TAMPA — Before the game, Paralympic gold medalist Declan Farmer dropped the ceremonial opening faceoff and received fist pumps from Tampa Bay Lightning players on the bench as he left the ice.
Farmer led Team USA in scoring in the sled hockey tournament at the Paralympics in Sochi, Russia, last month. The 16-year-old Berkeley Prep student has been a member of the Lightning’s sled hockey program since 2007.
“It took a few days, at least, for everything to really sink in at what our team accomplished,’’ said Farmer, who was wearing his Team USA jersey and had his gold medal draped around his neck.
Since returning from Russia, Farmer has been receiving plenty of recognition for his accomplishment, whether it was acknowledgment from the school when he returned to class or the attention for bringing his gold medal to school. Farmer said he is just trying to take it all in while taking some time away from the game before getting ready for 2014-15 Team USA tryouts in July as he keeps an eye on the 2018 games scheduled to take place in South Korea.
“It was so much fun over in Sochi,’’ Farmer said. “I definitely want to experience that again.’’
The Lightning have signed 2013 second-round draft pick Adam Erne to a standard three-year entry level contract on Tuesday.
Erne announced the signing via his personal Twitter account with a picture of him signing the contract in a Quebec Remparts office with the comment “It’s a dream come true to have signed a contract with the @TBLightning! Thanks to everyone who helped me along the way!’’.
The Lightning said Erne will report to Syracuse of the American Hockey League on an amateur tryout agreement for the rest of the season. The Crunch have nine games remaining, including Wednesday at Rochester, before the season ends April 19. The Crunch are last in the East Division and will miss the postseason.
Erne just finished his season with Quebec after the Remparts were knocked out in the opening round of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs on Friday in five games by Rouyn-Noranda. Erne suffered a small laceration to his spleen during a game on Feb. 16 that kept him out of the lineup for all but the final game of the series against Rouyn-Noranda, in which Erne scored a goal.
In 48 regular-season games, the 33rd overall pick in the 2013 draft finished with 21 goals and 62 points in 48 games. The 18-year-old also represented the United States at the World Junior Championships in January.
Lightning LW Ondrej Palat was named the NHL rookie of the month for March, the second time this season Palat has won the monthly award.
Palat led all rookies with 16 points in 16 games, registering five goals and 11 assists. He also won rookie of the month honors for January. Palat is the first player in franchise history to be named rookie of the month twice in a season.
Entering Tuesday’s game, Palat leads all rookies with a plus-27 rating and is second in rookie scoring (51 points) and assists (32) while ranking fourth in goals (19).
After sitting out nine consecutive games, D Mark Barberio made the most of his opportunity when he was back in the lineup on Sunday against Detroit, The rookie defenseman played 14:28 of effective ice time while dressed as the seventh defenseman, finishing with three shots on goal.
Barberio made a strong case to remain in the lineup.
“I thought Mark played extremely well,’’ Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “He was jumping into plays, and he probably had a couple of our best chances to score. I thought he was very good at breaking pucks out, and it’s good to have guys that you can plug in.’’
Barberio, who was scratched on Tuesday, is accustomed to being patient and waiting for his opportunities, as he has done at various points this season.
“I was itching to get back in, and I had some fresh legs, I guess,’’ Barberio said. “I just wanted to make sure I came in with energy, and both teams were battling ... so it was good to get into a game like that where it was playoff intensity right off the bat.’’
Nuts and Bolts
Tampa Bay scratched D Keith Aulie, RW B.J. Crombeen, RW Richard Panik, C Cody Kunyk and Barberio. ... RW Ryan Callahan has four power-play goals in 14 games with the Lightning after having five in 43 games with the New York Rangers. ... Montreal LW Thomas Vanek faced the Lightning for the fifth time this season while playing for three different teams.