It has been a pleasure to write about some positive stuff concerning the Lightning the past few weeks. The team has made some fine additions through free agency and now has what should be a respectable blue line, and there should even be some competition for jobs.
Saturday night's scrimmage at the St. Pete Times Forum, the highlight of the week-long Young Guns camp, added to the list.
For starters, the turnstile count was 4,717, and the fans were enthusiastic. As owner Oren Koules said, "It was good to feel a buzz in the building again. We're glad to see the great fan support for our prospects and newest players."
Luke Witkowski, and it had nothing to do with his "spin-o-rama’’ attempt when he had a partial breakaway following a combined turnover from Hedman and Ashton. Witkowski just seemed to be in the right places and was quick to jump on loose pucks.
A couple of NCAA guys looked sharp in Alex Killorn (Harvard) and Matt Marshall (Vermont). Both guys looked pretty quick and fast on the ice. Killorn showed pretty good hands in close on one play where he cut into the crease and roofed a shot over Jaroslav Janus.
Invitee Matt Read, from Bemidji State, had some nifty passing plays and nearly brought the house down during the shootout part of the skills competition with a move in which he ping-ponged the puck between his stick and his skate before letting the puck slip past a helpless Janus in net.
Our esteemed colleague WB Philip on Lightning Shout:
Note to all the naysayers that do not believe that Tampa can support an NHL franchise...You couldn't be more wrong!! The line to get into the Forum began forming at 2:00 PM for the 5:00 PM opening. Bolt fans were stretched from the Forum doors all the way across the outside concourse and through the parking garage! Lightning fans stood in 90 degree heat for hours, in July, to get a chance to see the young prospects, of which only one or two will make the opening day roster!! This is an NHL town and we will turn out if the organization can be competitive.