Quick Strikes: Lightning prospects Taylor Raddysh and Otto Somppi score in junior hockey blowouts

And Brian Boyle is back in town!

The Bolts

If you could go anywhere to see a Tampa Bay Lightning game, where would you go? Poll in the link. [Raw Charge]

With the Lightning on the road visiting Toronto and Buffalo, it was time for the annual tradition of the Father’s Trip. Players dads came from all over... including Louis Domingue’s pop Charles who traveled all the way from Ethiopia, where he’s shooting a documentary film... to hang out with their sons on the road.

Add Yanni Gourde to the long list of Lightning players who deserve consideration for major awards this sporing. [NHL dot com]

Now, more than four months later, Gourde has established himself in the NHL, earning top minutes and contributing to one of the most potent offenses in the NHL. Gourde’s 43 points are the fourth on the Lightning and he recently rolled off a streak of points in eight straight games.

The world sees Nikita Kucherov as a shooter, but deep down, he’s a playmaker through and though. [Tampa Bay Times]

“He’s one of the best in the game for a reason,” Stamkos said of Kucherov. “The ability and the respect that everyone has to have for his shot, it makes that pass even more lethal. Because everyone, including the goalie, is expecting a shot. He has the ability to fake it. And, for the most part, I’ve just got to make sure I hit the net on those ones.”

Even a year after his departure from Tampa Bay, Brian Boyle is beloved. [Tampa Bay Times]

“I think what made Brian so special was how he wore his heart on his sleeve,” said Michael Glesking, a 30-year-old Lightning fan from Tampa. ”He wasn’t the most skilled. But he was very passionate. He was always showing a lot of emotion in a league where a lot of players just simply don’t show a lot of it.”

The Prospects

Former Syracuse Crunch forward Yanni Gourde leading the list of biggest surprises in the NHL. Although, Crunch fans would say it wasn’t a surprise to them. [The Hockey News]

Gourde’s pro career dates back to 2011-12 when he suited up in four games with the AHL’s Worcester Sharks. From there, he bounced around the minor leagues, playing for both San Francisco and Kalamazoo in the ECHL before becoming a full-time AHLer in 2014-15 with the Syracuse Crunch.

Taylor Raddysh scored a goal and threw in this assist in Sault Ste. Marie’s 10-0 schooling of the Hamilton Bulldogs. [OHL Boxscore] [OHL Recap]

If you thought that score was lopsided, have a look at what Halifax did to Moncton of the QMJHL. Otto Somppi scored twice and threw in an assist for good measure in the 12-5 win. [QMJHL Boxscore] [QMJHL Recap]

Brett Howden and Oleg Sosunov’s Moose Jaw Warriors faced off against Libor Hajek’s Regina Pats. Howden was in on all three goals for the Warriors but Hajek’s Pats scored five for the 5-3 win. [WHL Boxscore] [WHL Recap]

(Howden is #21)

The Game

The NHL employs one African-American referee. It’s time we grew diversity in all aspects of the game. [Philadelphia Tribune]

The 34-year-old Alphonso is the NHL’s only African-American official, and Calgary Flames assistant Paul Jerrard is the league’s only Black coach. With the sport’s expansion to some nontraditional markets across the United States, there are almost two dozen Black players in the NHL, but Sharrers, Alphonso and Jerrard serve as inspiration for more to follow into positions of authority.

Now that Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is CEO and President, how about we make him General Manager too. [Silver Seven Sens]

See, the Ottawa Senators are a bit of an odd organization. And as it turns out, the answer was in front of them all along: Eugene Melnyk. That’s right, instead of holding interviews and hiring someone to lead the team through some of the most important negotiations in franchise history, the infamous owner will be taking on the important duties that Anselmi left behind.

The Calgary Flames have taken a big free agent center off the market. The Flames and Mikael Backlund have agreed to a six-year extension that will pay him $5.35 million annually. [Matchsticks and Gasoline] [The Athletic]

With Michael Frolik signed and Matthew Tkachuk under team control thanks to restricted free agency, this move means that the 3M line, one of the most pivotal lines in all of hockey, will remain a staple for the foreseeable future. Some may feel that the contract is too steep for the production, but he easily would have gotten more on the open market. This is a great move for the Flames and their future.

Highlight of the Night: Flames’ back-up goalie David Rittich makes a great glove save along the goal line to rob Nashville Predators forward Kevin Fiala.