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Team St. Louis wins 3-on-3 tournament title

Otto Somppi scored a late-game winner to lift Team St. Louis to a 9-8 win over Team Esposito on Saturday

by Bryan Burns / TampaBayLightning.com

Last year, Otto Somppi got his name on the trophy handed out to the championship team of the 3-on-3 tournament that concludes Tampa Bay Lightning Development Camp.

Somppi made sure he'd get on there a second time too.

The Finnish forward netted the game-winning goal with 2:30 remaining in Saturday's final to lead Team St. Louis to a 9-8 victory over Team Esposito at the Ice Sports Forum.

Team St. Louis ended the competition a perfect 4-0-0 having won all three of its round robin games on Friday - two by shootout victory - and prevailing in Saturday's final, which featured three periods of 15 minutes each.

"Back-to-back champs, it feels good," a smiling Somppi said.

Team Esposito answered each goal by Team St. Louis through the first period, but Team St. Louis scored four-consecutive goals in the second to pull in front. Jimmy Huntington sniped a shot bar down, Mikhail Shalagin notched back-to-back goals on the same shift and Huntington one-timed a backhander to push Team St. Louis in front 7-3.

Team Esposito wouldn't go down quietly, however, netting three goals over the final five minutes of the second period to pull to within a goal.

In the third, Peter Abbandonato struck bar down on the back post to level the score 7-7 with 12 minutes to go. Defenseman Alex Green, who, along with Cole Koepke, paced all tournament goal scorers with five markers, broke the deadlock with a backhander past Hugo Alnefelt to nudge Team St. Louis back into the lead.

That's when Somppi tacked on a rebound goal, swooping around behind the net and depositing the puck at the opposite post to give Team St. Louis a 9-7 advantage with 2:30 left to play.

"We all worked hard," Somppi said. It was just fun to play. Nice way to finish the camp."

Team Esposito got a goal late but couldn't find the game-tying goal. Sammy Walker was denied on a breakaway by Magnus Chrona with :30 seconds to go to end Team Esposito's best chance to level the score.

Somppi, Nolan Foote, Ryan Lohin, Radim Salda, Oleg Sosunov and Cole Guttman, the original members of Team St. Louis - the players on the third- and fourth-place teams from Friday's action were added to Team St. Louis and Team Esposito for Saturday's competition - will get their names on the 3-on-3 trophy. So will Alnefelt as the tourney's top goaltender.

Somppi doesn't necessarily think he deserved to be rewarded.

"Today, I wasn't that good," he reasoned. "I was probably like minus-3. I felt like they were scoring all the time."

Fortunately for Somppi, plus/minus wasn't recorded during the competition. The former seventh round selection of the Lightning at the 2016 NHL Draft finished with four goals and four assists for eight points, tied for the tournament scoring lead along with his teammate Guttman, who had three goals and five assists.

Trialist Eli Zummack paced Team Esposito with seven points (goal, 6 assists). Salda also had seven points (2 goals, 5 assists) for the champs.

Goaltenders were under fire with constant odd-man rushes and breakaways during the competition, but Alnefelt, a third-round pick in the 2019 Draft, had the best tournament of the six netminders, compiling a .932 save percentage after allowing just three total goals on 44 shots.

"It was actually pretty fun to face some real in-game shots and get to the game pace again," the Swedish netminder said. "That was super fun."

Saturday's 3-on-3 final wrapped up the 2019 Lightning Development Camp.

"I would say that everything reached my expectations," Alnefelt said. "I just had a super great time, made some new friends and get to be with some old friends as well."

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