( Photo Credit:  Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The American Hockey Leagues Providence Bruins played two games in week 17, and both were on the road in Charlotte, North Carolina. As an avid follower and viewer of the top minor-pro affiliate of the Boston Bruins, going into this weekends action had me feeling like we were going in the bowls of hell heading into Bojangles’ Coliseum for two contests at the home of the AHL’s best Charlotte Checkers. The Checkers club has a 2018-19 season record of 31-11-6-0 sitting at the top of the Eastern Conference with 68 points in 48 games played and a home record of 13-5-4.

The team from Rhode Island as I’ve mentioned in previous weekly recaps have played tremendously better since the start of 2019 earning points in the last 11 games climbing the Conference standings with a 24-16-6-1 record in 47 games and good enough for third in the Atlantic and fifth in the Eastern Conference and in the Calder Cup Playoff picture with 29 games remaining. The B’s offense has really stepped it up, and the backend has certainly taken notice as things are seriously coming together and head coach Jay Leach finally has the chemistry he’s been looking for at the first half of the season to try and keep the playoff dreams alive with a seventh straight appearance. Notably on the backend is goaltender Zane McIntyre who’s as focused as I’ve ever seen him since landing in Providence after a successful four-year career with North Dakota University.

In my opinion, since the 2019 calendar year started, it seems like this Providence club is so dialed in that they can literally play any opposing system and evaluate quickly when down on the scoresheet or moments of even play. For instance, this Bruins team was not intimidated at all from this weekends action against the Checkers. Great goaltending from MacIntyre and rookie Dan Vladar but played a very stingy defensive style with an emphasis on not letting pucks by and quick zone transition. On the other hand, this B’s team can bury the puck when needed outscoring their opponents since the start of January going 45 for 30 in 13 games. The AHL is a complete gamble league when you operate on a three-day schedule, so I’m not going to mail in a Calder Cup Championship prediction, but as I continue to watch I’ll be optimistic because of the previous first half Jeykl and Hyde ways,

Well enough about my thoughts and onto the week that was from our Providence Bruins. Enjoy!

Friday, February 1st, 2019, Providence Bruins Vs. The Charlotte Checkers (Road)

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

The Bruins came into Charlotte earning points in the last nine games and even though I mentioned one the bowls of hell earlier, I was pleasantly surprised how the B’s came into the game and ready to play. In front of a really good crowd of 8,076, the B’s would be down in shots after the first period 6-8 but inspiring play with no score from either team in the opening back and forth opening frame.

In the second period, B’s prospect Ryan Donato scored his sixth of the season with excellent D-Zone transitioning from defenseman Conor Clifton and veteran forward Paul Carey who in turn had the vision and hockey IQ along the half wall to rifle a pass completely through the neutral zone to a streaking Donato. Once Donato received the pass from Carey, he crossed the line and unselfishly surveyed the offensive zone at a slow pace then took advantage of the traffic in front of goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic to snipe a top-shelf second-period 1-0 lead at the 19:45 mark.

Unfortunately, with the way MacIntyre played in this game it seemed like the B’s let up off the gas a little and let the Checkers get back in the game with a power-play goal at the 19:33 mark of the third period forcing overtime. In this game, it would be late period heroics throughout the contest, but to every game, there must be a victor!

With ten seconds remaining in overtime Bruins forward Cameron Hughes wound up making a last-ditch effort going north to south to win the game. The rookie Hughes had the smarts to move the puck to Donato who just stepped onto the ice for a new shift and crossed the blueline heading towards the opposing net. Hughes with a never quit attitude powered forward to get into the play which was a two on one that started in the neutral zone. With a pass from Donato that actually hit a Checker’s defenders stick and went through the legs of another defenseman, the puck somehow landed on Cameron’s stick for the tap in under the netminder’s pad overtime winner.

As mentioned Providence Goaltender Zane McIntyre was sensational along with counterpart Nedeljkovic at the other end of the sheet. Zane stopped 28 of 29 Checker shots for the win and his ninth straight victory. McIntyre is 17-8-3 with a goals-against-average of 2.67, and .890 save percentage. Mac’s 17 wins are ranked third in the AHL behind Nedeljkovic who leads with 21.

Saturday, February 2nd, 2019, Providence Bruins Vs. The Charlotte Checkers (Road)

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

To many a scoreless game through 60 minutes might seem boring, but to me, this was a very exciting game right down to the final minutes. The third period is where I got a little concerned for the game after the first-period shots were tied at 11, the second period the B’s were up 11-10 but where I was on the edge of my seat nervous was the third period where the checkers took a 13-5 shot advantage.

Throughout the game, Providence starting goaltender Dan Vladar who hasn’t won a game in 2019 dating back to December 22nd, 2018, was absolutely on point in this game and by far the best outing of his rookie season. To compliment Vladar’s outstanding game against the best team in the AHL was the moment the game ended in 3vs3 overtime extra session.

With a faceoff to the right of goaltender Vladar in the defensive zone, Jakub Forsbacka Karlsson won the draw and got the puck to Urho Vaakanainen who was behind the play and ready for a quick transition.  The rookie Vaakanainen dished the puck up to JFK who was on the right side in the neutral zone with veteran Gemel Smith hustling up the left side to get into the play. JFK crosses the blueline and slows up when he notices he’s got a two on one and quickly sauced a pass under the defenders stick to Smith who wristed it past goaltender Scott Darling at the 1:36 mark of OT to win the game and sweep the weekend’s action in North Carolina.

Vladar, as mentioned, was stellar against the AHL’s best stopping all 37 Checkers shots that came his way. The 21-year-old netminder is now 7-8-4 on the season with a 2.67 goals-against-average, and .903 save percentage. This was Vladar’s second shutout of the season with his last coming back on December 5th, 2018, on the road in Toronto, Ontario against the Toronto Marlies.

Below are Mark Allred’s Top Three Goals Of Week 17!




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