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North American hockey officially got underway this weekend with the QMJHL dropping the puck on preseason action this Saturday. Lightning prospect defenseman Michael Ward was named the game's second star in a 5-4 loss to Acadie-Bathurst after posting a goal and an assist on the power play. Ward was selected by the Lightning in the 7th round of this summer's NHL Entry Draft.
The Tampa Bay Lightning unveiled the teamâ€™s updated logo and new RBK Edge uniforms today at IceFest 2007 at the St. Pete Times Forum. Lightning players Martin St. Louis, Chris Gratton, Filip Kuba and Johan Holmqvist were joined by local media celebrities for the unveiling. The Lightning logo, which has undergone changes for the first time since the franchiseâ€™s inception in 1992, can be seen along with photos of the new home and away jerseys at www.tampabaylightning.com.
In related news, the Norfolk Admirals will unveil their new look September 4. According to the Virginian-Pilot, the new Admirals uniforms will combine elements of the team's former Blackhawks-styled attire with a nod toward the Lightning's colors.
University of Vermont graduate Arthur Femenella will not be able to attend next month's prospect tournament in Traverse City, Michigan after all.
According to the Lightning, Femenella, a 6-7, 240-pound defenseman/forward, had surgery last week to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder and will be out until November.
Taking Femenella's place in Michigan will be recently signed defenseman Justin Fletcher. A 2007 graduate of St. Cloud State, Fletcher was signed by the Lightning this spring. Fletcher played well enough on an ATO with AHL Springfield late last season to earn a one-year contract with Tampa Bay. His inclusion on the Traverse City roster will help bring more offense from the blueline.
Contradicting reports from earlier this summer, Eurohockey.net is reporting Lightning prospect Denis Kazionov has transferred to Novokuznetsk of the Russian Superleague. Previous indications were the younger Kazionov might play for CSKA this year.
And in long overdue news, Eurohockey.net also reports that Lightning prospect Albert Vishnyakov transferred to Spartak in May from Dynamo.
Preseason games are finally underway throughout Europe with most teams participating in preseason tournaments and individual preseason games.
Last Tuesday, Andreas Holmqvist made his debut for his new club Frolunda on the team's first pairing in a 3-2 win over Djurgardens. Holmqvist assisted on the game's opening goal by Niklas Andersson. Frolunda is one of several teams from Sweden and Finland vying for the Nordic Trophy.
Johan Harju's club Lulea got underway last Friday in a 4-4 tie against Brynas. No box score was available from the game. Lulea dropped a 3-2 match to Sodertalje the following day. Again, no box score was available.
So, although details aren't readily available from overseas, it is clear that hockey season has indeed arrived.