By Tim Richardson| Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson
Week 13 for the Providence brought their first three games of 2019, and much-needed return home to the Dunk. Our boys in black and gold came into the weekend 14-15-5 (33 points) good for seventh in the Atlantic Division. The Baby B’s had hoped week 13 would bring some much-needed wins and points so they could to claw their way back into the playoff picture. When the weekend started, they sat at 13th in the Eastern Conference, which is just out of the playoff range.
The Providence Bruins won two of three games over the weekend which improved their record to 16-16-5 (37 points). They remain in seventh place in the Atlantic Division, however, only four points separate the Baby B’s and fourth place in the division which currently belongs to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Meanwhile, the top Boston Bruins minor league affiliated moved up to 12th in the Eastern Conference, and only 6 points separate them and the sixth place Utica Comets.
Hopefully, the Bruins can have a strong week 14, which is jam-packed with three games over the weekend. Two of the games are at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence where the Bruins are 9-3-2 this season. The one road game will be in Bridgeport, Connecticut against the Sound Tigers where the Bruins are 1-0-2 this season, and 7-13-3 overall.
Let’s strap in and look back at the weekend that was for the Providence Bruins with some key offensive details for the first three games of 2019.
Friday, January 4th Providence Bruins vs Lehigh Valley Phantoms (HOME)
The first of three-weekend games on the docket was at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, who currently sit third in the Atlantic Division. The Baby B’s came out with vengeance in the first period scoring three goals. The first came late in the period when Trent Frederic buried the puck in the back in the net in a goal that was assisted by Cameron Hughes and Karson Kuhlman. Less than a minute later with the Bruins on the power play, Gemel Smith was able to score to make 2-0 with assists coming from Jakub Zboril and Trent Frederic. The Providence club’s quick-strike ability struck again when less than 30 seconds later Gemel Smith found the back of the net again to make it 3-0 with the assists coming from Connor Clifton and Zach Senyshyn.
With the Bruins ahead 3-0 going into the second period the Lehigh Valley Phantoms picked up their play. They would go on to score two goals in the frame and it would be 3-2 at the end of two periods. The score would remain that until early in the third period when Joona Koppanen scored to make it 4-2 on a goal that was assisted by Connor Clifton and Kyle Cumiskey. The 4-2 score would end up being the final with the Baby B’s getting a need two points. Goalie Zane McIntyre looked excellent in net stopping 20 of 22 shots. He improved to 6-0-1 at home with a .928 save percentage and 1.97 goals against average. Gemel Smith, who was acquired by Boston via waivers from the Dallas Stars earlier in the year has been very good in nine games since being sent down to Providence with stats of 5-2-7.
The Providence Bruins would go on to out-shoot the Phantoms by a 34-22 margin and go one for three on the power play. The Baby B’s currently sit fifth in that category in the Eastern Conference with a 21.3% power play percentage which also ranks seventh in the entire American Hockey League. Meanwhile, the Bruins were also able to kill off both Lehigh Valley penalties. The penalty kill has been elite for the boys in black and gold which currently sits second in not only the Eastern Conference but the entire American Hockey League with 86.3%.
Saturday, January 5th Providence Bruins vs Springfield Thunderbirds (AWAY)
The second game of weekend would see the Providence Bruins travel to Springfield, Massachusetts to take on the home team Thunderbirds at the MassMutual Center. The Florida Panther’s affiliate current sits at fifth in the Atlantic Division at 16-12-5-3 (40 points). The game would start out promising for the Baby B’s when they scored early in the first period to make it 1-0. The goal was scored by young prospect Zach Senyshyn his 11th on the year, and it was assisted by Austin Fyten and Chris Breen. The Bruins lead the Thunderbirds 1-0 after one period of play.
The good news would stop there when thunder struck for Springfield and they would go on a scoring spree netting four goals in the second period to make it 4-1 after two periods of play. The Thunderbirds would score again a quarter of the way through the third period making it 5-1. This made five unanswered goals for the Panther’s affiliate in just over 26 minutes of play. The Bruins would go on to score two more goals in the third period to make it 5-3. The first third-period goal was on the power play scored by Jordan Szwarz assisted by Cody Goloubef and the second of the period was netted by Gemel Smith assisted by Chris Breen and Emil Johansson. The Baby B’s would go on to pull goalie Dan Vladar in the last few minutes of the game to try and get the extra attacker on the ice, but they still came up short losing 5-3.
The Providence Bruins would go on to outshout the Thunderbirds 46-39, and both clubs would go one for five on the power play. Goalie Dan Vladar who’s normally sure-handed on the road, suffered the loss falling to 6-8-2 with a .897 save percentage and 2.82 goals against average overall on the season. Gemel Smith’s play stuck out again, making it two straight games with a goal.
Sunday, January 6th Providence Bruins Vs Hartford Wolf Pack (HOME)
The final game of the weekend saw the Providence Bruins return the Dunk for some home cooking against the Wolf Pack of Hartford. Our boys in black and gold would start off the game strong scoring two goals. The first came a little over halfway through the period when Captain Jordan Szwarz pocketed a goal that was assisted by Cameron Hughes and Kyle Cumiskey. Then in the final seconds of the period, Peter Cehlarik netted a power play goal that was assisted by Kyle Cumiskey and Jordan Szwarz. The period would end with Bruins up 2-0.
The second period of play would bring out some chippy play with old friend Matt Beleskey fighting Wiley Sherman, but the period would end with the score still 2-0 Providence. The third period would see the Baby B’s score three more times. The first came about halfway through the period when Emil Johansson netted a shorthanded goal that was assisted by Karson Kuhlman and Cameron Hughes. A few minutes later, Peter Cehlarik would find the back of the net on a goal that was assisted by Wiley Sherman. Then with a little under five minutes to play and the Hartford goalie pulled, Gemel Smith would add an empty net goal for the Bruins that was assisted by Jakub Zboril to make it 5-0. The Pack would go on to spoil the shutout netting a power play goal of their own in the final three minutes of play to make 5-1 and that would be your final.
The Providence Bruins would go on to out-shoot the Wolf Pack by a whopping 37-16 margin with both teams going one for five on the power play. Goalie Zane McIntyre was excellent again at home stopping 15 of 16 shots. He improved to 7-0-1 at home with a .929 save percentage and 1.86 goals against average. Gemel Smith would go on to score in his third game in a row and his fourth goal of the weekend.
Gemel Smith: Smith had an excellent weekend for Providence with stats of 4-04. Since being sent down to the AHL he has been a spark for the offense.
Jordan Szwarz: The Captain had a great weekend for himself with stats of 2-1-3. The two goals brought his overall total to 12 on the year. Eight more goals and he will be the fifth player in Providence Bruins history with 20+ goals in three seasons.
Jakub Zboril: Zboril returned to the lineup for the first time in almost a month due to injury and had stats of 0-2-2 while playing good defense for the Bruins. It was nice to see him back and on the score sheet.
Zane McIntyre: Zane had a phenomenal weekend for the Bruins. He went 2-0-0 stopping 35 of 38 shots for a .921 save percentage and goals against average of 1.50.
Not So Honorable Mention
Zach Senyshyn: It was nice that Senyshyn scored and got an assist over the weekend, but those two points were his first two since December 12. Hopefully, these two points will open the floodgates a little bit.
Anton Blidh: Blidh continues to be as cold as the ice the team skates on. The gritty forward has not registered a point since December 22.