Following three days of off-ice workouts, conditioning exercises, power skating drills and shooting practice, it was finally time for the Lightning Development Camp attendees to put all of those separate pieces together to show what they’re capable of in game-like situations.
During Day 1 of the Development Camp 3-on-3 tournament, a handful of skaters including Matthew Peca, Danick Gauthier, JT Brown, Andrej Sustr, Nikita Nesterov and Philip-Michael Devos led the pack with two goals apiece, while Sustr came out on top among all players in the points department, recording four on the day.
“Overall I was pretty pleased with how myself and my teammates played,” Sustr said. “We’ll take our performance today and use it to build off of tomorrow.”
Sustr helped lead an under-manned Team Stamkos squad to three standings points in the tournament, despite being without both Nikita Kucherov and Maxime Langelier-Parent, who are out due to injury.
Nevertheless, Team Stamkos is sitting pretty to say the least heading into Saturday’s final day of camp, as they wrapped up Friday’s action behind only Team Brewer and Team Hedman, which are at the top with five standings points each.
“Obviously we have five guys on our team, with two of them unfortunately who are hurt, but we battled out there all day today and we’re pretty happy,” Sustr added.
Rounding out the bottom to middle portion of the standings heading into Saturday are Team Malone (also with three points), Team Lecavalier (two points) and Team St. Louis (zero points).
“Things didn’t really go the way we wanted them to,” said a smiling JT Brown, a member of Team Lecavalier. “It was fun, and it was good to get out there and get into some game action, but obviously we would have liked to have won one or two more games before the day was over.”
Each game consisted of two, four-minute periods on a half sheet of ice, with two games occurring simultaneously on each side throughout the majority of the tournament. The goal is not only for the prospects to showcase their skills in a game-like situation, but perhaps more so to gauge each individual’s own sense of hockey smarts and instincts by assessing how they react in small, and often tight spaces.
Prospects applied skills learned earlier in the week during speed skating drills to today's 3-on-3 tournament.
No exception, then, was first-round pick Andrey Vasilevskiy, who performed well in net and led all goaltenders with 28 saves on 31 shots faced, good for a camp-best .903 save percentage among all netminders.
Pat Nagle wasn’t far behind, as he stopped 29 of 35 shots throughout the afternoon, while both Adam Wilcox and Clarke Saunders each made 21 saves on 27 shots against.
Defenseman Dan Milan led all players with 10 shots on goal Friday, but was contested by both James Mullin and Nesterov (nine shots each), as well as Matthew Peca and Brandon McNally (seven shots each).
The Lightning’s first selection in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft two weeks ago, Slater Koekkoek, finished second among all skaters with three points on the day, but had that total matched by Devos.
A total of 10 other players, including Brown, Gauthier, Vladislav Namestnikov and 2012 NHL Entry Draft selections Brian Hart and Cedric Paquette each had two points on the day.
“It was a fun and competitive day today that was highlighted by the 3-on-3 tournament,” Koekkoek said. “It went well and all the guys out there looked great. There’s definitely a lot of talent out there for sure, and I know that’s what the organization is looking for, so I can’t wait to get back out there tomorrow and show them what we can do.”