Lightning prospect Vasily Koshechkin got the start for tournament-host Russia yesterday against Denmark in Russia's first game of the 2007 IIHF World Championship. Koshechkin stopped 24 of 25 shots for the win, a rather easy 9-1 decision. Among the scorers for Russia were NHL stars Evgeni Malkin, Alexander Ovechkin, and Alexander Frolov. Russia leads Group D at 1-0. Alexander Eremenko, who plays for Ak Bars Kazan in the RSL, served as Koshechkin's backup.
In Game One, on Thursday, Russia lost to Sweden 3-2 with Koshechkin allowing 3 goals on 29 shots faced. Anton But was scoreless with 2 penalty minutes in the match. He played on the 4th line for Russia while fellow Lightning property Evgeny Artyukhin played on the team's second line.
In Game Two, today, Russia once again fell by the slimmest of margins. The Swedes defeated Russia 4-2 with a late empty net goal padding their margin. Koshechkin made 20 saves on 23 shots faced. But was moved to the third line in the match while Artyukhin was moved to the team's 4th line. The European Hockey Tour Finals was, in some ways, a warm up for the upcoming World Championships.
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.
Now that the new affiliation agreement between the Lightning and the Norfolk Admirals is in place, I want to take this opportunity to welcome Ads fans to Bolt Prospects. I've seen a lot of questions being asked around the internet about the Lightning's minor league system and their previous affiliations in the AHL. I would encourage anyone who has questions to poke around Bolt Prospects. Check the blog archives for stories and game reviews. And, by all means, feel free to register here at Bolt Prospects and talk to the growing community of Lightning fans.
For those wanting to know even more, I would recommend spending some time here on Bolt Prospects thumbing through the player profiles on the Prospects page. Bolt Prospects prides itself on having the most complete and most detailed Lightning prospect profiles on the internet and we're the only site on the web that conducts evaluations of a team's prospects three times a season, so we think we've developed a very valuable source of Lightning prospect information.
For those wanting to know where the Lightning minor league system is going, I think it's important to look at it's past. With that in mind, I would point you toward this article I wrote in May of 2003 prior to the Lightning's full affiliation with Springfield which details the team's history of minor league affiliations. Although I'm loathe to point any web traffic toward Hockeys Future, to my knowledge the article is the most complete history on the Lightning's minor league system.
Finally, for those looking for information about who the Lightning might be bringing into the system for next season's team, I would suggest taking a look at one of our prior blog posts here on Bolt Prospects which speculates on eight possible additions to the organization once the summer hits. While it is just speculation at this point, I think it's a decent starting point as a primer for the offseason to come. And, with the exception of one addendum I would make in that we have learned the Lightning are making a run at signing goaltender Vasily Koshechkin this summer, I think it's pretty complete.
In closing, I'd just like to add one thing about the Lightning organization and their minor league operation. A lot of negative things have been written about the Lightning's affiliation in Springfield over the past three years. Much of it is probably fair because although I honestly believe the Lightning's minor league system has improved greatly over that time period, especially in terms of their talent level, the results did not come in Springfield. But, while it is true to say the team's youngsters have underperformed over the past three years (especially this year), it's not true to say the Lightning don't care about their developmental system or about winning at the AHL level. Over the past three years Jay Feaster and the Lightning have invested heavily to acquire numerous veteran free agents to try and help the Falcons and in a proven winning coach in the AHL in Steve Stirling. We cannot promise that the transition to our organization and our system of play will be pain free and easy. Obviously it hasn't been over the past few years in Springfield. But, I can promise that the Lightning organization will always put forth an honest effort to make the Admirals a winner and to acheive the ultimate long term goal of winning championships at the AHL level.
#1 Kazan completed a three game sweep of #16 Novosibirsk today 5-3. Dimitri Kazionov once again did not suit up for Ak Bars.
#3 Ufa completed a three game sweep of #14 SKA defeating St. Petersburg 3-2 in a shootout. Anton But did not play in the match. He finishes the playoffs with 1 assist, 2 penalty minutes and a +1 rating in 2 games.
#4 Magnitogorsk finished off a three game sweep of #13 Tver today winning Game Three 3-2. Denis Kazionov finishes the playoffs scoreless with 2 penalty minutes in 3 games.
Vasily Koshechkin and #11 Togliatti's season ended today as they were swept by #6 CSKA losing Game Three 4-3 in overtime. Koshechkin finishes the playoffs with an 0-3 record and a 4.29 GAA.
#7 Yaroslavl completed a three game sweep of #10 Dynamo winning today 4-2. Albert Vishnyakov was scoreless in the match for Dynamo which was his only appearance in the playoffs. Evgeny Artyukhin did not suit up for the Lokomotive.
Alexei Glukhov was scoreless in #9 Cherepovets' 2-0 win over #8 Khimik to extend their opening round playoff series to Game Four.
After today's myriad of first round sweeps, Dimitri Kazionov, Evgeny Artyukhin and Alexei Glukhov are the only Lightning prospects remaining in action, although the elder Kazionov and Artyukhin have yet to play a game in the postseason.
Through three rounds of playoff games, the favored team is an amazing 46-2.