The morning kicked off with a forty-minute scrimmage
between the Black and White teams. Ben Clymer opened the scoring a few
minutes in, snapping a wrister past Kevin Weekes. Clymer made it
obvious through his performance and determination today, that he has no
intention of returning to the minor leagues.
Brad Richards, who did not seem to be affected at
all by the absence of close friend and former linemate, Vincent Lecavalier,
tied the score when he got the puck past Nikolai Khabibulin from in
close. Richards centered Fredrik Modin and Martin St. Louis,
which will likely be the top line if Lecavalier is not signed soon.
The final goal was scored by prospect Nikita Alexeev,
after a scramble in front of Weekes. Management stated going into camp,
that Alexeev had a roster spot to lose. By watching the ex-Erie Otter
play, you would think he is hanging on for dear life. He woed fans with his
speed and skill, as he showcased himself for the coaching staff.
Another prospect, Jimmie Olvestad, ended the day on
a positive note. Turning on his physical game, Olvestad had four hits
through the first 20 minutes of play, including two on hulking defenseman
Kristian Kudroc, who towered over the 6’1 winger.
Defensive pairings on the white team were juggled to get
all 5-defensemen ice-time, which allowed Kudroc and Mathieu Biron
significant time together. While most teams would love to have a young, huge,
talented defenseman such as Kudroc or Biron, the Lightning are
lucky enough to have two. This dynamic duo game fans a brief glimpse of the
future of Tampa Bay’s blueline…a promising sight.
A note that wasn’t promising was that of defenseman Cory
Sarich. Sarich looked sluggish at best though the scrimmage. Let’s
hope he was simply shaking off the dust, and will show up tomorrow refreshed and
ready to play.
Absent from the action was defensive prospect Mike Jones,
sidelined with hairline fractures in both heels, sustained in off-season
Modin – Richards – St. Louis
Ylonen – Taylor – Olvestad/Dwyer
Kubina – Cullimore
Pratt – Zyuzin
Alexeev – Holzinger – Barnaby
Andreychuk – Prospal – Clymer
Neckar – Sarich
Ledyard – Kudroc/Biron
While the A-Team displayed a skilled, poised game, the
B-Team gave fans the grit and intensity they crave.
Aaron Lobb helped mix things up early on when he
squared off with Henrik Begfors. Although neither got a hit in before
Lobb lost his balance and pulled Begfors to the ice, the squabble was
enough to get both sides fired up.
There were as many hits as in a Lightning-Panther game
(except the kids tried to keep it clean). Lobb played a very physical
game, as did Begfors. The two had several wordy run-ins before all was
said in done.
Recent signee Ryan Tobler showed the grit and
physicality upon which he built his tough-guy reputation in the minor leagues.
He and Remi Royer had some words, but the referees quickly jumped in.
Royer also received a few cheers when he slammed his brother, Gaetan,
a member of the Red Team, into the boards.
There was more to the game than glass-jarring hits though.
Midway through the first period, Evgeni Artukhin sped up the left wing,
and then hit Tobler with a centering pass. Which he promptly put
past Evgeny Konstantinov, to open the scoring. Tobler, who is not
known for his offensive ability, found himself a few decent scoring chances
throughout the game. Sheldon Keefe and Dimitry Afanasenkov
also scored to give the Blue Team a 3-0 win.
Keefe, who appears to have matured quite a bit sine
last season, was very vocal through the scrimmage and practice. He finally
began displaying the leadership skills he was praised for while in Juniors.
Afanasenkov and Martin Cibak, linemates
through much of the season in Detroit, played very well, as was expected. They
were easily the best players on the ice.
Overall, the Lightning has a very promising group of
prospects, and they were definitely exciting to watch.
The Pre-Season games scheduled for this weekend have been
cancelled, as have all NHL games.
The Bolts will hit the ice at the Brandon Ice Sports Forum
Saturday morning for a three period scrimmage, followed by B-Camp practice.