Quick Strikes: Tampa Bay Lightning Fan Appreciation Night starts at 2 PM today

The Bolts host their final home game of the season tonight, Brett Howden scores his first professional goal, and more prospect highlights!

The Bolts

The Tampa Bay Lightning were eliminated from playoff contention yesterday. For the first time in three years, the Lightning will get a full summer of rest and recovery to prepare for next season.

The Bolts host Fan Appreciation Night starting at 2 PM today! So many things to look forward to, including welcoming the players on the “Blue Carpet,” a used equipment sale, alumni autographs, and the chance to win jerseys right off the backs of the players after the game. [Tampa Bay Lightning]

The Prospects

The Syracuse Crunch beat the Albany Devils 3-2. They only need one more point across the next three games to clinch a playoff spot. “A night after 2016 first rounder Brett Howden made his professional debut, 2015 third rounder Dennis Yan made his own debut... Despite playing with two defensemen at forward, the Crunch played well throughout the night. They dominated play for many stretches of the game and outshot the Devils 32-26.” [Raw Charge]

In just the second professional game of his career, Howden scored his first goal - and not just any goal, it was a game-winning power play goal. He was named first star of the game for his effort.

Evan Stockton [reporter]: What have the last couple of days been like, your first taste of pro hockey?

Howden: It’s been a lot of fun. The guys are so welcoming. The coaches have been great to me. It’s really fun to get the taste of the speed, the body size of all these older guys out here, and pretty much just the daily life. You’ve got to grow up a bit. You’re on your own. You’ve got to look after yourself. I’ve been having a great time.

Mathieu Joseph (#21 in black) scored a goal and an assist to help the Saint John Sea Dogs defeat the Val-d'Or Foreurs 4-1. Bokondji Imama (#51) was held off the score sheet. The Sea Dogs lead the series 2-0.

The Game

The University of Denver defeated Minnesota Duluth 3-2 to capture the NCAA Frozen Four Championship. “Jim Montgomery scored three consecutive third-period goals for a natural hat trick that lifted Maine to the 1993 national championship. Twenty-four years later, Montgomery pleasantly watched one of his pupils nearly match his extraordinary feat on college hockey’s biggest stage. Jarid Lukosevicius scored three goals in the second period to lead the Denver Pioneers to their eighth national championship.” [The Denver Post]

“Bryan Bickell and his wife Amanda were the guests of honor at the 2017 Walk MS at PNC Arena on Saturday morning. Before the walk started, the Carolina Hurricanes  forward, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November and returned to the NHL this past week, gave the crowd a pep talk before the walk started. But Bickell had no idea what was coming next.” [Canes Country]

After the Walk MS event, Bickell told Kurt Dusterberg of NHL.com that he plans to retire at the end of the season. He played his final home game last night against the St. Louis Blues and will play the final game of his career tonight in Philadelphia against the Flyers.