Connolly, Brett

NHL Preseason Game Night: 9-23-11 Panthers at Lightning

God even hates Panthers fans in preseason.

FLA-2
TB-5

Dwayne Roloson stopped 31 of 33 for the win. Hide the children and the silverware, old man Roli is back in town.

First Period
08:06 TB Ritola, (Kubina, Connolly)(PP)

Second Period
06:31 TB Shannon, (Kubina, Bergeron)(PP)
12:55 TB Shannon, (Stamkos, Clark)

Third Period
00:23 TB Ashton, (Brewer)
04:20 FLA Skille, (Robak)(PP)
16:20 FLA Repik, (Robak, Derlyuk)
18:46 TB Lecavalier, (Purcell, Hedman)

As the Lightning move a little closer to icing their opening night lineup, now reading the tea leaves gets more interesting.

Carter Ashton and Brett Connolly each got over 14 minutes of ice time, while Cory Conacher, Dana Tyrell, and Blair Jones got less, especially Jones. Connolly and Conacher remain decisive underdogs, but the battle between Ashton, Tyrell, and Jones for positioning is fascinating. Boucher knows what he has in Tyrell, and to a lesser extent Jones. For Ashton to get himself a goal and play 14+ quality minutes is a key step for him in trying to establish a comfort level with Boucher.

And, then there's the matter of Mattias Ritola, who is a different player now than when Boucher had him in the lineup the first half of last season. He got over 14 minutes and quite a bit of PK ice time. Like Ashton, for him to get a goal and play 14+ quality minutes helps establish a comfort level with the coaching staff. I'd say he was probably the big winner on the night.

Box score from NHL.com.

Lightning Sign 2010 First Round Draft Pick Brett Connolly

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed right wing Brett Connolly to a standard three-year, entry-level contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Connolly, 6-foot-2, 181 pounds, spent last season with the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League, recording 46 goals, 27 assists and 73 points in 59 games played. He set WHL career-highs for goals and points while also ranking third among all WHL goal-scorers. His 15 power-play goals ranked 12th.

A native of Campbell River, British Colombia, Connolly has spent each of the past four seasons with Prince George of the WHL. Throughout his career he has amassed 86 goals and 152 points in 144 WHL games. He has also appeared in five career postseason games, registering two points.

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).

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