a 2-3-1-1-1 format.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals – Game 1

Prince Albert Raiders 1 @ Saskatoon Blades 8
Saskatoon leads best of seven series 1-0

D Teigan Zahn, SAS: 0-0-0, +1, 2 PIM (roughing)
Season Totals: 72 GP, 3-20-23, +39, 133 PIM
Playoff Totals: 1 GP, 0-0-0, +1, 2 PIM

Saskatoon had no problem with the Raiders in Game 1, winning handily, 8-1. Matej Stransky (2011) had a goal and three assists for the Blades. Game 2 is Sunday.

North American Juniors Game Night: 3/25/11

QMJHL

QMJHL First Round – Game 1

No. 12 Rimouski Oceanic 0 @ No.5 Gatineau Olympiques 6
Gatineau leads best of seven series 1-0

D Adam Janosik, GAT: 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG, 0 Hits
Season Totals: 60 GP, 7-25-32, +17, 37 PIM
Playoff Totals: 1 GP, 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM

Rimouski actually outshot Gatineau 25-22. Janosik earned his eighth career playoff point with an assist. He had five goals and two assists in nine games for Gatineau last postseason.

QMJHL First Round – Game 2

No.15 Halifax Mooseheads 0 @ No.2 Montreal Juniors 6
Montreal leads best of seven series 2-0

D Charles Landry, MTL: 0-0-0, +1, 2 PIM (roughing), 1 SOG, 0 Hits
Season Totals: 57 GP, 11-29-40, +26, 30 PIM
Playoff Totals: 2 GP, 1-0-1, +4, 2 PIM

Landry was scoreless as Montreal put a beating on Halifax in Quebec. Game 3 is Tuesday in Nova Scotia.

OHL

Western Conference Quarterfinals – Game 1

No.7 Guelph Storm 2 @ No.2 Saginaw Spirit 3
Saginaw leads best of seven series 1-0

C/W Richard Panik, GUE: 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIM (roughing)
Season Totals: 51 GP, 27-29-56, -6, 75 PIM
Playoff Totals: 1 GP, 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIM

Guelph had a 2-1 lead entering the third period on the road but gave up two goals in the middle of the final stanza to drop Game 1, 3-2. Game 2 is Sunday in Guelph. Panik was on the ice for the game winner.

Western Conference Quarterfinals – Game 1

No.8 London Knights 2 @ No.1 Owen Sound Attack 3 (OT)
Owen Sound leads best of seven series 1-0

D Geoffrey Schemitsch, OS: Did not play (injured - broken arm)
Season totals: 45 GP, 1-19-20, +17, 14 PIM
G Michael Zador, OS: Did not play (backup)
Season Totals: 31 GP, 19-5-1-1, 3.23 GAA, .888 sv%, 0 SO

As expected, Jordan Binnington got the start for the Attack. Panthers prospect Garrett Wilson scored the overtime winner, his second of the game for Owen Sound. Game 2 is Sunday in London. Schemitsch is listed as day-to-day.

WHL

Western Conference Quarterfinals – Game 1

No.5 Vancouver Giants 1 @ No.4 Tri-City Americans 2 (OT)
Tri-City leads best of seven series 1-0

RW Carter Ashton, TC: 1-0-1, +1, 0 PIM, *First Star*
Season Totals: 62 GP, 33-38-71, -6, 106 PIM
Playoff Totals: 1 GP, 1-0-1, +1, 0 PIM

Ashton scored on the power play with just 2.2 seconds left in the first overtime to give the Ams a Game 1 win over the Giants. He threw the puck at the net from the corner and it banked in off Vancouver goaltender Mark Segal (undrafted), who stopped 44 shots in the loss. TC outshot Vancouver 27-9 in the third period. Game 2 is Saturday in Washington. This was only Ashton’s second career playoff goal. He had one in 11 games two years ago for Lethbridge and none in 19 games for Lethbridge the year before that. It’s safe to say he’s improved a lot since then. (TC Americans photo)

Western Conference Quarterfinals – Game 1

No.7 Prince George Cougars 1 @ No.2 Kelowna Rockets 4
Kelowna leads best of seven series 1-0

RW Brett Connolly, PG: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM
Season Totals: 59 GP, 46-27-73, -5, 26 PIM
Playoff Totals: 1 GP, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM

Connolly, the Cougars’ captain, left the game early with an apparent shoulder injury after being hit by Rockets forward Mitchell Callahan. PG is calling it an "upper body injury" and not giving details, which is not a surprise at this time of the year. Kelowna scored three times in the third period to take Game 1. Game 2 is Saturday in Kelowna.

Western Conference Quarterfinals – Game 1

No.3 Spokane Chiefs 3 @ No.6 Chilliwack Bruins 2 (OT)
Spokane leads best of seven series 1-0

C Tyler Johnson, SPO: 1-1-2, E, 0 PIM, *Second Star*
Season Totals: 71 GP, 53-62-115, +27, 48 PIM
Playoff Totals: 1 GP, 1-1-2, E, 0 PIM

Johnson scored the game-tying goal in the third period then earned an assist on Darren Kramer’s (undrafted) overtime winner as the Chiefs took Game 1 in Chilliwack, 3-2. Kramer had two goals in the game after only scoring seven times during the season. Spokane peppered Chilliwack goaltender Lucas Gore (undrafted) with 63 shots, including 23 in the second period. Game 2 is Saturday in Chilliwack because of a women’s basketball tournament in Spokane. The series will go 2-3-1-1-1. Johnson’s goal was his 14th career playoff score.

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