The Florida Panthers prospect crew finished the four-team Estero Rookie Tournament with a 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. After winning its opener against the Washington Capitals, the Cats dropped two straight to finish with a 1-2 record.
Tampa Bay's Adam Erne, a second-rounder in 2013, opened the scoring with a deflection goal 3:43 of the first period. The goal came with the Bolts on a power play.
Tampa's goal from earlier in the prospect game pic.twitter.com/AXI9Ecln73— Shane O'Donnell (@shane1342o) September 15, 2015
Lightning starter Kristers Gudlevskis was injured in a sequence that saw players from both clubs crash the net in pursuit of a rebound. He was replaced by Adam Wilcox, who played his college hockey at the University of Minnesota.
The Panthers tied the game at 3:01 of the second period when Connor Brickley redirected Michael Matheson's point shot by Wilcox. Jayce Hawryluk picked up the second assist on the power-play marker. Brickley scored in all three games of the tournament to serve notice he deserves a long look once main camp opens.
Brickley's game tying goal. Matheson took the shot, it was deflected in front. #FlaPanthers #EsteroTourney pic.twitter.com/gYN8iR936e— Shane O'Donnell (@shane1342o) September 15, 2015
Defenseman Jake Dotchin restored Tampa Bay's lead ten minutes later, when he beat Florida starter Samuel Montembeault with a long drive.
Despite out-shooting the Bolts by a 20-5 margin in the middle frame, the Panthers could not tie the game up again.
The Lightning put the Cats away in the third period with goals from Matt Peca and Joel Vermin. Peca's goal came on the power play at the 2:14 mark and Vermin's was an even-strength tally at 7:20.
The Panthers offense was problematic during the tournament. Aside from Brickley's three goals, the only player to light the lamp was Matheson, in a 5-2 Game Two loss to the Nashville Predators. Hawryluk scored a shootout goal to give Florida its only win.