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Liiga Game Day: 1-3-16

Pelicans 1 vs. KalPa 4
Jonne Tammela, KalPa, 0-0-0, +2, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 21 GP, 4-2-6, +5, 14 PIM

Jonne Tammela was scoreless in 16:12 of ice time in KalPa's 4-1 thumping of Pelicans Lahti. Tammela, who has been receiving more ice time lately, is up to an average 14:21 of ice time for the season. Undrafted 21 year old Joni Nikko led the way with a pair of goals for KalPa.

Juniors Game Night: 1-2-16

Ontario Hockey League

Oshawa Generals 5 @ Owen Sound Attack 4 (OT)

C Anthony Cirelli, OSH: 0-2-2, E, 0 PIM, 7 SOG, 11/27 FO
Season totals: 33 GP, 10-19-29, -9 19 PIM
2014-15 totals: 68 GP, 13-23-36, +34, 22 PIM

The Gens erased a 4-2 deficit in the third period to force overtime and win in the extra session. Cirelli had an assist on the game-tying goal.

Windsor Spitfires 6 @ Flint Firebirds 2

W Cristiano DiGiacinto, WSR: 0-1-1, +1, 5 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 32 GP, 13-18-31, +19, 53 PIM
2014-15 totals: 63 GP, 21-24-45, -16, 100 PIM

Windsor had a 4-0 lead by the 6-minute mark of the second period and coasted to a 6-2 win. DiGiacinto fought Samuel Duchesne, and by all accounts scored the decision.

Western Hockey League

Vancouver Giants @ Prince George Cougars (late)

D Ben Thomas, VAN: 1-0-1, E, 5 PIM
Season totals: 41 GP, 4-12-16, -16, 26 PIM
With Vancouver: 27 GP, 4-9-13, -6, 16 PIM
With Calgary: 14 GP, 0-3-3, -10, 10 PIM
2014-15 totals: 60 GP, 7-24-31, +16, 28 PIM

Thomas was an assist shy of a Gordie Howe Hat Trick.

NOTES: The following players are with their respective countries for the World Junior Championships in Finland: Brayden Point (Canada), Mitchell Stephens (Canada), Dominik Masin (Czech Republic).

United States Hockey League

Des Moines Buccaneers 4 @ Omaha Lancers 3

G Kris Oldham, OMA: Loss, 11 saves on 14 shots
Season totals: 13 GP, 8-4-1, 2.54 GAA, .919 sv%, 1 SO
2014-15 totals: 33 GP, 21-6-4, 2.49 GAA, .908 sv%, 1 SO
(University of Nebraska-Omaha signee)

Oldham lost his third consecutive decision, 4-3 to Des Moines. He had 40 and 33 saves in his previous losses, but managed just 11 Saturday.

Sioux Falls Stampede 1 @ Sioux City Musketeers 4

D Ryan Zuhlsdorf, SC: 0-1-1, +3, 2 PIM 1 SOG, *Second Star*
Season totals: 24 GP, 0-19-19, -3, 30 PIM
2014-15 totals: 56 GP, 3-19-22, +25, 58 PIM
(University of Minnesota signee)

Zuhlsdorf matched last season’s assist total, but in 32 fewer games.

NHL Game Night: 1-2-16 Wild at Lightning

Stayin' alive...

MIN-2
TB-3 (SO)

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 32 shots before stopping 3 of 3 in the penalty shot session for the SO win. Andrei didn't have a lot of work early and then really stepped in it on the puckhandling mistake that led to Minnesota's first goal. He looked shaky after that goal but got much, much stronger as the game progressed. And, in the Shootout, there's simply a different vibe with Vasiy in the crease. I'm going to make a bold suggestion to Jon Cooper: make Vasiy your designated SO goaltender from here on out regardless if Bishop is in net for OT. The fact of the matter is Bishop's five hole is a soul-destroying liability in the SO, whereas Vasiy's technique and newness is a big-time strategic advantage. I would use it, because with him in net you may only need to score 1 at the other end to get the second point.

First Period
11:40 TB Filppula (4), (Killorn, Stamkos)
15:39 MIN Coyle (10), (unassisted)

Second Period
1:03 TB Kucherov (14), (Palat, Stralman)

Third Period
17:21 MIN Spurgeon (6), (Coyle, Niederreiter)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
MIN- NONE
TB- Callahan

Vasilevskiy and Victor Hedman were the game's first and third stars.

The first 40 minutes of this game were the closest to real Tampa Bay Lightning hockey we've seen all year. Finally at full strength with Palat returning to the lineup and backs squarely against the wall, they dominated the first two frames in all aspects of the game and should've been up 2-0 except for the Vasilevskiy puckhandling gaffe. It's frustrating to me the Lightning had to be this close to standings death to finally display this level of urgency, but at least it finally came out of them tonight. Very key: they HAVE to play with that same level of urgency in Calgary to start their road trip or nothing they did tonight will matter an iota anyway.

The Third Period was a case of a team simply not handling the pressure of a one goal lead well. Paquette started it off by taking a bad tripping call and they were back on their heels almost the entire period thereafter. Vasilevskiy made some dazzling saves and got aided by a video review challenge that went Cooper's way, but in the end they just sagged way too much to possibly preserve that lead and they were lucky not to lose the game in regulation.

3-on-3 OT continues to be a strength for the Lightning, in my opinion. After the jail break of their first couple of 3-on-3's of the season, they've figured out the tactical game of managing possession and wearing down an opponent to free up chances. Hedman could've easily won it with a dazzling move that was only denied by a (lucky) stop by Dubnyk with the paddle of the stick. They had the momentum coming out of OT, and with Vasiy in net, Callahan got the forehand deke stash the team needed to get that crucial second point.

This isn't a slight on Steven Stamkos, but did we learn tonight that Ondrej Palat is the real heart and soul leader of the Tampa Bay Lightning?

So here's where we're at with 1 game left to go in Segment Four of the season nearing the halfway point of the campaign: 11 points in the last 9 games. The next contest against Calgary will be the margin. Win and they have their best segment of the year and cut their overall season deficit to 4 points. Lose and they have their second failed segment and the deficit goes up to 6 points. You don't want to have to play .675 hockey the rest of the way to make the playoffs comfortably. To put it in perspective, .675 hockey is what Dallas has played to stake their club to the best record in the Western Conference in their first 40 games. That's just a bridge too far to expect a team to turn on a light switch and do that the second half of the year. .650 hockey is still a hellacious clip, mind you, but you're not putting yourself in a position where you have to have one of the top two records in your conference just to make it in without sweating bullets. And, quite frankly, at a certain point the team just needs to make the psychological break through where they're doing more than just treading water and they're starting to make a charge in the standings.

Jonathan Marchessault had 3 hits in 9:33. With Drouin heading down to Syracuse, Marchessault's spot on the team seems secure from here on out. He's a good 19 games from graduation from prospect status on the site, but from the looks of it he'll be racing Nesterov the rest of the way to become the next Bolt Prospects Alumni.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Day: 1-2-16 Crunch at Marlies

Game effort comes up short in Toronto.

SYR-2
TOR-3

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 3 goals on 35 shots for the loss. He was surprisingly sharp considering how little he's played as Bishop's backup in Tampa the past couple of weeks.

First Period
SYR Tambellini, (12) (Peca, McGinn), 3:20

Second Period
TOR Carrick, (5) (Leipsic, Frattin), 0:13
SYR McGinn, (12) (Dotchin), 14:37
TOR Holl, (3) (Hyman, Leivo), 15:45

Third Period
TOR Campbell, (8) (Hyman, Bailey), 2:51

Tye McGinn was the game's third star.

That's a really strong effort against arguably the best team in the league. Once the Crunch mix Jonathan Drouin into the roster we'll see if the extra speed/skill can translate into a little run for Syracuse.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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.

More Drama as Drouin Assigned to Syracuse

In a disappointing season already wrought with drama and storylines, the Lightning added to the pile today when they assigned former No. 3 overall pick Jonathan Drouin to the Syracuse Crunch.

Local media asked Lightning Coach Jon Cooper about the demotion, but deflected all questions to General Manager Steve Yzerman.

This was about the same time as news was breaking on the Internet about the move, which likely launched yet another round of NHL GMs calling Yzerman to inquire about Drouin’s availability.

Juniors Game Night: 1-1-16

Ontario Hockey League

Sudbury Wolves 2 @ Oshawa Generals 3 (SO)

C Anthony Cirelli, OSH: 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG, 16/27 FO
Season totals: 32 GP, 10-17-27, -9 19 PIM
2014-15 totals: 68 GP, 13-23-36, +34, 22 PIM

Oshawa gave up a late penalty shot goal but prevailed in the shootout. Cirelli, who had an assist in regulation, had his shootout attempt saved.

Peterborough Petes 3 @ Kingston Frontenacs 5

D Matt Spencer, PBO: 0-0-0, -2, 2 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 37 GP, 3-15-18, E, 31 PIM
2014-15 totals: 67 GP, 6-24-30, -15, 64 PIM

Islanders fifth overall pick Michael Dal Colle had two goals and an assist in his Fronts debut after coming over from Oshawa.

NOTES: The following players are with their respective countries for the World Junior Championships in Finland: Brayden Point (Canada), Mitchell Stephens (Canada), Dominik Masin (Czech Republic).

Juniors Game Night: 12-31-15

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Charlottetown Islanders 2 @ Saint John Sea Dogs 3

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: Did not play
Season totals: 28 GP, 4-9-13, -1, 50 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 59 GP, 13-15-28, +2, 137 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, 1 Hit, *First Star*
Season totals: 34 GP, 20-19-39, +14, 41 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 59 GP, 21-21-42, +18, 46 PIM

Joseph scored his 20th goal of the season one minute into the game and Saint John held on for an eventual 3-2 win. Daniel Sprong, recently returned to the Islanders from Pittsburgh, scored his fourth goal in three games and was named third star. Boko Imama is currently serving a 15-game suspension.

Sherbrooke Phoenix 4 @ Shawinigan Cataractes 7

W Dennis Yan, SHAW: 1-1-2, -2, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, 3 Hits
Season totals: 31 GP, 24-24-48, E, 42 PIM
2014-2015 Season: 59 GP, 33-31-64, +23, 71 PIM

Yan’s point streak grew to three games with a goal and an assist Thursday.

Ontario Hockey League

Kingston Frontenacs 3 @ Oshawa Generals 1 (Wednesday)

C Anthony Cirelli, OSH: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, 12/17 FO
Season totals: 31 GP, 10-16-26, -10 19 PIM
2014-15 totals: 68 GP, 13-23-36, +34, 22 PIM

Ryan Verbeek (undrafted), nephew of Lightning staffer Pat Verbeek, had an assist for the Fronts.

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 2 @ Windsor Spitfires 3 (SO)

W Cristiano DiGiacinto, WSR: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 31 GP, 13-17-30, +18, 48 PIM
2014-15 totals: 63 GP, 21-24-45, -16, 100 PIM

Windsor lost a 2-0 third period lead but eventually got the extra point in the shootout. DiGiacinto did not compete in the skills competition.

Guelph Storm 6 @ Peterborough Petes 4

D Matt Spencer, PBO: 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 36 GP, 3-15-18, +2, 31 PIM
2014-15 totals: 67 GP, 6-24-30, -15, 64 PIM

Last-place Guelph won just their fourth game of the season, and it was on the road against Peterborough. Matt Spencer has an assist in three straight games.

Western Hockey League

Prince George Cougars 6 @ Vancouver Giants 3 (Wednesday)

D Ben Thomas, VAN: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM
Season totals: 40 GP, 3-12-15, -16, 21 PIM
With Vancouver: 26 GP, 3-9-12, -6, 11 PIM
With Calgary: 14 GP, 0-3-3, -10, 10 PIM
2014-15 totals: 60 GP, 7-24-31, +16, 28 PIM

Prince George erased a 3-1 deficit with five unanswered goals.

NOTES: The following players are with their respective countries for the World Junior Championships in Finland: Brayden Point (Canada), Mitchell Stephens (Canada), Dominik Masin (Czech Republic). Canada will play Finland in the quarterfinals while the Czech Republic will play the USA.

United States Hockey League

Sioux City Musketeers 3 @ Omaha Lancers 1

D Ryan Zuhlsdorf, SC: 0-1-1, +1, 2 PIM 2 SOG
Season totals: 23 GP, 0-18-18, -7, 28 PIM
2014-15 totals: 56 GP, 3-19-22, +25, 58 PIM
(University of Minnesota signee)

G Kris Oldham, OMA: Did not play
Season totals: 13 GP, 8-4-1, 2.49 GAA, .922 sv%, 1 SO
2014-15 totals: 33 GP, 21-6-4, 2.49 GAA, .908 sv%, 1 SO
(University of Nebraska-Omaha signee)

Zuhlsdorf has at least a point in five of his last seven USHL games. Kris Oldham got the night off.

Zuhlsdorf had a roughing penalty in his first game back since the World Junior A Championships in Ontario.

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.

AHL Game Night: 12-31-15 Crunch at Penguins

Vasiy stands on his head.

SYR-4
WBS-2

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 30 shots for the victory including a sparkling "double save" in the Third Period to preserve the win that was the stuff of legend.

First Period
WBS Dea, (9) (Clendening, O'Neill), 7:03 (PP)
SYR Erne, (3) (Blunden, Richard), 15:56 (PP)
SYR Blunden, (6) (Richard), 18:22

Second Period
WBS Gill, (1) (Simon, Kuhnhackl), 8:16 (PP)
SYR Erne, (4) (Darcy, Broll), 9:35

Third Period
SYR Koekkoek, (2) (McGinn, Witkowski), 18:49 (EN)

Adam Erne and Mike Blunden were the game's first and third stars.

That's 3 goals and 5 points in the last 5 games for Erne, and after going the first 22 games of his season without a goal, Slater Koekkoek has gotten on the board in 2 of the last 3. The high draft picks continue to come through for Syracuse.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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