( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The American Hockey Leagues Providence Bruins have really taken a turn for the better after struggling in the first half of the 2018-19 season. So far the 2019 calendar year has fared better for the Providence club earning points in seven of the last nine games in the month of January. With compiling five of a possible six points in the three games over the weekend, the top minor-pro affiliate of the National Hockey Leagues Boston Bruins are moving up the standings at a very appropriate time.

With 33 games remaining in the 2018-19 AHL regular season the B’s have a record of 20-16-6-1 and now sit in the fifth position in the Atlantic Division and a three-way tie for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. Point consistency in a tight division is going to be needed as only five points separate the ninth place Providence club and second place Bridgeport Sound Tigers team.  Seventeen points separate the B’s from conference-leading Charlotte Checkers who have 64 points in 44 games. The Playoffs for this Rhode Island team are not out of reach at all regardless of the early season speed bumps with the lineup being dismantled on many occasions.

In the last ten games, the B’s are 6-2-1-1 and have a streak of 5-0-1-1 without a regulation loss.  I believe mother nature was on the AHL Bruins side as they were scheduled to play their fourth straight weekend with three games in a row bust a snowstorm came through putting the kybosh on that idea. The game against the Hartford Wolf Pack on Sunday afternoon got postponed to an afternoon contest on Martin Luther King Day at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on Monday getting a big win with an extra day of rest.

Anyway, here’s how everything unfolded for the Providence team over the extended weekend!

Friday, January 18th, 2019, Providence Bruins Vs. The Springfield Thunderbirds (Home)

( Photo Credit:  Providence Bruins / Flickr )

This was an intense battle at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center to start the weekend from these bitter division rivals. These two teams face each other 12 times a season, so it doesn’t take long to figure each other out jockeying for position in the Atlantic Division. After a scoreless first period that saw both teams, netminders see 10 shots apiece the defensive breakdowns and quick transition out of the zone made for an interesting back and forth 20 minutes.

At the 18:21 mark of the second period it was a Bruin that would break the ice on the scoresheet when the eventual goal scorer Karson Kuhlman used the boards to gain entry and Thunderbirds goaltender Montembeault fumbled the puck with a miscommunication behind the net with his defenseman. Gritty forward Anton Blidh was at the right place and the right time to take advantage as he tracked the puck down and pushed it forward to Kuhlman for pretty much a give and go for his eighth of the season.


While Bruins goaltender Zane McIntyre was fantastic in this game, he couldn’t stop shot from a three on two coming into his zone. He was ready and square to the puck even though he was moving north to south while the three on two was coming from west to east. Unfortunately, the puck was disrupted on the way and went over McIntyre’s glove for a goal on the deflection at the 10:06 mark of the third period. To be honest, both goaltenders on this night were really putting on a show and one of the major reasons this game would need extra time.

The overtime period was pretty exciting going back and forth with the advantage in shots in the five-minute period going to Springfield 5-4. This game would then go to a shootout for the first time this season. The Bruins and Thunderbirds would go six full rounds before B’s forward Trent Frederic scored the only goal to seal the game and the extra point with a wide skate in and out faking the sliding goaltender Montembeault. With this shootout victory, the Thunderbirds are now 0-4 on the season in shootout games, and these two clubs face each other five more times before the end of the regular season. So far both teams are 3-3-1 on the year.


Saturday, January 19th, 2019 Providence Bruins Vs. The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (Road)

( Photo Credit:  Providence Bruins / Flickr )

This was another long night that needed everything to pull out two points on the road. On the second game in as many nights over the weekend the Providence Bruins traveled down to the Webster Bank Arena to play the aforementioned Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The Tigers have struggled recently, and with both teams so close in the Atlantic in points,  this game certainly wasn’t going to be easy.

Bruins Captain Jordan Szwarz got the B’s on the board with the first goal of the game as all forward linemates were at the top of the crease trying to get a shot off and at the 5:59 mark of the first frame Szwarz wrists it home. Jordan’s 14th of the season came from Karson Kuhlman, and Urho Vaakanainen snapped a three-game pointless streak.


Fast forward to the second period, veteran forward Mark McNeil buries his sixth of the season from newcomer Paul Carey (via trade with Ottawa for defenseman Cody Goloubef) and Kyle Cumiskey.  Zach Senyshyn also got involved in the scoring in the middle frame with his 12th of the year from Cumiskey who had his fourth multi-point game of the season. Cumiskey had the timing and vision to send a stretch pass to the young Senyshyn who broke in all alone for the 3-1 lead. That would do it for the Bruins as per scoring for the remainder of the game. Bridgeport practically owned the B’s in the third period with two goals from Sound Tigers forward Holmstrom who started and finished the last frame with two goals to tie the game at three.


As mentioned it was a long night that would not see any score in the overtime session even though the Bruins outshot the Tigers 8-1 with some quality chances. A shootout would be needed to figure who gets the extra point for the second straight night, but goals from former Boston Bruins player Chris Bourque and teammate Tanner Fritz were enough to pull seal the victory. Trent Frederic had the only Bruins shootout goal giving him two for the weekend.

Dan Vladar got the start in goal and did what he needed to do to help earn that point from the backend. His numbers aren’t great this season, but I still believe he will have a lot to offer in the next year or two as he continues to develop. Against the Thunderbirds, he didn’t exactly see a lot of shots which makes me believe the lack of action in his own zone may have gotten the best of him as he’s used to more shots per game. Regardless, the rookie and 21-year-old Czech Republic native gave up three goals on 12 shots and went 2-4 in the shootout. Vladar now has a season record of 6-8-4-1 with a 2.80 goals-against-average and .896 save percentage in 19 games thus far in the 2018-19 campaign.

So far this season the Providence team has not been beaten in regulation by the Sound Tigers. The B’s have a 3-0-3-1 record with these two teams meeting five more times before the season ends on Sunday, April 14th, 2019.

Monday, January 21st, 2019, Providence Bruins Vs. The Hartford Wolf Pack (Home)

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

The Providence Bruins took their 3-3-1-0 record against the Hartford team and broke seasons tie with a significant victory on home ice at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on Monday afternoon. As mentioned, this game was scheduled for the day previous, so with a day rest the B’s were ready to fire on all cylinders, and they didn’t disappoint.

Veteran newcomer Paul Carey and rookie Karson Kuhlman owned the Wolf Pack offensively in the first period with Carey scoring his seventh of the year at the 8:56 mark from Senyshyn and Chris Breen and Kuhlman with his ninth of the season at 9:26 from Jordan Szwarz. Carey would get the scoring started once again in the second frame with his second of the night from Conor Clifton and Urho Vaakanainen at 5:33. The next two goals of the second period belonged to the Wolf Pack as they gained some steam in an effort to tie the game at three.


Carey would get the hat trick goal at the 11:22 mark of the third period on a nifty play from the back of the net by fellow forward Trent Frederic who was forechecking hard enough to get the puck up the boards to Carey who went completely around a Pack defender to rifle the puck home for his third of the game. Defenseman Clifton would seal the deal with an empty net goal at the 18:20 mark of the third period as the Sound Tigers head coach pulled the goaltender trying to create late-game heroics but to no eval.  Clifton’s fourth of the year came from Captain Szwarz and Kuhlman.


Providence goaltender Zane McIntyre got the victory in net stopping 23 of 25 Wolf Pack shots. Zane is now 14-8-3 on the season with a 2.76 GAA, and .885 save% in 25 games so far in the 2018-19 campaign. McIntyre is also on a six-game winning streak and in his last ten, AHL games he has a record of 8-2-0 with a 2.21 GAA and .895 save%. With the NHL Bruins starting goaltender Tuukka Rask potentially on the shelf for a while with a concussion, I have to believe that McIntyre with the way he’s been playing recently gets the call to back up Jaroslav Halak.

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