If you're local, there were three good reasons to attend the Lightning Young Guns game this evening:
1. Withdrawl. Hasn't it been long enough? No, we're still 87 days away from opening night. Yes, 87 days.
2. Propects. For heaven's sake, they're the future of the NHL. What's not to love?
3. Yzerman. Attendees were gifted with Steve Yzerman's first fan appearance, where he answered a variety of questions including the reason why Zenon Konopka didn't make the cut.
Young Guns Game
I'm not great with quantities, but attendance tonight was roughly 2 to 3 thousand people max. I guessed this from the low turnout on Saturday, but perhaps it was the giant cloud of rain that descended right before the event (literally). Rain or not, the fans showed up, jerseys and all, ready to see their prospects in action.
What the game was missing was volume. And angst. I was ready to see some angst-in-action, but they seemed almost polite out there. I'm sure this comes with playing against your teammates, but still.
But moving forward, tonight's game consisted of two twenty minute periods, followed by a five-man shoot out. Team Black, including Brett Connolly, Brock Beukeboom, Dustin Tokarski, v. Team White, with Carter Ashton, Brendan O'Donnell, and James Wright.
First period started out slowly, highlights including a nice steal and shot on goal by James Mullin (Team Black), and a nice shot from the top left by Radko Gudas (Team White). I'll also add that Jaroslav Janus was looking mighty fierce there in the beginning. 18:12 into the first period, Dana Tyrell opened the scoring, 1-0 Black.
Brandon Hynes jump started the second period, scoring 2-0, with assists from Dana Tyrell and Andrew Agozzino. Goals from Tyrell (10:57), then Ty Wishart (17:00; unassisted), and again Hynes (17:44; assisted by Dustin Sylvester) finished the game at 5-0 for Team Black.
The following shoot out witnessed a nice showcase of goals from James Mullin, Brett Connolly, Brendan O'Donnell, and Brandon Hynes.
Q&A Featuring Brett Clark, Steve Yzerman, and Brett Connolly
Highlights: Blue-liner Brett Clark told fans he's a "two-way player" who is ready to move the puck to get it to the forwards; Brett Connolly "can't wait to get going," and sees himself as comparable to Columbus Blue Jacket's Rick Nash. Connolly aims to be a "complete player," and plans on strengthening his defensive game.
Steve Yzerman had more to say, noting that Development Camp is essential to getting an edge against other teams, and is important is for teaching the kids how to train, and educate them on what it takes to compete in the NHL. When asked, he noted that his strategy is to maintain the quality players, and to continue to develop the young guys (e.g. Steven Stamkos, Steve Downie). Regarding Zenon Konopka, Yzerman said that "[he] brings good things on the ice," but that they're "looking for more of a skilled type player."
The prospects signed autographs for the fans who stuck around after the questions.