With all due respect once again to Ryan Munce, who single handedly willed Johnstown into the playoffs this week with a 49 save performance in the season finale at Reading...
The Lightning organization's quietest success story of the season scores his third Bolt Prospects award of the season.
Choosing this month's award winner was admittedly the most difficult of the season. A handful of prospects had good months, but none stepped up and seized the award by the throat leaving Bolt Prospects to have to spend some time thinking over the selection. In Springfield, Eric Healey paced the Falcons offensively (12 GP, 4-9-13, 2 PIM, -4) while Norm Milley played several inspired games (12 GP, 4-4-8, 14 PIM, -9). However, given Springfield's difficulty in winning hockey games we were hard pressed to give the award to a Falcon. For similar reasons, Chris Lawrence (9 GP, 6-4-10, 10 PIM, +2 and 4 GP, 3-0-3, 8 PIM, -6 in the playoffs) was eliminated from contention after his Mississauga Ice Dogs were unceremoniously upset in the first round of the OHL playoffs. So, this months winner was narrowed down to...
One of the Lightning's youngest guns helps to bring Johnstown's playoff hopes back from the dead. And no, I don't mean Radek Smolenak (4GP, 1-6-7). And, of course, there was Ryan Munce and his 3-0-0 record with a 1.00 GAA, 1 shutout and a .960 save percentage. But, this week's winner set it all in motion on a Tuesday morning somewhere in Southern Ohio.
(ECHL.com release) Ryan Munce of the Johnstown Chiefs is the Rbk Hockey ECHL Goaltender of the Week for Mar. 26-Apr. 1, 2007.
The Mississauga, Ontario native was 3-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average and a save percentage of .960 to help the Chiefs go 4-0-0 to move into the fifth and final playoff spot in the North Division with 70 points (32-31-6).
After stopping 25 of 26 shots in a 3-1 win at Cincinnati on Mar. 27, the 21-year-old made 24 saves in a 6-1 win against Toledo on Mar. 30 and closed out the week stopping 23 shots in a 2-1 overtime win against Cincinnati on Apr. 1.
Since being assigned to Johnstown after he was traded from the Los Angeles King to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Jan. 21, the 6-foot-2 and 185-pound Munce is 5-3-1 with a 2.53 goals-against average and a save percentage of .916 in 13 games. He began the season with Reading and was 5-6-4 with a goals-against average of 3.30 and a save percentage of .884 in 17 games for the Royals.
Selected in the third round (82nd overall) by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft and under NHL contract to Tampa Bay, Munce led the ECHL as a rookie in 2005-06 with 3,234 minutes, 1,705 saves and eight shootout wins and was 30-18-5 with a goals-against average of 2.78 and a save percentage of .919 in 55 games with Bakersfield. He was 5-5-0 with a goals-against average of 3.36 and a save percentage of .889 to help Bakersfield advance to the division finals in the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
Prior to turning professional, Munce played three seasons in the Ontario Hockey League where he was 55-56-14 with five shutouts, a goals-against average of 2.98 and a save percentage of .912 in 136 regular season games for Sarnia.
Welcome to the Superleague playoffs young man...
I've made the executive decision, in light of the Lightning and Falcons dissolving their affiliation agreement, to not name a Prospect of the Week for 3/12 through 3/18. I would instead like to use this opportunity to salute the Springfield Falcons' fans. Things may not have ended the way the Lightning and the Falcons had hoped, but there's no doubting the class of the Springfield fans and the role that Springfield has played in already putting 4 Lightning prospects full time into the NHL (Ranger, Artyukhin, Craig and Tarnasky).
Maine defensman Mike Lundin won the Hockey East's Len Ceglarski Sportsmanship Award yesterday. In 37 games played this season, the senior had only one minor penalty.
Lundin was also named to the HEast second-team. He finished the season with six goals and 13 assists for 19 points. Five of his six goals came on the power play.
It couldn't be anyone else this week...
While Adam Henrich had a strong month split between Johnstown of the ECHL and Springfield of the AHL earning a post Clear Day promotion to the Falcons and defenseman Vladimir Mihalik continued his development with Prince George, one prospect has remained as steady as a rock over the past few months.
It was a tough week for the Lightning's prospects, but one prospect did manage to put up some solid numbers.