Lightning Prospect Workouts: Day Five
The first 30 minutes of practice for the Lightning were all the same standard drills they had been doing for the past four sessions. The overall mood was subdued, but the practice was an improvement over yesterday. As a treat, Jeff Reese allowed the prospects to finish up in fine style with a spirited two-on-two mini game. So here is the final installment of highlights and lowlights:
I thought Aaron Lobb stole the show today. After putting together four very solid and consistent practices, the Guelph winger turned his game up a notch, saving the best for last. On both Thursday and today, as well, Lobb seemed to be skating better and today he displayed some very nifty stickhandling ability. Most impressively, he beat defensemen Paul Ranger and Gerard Dicaire on successive attempts at the one-on-one drill. On the first occasion he beat Ranger with an exceptional inside-out stickhandling move, and followed it up by beating Dicaire on an outside speed rush move. He added a goal and an assist in the two-on-two game and once again was one of the last players off the ice. Things also got a little chippy after young Ranger got his stick up high on Lobb, precipitating an earnest discussion between the two about the geopolitical ramifications of Argentina’s failing economy. All in all, a very nice way to cap the week.
After getting torched by Lobb, Dicaire settled down and had his best physical showing of the week. The Kootenay blueliner stopped using his usual less-than-stirring stick-check in favor of bodying up to his opposition, including a check on the massive Jeff Ewasko during the two-on-two game. He also assisted on a Paul Ranger goal to open the game’s scoring and showed nifty deke moves on goalies Evgeny Konstantinov and Brian Eklund during post practice breakaways. The fact he once again spent some time taking some extra shots didn’t escape me either, and was highly welcome.
Adam Henrich notched a goal in the two-on-two game and showed a high degree of skill in the process. At one point he feathered a beautiful arial pass to Darren Reid, which the Medicine Hat winger was unable to convert. Later on he nearly inside-outed the veteran defender Rudy Poeschek with a nice toe drag move, but the crafty Poeschek was able to recover.
Arthur Femenella was again very physical.
Alex Svitov had a solid if unspectacular practice scoring a goal in the game and showing decent ability to hold off opposing defenders while he possessed the puck. His slapshot is very hard, and he displays an ability to release it quickly when he uses a half windup, similar to a method Luc Robitaille uses.
J.F. Soucy had another sloppy passing day and twice fanned on shots despite attempting them unharassed by a defender. He was also the recipient of a monster hit by defenseman Arthur Femenella during the mini game.
Brian Eklund had a down day, prompting some extra instruction mid-game by Jeff Reese. He also unceremoniously pivoted and fell hard while attempting to leave his crease to stop an errant pass. This was the first time all week I saw the Brian Eklund who lost his starting role to a freshman at Brown.
Mini Game Goals:
West Side (Eklund in net): Ewasko(3), Poeschek(1), Svitov(1), Lobb(1)
East Side (Konstantinov in net): Reid(3), Ranger(2), Henrich(1)
Nikita Alexeev and Kevin Hodson did not skate with the team today. Defenseman Rudy Poeschek suited up for the second day in a row.
John Tortorella and Jay Feaster intermittently watched the practice.
Arthur Femenella will be returning to Sioux City of the USHL for one last season of junior before heading to college.
According to Johan Nilsson of hockeysfuture affiliate eliteprospects.com, prospect defenseman Andreas Holmqvist capped a miraculous comeback from major wrist surgery by playing in his Swedish Elite League debut yesterday. Holmqvist, who was thought to be out until around Christmas, notched an assist for his new club, Linkoping, in a 6-4 victory over Finnish team TPS Turku in an exhibition contest.