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Young Lightning goalie Wilcox earns praise, experience

Goalie Adam Wilcox has made a good impression with his preseason play. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
Goalie Adam Wilcox has made a good impression with his preseason play. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
Published Sep. 24, 2015

NASHVILLE — The past two nights may not have been kind to G Adam Wilcox's stat sheet.

But the former University of Minnesota star earned praise, and valuable experience, heading into his first professional season.

Wilcox, 22, was thrust into back-to-back exhibitions partly due to the injury to backup candidate G Kristers Gudlevskis (upper body). On Wednesday, Wilcox faced many of the Predators NHL regulars, allowing four goals (two on the power play) in 21 shots. He had a young lineup playing in front of him too.

"I thought I really adjusted up to the level," Wilcox. "It's really just a learning experience for me."

On Tuesday, Wilcox had given up three on 17 shots, including the OT winner on the power play, in a 3-2 loss to Nashville at Amalie Arena.

While Wilcox, likely ticketed to AHL Syracuse, has some things to work on, like fighting through screens, coach Jon Cooper has seen him mature in net.

"He's proven, watching him come up the ranks, he just finds a way to rise to the top," Cooper said. "Just watching him in development camps and his game, I don't know if they'd call it more aggressive, he's really calmed his game down.

"I think that strides he took in watching him in rookie tournaments, you could really see he's really coming."

HIGH PRAISE: D Anthony DeAngelo, the team's first-round pick in 2014, said he played too tentatively due to nerves last preseason, and planned to just play his game this time.

And DeAngelo, who was paired with D Victor Hedman on Tuesday, certainly looked more relaxed, picking up an assist.

"He's taking big steps forward," Hedman said. "He's calm with the puck, has the ability to make plays. He's great, especially in the offensive zone, he's unbelievable. I had a lot of fun playing with him (Tuesday). … He's going to be something."

CUTTING DOWN: The Lightning made its first round of training camp cuts Wednesday, reducing the roster by 10 to 53. None of them were a surprise, mostly 2015 draft picks, headlined by second-round pick Mitchell Stephens, who looked good in his NHL exhibition debut Tuesday. Also reassigned to their junior teams: Anthony Cirelli, Cristiano Digiacinto, Bokondji Imama, Mathieu Joseph, Matt Spencer, Ben Thomas and Dennis Yan. G Philippe Cadorette and D Kevin Gibson were released from their camp tryouts.

3-on-3: For the second straight exhibition Wednesday, the Lightning went through a mandatory five-minute, 3-on-3 overtime period as the league tries to get a feel for the new format. While the Predators won 5-2 in regulation, C Tyler Johnson scored on a breakaway goal in the 3-on-3, after an extra long shift. "I was just ready for it to be over," he joked.

NUTS AND BOLTS: C Vladislav Namestnikov scored a power-play goal Wednesday, with RW J.T. Brown adding a goal.