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Dustin Tokarski makes his case to be Tampa Bay Lightning's goalie of the future

Dustin Tokarski stops the shot of James Wright for one of his 20 saves during his team’s 5-0 victory in the Young Guns game. “(With) new manage­ment, you’ve got to prove yourself and have fun at it, too,” Tokarski, 20, said.

WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times

Dustin Tokarski stops the shot of James Wright for one of his 20 saves during his team’s 5-0 victory in the Young Guns game. “(With) new manage­ment, you’ve got to prove yourself and have fun at it, too,” Tokarski, 20, said.

TAMPA — Center Alex Killorn had a feeling his White team would have a tough go of it Wednesday night against the Black.

Dustin Tokarski had something to prove.

"I've known him for a year or two now, and he always seems to show up big in big games," Killorn said. "I expected nothing less in this game."

Tokarski showed why he is the Lightning's top goaltending prospect by stopping all 20 shots he faced in 25 minutes of stellar work during the Black's 5-0 victory in the Young Guns game, which ended the five-day develop­ment camp, in front of 2,232 at the St. Pete Times Forum

It was a nice rebound for Tokarski, 20, who did not play well in Tuesday's scrimmage.

Add that he believed he needed to make an impression on general manager Steve Yzerman, and it was a big game, indeed.

"New management," Tokarski said. "You've got to prove yourself and have fun at it, too."

There were other notables.

Right wing Brandon Hynes, an undrafted invitee, had a hat trick. Left wing Dana Tyrell had a goal and two assists.

And though 2010 first-round pick Brett Connolly was without a point, the right wing proved to the Lightning's satisfaction he is healthy and scored during the postgame shootout with the help of a nifty shoulder and head fake.

"He's got hands," said Yzerman, who called the camp a success.

"For us to sit up and, in a majority of cases, see the kids for the first time and put a name to a hockey player, you get a better idea of how they skate, how they shoot the puck and what kind of player they are."

Yzerman knows Tokarski, whom he has watched since Tokarski led Canada to the 2009 world junior championship.

"He's a competitive guy," Yzerman said. "He's a very good goalie, very athletic. He makes exciting saves. His biggest strength is he's a real competitor in net."

Tokarski stopped Carter Ashton, a 2009 first-round draft pick, with a right-leg save after Ashton deked him twice.

He made a left-leg save on Tim Marks, who tried to bang in a cross-ice pass from James Wright. He stopped Killorn's breakaway and Matt Marshall's redirect of Killorn's pass to the front of the net.

Tokarski made one mistake, pushing a rebound onto Wright's stick, but made up for it with two point-blank stops.

"He played unbelievable," Killorn said. "I was kind of watching to see when he was going to get pulled because I knew nothing was going in on him."

"It was nice," Tokarski said. "Getting in the game, the atmosphere, the fans, it felt good in there."

The Lightning will start next season with Mike Smith and Dan Ellis in net. Tokarski, a 2008 fifth-round pick, will go back to AHL Norfolk, where last season he was 27-25-3 in 55 games with a 2.51 goals-against average, .915 save percentage and four shutouts.

"Everybody here wants to play in the NHL, so I'll have that mind-set," Tokarski said. "If I'm in the AHL, I'll aim to be one of the top goalies there."

With something to prove — again.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@sptimes.com.

Dustin Tokarski makes his case to be Tampa Bay Lightning's goalie of the future 07/14/10 [Last modified: Thursday, July 15, 2010 1:08am]
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