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LIGHTNING OPENS PLAYOFFS

Following a fourth-place finish in the regular season, the Buffalo Lightning opens its best-of-seven first-round Provincial Jr. A Hockey League playoff series against Mississauga at 9 tonight at the West Seneca Arena.

The Lightning, which posted a 25-6-7-1 regular-season record, also will host Game Three of the series at 8:15 p.m. Monday. If necessary, the sixth and seventh games will be at West Seneca Arena on Feb. 19 and Feb. 24.

Trent Flory leads Buffalo in scoring with 31 goals and 31 assists for 62 points, followed by Justin Siebold with 16 goals and 32 assists for 48 points and Matt English Jr. with 11 goals and 36 assists for 47 points. Goaltender Brian Tefft carries a 3.12 goals-against average and has recorded two shutouts.

It has been a big year for the English family as coach Matt English Sr. was named the league's coach of the year and his son was honored as the league's top defenseman. In addition, Matt Stempniak has signed a letter of intent to attend Dartmouth on a hockey scholarship and nine other players have committed to NCAA Division II and III colleges.

The Lightning will host a benefit for Jane Opre at 7 p.m. Feb. 17 at the Grange Hall on the Erie County Fairgrounds. Opre, who is battling cancer, has acted as college placement liaison for the Lightning, as well as the Buffalo Jr. Sabres and Niagara Scenics. She also has worked as a volunteer to assist more than 200 athletes in attaining college placement.

Contact David Braunstien at 854-7541 ext. 246, Matt English at 652-0439 or Jim Duke at 634-8625.

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