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Fisticuffs with 'Canes help build camaraderie

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 14, 2002

TAMPA -- A lot of good came out of Saturday's convincing 5-1 home victory over the Hurricanes.

TAMPA -- A lot of good came out of Saturday's convincing 5-1 home victory over the Hurricanes.

Jassen Cullimore's goal was the second by a defenseman, something it took 15 games to accomplish last season.

The power play scored three times and is working at a 23.5 percent efficiency (4-of-17). And the team is 2-0-0 for the first time in its 11-year history and 2-0-0 against the Southeast Division.

But for coaches and players, maybe the most important aspect of a game in which there were 169 penalty minutes, and teammates stuck up for one another, was a team bonding.

"As you go through the season and get into situations like this and handle it the right way, and you do stick up for one another, and end up winning the hockey game, sure it brings you together," coach John Tortorella said.

"It's a type of camaraderie. Camaraderie in the game of hockey is an important thing for team chemistry, and situations like this, that certainly enhances it."

"It was a physical game," defenseman Brad Lukowich said. "And no one backed down."

Forty-nine penalties were called (There were 46 shots on goal.), including six 10-minute misconducts and a match penalty.

At one point in the third, Carolina had seven players in the penalty box, including defenseman Bret Hedican, who said he served about six minutes until it was realized he was not called for an infraction.

Carolina coach Paul Maurice said he did not dispute the penalties but added, "There were so many of them, they all blurred into one."

Things were so confusing that Hurricanes defenseman Sean Hill, one of the seven in the box, was allowed to leave before his time was up. He said he took a shift and took a shot on goal before referees Marc Joannette and Don VanMassenhoven noticed and put him back."

"It's a joke," Hill said. "I don't know what time I got in there, but I should have been in the locker room (after getting 14 minutes in penalties with 13:19 left). The refs can't figure that out?

"I went back in, got a shot. There's a whistle, and they put me back in the box. Meanwhile, Bret sits in the box for six minutes and doesn't even have a penalty. I've never seen that before."

The confusion among the referees and penalty time keepers, who are appointed by the NHL, was unusual. And it was clear the referees lost control of the game.

NHL spokesman Gary Meagher said Sunday the performance of officials is evaluated after every game. Any findings or discipline for poor performances generaly are kept in-house.

Last season, though, it was not denied that referee Chris Rooney was disciplined for separate on-ice run-ins with center Brad Richards and defenseman Nolan Pratt during a game against the Islanders.

Lightning general manager Jay Feaster declined comment.

Asked if this were the start of a rivalry with the defending Southeast and Eastern Conference champs, Lightning wing Ben Clymer, who fought twice, said, "That remains to be seen. Every game in this league is intense and hard-fought."

"Hopefully, we can create a rivalry with them," left wing Dave Andreychuk said. "But everyone in the division will be trying to beat them."

IMPROVED FACEOFFS: Richards and center Vinny Lecavalier were terrible on faceoffs last season with winning percentages of 41.2 and 41.5 percent, respectively. If Saturday's game is an indication, they have come a long way.

Richards won 7 of 13 draws (53.8 percent). Lecavalier won 11 of 23 (47.8 percent) and got two of his three assists off faceoffs.

Carolina, which won 51 percent of the game's draws, was the league's top faceoff team last season.

"As I told him and Brad, we don't want to take them off the ice. But they have to win faceoffs for us to keep them on," Tortorella said.

"It's a matter of just being a little more focused in those areas."

ODDS AND ENDS: There was no word on a possible suspension for left wing Chris Dingman, who was given a match penalty for high-sticking Carolina's Jesse Boulerice. ... The Lightning's 89 penalty minutes was its third-highest total. They had 95 against Los Angeles on Nov.6, 1997, and 97 against Pittsburgh on April4, 1998. The 169 minutes for both teams was second-highest for a Tampa Bay game and most for a home game. The Kings and Lightning combined for 187 minutes. ... Tim Taylor won 9 of 13 draws (69.2 percent).

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