Helenius, Riku

AHL Game Night: 10-13-12 Bears at Crunch

Syracuse hangs on hard against one of the league's perennial powers.

HER-3
SYR-4

Riku Helenius allowed 3 goals on 26 shots for the victory, in a successful return to North American hockey. This battle between Helenius and Dustin Tokarski for the top spot between the pipes in Syracuse is going to rage all season, and both guys are going to be better for it. It's an embarrassment of riches to boast two guys who won championships last season in the AHL and Finnish SM-liiga, respectively. Good. Problem. To. Have.

First Period
SYR Angelidis, (2) (Wyman), 11:23 (SH)

Second Period
SYR Johnson, (3) (Conacher, Palat), 5:36
HER Mitchell, (1) , 7:26 (SH)
HER Almeida, (1) (Taffe, DiSalvatore), 14:36
SYR Conacher, (2) (Taormina), 18:44

Third Period
SYR Connolly, (1) (Barberio, Conacher), 5:02 (PP)
HER DiSalvatore, (1) (Kundratek, Taffe), 13:04 (PP)

Cory Conacher (pictured) and Tyler Johnson were the game's first and second stars. For my money, Conacher was the best player in the league the first half of last season and Johnson the best in the second half. Why wouldn't they lead the Crunch in the home opener this year? With a little offseason rest, Conacher looks every bit the pesky scorer that tore up the league to start last year.

Brett Connolly scored the winner to notch his first point of the season. It's only a matter of time until J.T. Brown and Richard Panik follow suit.

No offense to our friends in Hershey, but I have to confess to being a little stunned that this year's version of the Bears is the least stacked, on paper, I've seen in a while. Sure, there's some fine players like Orlov and Holtby, but without the likes of Bourque or Giroux, this year's team lacks the fear factor of many recent editions. It's going to be interesting to see how the division plays out over the course of the season.

The Crunch travel to Albany next on Friday.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 10-12-12 Crunch at Americans

A Syracuse comeback takes away a point on opening night.

SYR-5
ROC-6 (SO)

Dustin Tokarski allowed 5 goals on 24 shots and 1 of 5 shooters to convert for the shootout loss. That's an ugly stat line for a young man trying to stave off a Riku Helenius challenge for the starting job.

First Period
RCH Tropp, (1) (Hodgson), 0:24
SYR Barberio, (1) (Namestnikov, Killorn), 5:28 (PP)
RCH Tropp, (2) (Adam, Schiestel), 14:52
RCH Foligno, (1) (Porter, Mancari), 16:12

Second Period
RCH Pysyk, (1) (Rankin, Varone), 3:22
SYR Angelidis, (1) (Wyman), 19:14

Third Period
SYR Conacher, (1) (Palat), 1:42
SYR Johnson, (1) (Conacher, Taormina), 8:01
SYR Johnson, (2) (Conacher, Palat), 10:09 (PP)
RCH Mancari, (1) (Brennan, Foligno), 12:42 (PP)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
SYR- None
ROC- Mancari

Cory Conacher (pictured) was the game's second star after posting 1 goal and 2 assists on opening night.Tyler Johnson had a pair of goals and Ondrej Palat also had a multi-point night with a pair of helpers. Youngster Vladislav Namestnikov also posted his first professional point on an assist on Mark Barberio's game opening goal.

I'm stunned that Syracuse threw out a shootout lineup of Palat, Connolly, Panik, Johnson, and Conacher and got nothing. That's five stud prospects with a lot of skill and... nada. I wouldn't have bet on that.

Syracuse outshot Rochester 34-25 in the game, and was very game to come out of a three goal hole to get a point out of the night. When Johnson pulled Syracuse ahead for the first time in the Third Period, you even had to think for a moment that maybe that killer instinct from Norfolk last season was still in effect. There was plenty of good, plenty of bad, and plenty of coachable moments for Jon Cooper to work on the team with after this one.

On to Syracuse tomorrow and the home opener against perennial power Hershey.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Preseason Game Night: 10-5-12 Crunch at IceCaps

SYR-3
STJ-2 (SO)

Riku Helenius got the shootout victory, stopping 3 of 4 in the penalty shot session.

Brett Connolly and Matt Taormina had Syracuse's goals during regulation. Connolly also had the winner in the shootout with Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson also converting.

Game story from syracusecrunch.com.

KHL Game Day: 9-26-12

KHL (Russia)
Bratislava 4 vs. Khanty-Manisysk 3 (SO)
Jaroslav Janus, Bratislava, Win, 36/39, 3.00 GAA, .923 sv%
Season totals: 8 GP, 6-1-1, 1 SO, 1.94 GAA, .936 sv%

Jaroslav Janus picked up his second shootout victory of the season, stopping 2 of 2 shooters in the penalty shot session for the victory. Remember, on Bolt Prospects, we count shootout wins as wins, because they should be. Among those 2 Yugra shooters denied? Ex-Lightning prospect Anton But. Ex-NHLer Miroslav Satan had the shootout winner for Slava. They face Magnitogorsk next on Saturday.

As a side note: Andrei Vasilevski, Dustin Tokarski, Riku Helenius, Jaroslav Janus. It's the Lightning's deepest and best position prospect-wise by a fairly wide margin. That's saying something given how loaded the team is with right wingers, too.

Lightning Minor Pro Preview: Goaltenders

The Syracuse Crunch will open training camp on September 28 with more talent than they originally expected. The NHL lockout forced the postponement of the Lightning’s training camp and subsequently meant all prospects and young NHLers expected to start the year in Tampa will now start the year in the AHL.

Lost in this situation is the opportunity to have out-of-nowhere stories like Cory Conacher or Brett Connolly last year or perhaps most famously, Dmitri Afanasenkov in 2003.

While that’s bad news for the Tampa Bay media and fans, it’s good news for the Syracuse fanbase, who at this point is like a kid with a birthday the day after Christmas. Not only does a championship team show up at their arena’s front door, now they get a significant upgrade in talent to that team - a team that was already expected to compete for a championship.

This is also good news for the Florida Everblades – another team coming off a championship – as they’ll get the players pushed down from Syracuse.

The question is who?

Here’s a look at the latest minor pro organizational roster of the Tampa Bay Lightning and some notes and predictions for each player, broken down by position.

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