As uncertain as things have traditionally been for the Lightning between the pipes, the defenseman position may be even more unsettled at this point in the offseason. After cheating father time for much of the 2011-2012 season, age caught up to many of the Lightning's veteran defensemen in 2012-2013. Mattias Ohlund may never play another NHL game after the 35 year old's knee finally gave out after over 900 games of NHL service.
No. 14 Cornell Big Red 1 vs. No. 9 Ferris State Bulldogs 2
NCAA Midwest Regional Final
D/W Kirill Gotovets, COR: 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 24 GP, 1-7-8, +13, 12 PIM
Ferris State senior Jordie Johnson (undrafted) scored in the seventh minute of the third period to break a 1-1 tie and propel the Bulldogs to their first Frozen Four. Gotovets had the only assist on Cornellâ€™s lone goal. He finishes the year with eight point in 24 games. More will be expected of the Belarusian next year as an upperclassman. Gotovets may not be completely done for the season as he could suit up for Belarus in the World Championships later this spring as heâ€™s done the last two years.
No. 4 North Dakota Fighting Sioux 3 vs. No. 12 Western Michigan Broncos 1
NCAA West Regional Semifinal
D Luke Witkowski, WMU: 0-0-0, -2, 2 PIM (hitting after the whistle), 1 SOG
Season totals: 40 GP, 2-11-13, +8, 66 PIM
WMUâ€™s postseason run came to an end Saturday afternoon, falling 3-1 to top-seeded North Dakota. The Broncos scored to make the game 2-1 and appeared to get the tying goal, but it was ruled no-goal. The puck appeared to bounce in off a net-crashing forward while a Sioux player was sliding into the post and knocking the net off. It was ruled no goal and UND added an empty net goal late to give the game its final score. Witkowki and NCAA free agent partner Dan DeKeyser were on the ice in the last minute trying to get the game tied. Witkowski appeared to hesitate when deciding to pinch in at the blueline to keep the puck in, and when he finally did he was a little too late and lost a one-on-one battle along the wall. The UND player got around him and scored into an empty net. Itâ€™s a tough play for the junior alternate captain, who has been fantastic all year on the back end. It was reported this week that he will return to school for his senior season. He has a good chance to be named captain. Witkowski set a career high for points in a season and could breakout on offense next year. DeKeyser had an assist in the game and was strong throughout. There have been mixed signals as to whether the sophomore will leave school and turn pro. The Lightning are one of a few teams thought to be leaders for him. Detroit and Toronto are the others.
Note: With Gotovets and Witkowski seeing their seasons end on Saturday, it means no Lightning prospect will be playing in the Frozen Four taking place in Tampa. Brendan O'Donnell's Fighting Sioux could still make it, but O'Donnell is out for the season due to injury. A final review of Lightning NCAA prospects will be posted in the coming days.
*USCHO poll used
Colgate Raiders 0 @ No. 13 Cornell Big Red 3
D/W Kirill Gotovets, COR: 0-0-0, , 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 22 GP, 1-6-7, +13, 12 PIM
Gotovets was back on defense after playing forward in Cornellâ€™s semifinal loss to Harvard on Friday. He registered one shot on goal as Cornell took the Consolation Game win in Atlantic City.
No. 19 Harvard Crimson 1 @ Union Dutchmen 3
F Alex Killorn, HAR: 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM, 6 SOG
Season totals: 34GP, 23-23-46, +13, 47 PIMs
In what was probably his final collegiate game, Alex Killorn scored his teamâ€™s only goal and led the Crimson with five shots on net, but Harvard lost to Union 3-1 in the ECAC Championship Game. It was Unionâ€™s first ECAC title. Any slim shot Harvard had at getting an invitation to the big dance went by the wayside when Union and Western Michigan both got automatic bids. Killorn came back to school for his senior year to do just this â€“ have a strong offensive campaign and lead his team to new heights. Hopefully he holds his head high. The Killorn contract watch now begins, as heâ€™s a lock to sign his name on the dotted line with the Lightning. Itâ€™s just a matter of when.
No. 7 Miami RedHawks 4 vs. Bowling Green Falcons 1
F Jimmy Mullin, MIA: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 35 GP, 11-15-26, +17, 10 PIM
After a tough loss to Western Michigan in the semifinals Friday, Miami defeated upstart Bowling Green in the CCHA Consolation Game. Miami is a lock for the national tournament and will await their seeding on Sunday.
Note: Brendan Oâ€™Donnell (North Dakota) is out for the season after undergoing shoulder surgery. North Dakota won their third straight WCHA tournament championship.
No. 3 Michigan Wolverines 2 vs. No. 14 Western Michigan Broncos 3
D Luke Witkowski, WMU: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 39 GP, 2-11-13, +8, 47 PIM
Fear the beard. Witkowski and Western Michigan won their first CCHA tournament title since 1986 as they held on to beat Michigan, 3-2. Witkowski was strong all night with his partner, free agent Dan DeKeyser. Witkowskiâ€™s dump-in and the hybrid icing rule led to the eventual game-winning goal, scored in the closing minutes of the second period. Witkowski, who came into the game with seven points in his last eight games, was beaten one-on-one for Michiganâ€™s first goal, which came while WMU was on the power play, but was strong in his own zone as the Broncos killed off a five-minute major penalty that ended with three minutes to go. He was very poised and strong on the puck in his own end, and at one point in the final minute enabled a clear when he beat two Wolverines to a loose puck while he was on his knees after breaking up the previous play. During the broadcast, Fox Sports Detroit said WMU coach Andy Murray mentioned that all six WMU defensemen would be back next year. The announcers didnâ€™t seem to put a ton of stock in the comment, but itâ€™s the first indication that DeKeyser â€“ and Witkowski â€“ are staying in school. DeKeyser, who was named to the CCHA All-Tournament team, will be offered a contract from most every NHL team and Witkowski has played well enough to start a contract conversation among the Lightning brass. Time will tell, but right now Witkowski, his beard â€“ which got a kiss from the Broncos backup goaltender during the celebration, and WMU will wait and see what damage they can do in the national tournament. They earned an automatic bid with the tournament championship. (Luke's photo from his Twitter feed, @LWitko28)
*USCHO poll used
No. 19 Harvard Crimson 6 @ No. 13 Cornell Big Red 1
Killorn and Harvard continued their magical run, beating the favored Big Red 6-1 on Friday to earn a trip to the ECAC finals against top-seeded Union. Harvard scored the gameâ€™s first six goals, with Killorn getting numbers two and five. Cornell added a late goal. Lightning prospect Kirill Gotovets spent time at wing, which he has done a handful of times this year. Harvard has to beat Union on Saturday to get into the national tournament. Cornell, who will play in the Third Place Game on Saturday, is considered on the bubble.
No. 7 Miami RedHawks 2 vs. No. 14 Western Michigan Broncos 6
Witkowski logged a ton of minutes and for a moment or two had was credited with an important goal for WMU as the Broncos upset Miami to advance to the CCHA Finals against Michigan, who beat Cinderella Bowling Green in double overtime. Witkowski took a feed in the high slot while on the power play, skated a couple of strides, and fired a low wrist shot that found its way to the twine but it was later ruled to have hit the shaft of the stick of teammate Will Kessel (undrafted). Witkowski and defensive partner Dan DeKeyser, a free agent target of the Lightning, played nearly every key shift in the game for the Broncos and matched-up against Lightning prospect Jimmy Mullinâ€™s high-powered line for much of the game. Mullin created a few scoring chances and had his name announced for an assist on Miami's first goal, but it was later corrected. Mullin was one of the few RedHawks who was generating chances. Mullin will continue his season in Saturday's Third Place Game, then on the road to the Frozen Four in Tampa as the RedHawks are considered a lock for an invitation. WMU is on the bubble, but can punch their ticket with a win over the Wolverines at Joe Louis Arena Saturday night.
*USCHO poll used
Dartmouth Big Green 1 @ No. 13 Cornell Big Red 3
ECAC Quarterfinals: Cornell wins best-of-3 series 2-0
D Kirill Gotovets, COR: 0-0-0, , 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 20 GP, 1-6-7, +13, 12 PIM
Cornell scored three times in the first period and made the score hold up the rest of the way to advance to the ECAC semifinals in Atlantic City.
Yale Bulldogs 3 @ Harvard Crimson 4 (2OT)
ECAC quarterfinals: Best-of-3 series tied 1-1
F Alex Killorn, HAR: 0-2-2, E, 2 PIM (hitting after the whistle), 9 SOG
Season totals: 31GP, 18-20-38, +6, 47 PIMs
For the second straight game Harvard and Yale went to overtime, but this time it was the Crimson who prevailed. Alex Killorn had a team-leading nine shots on goal on Saturday after only registering one on Friday night. Defenseman Dan Ford (undrafted) scored the double overtime winner for Harvard â€“ his second goal of the season. The series-deciding Game 3 will be played Sunday at Harvard.
No.15 Michigan State Spartans 1 @ No. 11 Miami RedHawks 4
CCHA Quarterfinals: Miami wins best-of-3 series 2-0
F Jimmy Mullin, MIA: 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 33 GP, 11-15-26, +16, 10 PIM
Mullin assisted on the gameâ€™s first goal and for the second night in a row Miami had a huge second period as they eliminated Michigan State from the CCHA playoff race with a 4-1 victory. The RedHawks scored three times in the second period to blow open a 1-1 game. Miami advances to the ECAC semifinals at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
Note: Brendan Oâ€™Donnell (North Dakota) is out for the season after undergoing shoulder surgery this week.
Quinnipiac Bobcats 4 @ Colgate Raiders 2
ECAC Quarterfinals: Best-of-3 series tied 1-1
F Matthew Peca, QU: 0-3-3, +2, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season totals: 38 GP, 8-31-39, +1, 12 PIM
Quinnipiac staved off elimination in the ECAC tournament with a 4-2 win over the Raiders. Matt Peca extended his point streak to seven games with a three-point night. He is now over a point-per-game. Game 3 is Sunday at Colgate.
No.20 Lake Superior State Lakers 2 @ No. 16 Western Michigan Broncos 5
CCHA Quarterfinals: WMU wins best-of-3 series 2-0[/b]
[i]D Luke Witkowski, WMU: 1-0-1, +1, 2 PIM (cross-checking), 3 SOG
Season totals: 37 GP, 2-10-12, +7, 47 PIM
Witkowski (pictured) scored his second goal of the season to open the scoring and WMU built a 5-0 lead on their way to a win, sweep of LSSU, and a trip to Detroit for the CCHA semifinals for the second year in a row â€“ a first for Bronco hockey. Free agent defenseman Dan DeKeyser had two helpers in the game.
*USCHO poll used