“I thought the guys competed from start to finish,” said Geordie Kinnear, Florida branch AHL head coach. “We went down 5-2 and then we went down. We came back and went 5-5 which made it a good game. I am really proud and appreciate the work the children have done today.
Getting behind the eight ball early, the Panthers, who dressed 18 players instead of the usual 20, fell into an unenviable 2-0 hole when Jack Thompson and Maxim Cajkovic each found the back of the net for the Lightning at 9. : 35 and 11:06, respectively, in the first period.
Cutting that deficit in half, the Panthers then hit back when Federic Brunet sent Serron Christmas and Henri bowlby on the ice in a 2-on-1 break with a smooth breakout pass. Skating on the right side of the ice, Noel patiently held the puck before sliding it around a right-back defender on Bowlby’s stick for an easy goal over Hugo Alnefelt to make it a 2-1-14 game: 11.
“I played with Noelsy a bit last year so it was good to play with him,” said Bowlby, who has four points (three goals, one assist) in three games at the tournament. “I thought our line was playing pretty well [all tournament], and I was just the beneficiary. “
Entering his second professional season, Bowlby, who signed a two-year entry-level contract with Florida in August 2020, made his professional debut and played 23 AHL games with Syracuse last season, amassing 14 points. (eight goals, six assists) during these competitions.
“I think that’s huge,” Bowlby said when asked about being able to get his feet wet with the Crunch. “I just feel a little more comfortable here at camp, just having that experience and knowing what it’s like in the AHL.
Sent on the power play, the Lightning responded to Bowlby’s goal with one of their own when Xavier Cormier missed a shot on a single timer. Spencer’s Knight to bring the score to 3-1 with 3:38 remaining in the period.
Appearing at his first game of the tournament, Cole schwindt, filling in for Anton Lundell as a center from the front row for the Panthers, settled on the right side of the Tampa Bay net and buried a rebound from a Brunet shot to make it a 3-2 game just 53 seconds into the second period .
Scoring his own rebound goal, Cajkovic touched the string for the second time in the afternoon to bring the score to 4-2 at 8.44am. It would be the last blow Knight would face, as substitute Olivier Adam took over in goal. Wasting no time challenging the new goalie, Cameron MacDonald picked up a loose puck near the left hash mark and scored to give the Lightning a 5-2 lead at 10:33.
Down but not out, the Panthers then began to mount their comeback.
Set up by a smooth pass from Justin Nachbaur in transition, Simon Pinard slipped behind the Tampa Bay defense and beat Alnefelt on a breakaway to bring the score to 5-3 at 11:36. Less than two minutes later, Bowlby buried his second goal of the game in traffic to bring the score to 5-4 at 1:08 pm.
Put an exclamation point on the back and forth period, Logan hutsko recovered a smooth pass from Connor Trenholm and threw a laser into the upper right corner of the net to bring the score to 5-5 at 5:03 pm and shoot the Panthers even before the last 20 minutes of action.
“He’s a fun player to watch,” Kinnear said. “You can see his creativity, his skill when he has his opportunities. He scored big goals and got us back. He had a good performance. There were a lot of kids who left it all behind with the work ethic. I’m proud of all these kids. “
Making a notable dent on the scoresheet in all three games, Hutsko, a third-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, finished the tournament with a high five points (three goals, two assists).
“I’ve known Logan for a long time and he’s always been a talented player,” defenseman Max Gildon said Hutsko, one of his former teammates in the Team USA program. “It’s always fun to watch him play and handle the puck. It makes my job a lot easier when it is played that way.
Regaining the lead just 1:37 of the third period, Declan McDonnell received a assist from Shawn Element and shot Adam to make it 6-5. Helping the Lightning move further away from the Panthers, he scored his second goal of the game at 6:57 to make it 7-5.
With 34 seconds left in regulation, Jaydon Dureau took advantage of an empty net to bring the score to 8-5.
After 60 thrilling minutes of play, the two teams went on to engage in a shootout. With both goalies making it difficult for the opponent, Gage Goncalves scored for the Lightning, while Pinard and Schwindt each scored for the Panthers to claim a 2-1 victory in the skills competition.
Overall, the Panthers feel they are leaving the tournament better than they did when they arrived.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” said Gildon confidently. “You can put on the Panthers logo and get a taste of what it’s like to feel and play like other NHL-caliber players. It’s funny.
Stay tuned to FloridaPanthers.com this week for more videos and information on D-Camp.
– After playing two games without dropping the gloves, it seemed fitting that the Panthers only ended up against interstate rival Lightning as Nachbaur and Roman Schmidt traded blows at just 8:22 in the first period to set the tone for the game.
“It’s always great to see a guy defend his teammates, defend himself and put his own body on the line for the team,” Gildon said of the fight. “It was really nice to see that.”
– Speaking of physical play, check out this hit from Grigory Denisenko in the clip below.
– Looking at the overall tournament stats, 13 different Panthers registered at least one point during the three-game showcase. Hutsko and Bowlby each scored three goals, while Noel scored a pair. On the assists side, Anton Lundell, Justin Sourdif and Hutsko all collected two assists, while Nachbaur and Brunet each registered three apples each leading the team.
– You want to know what life was like behind the scenes of the Panthers in Wesley Chapel? Be sure to check out the latest entry in Hutsko’s diary on FloridaPanthers.com by clicking HERE.
– With D-Camp in the books, the Panthers will be holding their annual media day on Wednesday.
LINES OF PANTHERS
Grigori Denisenko – Cole Schwindt – Logan Hutsko
Henry Bowlby – Trevor Wong – Serron Noel
Justin Nachbaur – Connor Trenholm – Simon Pinard
Matt Kiersted – Max Gildon
Frédéric Brunet – Rob Calisti
Jacob LeGuerrier – Braden Hache