Courtesy of Chad, Vladimir Mihalik smacks down a puny fly of an opponent.
Here's what we learned this week in communication with the Lightning:
2006 first round draft pick Riku Helenius made a successful return from major shoulder surgery when he suited up for Finland at an Under-19 tournament in St. Petersburg, Russia last month. The Lightning was in attendance when the goaltender played his first game since early autumn, but Finland was on their heels all night and Russia scored two power play goals to beat Helenius and Finland 4-0. Finland didn't fare much better in Helenius' second game, a 5-1 loss to Sweden.
While the GAA may not look ideal for the first rounder, the Lightning said he played well. The important thing to look at here is he's playing again and is in good health. In fact, after missing nearly all the 2006-2007 season, a healthy Helenius is now working out twice a day.
Prince George 1 @ Vancouver 5
Vancouver wins best-of-7 series 4-1
The junior career of Lightning first round draft pick Vladimir Mihalik is over. The Vancouver Giants soundly defeated Mihalik and the Prince George Cougars Friday night to win their best-of-7 WHL Western Conference Finals series 4-1. The Cougars only managed 10 shots for the game to the Giants' 46. Vancouver will now meet Medicine Hat in the finals. Mihalik finished the playoffs with one goal and two assists for three points in 15 games. He had 17 PIM and a minus-3 rating. Mihalik, who is already signed, will see his next action in the summer prospect camp and tournament for the Lightning. He also vaults to the leading group of signed defensemen prospects for Tampa Bay that will be fighting for a spot with the Lightning next season.
Mihalik was the last Lightning prospect remaining in the Canadian Hockey League playoffs.
Vancouver 2 @ Prince George 3 (overtime)
Vancouver leads best-of-7 series 3-1
The Prince George Cougars got an overtime goal by Devin Setoguchi to beat Vancouver 3-2 at home and extend their season by at least one more game. Game 5 will be back in Vancouver Friday night. Vladimir Mihalik was scoreless with an even rating for the Cougars, though according to both the Vancouver and Prince George papers, he had a night to forget. The Giants scored their second and game-tying goal after Mihalik turned the puck over in front of his own net. In overtime, he turned the wrong way during a Giant's rush and was beaten badly for a scoring chance that Cougars goaltender Scott Bowles came up big on. On the ensuing faceoff, Mihalik gained the puck and turned it over for another scoring chance. Just one of those nights.
Vancouver 4 @ Prince George 1
Vancouver leads best-of-7 series 3-0
The Vancouver Giants put the Prince George Cougars on the brink of elimination last night with a decisive 4-1 win. Prince George had cut the lead to 2-1 in the early third period, but Vancouver responded with two even strength goals. Lightning prospect Vladimir Mihalik was scoreless and minus-1 for the Cougars.