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More Drama as Drouin Assigned to Syracuse

In a disappointing season already wrought with drama and storylines, the Lightning added to the pile today when they assigned former No. 3 overall pick Jonathan Drouin to the Syracuse Crunch.

Local media asked Lightning Coach Jon Cooper about the demotion, but deflected all questions to General Manager Steve Yzerman.

This was about the same time as news was breaking on the Internet about the move, which likely launched yet another round of NHL GMs calling Yzerman to inquire about Drouin’s availability.

Juniors Game Night: 1-1-16

Ontario Hockey League

Sudbury Wolves 2 @ Oshawa Generals 3 (SO)

C Anthony Cirelli, OSH: 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG, 16/27 FO
Season totals: 32 GP, 10-17-27, -9 19 PIM
2014-15 totals: 68 GP, 13-23-36, +34, 22 PIM

Oshawa gave up a late penalty shot goal but prevailed in the shootout. Cirelli, who had an assist in regulation, had his shootout attempt saved.

Peterborough Petes 3 @ Kingston Frontenacs 5

D Matt Spencer, PBO: 0-0-0, -2, 2 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 37 GP, 3-15-18, E, 31 PIM
2014-15 totals: 67 GP, 6-24-30, -15, 64 PIM

Islanders fifth overall pick Michael Dal Colle had two goals and an assist in his Fronts debut after coming over from Oshawa.

NOTES: The following players are with their respective countries for the World Junior Championships in Finland: Brayden Point (Canada), Mitchell Stephens (Canada), Dominik Masin (Czech Republic).

Juniors Game Night: 12-31-15

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Charlottetown Islanders 2 @ Saint John Sea Dogs 3

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: Did not play
Season totals: 28 GP, 4-9-13, -1, 50 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 59 GP, 13-15-28, +2, 137 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, 1 Hit, *First Star*
Season totals: 34 GP, 20-19-39, +14, 41 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 59 GP, 21-21-42, +18, 46 PIM

Joseph scored his 20th goal of the season one minute into the game and Saint John held on for an eventual 3-2 win. Daniel Sprong, recently returned to the Islanders from Pittsburgh, scored his fourth goal in three games and was named third star. Boko Imama is currently serving a 15-game suspension.

Sherbrooke Phoenix 4 @ Shawinigan Cataractes 7

W Dennis Yan, SHAW: 1-1-2, -2, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, 3 Hits
Season totals: 31 GP, 24-24-48, E, 42 PIM
2014-2015 Season: 59 GP, 33-31-64, +23, 71 PIM

Yan’s point streak grew to three games with a goal and an assist Thursday.

Ontario Hockey League

Kingston Frontenacs 3 @ Oshawa Generals 1 (Wednesday)

C Anthony Cirelli, OSH: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, 12/17 FO
Season totals: 31 GP, 10-16-26, -10 19 PIM
2014-15 totals: 68 GP, 13-23-36, +34, 22 PIM

Ryan Verbeek (undrafted), nephew of Lightning staffer Pat Verbeek, had an assist for the Fronts.

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 2 @ Windsor Spitfires 3 (SO)

W Cristiano DiGiacinto, WSR: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 31 GP, 13-17-30, +18, 48 PIM
2014-15 totals: 63 GP, 21-24-45, -16, 100 PIM

Windsor lost a 2-0 third period lead but eventually got the extra point in the shootout. DiGiacinto did not compete in the skills competition.

Guelph Storm 6 @ Peterborough Petes 4

D Matt Spencer, PBO: 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 36 GP, 3-15-18, +2, 31 PIM
2014-15 totals: 67 GP, 6-24-30, -15, 64 PIM

Last-place Guelph won just their fourth game of the season, and it was on the road against Peterborough. Matt Spencer has an assist in three straight games.

Western Hockey League

Prince George Cougars 6 @ Vancouver Giants 3 (Wednesday)

D Ben Thomas, VAN: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM
Season totals: 40 GP, 3-12-15, -16, 21 PIM
With Vancouver: 26 GP, 3-9-12, -6, 11 PIM
With Calgary: 14 GP, 0-3-3, -10, 10 PIM
2014-15 totals: 60 GP, 7-24-31, +16, 28 PIM

Prince George erased a 3-1 deficit with five unanswered goals.

NOTES: The following players are with their respective countries for the World Junior Championships in Finland: Brayden Point (Canada), Mitchell Stephens (Canada), Dominik Masin (Czech Republic). Canada will play Finland in the quarterfinals while the Czech Republic will play the USA.

United States Hockey League

Sioux City Musketeers 3 @ Omaha Lancers 1

D Ryan Zuhlsdorf, SC: 0-1-1, +1, 2 PIM 2 SOG
Season totals: 23 GP, 0-18-18, -7, 28 PIM
2014-15 totals: 56 GP, 3-19-22, +25, 58 PIM
(University of Minnesota signee)

G Kris Oldham, OMA: Did not play
Season totals: 13 GP, 8-4-1, 2.49 GAA, .922 sv%, 1 SO
2014-15 totals: 33 GP, 21-6-4, 2.49 GAA, .908 sv%, 1 SO
(University of Nebraska-Omaha signee)

Zuhlsdorf has at least a point in five of his last seven USHL games. Kris Oldham got the night off.

Zuhlsdorf had a roughing penalty in his first game back since the World Junior A Championships in Ontario.

U20 WJC Game Day: 12-31-15

Group A
Canada 2 vs. Sweden 5
Mitchell Stephens, Canada, 1-0-1, E, 2 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 4 GP, 1-0-1, -1, 2 PIM

Brayden Point, Canada, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 4 GP, 1-2-3, E, 0 PIM

Mitchell Stephens' rebound goals was one of the few highlights in Canada's 5-2 loss to Sweden. Stephens also took a matching roughing minor in the contest. Kings first rounder Adrian Kempe was one of 4 Swedish players with 2 point games, chipping in 1 goal and 1 assist.

Group B
Finland 5 vs. Czech Republic 4
Dominik Masin, Czech Republic, 0-1-1, -1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 4 GP, 1-1-2, E, 0 PIM

Dominik Masin assisted on a key goal late in the Second Period that, at the time, was the equalizer in Czech Republic's eventual 5-4 loss to Finland. Finland scored a pair of power play goals off the sticks of 17 year olds Jesse Puljujarvi of Karpat and Patrik Laine of Tappara to pull out the win.

The day's matches closed out the round-robin portion of the tournament, setting the stage for the medal round. In the Quarterfinals, Canada will face homestanding Finland while the Czech Republic draws Team USA. Both contests are slated for Saturday.

AHL Game Night: 12-31-15 Crunch at Penguins

Vasiy stands on his head.

SYR-4
WBS-2

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 30 shots for the victory including a sparkling "double save" in the Third Period to preserve the win that was the stuff of legend.

First Period
WBS Dea, (9) (Clendening, O'Neill), 7:03 (PP)
SYR Erne, (3) (Blunden, Richard), 15:56 (PP)
SYR Blunden, (6) (Richard), 18:22

Second Period
WBS Gill, (1) (Simon, Kuhnhackl), 8:16 (PP)
SYR Erne, (4) (Darcy, Broll), 9:35

Third Period
SYR Koekkoek, (2) (McGinn, Witkowski), 18:49 (EN)

Adam Erne and Mike Blunden were the game's first and third stars.

That's 3 goals and 5 points in the last 5 games for Erne, and after going the first 22 games of his season without a goal, Slater Koekkoek has gotten on the board in 2 of the last 3. The high draft picks continue to come through for Syracuse.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-30-15 Rangers at Lightning

Season in serious jeopardy.

NYR-5
TB-2

Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 24 shots for the loss. I can't say any of the three goals were necessarily his fault, but you've got to make a situational save in a game like this when you need to get points.

First Period
1:53 NYR Boyle (5), (Yandle, Moore)
16:35 TB Marchessault (6), (Stralman, Kucherov)(PP)

Second Period
0:56 NYR Zuccarello (16), (Miller, Boyle)
19:51 TB Stralman (4), (Filppula, Kucherov)(PP)

Third Period
3:16 NYR Moore (4), (Stalberg)
18:39 NYR Stalberg (4), (unassisted)(EN)
19:27 NYR Nash (12), (Fast)(EN)

Anton Stralman was the game's second star.

You can micromanage the mistakes the Lightning made in this game to surrender each of the three goals they allowed before the empty netters, but what concerns me most is the flat effort level the team has shown the past two games. Other than a 3 minute flurry to start the Third Period, the Lightning looked like zombies in blue uniforms tonight. The passing was improved from the Toronto game, but the whole team almost to a man lacked any zip. The power play gave them a chance by potting two goals despite looking underwhelming, but even strength they just didn't have it tonight.

Now the Lightning have really put themselves up against the ropes as they near the midway point of the season. They need 3 of the next 4 possible points just to avoid making the hole they were already in deeper, based on the 12 points every 10 games model. It's hard for me to feel optimistic for the team if they slip 6-7 points behind pace by the midway mark. That's starting to feel like a bridge too far. Then you're talking about having to play .700 hockey most of the second half of the season, and that's a grueling pace to keep up.

Jonathan Marchessault had a power play goal and was -2 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots. If nothing else, he's become a power play specialist on a team that could use one.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

U20 WJC Game Day: 12-30-15

Group B
Czech Republic 5 vs. Belarus 3
Dominik Masin, Czech Republic, 1-0-1, +1, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Tournament totals: 3 GP, 1-0-1, +1, 0 PIM

Dominik Masin potted the empty net goal for Czech Republic as they outlasted Belarus 5-3. Undrafted 19 year old Jiri Smejkal of the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL had 1 goal and 1 assist for the Czechs in the win.

Juniors Game Night: 12-29-15

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Saint John Sea Dogs 6 @ Acadie-Bathurst Titan 5 (SO)

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: Did not play
Season totals: 28 GP, 4-9-13, -1, 50 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 59 GP, 13-15-28, +2, 137 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: 0-1-1, E, 2 PIM, 6 SOG, 0 Hits
Season totals: 33 GP, 19-19-38, +14, 41 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 59 GP, 21-21-42, +18, 46 PIM

Joseph didn’t score in regulation, but got the shootout clincher in Saint John’s 6-5 win over the Titan, who forced overtime with a goal with six seconds remaining. Joseph was in the box at the time serving a holding call. Boko Imama is currently serving a 15-game suspension.

Shawinigan Cataractes 3 @ Rimouski Oceanic 4

W Dennis Yan, SHAW: 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM, 6 SOG, 0 Hits
Season totals: 30 GP, 23-23-46, +2, 42 PIM
2014-2015 Season: 59 GP, 33-31-64, +23, 71 PIM

Yan’s goal at 5:58 of the third period gave Shawinigan a 3-2 lead, but the Cataractes relinquished the lead late in the stanza.

Ontario Hockey League

Peterborough Petes 5 @ Mississauga Steelheads 1

D Matt Spencer, PBO: 0-1-1, +2, 2 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 35 GP, 3-14-17, +2, 31 PIM
2014-15 totals: 67 GP, 6-24-30, -15, 64 PIM

The Petes returned from the Christmas break with a dominant win in Mississauga.

NOTES: The following players are with their respective countries for the World Junior Championships in Finland: Brayden Point (Canada), Mitchell Stephens (Canada), Dominik Masin (Czech Republic).

Juniors Game Night: 12-28-15

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Acadie-Bathurst Titan 6 @ Saint John Sea Dogs 5 (OT)

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: Did not play
Season totals: 28 GP, 4-9-13, -1, 50 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 59 GP, 13-15-28, +2, 137 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: 3-1-4, +2, 2 PIM, 7 SOG, 0 Hits, *Second Star*
Season totals: 32 GP, 19-18-37, +14, 37 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 59 GP, 21-21-42, +18, 46 PIM

Mathieu Joseph had two goals and an assist in the second period, then earned a hat trick when he scored the overtime-forcing goal with just over a minute left in regulation. The game was scoreless after the opening period, then Saint John had a 4-0 lead entering the third before giving up five goals in 14 minutes. Boko Imama is currently serving a 15-game suspension.

Baie-Comeau Drakkar 0 @ Shawinigan Cataractes 8

W Dennis Yan, SHAW: 0-1-1, +1, 9 PIM, 3 SOG, 1 Hit
Season totals: 29 GP, 22-23-45, +2, 42 PIM
2014-2015 Season: 59 GP, 33-31-64, +23, 71 PIM

Dennis Yan snapped his 3-game scoreless streak with an assist Monday. He had missed the last couple games due to a shoulder injury. He got a game misconduct for a fight occurring in the last five minutes of the third period. Yan fought Matt Staples. Brandon Gignac (2016) had two goals and six points for Shawinigan, and Alexis D’Aoust (undrafted) had a hat trick.

Ontario Hockey League

Sarnia Sting 6 @ Windsor Spitfires 3

W Cristiano DiGiacinto, WSR: 0-1-1, -1, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 30 GP, 13-17-30, +17, 48 PIM
2014-15 totals: 63 GP, 21-24-45, -16, 100 PIM

Sarnia scored the game’s final three goals en route to a 6-3 win. Boca Raton native Jakob Chychrun (2016), a highly rated defenseman, had an assist for the Sting. He has 16 goals and 33 points in 42 games this season.

Western Hockey League

Everett Silvertips 2 @ Vancouver Giants 4 (Sunday)

D Ben Thomas, VAN: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM
Season totals: 39 GP, 3-12-15, -15, 21 PIM
With Vancouver: 25 GP, 3-9-12, -5, 11 PIM
With Calgary: 14 GP, 0-3-3, -10, 10 PIM
2014-15 totals: 60 GP, 7-24-31, +16, 28 PIM

Vancouver played Everett for the third straight game, spanning nearly two weeks. The Giants went 2-0-1 in those games.

NOTES: The following players are with their respective countries for the World Junior Championships in Finland: Brayden Point (Canada), Mitchell Stephens (Canada), Dominik Masin (Czech Republic). Apologies for the late posting due to holiday travel.

United States Hockey League

Lincoln Stars 5 @ Omaha Lancers 2 (Sunday)

G Kris Oldham, OMA: Loss, 33 saves on 38 shots
Season totals: 13 GP, 8-4-1, 2.49 GAA, .922 sv%, 1 SO
2014-15 totals: 33 GP, 21-6-4, 2.49 GAA, .908 sv%, 1 SO
(University of Nebraska-Omaha signee)

Oldham returned from the World Junior A Championships and took a second consecutive loss to Lincoln. Omaha led the game, 2-0, at one point. Lincoln is second in the league (first in the West) at 18-11-0.

Sioux City Musketeers 3 @ Fargo Force 1 (Sunday)

D Ryan Zuhlsdorf, SC: 0-0-0, +1, 2 PIM
Season totals: 22 GP, 0-17-17, -7, 26 PIM
2014-15 totals: 56 GP, 3-19-22, +25, 58 PIM
(University of Minnesota signee)

Zuhlsdorf had a roughing penalty in his first game back since the World Junior A Championships in Ontario.

WJC Game Day: 12-29-15

Switzerland 2 vs. Canada 3 (SO)
Brayden Point, Canada, 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM, 5 SOG
Tournament totals: 3 GP, 1-2-3, +1, 0 PIM

Mitchell Stephens, Canada, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Tournament totals: 3 GP, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM

Brayden Point had the SO winner (which counts as a goal in IIHF tournament statistics) for Canada in their 3-2 victory over Switzerland. Canada fell behind 2-0 early in the First Period on goals by 18 year old Damien Riat and 19 year old Dario Meyer, the latter of whom plays his junior hockey in the WHL for the Edmonton Oil Kings. Undrafted 19 year old defenseman Joe Hicketts had the tying goal in the Second Period that eventually forced Overtime. Hicketts is just 5'8" tall and had 64 points in 62 games last season for Victoria in the WHL. He's a lefty shot, if you were wondering.

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