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CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4-12-17

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Saint John Sea Dogs 7 @ Val-d’Or Foreurs 1
QMJHL Playoffs, Round 2
Saint John wins best-of-7 series, 4-0

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: 0-0-0, +2, 0 PIM, 1 SOG, 1 Hit
Playoff Totals: 8 GP, 3-4-7, +10, 14 PIM
Season Totals: 65 GP, 40-14-54, +10, 103 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: 0-1-1, E, 4 PIM, 2 SOG, 0 Hits
Playoff Totals: 8 GP, 7-8-15, +9, 10 PIM
Season Totals: 54 GP, 36-44-80, +37, 57 PIM

Saint John improved to 8-0 in the post-season with a 7-1 shellacking of Val-d’Or in Game 4 Wednesday, eliminating the Foreurs from the playoffs. Etienne Montpetit was again first star for the Foreurs. The undrafted free agent goalie stopped 38 of 45 shots. That may have been a little hometown reward for an outstanding playoff for him. The Sea Dogs advance to the league semifinals where they will face the lowest remaining seed. The other three series are still going on.

AHL Game Night: 4-12-17 Crunch at Comets

"Now witness the firepower of this fully ARMED and OPERATIONAL battle station!"

SYR-7
UTI-2

Mike McKenna allowed 2 goals on 25 shots for the victory. Sweet, sweet goal support. Let it wash all over you.

First Period
1:20 SYR Condra (14), (McGinn, Peca)
14:30 UTI Carcone (4), (Rendulic, Billins)

Second Period
8:31 SYR Taormina (15), (Gourde, Conacher)
16:33 UTI Cassels (6), (Hamilton, Pedan)

Third Period
2:03 SYR McGinn (10), (Peca, Howden)(PP)
6:22 SYR Bournival (8), (Vermin, Brodeur)
9:07 SYR Conacher (17), (Erne, Gourde)
15:36 SYR Erne (13), (Conacher)(EN)
18:25 SYR Dotchin (4), (Taormina, McKenna)(PP)

Tye McGinn, Cory Conacher, and Yanni Gourde were the game's three stars.

Syracuse scored 5 unanswered goals in the Third Period, keyed in part by the return to Syracuse of several players who finished the regular season with Tampa Bay. They contributed 4 goals and 6 assists, by my count, to Syracuse's winning effort tonight.

Syracuse pulls back to within 1 point of Toronto for the North Division title with both teams having just 2 regular season games left to go.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

KHL Playoff Game Day: 4-12-17

KHL Gagarin Cup Final
St. Petersburg 2 vs. Magnitogorsk 1 (OT)
St. Petersburg Leads the Series 2-1
Nikita Gusev, St. Petersburg, 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM, 7 SOG
Playoff totals: 16 GP, 6-12-18, +1, 2 PIM
Regular season totals: 57 GP, 24-47-71, +33, 8 PIM

Nikita Gusev had a secondary assist on Evgeny Dadonov's Double OT winning goal in SKA's 2-1 Game Three triumph over Magnitka. Ex-Lightning pick Denis Kazionov had Magnitogorsk's lone goal while fellow ex-Lightning pick Vasily Koshechkin was heroic in defeat, stopping 58 shots as his club was outshot an absolutely staggering 60-28 in the match.

Yan Getting First Pro Experience With Crunch


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Dennis Yan didn't look out of place in his pro debut.

After finishing his junior season with Shawinigan of the QMJHL earlier this month, the winger took the ice in the Syracuse Crunch's 3-2 win over the Albany Devils Saturday night.

Yan is focused on gaining valuable experience as he begins his pro career.

"I think it was a pretty good game for me," Yan said. "I played physical. I played simple, a bit more than juniors because it's a lot different level. It's professional. It's faster and more physical.

"I think I'll get some more games and I'll be more confident and play my game."

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4-11-17

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Saint John Sea Dogs 7 @ Val-d’Or Foreurs 3
QMJHL Playoffs, Round 2
Saint John leads best-of-7 series, 3-0

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: 0-2-2, +2, 0 PIM, 7 SOG, 1 Hit
Playoff Totals: 7 GP, 3-4-7, +8, 14 PIM
Season Totals: 65 GP, 40-14-54, +10, 103 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: 3-0-3, +3, 0 PIM, 8 SOG, 0 Hits, *Second Star*
Playoff Totals: 7 GP, 7-7-14, +9, 6 PIM
Season Totals: 54 GP, 36-44-80, +37, 57 PIM

Joseph had a hat trick to give him seven goals in seven playoff games and the nearly unbeatable Etienne Montpetit (undrafted) finally looked somewhat human as the Sea Dogs went up 3-0 on Tuesday with a 7-3 win. Montpetit still made 52 saves in the game. Val-d’Or only managed 19 shots. Top-seeded Saint John can close out the series Wednesday.

Ontario Hockey League

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 2 @ Owen Sound Attack 4
Western Conference Semifinals
Best-of-7 series tied, 2-2

W Boris Katchouk, SSM: 1-0-1, +1, 4 PIM, 3 SOG
Playoff Totals: 9 GP, 7-5-12, +6, 10 PIM
Season: 66 GP, 35-29-64, +18, 46 PIM

Owen Sound held serve at home, winning games 3 and 4 to knot the series at two games apiece. Katchouk extended his playoff point streak to nine games. Game 5 is back in the Soo on Thursday. Likely 2017 first rounder Nick Suzuki had a goal and was first star for Owen Sound. The center finished the year with 96 points (45 goals) in 65 games.

Peterborough Petes 3 @ Kingston Frontenacs 1
Eastern Conference Semifinals
Peterborough leads best-of-7 series, 3-0

W/C Christopher Paquette, PBO: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, 5/17 FO
Playoff Totals: 7 GP, 2-3-5, +6, 8 PIM
Season Totals: 66 GP, 19-29-48, +1, 28 PIM

D Matt Spencer, PBO: 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Playoff Totals: 7 GP, 1-6-7, +13, 4 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

Spencer continued his point-per-game pace as Peterborough took a commanding lead over Kingston with a 3-1 win in Game 3. The Petes can eliminate the Fronts Thursday.

Erie Otters 3 @ London Knights 1
Western Conference Semifinals
Erie leads best-of-7 series, 2-1

W/C Mitchell Stephens, LDN: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Playoff Totals: 10 GP, 4-0-4, E, 0 PIM
Season Totals: 51 GP, 22-32-54, +19, 26 PIM

D Erik Cernak, Erie: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Playoff Totals: 7 GP, 1-4-5, +7, 2 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 41 GP, 4-11-15, +7, 35 PIM

C Anthony Cirelli, Erie: 1-0-1, +1, 0 PIM, 4 SOG, 7/15 FO
Playoff Totals: 7 GP, 5-3-8, +6, 2 PIM
Season Totals: 51 GP, 25-39-64, +36, 12 PIM

W Taylor Raddysh, Erie: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM, 2 SOG
Playoff Totals: 7 GP, 4-10-14, +9, 8 PIM
Season Totals: 58 GP, 42-66-108, +67, 37 PIM

Erie took back home ice advantage in the series, winning Game 3 in London, 3-1. The Otters can get a strangle-hold on the Knights with a win in Game 4 Thursday.

The Bolt Prospects Podcast, Episode 96

This week’s “The Year Was 1996 Edition” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast includes the following topics:

· The No. 96
· The ’96 Lightning
· Blame fingers and mulligans
· TB set up better than ever for long-term success
· Upcoming free agents and what to do with them
· Next year’s team
· Interview with Slater Koekkoek

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KHL Playoff Game Day: 4-10-17

KHL Gagarin Cup Final
Magnitogorsk 3 vs. St. Petersburg 1
Series Tied 1-1
Nikita Gusev, St. Petersburg, 0-1-1, -2, 0 PIM, 4 SOG
Playoff totals: 15 GP, 6-11-17, +1, 2 PIM
Regular season totals: 57 GP, 24-47-71, +33, 8 PIM

Nikita Gusev assisted on SKA's only goal, but was also -2 in their 3-1 Game Two loss to Magnitogorsk. He played 18:33 in the match. Ex-Lightning pick Vasily Koshechkin led the way for Magnitka with 43 saves in the match, helping his club survive a stunning 44-17 shot deficit in the contest.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4-9-17

Ontario Hockey League

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 1 @ Owen Sound Attack 4
Western Conference Semifinals
Sault Ste. Marie leads best-of-7 series, 2-1

W Boris Katchouk, SSM: 1-0-1, +1, 2 PIM, 2 SOG
Playoff Totals: 8 GP, 6-5-11, +5, 6 PIM
Season: 66 GP, 35-29-64, +18, 46 PIM

Owen Sound jumped back in the series by winning at home in Game 3, 4-1. Katchouk kept his streak alive of pointing in every playoff game. Game 4 is Tuesday.

Kingston Frontenacs 1 @ Peterborough Petes 4
Eastern Conference Semifinals
Peterborough leads best-of-7 series, 2-0

W/C Christopher Paquette, PBO: 1-1-2, +1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG, 11/24 FO, *First Star*
Playoff Totals: 6 GP, 2-3-5, +5, 8 PIM
Season Totals: 66 GP, 19-29-48, +1, 28 PIM

D Matt Spencer, PBO: 0-1-1, +1, 2 PIM, 3 SOG
Playoff Totals: 6 GP, 1-5-6, +12, 4 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

Paquette scored in the first period and Peterborough skated to a 3-0 by the midway point of the third period, winning Game 2 against the Fronts, 4-1. Game 3 is Tuesday in Kingston. (Peterborough Examiner photo)

NHL Game Night: 4-9-17 Sabres at Lightning

Lightning end a season of disappointment with an abundance of hope.

BUF-2
TB-4

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 28 shots for the victory. He was solid as a rock again today, making situational saves when needed and staying sharp despite long stretches where he had very little work. One of the biggest reasons for the Lightning missing the playoffs this season was subpar goaltending the first two-thirds of the year that came from the weird limbo situation that Ben Bishop was in. Once Bishop was moved out at the trade deadline and Vasilevskiy clearly moved into the number one role, Vasilevskiy played outstanding. He justified the opinion of a lot of people that he's the best emerging young goaltender in the game.

First Period
13:56 BUF Carrier (5), (Nylander)

Second Period
5:59 TB Point (17), (Hedman, Dotchin)
12:20 TB Coburn (5), (Namestnikov, Killorn)(SH)

Third Period
11:17 BUF Kane (28), (Gionta, O'Reilly)
18:36 TB Point (18), (Kucherov, Stralman)
19:59 TB Hedman (16), (Stralman, Point)(EN)

Brayden Point, Vasilevskiy, and Victor Hedman were the game's three stars.

You never know what you're going to get in a game like this where there's nothing on the line after Toronto eliminated the Lightning last night with a late, come-from-behind win. I was pleased to see a pretty good overall effort from the Lightning, particularly for the first 40 minutes of the game, which I think in part stemmed from a smart decision by Jon Cooper to start Vasilevskiy and treat this more like a normal game. They were pretty sound defensively the first 40 minutes and, probably feeling a little more free with things settled in the standings, I thought showed more free-flowing offensive creativity. With tee times beckoning in the Third Period, I thought there were stretches it got a little too much like a QMJHL game with matching line rushes at both ends, but all in all I think the Lightning really closed the season strong and in style. Were it not for the heroics for Linus Ullmark in Buffalo's net, the Lightning could've easily put 7 or 8 goals on the board tonight.

The Lightning ultimately finish 2 points shy of a playoff berth with 94 points. Remember how we keep harping on that 96 point number? Yep, that's the number that would've gotten them in. There's no mysticism about it, and the Lightning learned a painful lesson this season about early season complacency. The good news, I'm happy to say, is that it seems that the team understands what happened, and after their first summer of rest in a long time seem ready to return next year with a renewed team identity and a chip on their shoulder. That's not to say there won't be changes to the roster. There are warts on this team, and players on the roster who either have plateaued as players or simply can't cut it on an elite-level NHL team. I trust that Steve Yzerman will make the changes necessary to address those issues, and have a lot of hope in my heart seeing the emerging young talent on this team.

Going into next season, you can see the Lightning have five forwards in particular that look to me to be capable of being among the NHL's best. Steven Stamkos, returning from injury, obviously is already well proven as an NHL superstar and Nikita Kucherov added himself to that echelon of players with his 40-goal, over a point-a-game campaign this year. Beyond those two, you saw two other players who I think have the capability of becoming top-10 NHL scorers: Jonathan Drouin and Brayden Point. Drouin's talent is undeniable, and it remains not a question of "if" but rather "when" he makes that transition to being a 30 goal, 80+ point a year player. He could've had 4 goals easily today were it not for Ullmark's heroics. Point, on the other hand, came into this year with significantly lower expectations as a guy who was selected outside of the top-60 in his draft year who wasn't even expected to make the NHL roster this year. Had he not missed a month with a broken paw, he would've topped 20 goals this season and something about his rookie campaign gives me all the same feels that Brad Richards' rookie campaign in Tampa Bay did as a third round pick who played like a high first rounder. Rounding out this group is veteran Ondrej Palat, who has looked lost at times over the past two seasons but down the stretch of this year started to look like the two-way beast of a player he's shown he can be. Those give on the Lightning's forward corps give me the belief the team will be dynamic offensively next year.

The defensive corps is a bit more unsettled, but Victor Hedman made a serious campaign for the Norris Trophy down the stretch of this year in finishing second in the NHL in points among defensemen. I wouldn't bet against him winning it next year, and what we saw in Hedman's game this season was the checking off of the last boxes he needed to in order to transition to becoming a great NHL defenseman. Namely, the rise of the Lightning power play this year can be directly traced to the rise of Hedman as a legit power play threat. Maybe that's the silver lining of Stamkos' injury. With Stammer out, the Lightning became a much more "left handed" power play with things primarily playing off of Kucherov's triggers in the right wing circle. Hedman at the center point fed into that change from a "right handed" power play, and he started to really sharpen up his shot and improve his distribution skills. We always knew he was a wizard off the rush, but Hedman learned to thrive in the more stationary/lateral third-ice game of the power play. Supplementing Hedman is stalwart righty defenseman Anton Stralman and the found money that was youngster Jake Dotchin. Anybody who tells you they saw the rise of Jake Dotchin coming is either a (bleeping) liar or has a time machine. One of the magical things in sports is that sometimes a guy just "gets it" out of the blue and comes out of nowhere to become a good player. That was Dotchin this year. Those three form half of a solid NHL defense corps, and with two righties already nailed down, the job of filling out the rest of the Lightning blueline becomes a lot easier for Steve Yzerman to deal with. Lefties are a lot easier to come up with. Righties are rare as hen's teeth.

And then there's Vasilevskiy. Russia's answer to Carey Price. Mark my words: as talented as the Lightning are there will be other clubs in the NHL that will have better skaters and more skill... and the Lightning will have the answer in the form of Andrei Vasilevskiy. Watching him become what he looks destined to become is going to be fun.

Luke Witkowski had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 16:25.

Greg McKegg played 10:51.

Dotchin had a helper, 1 shot, and 1 blocked shot in 17:07. I'd be interested to know if he draws any attention from the Canadian hockey program as a potential IIHF World Championships player.

Gabriel Dumont had 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 13:13 and was 63% on 8 draws. He will be headed back to Syracuse to help the Crunch in the playoffs, which Syracuse clinched a spot in today.

Yanni Gourde had 1 shot in 16:35 and was 40% on 10 draws. What a weapon for Syracuse to be getting back into the lineup.

Adam Erne was -2 with 4 hits and 1 blocked shot in 13:01. The stat line looks ugly, but I thought he played a whale of a first 40 minutes in the game. The whole reason Drouin could've had 3-4 goals in this game was that Erne was absolutely dealing on the forecheck and was super-creative distributing once he forced Buffalo to turn it over. He needs to follow up this stretch run with a strong playoffs for Syracuse. He'll enter next season on the roster bubble, and if he approaches the task with the proper intensity and focus he can help this Lightning team. He has obvious size and strength and surprising explosiveness and skill. The fact he can work so well with Drouin like he did today speaks to the upside he has. He's not some bogus faux power forward plugger. He's got the tools to be a serious scoring line contributor in this league. You all saw the flashes of it over the last month.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

ECHL Game Night: 4-7-17 & 4-8-17

4-07-17: Kalamazoo Wings 2 at Wheeling Nailers 7
4-08-17: Wheeling Nailers 2 at Kalamzoo Wings 5

F Brian Hart, KAL, 2gp, 1-0-1, -2, 2 PIMS, 11 SOG
Season Totals (ECHL): 33 GP, 6-5-11, -7, 6 PIMs, 71 SOG
Season Totals (AHL): 33 GP, 3-4-7, E, 26 PIMs, 50 SOG

F Cameron Darcy, KAL, 2gp, 0-2-2, +1, 0 PIMS, 4 SOG
Season Totals (ECHL): 20 GP, 5-20-25, +11, 10 PIMs, 51 SOG
Season Totals (AHL): 34 GP, 3-4-7, -3, 14 PIMs, 40 SOG

Other Notables
G Nic Riopel, KAL, 1gp, L, 60:00 MINS, 27/34
Season Totals: 31 GP, 18-11-0-1, 3.00 GAA, 0.903 SV%, 1 SO

Kalamazoo closed out its regular season this weekend, splitting a home-and-home with Wheeling. Friday night, Nic Riopel allowed 7 goals in the loss, while on Saturday night Lighting prospect Brian Hart scored one of the five K-Wings goals. Cam Darcy assisted on goals both nights, and finished his 20 game stint with 25 points. Kalamazoo now turns its attention to the Brabham Cup winner Toledo Walleye as the league's best team in the regular session, as their best of seven playoff series begins next weekend with the first two games in Toledo.

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