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Competitive juices get flowing in first scrimmage of training camp

by Staff Writer / Tampa Bay Lightning

Early in the first period of the Lightning’s intrasquad scrimmage at the Brandon Ice Sports Forum, new acquisition Brian Boyle approached the face-off circle, his jersey front stained with blood.

Inside the locker room following the game, Boyle sported a fresh gash and small bump above his left eye while answering questions from reporters.

“It was a hit I made, I think it was the top of the helmet hit me. It’s crazy I drew blood because these eyebrows usually protect me,” Boyle said, referring to his prominently thick brows. “They stick out pretty far, so they get hit quite a bit. But, they usually don’t bleed.”

Boyle talked about being ticked off after getting hit in the chin by a flying elbow behind the play. He instigated a minor skirmish later when he was beat on a draw.   

After two training camp practices filled with teaching and drills, Sunday’s scrimmaged offered a chance to get the competitive juices flowing.

“I think there were a lot of good things,” head coach Jon Cooper said. “In these situations, guys are all jacked up. It’s the first scrimmage, so there’s a lot of guys running all over the place and working their tail off, which you want to see. For the most part, they tried to put the structure in that we’ve been teaching.”

Boyle’s White team defeated the Blue 1-0 following a second period goal from Yanni Gourde, who took advantage of a turnover in the Blue team’s zone to wrist a shot past Kristers Gudlevskis.  

Ben Bishop played the first period in goal for the Blue and made eight saves. Evgeni Nabokov stopped five shots as the White team’s first period goalie.

Gudlevskis (Blue) and Andrei Vasilevskiy (White) substituted in for the entire second period. Vasilevskiy stopped seven shots. Gudlevskis made the most saves with ten, but surrendered the game’s lone score.

The scrimmage lasted two periods, both of which were played with a running clock.

“It’s good to finally get some bumps in, start playing, call it real hockey I guess you could say,” Boyle said.

The Blue team pulled Gudlevskis with 1:18 remaining in the game to try to tie the game but couldn’t produce a decent scoring chance before the final horn. Victor Hedman had good looks at goal, blasting a couple slap shots from the blue line that were swallowed up by Vasilevskiy. Hedman finished with three shots on goal, most in the scrimmage.

“It was tight defensively,” 2014 first-round selection Anthony DeAngelo said. “I think there were only 10-15 shots total.”
Besides the physicality of the game, the pace at which it was played was noticeable, especially for the newcomers competing in their first scrimmage with the Bolts.

“Fast,” Brenden Morrow replied when asked about Tampa Bay’s young talent on the ice. “You can never have enough of that, especially if they work hard. We’ve got, from what I’ve seen, a lot of good character guys here giving a good honest effort.”

A couple hundred fans were on hand for the Lightning’s first training camp session open to the public.

“There was a good turnout,” right winger J.T. Brown said. “There were a lot of people, and it’s always fun to play in front of somebody.”

The Lightning resume training camp on Monday with practices sandwiched around another Blue vs. White scrimmage, this time at Amalie Arena.

Bolt Notes

Steven Stamkos did not practice or play in the intrasquad scrimmage Sunday. Cooper said Stamkos was available to play, but the team wanted to see other guys on the ice. “We need him for October. We don’t need him necessarily right now,” Cooper said…2013 first-round draft pick Jonathan Drouin skated before practice but was held out from practicing with the team…Cooper said DeAngelo has been fitting in well during his first training camp. “He’s really poised,” Cooper said. “He’s got a lot of confidence to him, a lot of swag out there when he plays. You want that in a player.”…Offseason free agent signing Mike Blunden was given an excused day off to be with his wife, who is giving birth to the couple’s first child…Right winger Cameron Maclise was released from his training camp invite.

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