TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed defenseman Luke Witkowski to a two-year contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
Witkowski, 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, appeared in 38 games as a captain with the Western Michigan University Broncos in 2012-13, recording two goals and 10 points to go along with 46 penalty minutes while being named Second-Team All-CCHA. He led the Broncos with 53 blocked shots and ranked second for penalty minutes. Witkowski also added two power-play tallies.
A native of Holland, Michigan, Witkowski played in 152 games during his four-year career at Western Michigan. He accumulated seven goals and 38 points with 235 penalty minutes. He won the 2010-11 Bill Saunders Plus/Minus Award for finishing with the Broncos’ best plus/minus rating at plus-13.
Prior to attending Western Michigan, Wikowski played for the Fargo Force and the Ohio Junior Blue Jackets of the USHL. He amassed nine goals and 26 assists in two USHL seasons. Witkowski was named to the 2009 USHL All-Star Team.
Witkowski was drafted by the Lightning in the sixth round, 160th overall, of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Since being drafted he has attended four Lightning Development Camps.
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Tanner Richard to a three-year, entry-level contract, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.
Richard, 19, has skated in 52 games this season with the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League, recording 11 goals and 62 points to go along with 94 penalty minutes. The 6-foot, 183-pound forward ranks first on the Storm and ninth in the OHL in assists with 51 and was third on his team with a plus-18 rating. Richard also played in five postseason games against the Kitchener Rangers, registering three assists and six penalty minutes.
The Jona, Switzerland native has appeared in 95 career OHL games, all with Guelph, collecting 24 goals and 110 points with 140 penalty minutes. He also represented Switzerland at the 2013 IIHF World Jr. Championships in Russia, posting four assists and plus-two rating in six tournament games.
Richard was originally drafted by the Lightning in the third round, 71st overall, of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Crunch only get 1 point out of a Norfolk weekend. Bad.
Riku Helenius allowed 2 goals on 27 shots for the loss. Hard to get mad at him when he got zero goal support. Former JYP mate (and really good player) Sami Vatanen with the dagger, too.
NOR Vatanen, (8) (Wilson, Smith-Pelly), 7:21
NOR Mitchell, (10) (Smith-Pelly, Wilson), 4:52
Syracuse did outshoot Norfolk 41-27, but they're missing their best finishers with so many callups to Tampa Bay. They have to be hoping/wishing/praying for someone like Lecavalier to come off the IR quickly.
It's now a 4-way tie atop the Eastern Conference with Springfield, Providence, Syracuse, and Binghamton all tied at 87 points. Providence holds 1 game in hand on the Crunch and Springfield holds 2.
8 games remain in the regular season. 6 of those 8 contests are in Syracuse starting with a matchup against Hershey on Friday.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Bolt Prospects' Mike Gallimore made it out to Lightning practice today and had the chance to chat with new Bolts coach Jon Cooper. Some notes:
* Cooper said Cory Conacher's limited minutes last night weren't punitive. He thought Conacher played well and noted Cory created a couple scoring chances.
* Conacher's and Pyatt's ice time got clipped due to Cooper's decision to go heavy with a couple lines, especially Killorn-Stamkos-St. Louis.
* Cooper volunteered that - despite 89's hot start - Conacher is still an unfinished product at the NHL level.
* The Lightning did a number of situational drills today, with particular emphasis on puck retrieval and zone exits.
* Cooper noted that the team is in flux and it's going to take time, but felt the team rebounded well after first period of "throwing pucks up the wall."
* Cooper praised new Lightning prospect Andrej Sustr for his debut. He said Sustr kept earning additional shifts. Cooper was impressed with how calm Sustr played in his NHL debut.
* Cooper was excited when talking about Alex Killorn. He said it took Killorn about 10 games last year in Norfolk to figure out the pro game - and then Killorn took off.
* Cooper said Killorn has been instrumental on the top line as puck retriever for St. Louis and Stamkos.
* The team scrimmaged 4-on-4 today. Cooper said it served as a fun activity, but also that he believes in preparing thoroughly for non-5v5 situations.
Third Period collapse in Norfolk.
Riku Helenius allowed 5 goals on 30 shots for the loss. So much for getting over the .900 save percentage line. No wonder the Lightning are rumored to be trying to sweet talk Bratislava into letting Jaroslav Janus come back.
SYR Connolly, (27) (Jacques), 3:51
SYR Neilson, (1) (Gauthier, Wyman), 17:07
NOR Maroon, (19) (Bonis, McMillan), 19:46
SYR Hutchings, (3) (Cote, Namestnikov), 18:59
SYR Sexton, (7) (Brown, Wyman), 0:10
NOR Smith-Pelly, (11) (McMillan), 0:50
NOR Wagner, (7) (Pelley), 2:46
NOR Maroon, (20) (Guenin, Vatanen), 8:49 (PP)
NOR Maroon, (21) (Sarault, Vatanen), 1:41 (PP)
I've said it many times, a 3 goal lead in the final frame in pro hockey is supposed to be a death sentence. When you cough up a lead like that, it lingers like a bad stench for a while. When you cheat the reaper like Norfolk did, it can propel you.
The news is bad with Bingo and Providence winning tonight. The Crunch now are tied with the Bruins and tied in points (and in their division) with Binghamton. Rematch with Norfolk tomorrow night. 9 games are left in the regular season, and every single precious point matters now.
Box score from TheAHL.com.