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.
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 Lightning prospect sees his season end while another moves on.
Sudbury 6 @ Mississauga 3
Sudbury wins best-of-7 series 4-1
The OHL Eastern Conference's No.3 seed Mississauga IceDogs - the team with the second most points in the conference - is going home after 5 games. The Sudbury Wolves came out flying in Game 5, outshooting the IceDogs 16-4 in the first period and taking a 3-0 lead. Mississauga responded, outshooting the Wolves 21-5 in the second and 16-8 in the third, but the team could not get an equalizer. The IceDogs scored in the first 6 minutes of the third period to cut Sudbury's lead to 4-3, but the Wolves scored within 10 seconds of that goal and added an empty netter for the final score. Lightning center/winger Chris Lawrence had an assist and 6 PIM in the loss and now will wait for a contract offer from Tampa Bay. Lightning prospect camp invitee Travis Fuller (47 points in 43 games) could attract some interest from one of Tampa's affiliates for a tryout contract.
Lawrence finished the series with three goals and an assist in the five games. He was also minus-6 and had 14 PIM.
Everett 4 @ Spokane 1
Everett wins best-of-7 series 4-2
Top-seeded Everett got a go-ahead power play goal with 4 seconds left in the first period and held on until adding a couple of empty-netters to defeat Spokane 4-1 and win the opening round series 4-2. Lightning prospect and defenseman Dane Crowley was scoreless and even for the Silvertips. He finished the series with two assists in the six games and a plus-2 rating.
London 8 @ Owen Sound 5
London wins best-of-7 series 4-0
Marek Bartanus and Owen Sound saw their season come to an end tonight as London defeated the Attack 8-5. The Attack outshot the Knights by a significant margin in all four games, including 47-19 tonight. Anthony Guadagnolo stopped only 8 of 14 shots for Owen Sound before being pulled this evening. The undrafted goaltender finished the series with an .804 save percentage and a 5.09 GAA. Bartanus finished the playoffs with one assist and a plus-1 rating in the four games. It is unlikely he'll be brought back as an overager by Owen Sound and he is a longshot for a professional contract after registering only 20 points in 57 games in this, his second year in the OHL. This may have been the last we'll see of Bartanus in North America.
Mississauga 3 @ Sudbury 6
Sudbury leads best-of-7 series 3-1
Thanks to a five-goal second period, the upset-minded Sudbury Wolves put the Mississauga IceDogs on the brink of elimination with a 6-3 win tonight. Chris Lawrence had a power play goal early in the game to tie the contest at one, but it wasn't enough for the IceDogs. He also had six minutes in penalties. He finished minus-3. Game 5 is back in Mississauga on Sunday.
Owen Sound 3 @ London 6
London leads best-of-7 series 3-0
Sergei Kostitsyn (Montreal) had a hattrick to put Owen Sound on the brink of elimination as London defeated Marek Bartanus and the Owen Sound Attack 6-3. The Attack outshot the Knights by double-digits for the third time. Bartanus was scoreless and even in the game. Game 4 is in Owen Sound on Thursday.
Mississauga 1 @ Sudbury 3
Sudbury leads best-of-7 series 2-1
Upset-minded Sudbury posted a 3-1 home win to take a 2-1 series lead over Mississauga, the Eastern Conference's second best team. Chris Lawrence was scoreless and even for the IceDogs after scoring 2 goals on Sunday in Game 2. Game 4 will be Thursday in Sudbury.
Kamloops 3 @ Prince George 4
Prince George leads best-of-7 series 3-0
The Cougars got two third period goals for a 4-3 comeback win over Kamloops at home on Tuesday night. The win puts Prince George in the driver's seat with a 3-0 series lead over the Blazers. All three games have been decided by one goal. Game 4 is Wednesday night in Prince George. Vladimir Mihalik was scoreless, had a minor penalty, and was minus-2 for Prince George, and has zero points and a minus-4 rating for the series.
Everett 2 @ Spokane 3
Everett leads best-of-7 series 2-1
Despite a late Silvertips comeback attempt, it wasn't enough to prevent the Chiefs from getting a much-needed win and narrowing the series to 2-1. Game 4 is Wednesday in Spokane. Dane Crowley had an assist and was even for Everett in the game.