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Promising Start for Bolts Written by Laci Bloomers - November 19th, 2021

With the first week of the CMHL season in the books, the biggest surprise to anybody thus far might just be the start of the season for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

While analytics might show that the early season start for the Bolts is not sustainable, it is certinly a refreshing sight for the management and fans of the club, who have watched the team miss the playoffs the past couple of seasons.  Many fans were perplexed that the team's GM was not active in the trade market during the summer, as the management team chose not to make massive changes as their fans expected.

While last season did not go as planned, GM Dave Normoyle explained why he was not overagressive in making changes over the summer.  "This team underacheived last season as a hole", he told this reporter, "but we had some players take great strides.  We have a core of terrific players, but our depth was not at the level we were hoping for.  A few of those guys needed an opportunity to get some games in, to have a chance to grow.  They learned from that experience, and it is showing early this season."

Last year Noel Acciari was one of those players.  He had a breakout season offensive, and was rewarded with a 2 year deal in the offseason.  Other players, such as Matt Tkachuk and Nino Niederreiter underperformed offensively, but were provided opportunities to play bigger roles. Acciari and Niederreiter are toed for the club lead in points early on with 5 in 3 games, while Tkachuk has 4.

Tony DeAngelo was signed to a contract and spent the season in Macon, being mentored and provided an opportunity to prove himself by coach Ryan Huska.  This season DeAngelo made the Lightning out of preseason and is tied for the the team lead in +/-  with defensive partner Mark Borowiecki at +6.  Eleven players have points thus far, and only two have a +/- below 0.

Along with a solid group of D-men, led by veterans Mark Giorano and Kris Letang, Jordan Binnington has been nothing short of spectacular thus far.  In 3 games, Binnington has faced 104 shots, allowing only 4 goals to date.  He has a shutout, a sparkling .962 save percentage and a 1.33 GAA, all tops in the league.  Are these numbers sustainable?  Of course not, but he looks refreshed and much more the goalie who is ready to go.

If nothing else, this surprising start has the fans in Tampa fired up, and that is a great start!

 

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