By: Mark Allred Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277
Last night the American Hockey Leagues Providence Bruins kicked off the 2017-18 regular season on the right foot with a 5-2 win over the Springfield Thunderbirds in front of 9,439 hometown fans at the Dunkin‘ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. The AHL started its 82nd season of being the top minor-pro developmental league of the National Hockey League, and this is the start of the 26th season that the Providence team and the Boston Bruins have shared affiliations.
Last year the Baby B’s had a decent lineup that got better during the second half of the season and marched their way to the Calder Cup Eastern Conference Finals losing in five games to the Syracuse Crunch. The 2017-18 roster is something to be proud of when you look at the job that Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney and scouting staff have put in place to replenish a somewhat disappointing prospect pool. This Baby B’s lineup is going to be exciting to watch and could be one that the Providence team needs to make the jump to the Calder Cup Finals, a feat that hasn’t been done since the 1998-99 year when the franchise captured its first AHL league championship.
Below, in no particular order or line combinations, below is an idea of talent that’s being seen at the AHL level and it’s going to be an exciting season to watch these kid mature in the professional ranks as they aspire for NHL debuts in the very near future.
Kenny Agostino – Danton Heinen – Jordan Szwarz
Jesse Gabrielle – Jacob Forsbacka-Karlsson – Zach Senyshyn
Peter Cehlarik – Jim Hennessy – Ryan Fitzgerald
Anton Blidh – Colby Cave – Chris Porter
Tommy Cross – Jakub Zboril
Connor Clifton – Jeremy Lauzon
Chris Breen – Rob O’Gara
Just from a personal opinion this lineup above looks kinda nasty when you’ve invested a ton of time learning and writing about the many talented prospects that this organization has put in place to add to the depth factor and one that’s making news as one of the best well-stocked affiliations in the league.
— AHL (@TheAHL) October 8, 2017
It was good to see the Baby B’s get on the offensive stat sheet with second-year pro forward Peter Cehlarik scoring his 21st career AHL goal and grizzled old veteran Tommy Cross contribute with his 24th career goal but the insertion of the youth into last nights lineup was most gratifying for me. First-year pro’s Ryan Fitzgerald, Jacob Forsbacka-Karlsson, and Zach Senyshyn made immediate impacts in last nights victory when all three scored their first career professional goals.
Leach on McIntyre: ‘Early on in the season you’re going to have breakdowns. Zano was huge on those breakdowns for us. He was outstanding’
— Mark Divver (@MarkDivver) October 8, 2017
Providence goaltender Zane McIntyre looked like he didn’t miss a step in his return for another season of minor-pro hockey. After a tough transition into the AHL as a rookie in 2015-16, Zane went from being a 14-8-7 first-year pro to a fantastic second-year player in Providence posting a 21-6-1 record making him one of the top netminders in the league. This year is going to be an important one for the 25-year-old as he’ll seemingly play a remainder of this year in the AHL but if he happens to have a better season than he did last year, he might walk into the NHL backup role if current Bruins netminder Anton Khudobin walks to free agency after this final year of his two-year contract.
The Providence Bruins return to action next weekend with two games scheduled. Next Friday the B’s play the Springfield Thunderbirds again and on Saturday night against the Toronto Marlins. B’s games next week are at the Dunkin‘ Donuts Center, and tickets can be purchased at providencebruins.com
— Providence Bruins (@AHLBruins) October 8, 2017