Tanner Richard remembers the view of the bench as much as the goal.
After accepting a pass from Cedric Paquette on a 2-on-1 and burying it for his first professional goal last month, the Syracuse Crunch center felt joy and relief. It took 46 games, but the drought was over.
“It definitely took a while - a lot longer than I hoped for,” Richard said. “It was pretty special for me, because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team so excited for a guy like that. After the first 20 games, everyone was pulling for me and trying to get me that goal.”
Like many players, Richard’s rookie season has been full of firsts.
Fort Wayne Komets 1 @ Florida Everblades 4
W Danick Gauthier, FLA: 0-1-1, +3, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 23 GP, 4-9-13, +3, 45 PIM
D Charles Landry, FLA: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 18 GP, 0-3-3, +7, 33 PIM
D Jordan Henry (AHL Contract), FLA: 2-1-3, +3, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, *First Star*
Season totals: 26 GP, 8-13-21, +9, 33 PIM
W Carl Nielsen (AHL Contract), FLA: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 34 GP, 3-5-8, -11, 49 PIM
Former Crunch player Jordan Henry scored the game’s first two goals as the Everblades defeated the visiting Komets, 4-1. PM Devos, who has seen time with Tampa Bay's AHL affiliate over the last three seasons, had two assists for the Everblades. Florida moved ahead of Fort Wayne by two points into fifth in the tightly contested Eastern Conference.
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
Charlottetown Islanders 1 @ Halifax Mooseheads 5
C/W Jonathan Drouin, HAL: 1-0-1, +2, 0 PIM, 5 SOG, 1 Hit, 11/20 FO
Season totals: 38 GP, 23-56-79, +36, 41 PIM
2011-2012 Season: 49 GP, 41-64-105, +48, 32 PIM
Drouin scored for the second straight game to give him 13 goals on the year. Nikolaj Ehlers (2014), Drouin’s linemate, had two goals and two assists.
NOTE: Adam Erne has returned home to Connecticut to recover from his minor spleen laceration. He is out indefinitely. Erne said on Twitter he'd be home for at least two weeks.
Ontario Hockey League
London Knights 6 @ Windsor Spitfires 5 (OT) (Tuesday)
D Slater Koekkoek, WSR: 0-1-1, +3, 0 PIM
Season totals: 54 GP, 14-35-48, +46, 36 PIM
2012-13 totals: 42 GP, 6-23-29, -24, 28 PIM
Windsor scored three times in under two minutes in the third period to force overtime, but London’s Matt Rupert (undrafted) scored the game-winner in the extra session. Koekkoek was not on the ice for the overtime winner.
Another week of hockey season is in the books, though the Lightning weren’t in action as a team due to the Olympic break. Syracuse paused for the All-Star break (congrats, Brett Connolly), then resumed with two close losses to former affiliate Norfolk.
Random thoughts on the week:
1. Superman just bought himself Kristers Gudlevskis pajamas. I said in a previous blog entry that Kristers Gudlevskis had the most to gain from his Olympic appearance and today’s 55-save, 2-1 loss to Canada was the perfect example. Now every notable hockey person and a few hundred thousand fans know who he is, and there’s an overwhelmingly positive opinion attached. He was the story of the day and maybe the story of the tournament so far. Carey Price said it was the greatest performance he’s seen. Martin Brodeur also gave him props, as did Canadian astronaut Chris Hatfield. What an exceptional performance. Easily one of the greatest moments I’ve had in 15 years following Lightning prospects.
Vlad Namestnikov received the unexpected news earlier this month.
The Syracuse Crunch center went through a range of emotions when he learned he would be making his National Hockey League debut with the Tampa Bay Lightning Feb. 8.
“It was an unbelievable feeling,” Namestnikov recalled. “Nerves, excitement -- everything together.”
During the first 31 games of his sophomore season, Namestnikov accumulated 13 goals and 30 points to earn the look from the Lightning. Despite already eclipsing his rookie season output of 28 points in 62 games, the first step onto the NHL ice seemed imposing.
“The first period I just couldn’t believe I was there,” Namestnikov said. “Everything seemed so fast and everyone was so big.”