St. Petersburg Times
Tampa Bay Lightning

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Prospect lights up scrimmage

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 15, 2002

BRANDON -- It was just a scrimmage, but prospect Alexander Svitov used it to put his mark on the first day of practice.

The No. 3 overall pick of the 2001 draft had a goal and an assist Saturday during the Black's 4-3 scrimmage victory over the Blue at the Ice Sports Forum. The Russian native also showed a willingness to get his nose dirty along the boards.

"He played very well," coach John Tortorella said. "He carries himself very big on the ice."

"I was just happy to get my first goal and help the team win," Svitov said through goalie Evgeny Konstantinov, who interpreted.

No one would have blamed Svitov for looking rusty. He played little last season while a tug of war for his services raged between his hometown team in Omsk and the Central Red Army team.

But the 6-foot-3, 200-pounder eagerly joined the flow, showed a quick shot and tied the score at 1 with a wrister over the shoulder of goalie Brian Eklund.

"He was good," said right wing Sheldon Keefe, who scored off Svitov's assist. "He was strong on the puck and made good passes. He's a big guy. The defense had trouble containing him."

"He's not afraid. He gets his nose into traffic," left wing Andre Roy said. "He definitely has the skills to make the jump."

POESCHEK RETURNS: Tortorella gave high marks to defenseman Rudy Poeschek, who is trying to make the team as a nonroster invitee.

Poeschek has not played in the NHL since appearing in 12 games with the Blues in 1999-2000, and he said this camp has been his most demanding. Tortorella said Poeschek has fought hard to keep up.

The soft-spoken Poeschek, 35, played 213 games for Tampa Bay from 1993-97 with five goals and 418 penalty minutes. Lightning fans gleefully recall his February 1994 heavyweight bout with Bob Probert.

Poeschek, a thickly muscled 6-2, 218, knows he was not invited to camp to play nice. Tortorella called him "an animal."

"I know what my role is," Poeschek said. "Once the exhibition games start, I'll show how well I can dominate in that role and hopefully that will get me to stick around."

ODDS AND ENDS: Martin St. Louis bruised his left foot when hit by a shot from defenseman Nolan Pratt. But St. Louis looked quick and said he felt no ill effects from last season's broken right leg. ... Center Vinny Lecavalier and left wing Chris Dingman had two goals each for the Red, which beat the White 5-4 on a goal by right wing Shane Willis with three seconds left. ... Wing Nikita Alexeev had two goals for the White. ... Defenseman Harlan Pratt won Thursday's 3-mile run in 18:51.

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