Each week this season, ESPN Florida has been highlighting prospects in the Tampa Bay Lightning organization making an impact for their respective teams.
This week’s star goes to:
Dustin Tokarski, Norfolk Admirals (AHL)
Tokarski is the Star of the Week for the second time in the last three weeks after the goaltender backstopped the Norfolk Admirals to a 2-0 lead over Toronto in the Calder Cup finals last weekend.
The 2008 fifth round pick of the Lightning stopped 53 of 56 shots in total, good for a .946 save percentage. He is 10-2 in the playoffs with a league-leading 1.63 goals against average and a .940 save percentage, which is tied for first with Toronto goalie Ben Scrivens.
On Wednesday Tokarski beat Scrivens and Toronto by stopping all but one of the 24 shots he faced from the Western Conference champion Marlies. Norfolk won, 3-1, with an empty net goal. The next night he was 30 of 32 as the Admirals won, 4-2. The second goal to beat him in Game 2 was scored in the dying moments of a game that was already well within Norfolk’s control.
Tokarski entered the Toronto series coming off two consecutive shutouts against St. John’s. He ran his shutout streak to 203:26 in Game 1 before former Bolt prospect Carter Ashton beat Tokarski under the left pad for a goal. He fell just 4:01 short of Marcel Paille’s 50-year-old Calder Cup playoff record for consecutive minutes without allowing a goal.
It wasn’t just the amount of saves for Tokarski, it was when he was making them. Tokarski was at his best when the games were very much in doubt in the first and second periods. And considering a team’s goaltender is their best penalty killer, Tokarski gets a lot of the credit for Norfolk killing off nearly a dozen power plays in a closely-contested Game 1.
Game 3 of the finals is Thursday in Toronto. If Norfolk is fortunate enough to finish off the Marlies and hoist the Cup, Tokarski will add a Calder Cup to his resume that already includes a Telus Cup (Canadian midget-level, Memorial Cup (CHL), Chynoweth Cup (WHL), and World Junior Championship gold medal.
But as Tokarski will likely tell you from his experiences, the final victories on the road to a championship are the hardest.
For daily updates of Lightning prospects in all leagues, visit www.boltprospects.com.
(Virginian Pilot photo)