No matter what the fate of the Chiefs is off the ice and in the financial ledger, Johnstown is absolutely kicking some tail right now.
Ryan Munce stopped 24 of 26 shots faced for the win, his first in a Chiefs jersey. Johnstown's 5 goal third period was ignited by a thermonuclear 2 goal 2 assist effort by Adam Henrich, who is apparently POed that I wrote him off earlier this week. Memo to self: write off Marek Kvapil next week. Johnstown's other goals came from Maxime Boisclair, Gus Katsuras and Randy Rowe. Katsuras' goal was an auspicious reintroduction to the team after missing two months due to injury. Have mercy, the Chiefs are reloading for the stretch run. Bryan Nathe, Ryan Gibbons, Geoff Waugh, Grant Jacobsen, John Adams and Andrew Martens added individual helpers. Don't look now, but big Ryan Gibbons is riding a four game scoring streak. Henrich, Katsuras and Rowe were named the game's three stars.
Johnstown moves to within 1 point of 4th place Toledo as they burn a trail back into the playoff hunt.
REA Smith, (17) (Hogeboom, Zappala), 0:52
JHN Boisclair, (13) (Henrich, Martens), 4:22 (PP)
JHN Katsuras, (4) (Nathe, Jacobsen), 8:12
REA Hogeboom, (27) (Germain, Smith), 12:08 (SH)
JHN Rowe, (14) (Waugh, Henrich), 13:15
JHN Henrich, (10) (Adams, Gibbons), 15:01
JHN Henrich, (11) , 19:25 (EN)
Game sheet from ECHL.com.
That's an unfortunate outcome to a very good effort.
Gerald Coleman stopped 22 of 25 shots faced for his first AHL loss of the season. Springfield got goals from Marek Kvapil and Norm Milley with individual assists belonging to Doug Andress and Andy Rogers. In a dramatic departure from many recent efforts by the Falcons, Springfield dominated the shot count in outshooting Manchester 39-25.
MCH Nolan, (1) (Zeiler, Moulson), 14:56
SPR Kvapil, (11) (Andress), 8:04
SPR Milley, (18) (Rogers), 13:37
MCH Dallman, (3) (Moulson, Zeiler), 0:36
MCH Dallman, (4) (Clarke, Hoffman), 8:01
Game sheet from TheAHL.com.
Chris Lawrence scored the game tying goal late in the third period for Mississauga and the IceDogs would go on to beat the Saginaw Spirit 5-4 in a shootout. Lawrence was minus-2 in the game, but was named the game's first star. He did not have a shootout attempt.
Kevin Beech was back in the nets for Erie tonight and allowed 8 goals on 35 shots as the Otters fell at home to the London Knights, 8-3.
For anyone who felt the urge to hurl themselves head first off the bandwagon after one bad game in New York, no worries. Your seat was saved.
Johan Holmqvist stopped 21 of 22 shots faced for the win. Vincent Lecavalier, who any other year would be a runaway favorite for MVP except for the rise of Pittsburgh phenom Sidney Crosby, paced the Lightning with 1 goal and 2 assists. Vaclav Prospal added 1 goal and 1 assist and Brad Richards had a pair of helpers. The other Lightning goals came from The Secret Weapon, Nick Tarnasky and The Most Underrated Star in the NHL, Dan Boyle. Martin St. Louis, Cory Sarich and Doug Janik added individual assists.
The win temporarily closed the Lightning within 5 points of Atlanta for the division lead with Atlanta slated to play Edmonton late out west. If there's one benefit to posting a game recap late, it's that I get to include that Atlanta is losing to the Oilers 4-1 after two periods. So, barring an incredible comeback by the Thrashers, the Lightning will not only have closed the gap to 5 points but they will hold 2 games in hand and they still have two head to head matchups with Atlanta still on the schedule. The division is within the Lightning's reach, so long as they continue to play well and keep one eye on Atlanta and one eye on Carolina which is also running the Thrashers down.
New Jersey 2:12, Scott Gomez 10 (power play) (Patrik Elias, Jamie Langenbrunner)
Tampa Bay 0:44, Vaclav Prospal 9 (Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis)
Tampa Bay 17:24, Nick Tarnasky 3 (Brad Richards, Cory Sarich)
Tampa Bay 18:12, Vincent Lecavalier 35 (Vaclav Prospal, Doug Janik)
Tampa Bay 0:56, Dan Boyle 12 (power play) (Brad Richards, Vincent Lecavalier)
Game sheet from NHL.com.
I really hate to get involved in rumor mongering, especially when it comes to the business side of hockey. That's why I've avoided posting about the reported cuts coming in the Lightning's hockey operations budget that are slated to occur this summer. I do, however, think it's important to talk about yesterday's story by Erik Erlendsson in the Trib which suggests the Lightning may be looking to sell their stake in the Johnstown Chiefs. Faced with declining attendance, a small and aging arena and a market which doesn't boast much in the way of large corporate benefactors, I have little doubt that Johnstown is losing money at a relatively large rate for an ECHL franchise and that, as such, PS&E may very well be looking to divest themselves of their stake in the team. There is, after all, a healthy chance the Chiefs franchise may have to move in the near future and rumors are swirling that decision may have already been made. Then again, Erlendsson also points out the Lightning may choose to buy the Chiefs franchise outright and move the team to a larger market.
The fiscal uncertainty of the Chiefs franchise unfortunately comes in the first year of the Lightning's new approach toward actively operating the organization's developmental apparatus not only at the "AAA" level in the AHL but also at the "AA" level down in the ECHL. The project has had mixed results to this point, but I hope the Lightning don't abandon the idea altogether. The new philosophy, in my view, has a lot of merit and deserves more time even if the Lightning do have to sell their stake in the Chiefs and possibly sign on with a different ECHL affiliate.