This week it was announced Lightning prospect and Norfolk Admiral Richard Panik will represent Slovakia at the 2010 World Hockey Championship being held May 7-23 in Germany, reports the Belleville Bulls, Panik's former OHL team. Panik previously represented Slovakia at the past two World Junior Hockey Championships.
Fellow Lightning prospect and Norfolk Admiral Vladimir Mihalik is also suiting up for Slovakia, who lost 2-0 to Latvia in exhibition play earlier this week. Lightning property Martins Karsums scored for Latvia.
Panik led Slovakia in scoring at the 2010 World Junior Hockey Championship with six goals and two assists in six games played. At the 2009 World Junior Hockey Championship, Panik recorded two goals and five points in seven games played. He also led Slovakia in scoring at the 2008 World Under 18 Hockey Championship.
Panik was acquired by the Bulls in January in a trade with the Windsor Spitfires. In 27 games played with Belleville, Panik scored 12 times while adding 11 assists and 36 penalty minutes. Following the conclusion of his season with the Bulls, Panik joined the AHLâ€™s Norfolk Admirals where he earned one assist in five games played.
The Martin, Slovakia native was selected in the second round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Lightning representatives at the 2010 World Championships include:
Kirill Gotovets, D, Belarus
Steven Stamkos, C, Canada
Steve Downie, W, Canada
Martins Karsums, W, Latvia
Vasily Koshechkin, G, Russia
Vladimir Mihalik, D, Slovakia
Richard Panik, C/W, Slovakia
Johan Harju, C/W, Sweden
Victor Hedman, D, Sweden
Mike Lundin, D, USA
Players to watch:
Nino Neiderreiter, W, Switzerland: A strong possibility for the Lightning at No.6 in this summer's NHL draft.
Vadim Krasnoslobodtsev, W, Kazakhstan: Rumors have linked the 26 year-old to the Lightning. Could be a free agent signing.
Former Lightning draft picks in the tournament:
Heeeeeyyyyyy there goes a snowman!
Dustin Tokarski allowed 4 goals on 32 shots, but bathed in the clear, cool waters of rejuvenating goal support for the win.
ADK Holmstrom, (1) (Marshall, Pyorala), 3:46
NOR Craig, (21) (Hall, Fornataro), 8:45 (PP)
NOR Tyrell, (7) (Craig, Hall), 14:22
ADK Ross, (10) (Pyorala, Bourdon), 0:14
NOR Hall, (14) (Lashoff, Craig), 5:36
NOR Keller, (14) (Mihalik, Tarkir), 8:57
ADK Nodl, (10) , 9:54
NOR Keller, (15) (Lawrence, Jones), 13:29
NOR Ashton, (1) (Panik, Marks), 2:36
ADK Kalinski, (9) (Bellamy, Bodrov), 5:27
NOR Fadden, (6) (Fornataro), 6:39
NOR Tyrell, (8) (Jackson, Hall), 9:22
Norfolk got the benefit of facing two extremely inexperience netminders, Teslak (13 games of AHL experience coming into the night) and Mayotte (8 games of AHL experience entering the night), and absolutely punished them for daring them to step off the bus all game long. Norfolk gets Adirondack again tomorrow night, and I know it's hard to beat a team twice on back-to-back nights, but both of those young netminders have to be shell shocked.
Congratulations to Tyrell on the first multi-goal game of his professional career. Some folks may look at his numbers for the season and draw the conclusion he's had a pedestrian rookie season (8 goals and 31 points in 64 games). But, it should be pointed out that since 2-12-10 the speedy forward has posted 6 goals and 20 points in 17 games. We always expected Tyrell to get off to a slow start while he shook off the rust after knee surgery, and we always thought he'd have a strong second half. But, I don't think we ever believed he'd be this strong. In those 17 games he has 7 multi-point outings, all 2 point affairs, including tonight's game. He's got world class speed and acceleration and world class ethic, and has shown that he has underrated hockey sense in the offensive zone. He's one to watch, for sure.
Congratulations to Carter Ashton on his first professional goal, set up by Richard Panik for his first professional assist. That's a scoresheet combo I'm sure the Lightning would love to see often over the next 5-10 years.
Vladimir Mihalik tied his career high in points (16) with his assist on Justin Keller's first goal.
With the win, Norfolk reaches 76 points, which surpasses their point total of 75 from a season ago. They still sit in 3rd in the East Division and moved to within 8 points of 2nd place Albany with the Admirals holding a game in hand. 4th place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton stayed just 1 point behind the Admirals with the Pens holding a game in hand by overcoming a 3 goal deficit against Springfield tonight. 5th, 6th, and 7th place Syracuse, Adirondack, and Binghamton are all 10 points back of Norfolk with all three holding 1 game in hand on the Admirals. So, coming down the stretch, this is shaping up into a 3-5 team dogfight between the Admirals, Penguins, and a logjam of about three teams (Manchester, Lowell, and Bridgeport) in the Atlantic that could wind up in 5th place in that division but still make the playoffs because of the crossover rule.
In the crossover, 3rd, 4th, and 5th place in the Atlantic Division are beginning to bunch up. Lowell lost tonight and Manchester lost in a shootout, so they're tied 77 points, 1 point ahead of the Admirals and 2 points ahead of 5th place Bridgeport, which beat Syracuse. So the Ads hold a slim 1 point lead on Bridgeport with the Sound Tigers hanging onto a game in hand, but if you look at the past 10 games as the trend, Bridgeport may climb up to third in the Atlantic and it may be Manchester or Lowell that slips all the way to 5th. 6th place Providence remains alive, 6 points back of the Admirals and 5 back of the Tigers.
So, now, it's a 10 game sprint to the finish line for the Admirals and we'll see if this snowman they just hung on Adirondack gives them a little extra kick in the final 100 meters. Norfolk has 7 games remaining at home and 3 on the road. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has 5 at home and 6 on the road. Ultimately, though, this is coming down to the three head-to-head matchups the Admirals have with the Penguins in the remaining few weeks of the season. Win and they're in. Lose and they'll be scoreboard watching what the Atlantic Division teams do, which is not the position you want to be in.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
And now things get really tight in the playoff race.
Dustin Tokarski allowed just 2 goals on 25 shots, but his first period softie allowed to Jesse Boulerice ended up being the margin of defeat.
WBS Boulerice, (4) (Conner, Lee), 4:23
WBS Johnson, (13) (Haddad, Wagner), 13:19 (PP)
NOR Fornataro, (9) (Wishart, Fadden), 15:22
It was a beautiful stickhandling play by Matt Fornataro that helped pull the Admirals to within one goal late in the game. Defenseman Ty Wishart got his 31st point of the season on the play, but he should be chastized along with Vladimir Mihalik for some very soft play along the wall in the defensive zone, especially in the first period. The soft goal, the soft play along the wall, and a disgustingly bad 0-for-8 power play doomed the Admirals in this one. That, and Mitch Fritz losing his mind at the end of the second period, including the ever-classy crotch chop to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton crowd, drawing a double minor and game misconduct that killed off about a quarter of the third period for a Pens team that only held on by one goal.
On the bright side, the two pro debuts went pretty well tonight. Carter Ashton almost had a beautiful goal chipping the puck between two defenders and showing surprising burst to split them and get himself a breakaway. He got in too tight on the backhand, though, and couldn't lift the puck to notch the goal. He had another chance a few minutes later when he spun out in front from behind the net on his backhand. Had he been a little more patient, he could've taken another half stride and maybe stuck it in far post. Richard Panik had one good chance from the slot, but the defining play for him was a downright nasty check he threw coming back into the Admirals zone. Downright nasty. In case you didn't know, he's strong as a bull.
Norfolk's lead over the Pens is down to 1 point with the Pens holding 1 game in hand. Uh oh. Norfolk has 11 games left to play in the season: 3 on the road and 8 at home. Norfolk draws Adirondack at Scope on Friday.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
(Norfolk Admirals release) NORFOLK, Va. â€“ The Norfolk Admirals have added Tampa Bay Lightning prospect forwards Carter Ashton and Richard Panik to their roster. Ashton has been assigned to the Admirals by the Lightning from his junior team while Panik has been signed to an Amateur Tryout Contract (ATO).
Ashton, 18, a 6-foot-3, 207-pound right wing from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, split this season between the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League. In 28 games with Lethbridge, he posted 13 goals and 26 points. He was then traded to Regina, where he scored 11 goals and 25 points.
Panik (â€œPAN-ihkâ€), 19, a 6-foot-2, 203-pound right wing from Martin, Slovakia, split this season between the Windsor Spitfires and the Belleville Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League. In 33 games with Windsor, he posted nine goals and 18 points. After being acquired by Belleville, Panik notched 12 goals and 23 points in 27 games.
Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 4 @ Moncton Wildcats 0
D Mark Barberio, MCT: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season Totals: 64 GP, 15-43-58, +37, 70 PIM
This was a preview of a QMJHL first round playoff series that Moncton hopes has a different result. That series begins Friday. Moncton will close out their season Sunday against the top-seeded St. John Sea Dogs on NHL Network.
Belleville Bulls 4 @ Mississauga St. Michaelâ€™s Majors 2
C Richard Panik, BEL: 1-2-3, E, 2 PIM (roughing), *Second Star*
Season Totals: 59 GP, 20-20-40, +4, 51 PIM
With Bulls: 26 GP, 11-11-22, -11, 32 PIM
With Windsor: 33 GP, 9-9-18, +15, 19 PIM
RW Kyle DeCoste, BEL: Did not play.
Season Totals: 57 GP, 19-14-33, -19, 51 PIM
With Bulls: 44 GP, 17-13-30, -17, 31 PIM
With SSM: 13 GP, 2-1-3, -2, 20 PIM
Panik (pictured) may not be headed to the OHL playoffs, but heâ€™s certainly performing at a high level to finish the year and giving Tampa Bay something to think about. He hit 20 goals and 40 points on the season thanks to a three-point game Friday. Panik now has nine points in his last six games and five in his last two. DeCoste missed his fourth game due to a concussion.
Barrie Colts 4 @ Brampton Battalion 2
LW/C Alex Hutchings, BAR: 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM
Season Totals: 67 GP, 46-34-80, +43, 56 PIM
Hutchings tied his previous career high for assists in a season, set last year in 63 games. Barrie has one game remaining and the league's top seed sewn up.
Sudbury Wolves 5 @ Kingston Frontenacs 3
W Matias Sointu, SBY: 1-0-1, +1, 2 PIM (tripping)
Season Totals: 50 GP, 8-20-28, -4, 22 PIM
With Sudbury: 28 GP, 5-13-18, -9, 16 PIM
With Ottawa: 21 GP, 3-7-10, +5, 6 PIM
Sointuâ€™s empty net goal provided the final piece to a playoff spot clinching win for the Wolves. Sudbury is tied with Niagara for seventh in the East, but Niagara has a game in hand.
Oshawa Generals 3 @ Ottawa 67â€™s 4
G Michael Zador, OSH: Loss, 42 saves on 46 shots
Season Totals: 48 GP, 14-27-2-1, 4.06 GAA, .886 sv%, 2 SO
The Gens needed a miracle to happen to get into the playoffs, starting with a win over Ottawa, but they blew a 3-1 lead entering the third period and will stay home during the playoff season. They were outshot 46-29 in the game, including 22-6 in the final period.
Brandon Wheat Kings 9 @ Regina Pats 3
RW Carter Ashton, REG: 0-1-1, -5, 0 PIM
Season Totals: 63 GP, 24-27-51, -11, 102 PIM
With Regina: 35 GP, 11-14-25, -3, 50 PIM
With Lethbridge: 28 GP, 13-13-26, -8, 52 PIM
This was the Patsâ€™ final home game of the season, which meant it was the last time the Regina faithful could see Jordan Eberle up close. Eberle was awarded the gameâ€™s First Star despite the blowout loss to the Memorial Cup hosts. Eberle did have a goal in the game and remains two points up on Brandon Kozon for the league scoring title. Heâ€™s rumored to possibly be joining the Oilers before the end of the NHL season. Ashton, meanwhile, had a horrific night in the plus/minus department and will play his final junior game Saturday in Brandon. He has an NHL contract in hand and will likely join the AHL Norfolk Admirals next week.
Kelowna Rockets 4 @ Vancouver Giants 3
C/W/D James Wright, VAN: 0-1-1, -2, 0 PIM
Season Totals: 19 GP, 5-11-16, -3, 13 PIM
With Tampa Bay: 43 GP, 2-3-5, -9, 18 PIM
The Giants finally returned home after a 10-game Olympic road trip, but fell to the Rockets 4-3. They had battled back from a 3-0 first period deficit only to see the game winner scored late in the third. Wright has been playing a little defense lately at the request of his coach, Don Hay. Vancouver is locked into the Westâ€™s No.2 seed despite having the conferenceâ€™s fifth best point total. Winning the B.C. Division will do that. They will play Chilliwack or Kamloops in the first round.