Stephens, Mitchell

Stephens, Cirelli Get First Taste of Pro Hockey with Crunch


By Jeremy Houghtaling

There were two new faces on the ice for Syracuse Crunch practice Tuesday.

Mitchell Stephens and Anthony Cirelli, two Tampa Bay Lightning picks from the 2015 draft, took the ice for the first time in Syracuse after signing amateur tryouts with the Crunch this week. The split practice involved lots of shooting and possession drills for the two centers, who stuck together throughout most of the workouts.

Although Stephens and Cirelli will likely return to their respective junior teams next season, the Lightning organization wanted both players to get a sample of the game at the pro level.

“They’re two smart hockey players,” Crunch head coach Rob Zettler said. “They both have another year of junior left, but we wanted to get them in here and give them a taste of pro hockey. We’ll see -- I’m not sure -- whether they’ll play or not. We’ll see what happens over the course of the next five games.”

Lightning Sign F Mitchell Stephens to Entry Level Deal

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Mitchell Stephens to a three-year, entry-level contract, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.

Stephens, 19, skated in 39 games with the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League this past season, collecting 20 goals and 38 points to go along with 14 penalty minutes. Stephens missed 29 games during the regular season but still ranked fifth on the Spirit for points and tied for fourth for goals. The Peterborough, Ontario, native also appeared in four games for Saginaw during the 2016 OHL Playoffs, posting two goals and three points.

The 6-foot, 193-pound forward has skated in 158 career OHL games, all with Saginaw over three seasons, recording 51 goals and 107 points. Stephens also suited up for Team Canada at the 2016 IIHF World Jr. Championships this past season, notching a goal and two points in five tournament games.

Stephens was selected by the Lightning in the second round, 33rd overall, at the 2015 NHL Draft.

BP Commentary:

Stephens is a young Callahan in effort and character, but can play both center and wing. He played center all year on Saginaw's top line and put up good numbers when healthy. He broke his foot early in the year and missed several weeks, but returned just in time to make Team Canada and perform well at the WJC's.

Stephens' hands are underrated and he's very poised with the puck. He's an excellent complimentary forward with some skill who will be a favorite of coaches throughout his career. He could have the same impact on the Lightning eventually as Ondrej Palat (or Callahan had with the Rangers earlier in his career).

The second rounder won't turn 20 until February, so while he can join Syracuse now, he has to go back to juniors next fall if he doesn't make the Lightning - which isn't expected. He will probably captain the Spirit next season and may wear a letter for Canada next Christmas.

U20 WJC Game Day: 1-2-16

Quarterfinal Round
Finland 6 vs. Canada 5
Brayden Point, Canada, 0-2-2, E, 0 PIM, 4 SOG
Tournament totals: 5 GP, 1-4-5, E 0 PIM

Mitchell Stephens, Canada, 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 5 GP, 1-1-2, -1, 2 PIM

Brayden Point had a pair of Third Period power play helpers to allow Canada to tie home standing Finland at 5-5, but 17 year old Patrik Laine scored on a two many advantage with less than 6 minutes to go to lift Finland to the 6-5 win. Laine had 2 goals and 3 points in the match while fellow 17 year old Jesse Puljujarvi had 3 assists. Both forwards are expected to go high in this June's NHL Entry Draft.

USA 7 vs. Czech Republic 0
Dominik Masin, Czech Republic, 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 5 GP, 1-1-2, -2, 0 PIM

Dominik Masin was -2 as USA steamrolled Czech Republic 7-0. Masin was named one the the Czech's three best players of the tournament following the match. Team USA was paced by a hat trick by Auston Matthews, who is the presumptive top pick in this June's NHL Entry Draft.

That concludes this year's U20 World Junior Championships for Tampa Bay's prospects.

U20 WJC Game Day: 12-31-15

Group A
Canada 2 vs. Sweden 5
Mitchell Stephens, Canada, 1-0-1, E, 2 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 4 GP, 1-0-1, -1, 2 PIM

Brayden Point, Canada, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 4 GP, 1-2-3, E, 0 PIM

Mitchell Stephens' rebound goals was one of the few highlights in Canada's 5-2 loss to Sweden. Stephens also took a matching roughing minor in the contest. Kings first rounder Adrian Kempe was one of 4 Swedish players with 2 point games, chipping in 1 goal and 1 assist.

Group B
Finland 5 vs. Czech Republic 4
Dominik Masin, Czech Republic, 0-1-1, -1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 4 GP, 1-1-2, E, 0 PIM

Dominik Masin assisted on a key goal late in the Second Period that, at the time, was the equalizer in Czech Republic's eventual 5-4 loss to Finland. Finland scored a pair of power play goals off the sticks of 17 year olds Jesse Puljujarvi of Karpat and Patrik Laine of Tappara to pull out the win.

The day's matches closed out the round-robin portion of the tournament, setting the stage for the medal round. In the Quarterfinals, Canada will face homestanding Finland while the Czech Republic draws Team USA. Both contests are slated for Saturday.

Syndicate content