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Conacher Taking On Leadership Role With Crunch


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Cory Conacher is doing everything he normally does.

The Syracuse Crunch forward is averaging roughly a point per game. He is dependable in all situations. And despite being listed at 5-8, he's constantly in players' faces and drawing the ire of the competition.

But five years removed from winning the AHL's Rookie of the Year award, Conacher is looking to become more of a leader as he wears the alternate captain's A with the Crunch.

"I've been working hard on and off the ice," Conacher said. "I try to show by example rather than talk as much. That's the way I lead. I work hard on the ice and I work hard off the ice, so that's hopefully getting to the young guys."

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 3-28-17

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Saint John Sea Dogs 5 @ Rimouski Oceanic 2
QMJHL Playoffs, Round 1
Saint John leads best-of-7 series, 3-0

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: 2-1-3, +3, 7 PIM, 3 SOG, 4 Hits, *Third Star*
Playoff Totals: 3 GP, 3-2-5, +5, 7 PIM
Season Totals: 65 GP, 40-14-54, +10, 103 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: 0-3-3, +3, 2 PIM, 4 SOG, 2 Hits, *First Star*
Playoff Totals: 3 GP, 3-3-6, +6, 2 PIM
Season Totals: 54 GP, 36-44-80, +37, 57 PIM

Mathieu Joseph was first star with three helpers and Boko Imama scored twice for the Dogs in their Game 3 win in Rimouski. Top-seeded Saint John can eliminate the Oceanic with a win Wednesday. Boko fought Alex-Olivier Voyer at the end of the second period. Both of Boko’s goals were assisted by Joseph. #fam

Rouyn-Noranda Huskies 2 @ Halifax Mooseheads 0
QMJHL Playoffs, Round 1
Rouyn-Noranda leads best-of-7 series, 2-1

C/W Otto Somppi, HAL: Did not play (shoulder injury)
Season Totals: 60 GP, 17-24-41, -7, 28 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 59 GP, 13-33-46, -15, 25 PIM

Somppi, who was considered week-to-week with a shoulder injury, must’ve got the Miyagi treatment because he was back for Game 3 at home in Nova Scotia. He was held off the scoresheet and took a minus-2 as the heavily favored Huskies took the series lead.

Shawinigan Cataractes 6 @ Val-d’Or Foreurs 3
QMJHL Playoffs, Round 1
Shawinigan leads best-of-7 series, 2-1

W Dennis Yan, SHAW: 3-0-3, +1, 0 PIM, 8 SOG, 0 Hits, *First Star*
Playoff Totals: 3 GP: 3-1-4, -1, 2 PIM
Season Totals: 64 GP, 46-29-75, +23, 52 PIM

Yan scored his first goal of the playoffs, then added two more to give himself a road hat trick and propel the Cataractes to a 6-3 Game 3 win over the Foreurs. Yan scored on a first period power play, then again in the mid-second with Shawinigan down 3-1. He tied the game with another power play goal late in the second period. Alexis D’Aoust (undrafted) scored twice in the third period before an empty-netter sealed the deal.

Ontario Hockey League

Peterborough Petes 4 @ Niagara IceDogs 3 (OT)
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
Peterborough leads best-of-7 series, 3-0

W/C Christopher Paquette, PBO: 0-0-0, E, 4 PIM, 4 SOG, 8/19 FO
Playoff Totals: 3 GP, 0-1-1, +2, 4 PIM
Season Totals: 66 GP, 19-29-48, +1, 28 PIM

D Matt Spencer, PBO: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Playoff Totals: 3 GP, 1-1-2, +6, 0 PIM
Season Totals: 60 GP, 7-22-29, +9, 58 PIM

W Jonne Tammela, PBO: Did not play
Season Totals: 2 GP, 1-0-1, +1, 2 PIM
2015-2016 (Finland): 37 GP, 5-8-13, +10, 16 PIM

The Petes took a commanding 3-0 series lead, beating the IceDogs in St. Catherines, 4-3 in OT on a Josh Coyle (undrafted) goal. Peterborough can close out the series Thursday.

London Knights 1 @ Windsor Spitfires 3
Western Conference Quarterfinals
Windsor leads best-of-7 series, 2-1

W/C Mitchell Stephens, LDN: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Playoff Totals: 3 GP, 2-0-2, E, 0 PIM
Season Totals: 51 GP, 22-32-54, +19, 26 PIM

The Spits broke a 1-1 tie in the second period, then former Bolt prospect Cristiano DiGiacinto scored his first of the playoffs a few minutes later to provide some insurance. The defending champion Knights are in need of a road win Thursday.

Western Hockey League

Moose Jaw Warriors 4 @ Swift Current Broncos 3
Eastern Conference First Round
Moose Jaw leads best-of-7 series, 2-1

C Brett Howden, MJ: 0-0-0, +1, 2 PIM
Playoff Totals: 3 GP, 0-0-0, -1, 6 PIM
Season Totals: 58 GP, 38-43-81, +14, 73 PIM

Moose Jaw took a 2-1 lead in their tightly contested series with Swift Current, hanging on for a 4-3 win. The Warriors had a 4-2 lead before the Broncos scored on the power play with 29 seconds left in regulation. Swift Current has been able to keep Howden off the scoresheet through three games this series.

Kelowna Rockets 1 @ Kamloops Blazers 4
Western Conference First Round
Kelowna leads best-of-7 series, 2-1

G Connor Ingram, KAM: Win, 37 saves on 38 shots, *Second Star*
Playoff Totals: 3 GP, 1-2-0-0, 2.68 GAA, .935 sv %, 0 SO
Season Totals: 45 GP, 26-14-2-2, 2.44 GAA, .927 sv%, 5 SO

Ingram backstopped the Blazers to a must-win Game 3 victory, getting Kamloops back in the series. Kamloops looks to hold serve at home in Game 4 Wednesday night.

2016-2017 Midterm Rankings (1-10)

Introduction
Usually, we like to release our midterm rankings… well, you know … mid-term, but this has been an atypical year. When the World Junior Championships ended in early January, we had some movers and shakers on the list, but the Lightning were struggling so mightily at that time rumors were running rampant that Tampa Bay would go into full sell mode. We decided to wait until acquired prospects were added, but by the time Wilcox was out and Cernak in, the end of the junior hockey regular season was just around the corner. And that’s where we are now. So, with a tardy slip firmly in hand, here’s the list – finally.

For as bad as the Lightning have been for the majority of the season, this may be the most productive prospect season since Brad Richards and Sheldon Keefe were winning their league scoring titles and the original triplets (Palat-Johnson-Panik) were winning an AHL title. Syracuse has been in first place for most of the year, and while the prospects there have spent more time eating peanuts on planes between Tampa and Syracuse, there has been progress developmentally with the AHL guys. Add to that the season (graduated prospect) Nikita Gusev had, junior stars Raddysh, Joseph, Ingram, etc, and the emergence of Ross Colton in college hockey and it’s been a good year. But how do they all sort out in the rankings?

Glad you asked.

2016-2017 Midterm Rankings (11-19)

Previous: Midterm Rankings 1-10

Continued ...

11. RW Dennis Yan, Shawinigan (QMJHL) (14)
Age: 19
Vitals: 6-1, 183 lbs
Shoots: L
Acquired: 3rd round, 2015
Season totals: 64 GP, 46-29-75, +23, 52 PIM

Yan took a big step forward this year in that he never slumped like he did last season when the second half of the year was filled with goose eggs on the scoresheet. Not good for a guy who’s job it is to score. Yan did just that this year, though, raising his goal totals from 33 and 32 the previous two seasons to 46 in his final junior season. His assist numbers fell from 37 to 29, but a lot of that could have been due to the loss of Anthony Beauvillier, who’s now with the Islanders, and the fall of Alexis D’Aoust, who went from 98 points to 60 in 50 games. Yan will enter Syracuse next year under the watchful eye of Crunch coach Benoit Groulx, who will have the task of developing Yan’s 2-way game. The USA-born, Russian-raised Yan wasn’t heavily considered for Team USA this year for the WJC’s despite his goal-scoring ability, but then again Alex DeBrincat was cut from the team and they still won Gold. Yan will probably be a hot-and-cold scorer for Syracuse next year. The sooner he can find consistency and excel at playing both sides of the puck, the sooner the Lightning will promote him.

2016-2017 Midterm Rankings (20-25+)

Previous: Midterm Rankings 11-19

Continued...

20. C Christopher Paquette, Niagara/Peterborough (OHL) (Not ranked)
Age: 19
Vitals: 6-2, 201 lbs
Acquired: 5th round, 2016
Season totals: 66 GP, 19-29-48, +1, 28 PIM

When Paquette was drafted last summer, the Lightning hoped he’d have a Cirelli-like rise. Cirelli was drafted as a lower-line guy who didn’t get a lot of ice time until late in the year. Paquette was a fourth line player on a stacked Niagara squad whom the Lightning identified as a potential riser. Paquette got up to the second line on Niagara this year, playing on the wing. In a surprise move, the Petes acquired him at the deadline to be a big center for their push to the conference’s top seed. Mission accomplished. Paquette settled in as a center for Peterborough and worked his way up to top-line duty. He’s far from polished, but could use this playoff experience to catapult himself into a big season next year with the Petes. He has good skills, but is still relatively new to a role this big in the OHL. It’s all coming together nicely. He looks like he could be a nice depth forward down the line at the least. Cedric’s cousin is one to watch.

The Bolt Prospects Podcast, Episode 94

This week’s “’94 Draft” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast includes the following topics:

· The No. 94
· A TB prospect world, long ago
· Chicago game reaction (Are you kidding me?)
· Team daring you to bury it
· Kucherov vs Drouin
· Point vs Dotchin
· Interview with Libor Hajek
· Rankings reaction, 10-16

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 3-27-17

Ontario Hockey League

Erie Otters 5 @ Sarnia Sting 3
Western Conference Quarterfinals
Erie leads best-of-7 series, 3-0

D Erik Cernak, Erie: 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Playoff Totals: 3 GP, 1-2-3, +7, 0 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 41 GP, 4-11-15, +7, 35 PIM

C Anthony Cirelli, Erie: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG, 16/26 FO
Playoff Totals: 3 GP, 3-2-5, +3, 2 PIM
Season Totals: 51 GP, 25-39-64, +36, 12 PIM

W Taylor Raddysh, Erie: 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 9 SOG
Playoff Totals: 3 GP, 2-4-6, +7, 2 PIM
Season Totals: 58 GP, 42-66-108, +67, 37 PIM

Erie pushed the Sting to the brink of elimination with a 5-3 road win Monday. Darren Raddysh, free agent right-handed defenseman and brother of Taylor, was named first star with two goals. The series shifts back to Pennsylvania for two games as a part of a 1-2-2-1-1 format.

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 3 @ Flint Firebirds 1
Western Conference Quarterfinals
Sault Ste. Marie leads best-of-7 series, 2-1

W Boris Katchouk, SSM: 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM, 4 SOG
Playoff Totals: 3 GP, 3-2-5, +1, 2 PIM
Season: 66 GP, 35-29-64, +18, 46 PIM

Bruins pick Zach Senyshyn scored a tie-breaking goal at 13:37 of the third period and Katchouk added an empty-netter as the Soo took back home ice advantage in their series with Flint by beating the Firebirds 3-1 Monday.

NHL Game Night: 3-27-17 Blackhawks at Lightning

Vampire Lightning again rise from the dead to keep their season alive.

CHI-4
TB-5 (OT)

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 29 goals for the win. He was actually pulled toward the end of the opening frame for Petr Budaj, who stopped the 3 shots he faced, but Cooper re-inserted Vasilevskiy and eventually got the payoff in the form of two key breakaway saves including the save of the game denying Kane on a breakaway move that he scores on 99 out of 100 goaltenders on the planet. Not Vasilarceniy tonight, however.

First Period
1:23 CHI Panarin (25), (Kero)
9:29 TB Palat (16), (Hedman, Kucherov)(PP)
10:17 CHI Kane (34), (Hjalmarsson, Keith)
13:41 CHI Jurco (1), (Schmaltz)

Second Period
8:47 CHI Panik (21), (VanRiemsdyk, Schmaltz)
11:45 TB Drouin (19), (Killorn, Stralman)
12:47 TB Stralman (4), (McKegg, Palat)
16:24 TB Drouin (20), (Hedman, Kucherov)(PP)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Overtime
4:25 TB Gourde (2), (Hedman)

Yanni Gourde, Jonathan Drouin, and Ondrej Palat were the game's three stars.

My God. What did we just witness? Every once in a while something happens in sports that you think can't happen, but by shear force of will a player or a team makes it happen. When Richard Panik put the Lightning down 4-1 around the middle of the Second Period of this game, the Lightning season looked completely dead and over. It's not just that the Lightning had fallen behind an opponent by three goals with about half the game to make up the deficit, but it was against the Chicago Blackhawks. It was against a defensive corps we all watched strangle this Lightning team to death in the Stanley Cup Final just a couple of years ago. There should have been no way they would surrender a 3 goal lead, and especially so to a Tampa Bay club that looked sloppy and disorganized for most of the first 30 minutes and couldn't get out of its own way.

I give a lot of credit to Jon Cooper and, more importantly, to the character of this team. They could've flat given up right there and I might not have blamed them. Instead, the team resolved to turn the remaining ~35 minutes of hockey in this game into a breathtaking demonstration of the brand of Lightning hockey we've rarely seen this season but know these players are capable. Speed? Yes. Skill? Yes. But, more importantly, a suffocating dedication to puck pursuit and denying the opposition time, space, and passing lanes. The Lightning started to crawl all over the Blackhawks like a troop of extremely pissed off fire ants in all three zones and eventually made the breaks they needed to get 2 points that looked impossible just an hour and a half or so ago. That forecheck tonight, in particular... my goodness. When they forecheck like that there's not a team on earth that can stand up to the pressure.

The Lightning move to just 1 point behind Boston for the final Wild Card spot, and they've got another game against Jack Edwards and The Spoked Satan left on the schedule. The dream of a Lightning playoff berth refuses to die.

Luke Witkowski had 4 penalty minutes, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 11:56. He had a hit on Hossa tonight that you rarely see do that much damage against a guy as sturdy on his skates as Hossa is.

Gregg McKegg had a helper and was +1 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 10:20. A comeback like this rarely comes without some secondary scoring help from the lower lines, and McKegg supplied the key play around the net that led to Stralman's goal.

Jake Dotchin was -1 with 5 shots and 3 hits in 20:40.

Gabriel Dumont was +1 with 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 11:41.

Gourde, the man of the hour, had the OT GWG shooting forehand on a breakaway. He also had 1 shot in his 16:30 of ice time and was 27% on 15 draws.

Adam Erne was -1 with 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 11:19.

Joel Vermin was -1 with 2 hits in 11:15. Even without gaudy stat lines, I can't underscore enough how important the minutes and work Dumont, Erne, and Vermin put in tonight. They were active, tenacious, and they didn't let up on Chicago as the Lightning comeback continued to sweep over Chicago. You would think a team like Chicago's depth would be able to take advantage of some of these Lightning callups, and it was the other way around tonight. Guys like Erne were looking to take their lunch money.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

KHL Playoff Game Day: 3-27-17

KHL Western Conference Finals
(4) Yaroslavl 1 vs. (2)St. Petersburg 2 (OT)
St. Petersburg Leads the Series 3-0
Nikita Gusev, St. Petersburg, 1-0-1, -1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Playoff totals: 12 GP, 6-8-14, +3, 2 PIM
Regular season: 57 GP, 24-47-71, +33, 8 PIM

Nikita Gusev had an early Third Period power play marker to force OT as SKA came from behind to defeat Yaroslavl 2-1 in OT. Gusev played 18:08 in the match. Undrafted 22 year old forward Alexander Barabanov scored the OT winner for SKA that has now put them one win shy of the KHL Gagarin Cup Final. In the East, top seeded Magnitogorsk holds a 2-0 series lead on Ak Bars Kazan.

AHL Game Night: 3-27-17 Crunch at Marlies

Roller coaster goes down.

SYR-0
TOR- 4

Mike McKenna allowed 3 goals on 27 shots for the loss.

First Period
1:13 TOR Greening (10), (Kapanen, Valiev)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
6:22 TOR Oleksy (3), (Greening, Sislo)
8:53 TOR Kalinin (1), (Johnsson, Oleksy)
17:39 TOR Leipsic (13), (Greening)(EN)

Syracuse slipped 2 points behind Toronto for the top spot in the North Division with the loss, although they still hold a game in hand on the Marlies.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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