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Holmqvist Leaving Springfield

[url=]Reports out of Sweden [/url] indicate that defenseman Andreas Holmqvist will be returning to Linkopings for next season after spending parts of the last two seasons in the Lightning organization with Hamilton, Pensacola and Springfield. According to the story, the former 2001 2nd round pick will be joining his older brother Michael, a Ducks prospect, with the Linkopings club. The news comes at a time where speculation is increasing about the Lightning signing North Dakota defenseman and 2003 2nd round pick Matt Smaby for placement with the Falcons next season.

BP Maintenance Today

I'll be doing maintenance on the BP site today (March 25). If you access, the site may not behave properly. I'll repost when all is well again.

Polushin Back in the Superleague (And Russia Update)

Just a quick note on talented former 2001 second round pick Alexander Polushin: It appears the Cold War between he and Coach Bykov may finally be thawing. After spending much of the season relegated to the First/Farm League, Polushin has suited up for the last three games for CSKA. The move might've been a last desperate effort my Bykov to make the playoffs as CSKA was all but eliminated from contention Saturday at the hands of Nikolai Khabibulin and Vincent Lecavalier's Ak Bars Kazan 5-2. CSKA sits in 10th place behind 8th place Nizhnekamsk with just three games left to go in the regular season. The Russian Superleague tabulates their standings by awarding 3 points for a win. Polushin now has 3 goals and 7 points in 15 games at the Superleague level. At last check, he also had 13 goals and 23 points in 21 games in the First League as well.

Pelicans A Strike Back!

After a sour start to the Junior A playoffs that saw [url=]Karri Ramo drop the first game of the series 7-2[/url], Ramo and Pelicans A struck back today to tie the series at 1-1. Buoyed by a [url=]first star performance that saw Ramo stop 31 of 32 shots, Pelicans A beat TPS A 2-1 today to even the best of five.[/url] Game Three is slated for tomorrow, March 7th. Ramo's resiliance in staking his team to a very important 2-1 win was undeniable today. Many young goaltenders' confidence and focus might have been shattered after seeing a shutout streak of 194:51 dissolve into a horrendous 4 goal third period like the one Ramo faced in Game One against TPS A. However, just as Ramo has already proven he has the advanced maturity to compete at the SM-liiga level this season, he proved today he also has the maturity to put aside a bad loss and once again elevate his game when the chips are down. Now with the series knotted up the Cinderella Pelicans A have shortened their series against second seed TPS A into a best of three where anything can happen.

Ramo Carries Pelicans A Into Playoffs

February had been a tough month for Karri Ramo. Despite his [url=]solid performance at the Five Nations U-19 tournament for Finland[/url], playing behind the worst team in the SM-liiga finally began to take its toll. For the entire month of January the 18 year old netminder from Asikkala gave the pittiful Pelicans a chance to win every night out. But as the days of February began to wane, so too did Karri Ramo's stats. By the end, [url=] Ramo had slipped to 27th in the league in save percentage posting a .898 mark with a 3.98 GAA.[/url] Meanwhile down in Junior A a death struggle for playoff position was on as Tapparra A, Pelicans A, Jokerit A and Lukko A all battled to claim the final two spots on the table and the right to move on to the Junior A postseason. With Lahti's SM-liiga season long since doomed and Ramo's confidence fading, the Pelicans decided to send their prized young goaltender back to junior to save the junior team's sagging playoff fortunes. Ramo did not disappoint.


With Karri Ramo having a tough last month in the SM-liiga, the Pelicans today decided to try and buoy his confidence by allowing him to suit up for their Junior-A team. [url=]Ramo responded by shutting out Blues A 2-0 today stopping 18 of 18 shots[/url] faced to garner secpmd star honors. [url=]The shutout moved Ramo back to first in SM-liiga Jr. A in save percentage.[/url]

Somervuori's Next Move

Published reports out of Switzerland and [url=]Finland[/url] speculate that RW Eero Somervuori will depart Karpat at the end of the SM-liiga season for the Swiss NLA league. According to the newspaper Kaleva, Somervuori has already signed to play for the club team Ambri-Piotta next year. Somervuori is [url=] currently third in scoring on Karpat behind Petr Tenkrat and Jussi Jokinen with 12-22-34 in 48 games. [/url] The Finnish website points out Somervuori has struggled recently since being moved off a line with NHL veteran and former Lightning player Michael Nylander but Somervuori still places in the top-20 in scoring in Finland. Karpat is currently 2nd on the SM-liiga table 5 points behind Jokerit for the top spot in the waning days of the season. Their regular season ends on March 9th at Pori Assat before the playoffs begin.

Ramo Update

The going in the SM-liiga has been tough lately for Karri Ramo. Despite some valiant efforts the young netminder has been buried behind a string of 40 shot, 5 goal allowed games and the Pelicans' lack of talent has finally caught up to Ramo. Still, [url=]Ramo did manage to beat Ilves yesterday 4-3 in OT, stopping 24 of 27 shots.[/url] He has slipped overall to a .905 sv% and 3.77 GAA. However, it is important to note again that Ramo is playing against full grown men in the SM-liiga. Against junior competition, he posted what still stands as the [url=]second best sv% in Junior A behind only highly touted Tuukka Rask.[/url] Rask is expected to be as high as a top-ten pick if and when the 2005 Entry Draft ever happens. And, last week in the 5 Nations U-19 tournament Ramo more than held his own in [url=]posting the tournament's best GAA.[/url] Ramo went 1-1 [url=]dropping his first game of the tournament 3-2 in penalty shots to the Czech Republic[/url] before [url=]rebounding to shut out Switzerland 3-0 stopping 17 of 17 shots.[/url]

Polushin Update

I just got a response back from [url=]Evgeny Belashenko[/url] of [url=][/url] If you can pull yourself away from that picture of the lovely Ms. Melikova, Evgeny speculates that Alex Polushin's lack of games at the Superleague level may be due to him not fitting with CSKA's new system under Slava Bykov who took over from the venerable Viktor Tikhonov. Whatever the reason, Polushin's mere 11 games at the Superleague level (3-3-6 with 4PIMs in those games) has led to some consternation amongst some Lightning fans. Others who are more vocal and less knowledgable on the web (AOL bottomfeeders I'm looking in your direction) have even gone so far to claim that Polushin doesn't deserve to be a highly rated prospect because he, to paraphrase their argument, hasn't played any hockey in two seasons. And while it is true he missed most of last season with a knee injury, Polushin has NOT been merely serving popcorn in CSKA's pressbox this season. To the contrary, he has been playing for CSKA2 in the Farm/First League where he is at over a point a game pace at 10-13-23 in 21 games. To put that in some measure of perspective, a couple of seasons ago when Dimitry Kazionov was playing in the First League he had 14-13-27 in 34 games.
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