Providence Bruins Week 3 Preview

Sound TigersBruins(Photo Courtesy of Christian Abraham)

By: Jen Stasio Coombe | Follow Me On Twitter @hockeygirl2976

The number three in some circles is a magical number. Let’s hope that inspires confidence in the Providence Bruins in this, the third week of the season. The B’s enter this weekend with a record of 1-4-0-0, a total of 2 points, and sit second to last in the division, conference, and league standings. All is not lost however, it is still way too early to relegate our team to the bottom of the pack. In fact, this has been a trend with our baby-B’s over the past several years. They start out pretty shabby for the first few weeks, dare I even say months. Then as the team settles in, the chemistry solidifies, the communication strengthens, and the confidence builds to a point where they break out and show what they are truly made of. So, let’s all take a deep breath, support our team, as we always do, and take the games as they come, one week at a time. This week sees back to back games with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Friday night the Sound Tigers will host the Providence club at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport Connecticut and Saturday the teams will face off back in Providence at the Dunkin’ Donut’s Center.

Bridgeport(Photo Courtesy of Bridgeport Sound Tigers)

Friday, October 19th Providence Bruins vs. Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AWAY)

The Webster Bank Arena will come alive on Friday with Tigers and Bruins fighting it out for the title of ‘First Victor’ in this yearly grudge match. Last seasons’ first match-up for this pair was in November and took place on home ice for Providence. They met twice that weekend, once on Friday the 3rd and a second time on Sunday the 5th. Both of those games saw Bridgeport roaring to life, scoring 7 goals in total and preventing Providence from putting a single point on the board.

That weekend saw Providence put two different goaltenders in the Sound Tigers path, attempting to put a halt to their charge. Friday night saw the rookie Dan Vladar take his post, as Zane McIntyre had been called up to Boston on an emergency basis. Vladar put in a very strong showing that night, saving 31 of 32 shots on goal. Unfortunately for the rookie netminder, that one he let slip by was the game-winner. Sunday’s game had Zane McIntyre back between the pipes. The number of saves was the same 31, but the number of shots that found their way through was much higher. Six biscuits sped past Zane in that matinee match-up, not the veteran performance the team was hoping for.

The historical note of hope for this weekends first 2018-2019 match-up is the fortune of being on the road. The first road game played against the Sound Tigers on December 3 last year was a 4-1 win for the B’s. Zane McIntyre was in the crease for the match-up and was able to stop 26 of 27 shots on goal, a much-improved showing from the previous month. Fingers crossed we get that version of ‘Mickey’ this weekend.

RBorque(Photo Courtesy of Bridgeport Sound Tigers)

Saturday, October 20th Providence Bruins vs. Bridgeport Sound Tigers (HOME)

Getting used to having a tag-along on their return trips to Providence, the Bruins meet up with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on home ice Saturday. The record last year for home games against the Tigers was an even split. The first three home games went to the visitors, but Providence had enough and decided to take the last three at the Dunk for themselves. So, If we purely look at the meeting of these two teams in Providence, our Bruins are on a 3-game winning streak, no need to end that now. Zane McIntyre was the goal tender for all three of those games, with save numbers of 29 of 29, 35 of 38, and 44 of 45. You can’t ask much better than that.

The same games saw our skaters do their part as well, both forwards and defenders took turns putting the biscuit in the basket. Scoring 1 goal in the first game, 5 in the second and 4 in the third. Clifton, Johanssen, Szwarz, and Zboril all put up points during those three games. With some of the new additions, Fyten, and McNeill spring to mind, I would hope to continue the home ice scoring frenzy when we meet the Tigers this Saturday and extend this run to four.

An interesting pair to check out on Saturday are the Bourgue brothers. Chris and Ryan Bourque, both sons of Ray Bourgue, were reunited on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers this year. Last year they played for separate teams, Chris for the Hershey Bears and John with the Sound Tigers. Back on the same side, it will be fun to see them here in Providence.

bourques(Photo Courtesy of Getty Images)

My picks to watch this weekend:

Up Front:

Blidh/—/Fyten – I don’t care who center these two. They are both on the top of my watch list, with their solid play and aggressive style. What’s not to like?

On The Blue Line:

Johanssen/Clifton – Not necessarily on the same line, but both have scored against this team in the past, and it will be interesting to see if they can pull off the offensive defenseman act repeatedly.

In Net:

Dan Vladar – Having met the Sound Tigers twice last year and held a very solid line against them, I am encouraged and am looking to see what level the past year’s development has brought him to now.

Johanssen(Photo Courtesy of Bridgeport Sound Tigers)

Similar to last weekends penalty extravaganza, we could be seeing the penalty box staying warm throughout the weekend with penalty minutes averaging about 27 per game when these two teams go head to head.

Cheers to week three, some solid hockey, and best of luck to our Baby B’s. I will catch up with you next week and until then, feel free to message me on twitter with any questions or comments and as always take some time to check out the other great articles by the incredible team here at Blackngoldhockey.com. Now Go Get Hockey With It!

Providence Bruins Weekend Recap

Team(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins)

By: Jen Stasio Coombe  |  Follow Me On Twitter @hockeygirl2976

In the first 3-in-3 weekend of the season, the Providence Bruins took away 2 points for their lone win.  These blessed two points keep them from being relegated to last place in the division, the conference and the league.  That honor, or lack thereof, is currently being held by the Hershey Bears.  One of the areas we are not close to last place is PIMS.  We are smack in the middle with 57, made up of 16 minor, 3 major, and 1 10-minute misconduct penalties.  We can thank Anton Blidh’s improving English skills for that last one as he garnered an abuse of officials penalty in the game against Springfield this past Sunday.

Breaking down the numbers from this season there are a few areas that we can see need improvement.  Of the 13 goals Providence has scored, 9 of them came in the third period and always after trailing.   If the object is to win, we need to score earlier, bring our A game to all three periods and not wait until crunch time.  That is and has been a recipe for disaster.  The other and less tangible item is that we are outshooting our opponents at an average rate of 28 to 24 yet they are scoring an average of 4 goals to our 2.9.  This is a clear sign that our defense needs to do a better job of reading what their offense is setting up and putting a stop to it. Yes, the goalie is the ultimate keeper of the gate, but the defense needs to be there to support him, and right now, they are not.

Two goalies(Photo Courtesy of Jen Stasio Coombe)

Goaltender Performance:

Zane McIntyre has stopped 36 of the 48 shots taken on him in the 3 games he has played.  Including the first game where he was pulled midway through the first period.  His current Save% is .750 and fingers crossed has nowhere to go but up.

Dan Vladar has stopped 65 of the 72 shots taken on him in the 3 games he has played, including the one in which he took over for Zane in the first period.  His Save% is a bit better at .903.

This Weekends Scores:

FRI Oct.12 AWAY              Providence 4-Hartford 3  WIN!!!

SAT Oct.13 HOME            Providence 3-Hartford 4

SUN Oct.14 AWAY           Providence 3-Springfield 6

3-in-3(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins)

Detailed Daily Game Re-caps:

Friday, October 12, 2018, Providence Bruins Vs. Hartford Wolf Pack (AWAY)

Friday Night at the XL Center had an overall better ending for the Bruins than last week but in all honesty not much better play from our B’s.  The first period saw Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson score 6 minutes in, but the haphazard defensive effort being put up by our blueline saw Hartford’s Andersson answer back only 5 minutes later sneaking one past goaltender Zane McIntyre to bring the score level.  The first period only saw one penalty issued and that was a minor for interference to the home team’s Bigras at 11:16.   The Wolf Pack successfully killed off what they could of the penalty in the 1st and the remainder of it at the beginning of the second period.

While the first period saw more goals than penalties, there was a different storyline for the second.  Here we saw 6 penalties and only 1 goal.  That lone goal of the period came at 5:41 when Hartford took the lead on a swift one by Butler assisted by Holland. This did nothing to steady the already worn nerves of the Baby B’s or their jacked-up opponents as the penalties began flying on the regular; 5:59 Providence Penalty for hooking Clifton, 11:23 Hartford Penalty for holding Hajek, 12:46 Providence Penalty for hooking Szwarz, 13:24 Providence Penalty for slashing, and the 5th and 6th penalties of the 2nd period at 17:08 for roughing go to Providence’s Fitzgerald and Hartford’s Andersson.

The third period appeared to be that leveling force that the Providence fans were looking for.   The B’s stepped up their offensive game taking 12 shots on goal during the period, a 50% increase from the second period, and the defense, while still a bit squirrely, seemed to be getting things together for a bit.  Hartford took the first goal of the period at 7:01 bringing them to a 2-goal lead and it wasn’t long after that their Mr. Andersson was called once again for a penalty (8:29 holding). If there was to be a comeback, it was time Providence made their move.  At 12:16 Anton Blidh had help from Cave and Fyten to bring the B’s to within one goal and only a minute and a half later Kulhman and Cehlarik gave Frederic what he needs to find the back of the net and even the score.  Hartford was called for one last penalty at 19:32. This time a bench penalty for too many men on the ice.

Into overtime and it did not take long.  With 1:03 having ticked down on the clock Goloubef took a shot and was awarded mightily with not just a goal, but the game-winning goal assisted by Fitzgerald and Lauzon.  The Providence Bruins eked it out in Hartford this time, finishing it up in OT with a score of 4-3 and taking home the 2 points necessary to keep them from the bottom of the stack.

Saturday, October 13, 2018, Providence Bruins Vs. Hartford Wolf Pack (HOME)

ProvidenceBruins and Hartford Wolf Pack played follow the leader back to Rhode Island and settled in, ready for Saturday’s rematch.  The pack came out of the gates on fire, unlike the Providence Bruins who looked like they had never really woken up from their pre-game nap.  The first saw the Wolf Pack pepper rookie goalie Vladar with shots that none of the defense seemed inclined to read ahead and intercept.  Of the 9 shots, they landed on net 2 of them found the back putting them up solidly in the first without any significant difficulty.  Providence appeared plagued by open ice passes, uncontrolled passing and just all around poor puck handling.  They did not seem to be able to hold onto the puck once they got it and were easily moved off it in a skirmish.  They did manage to get 10 shots on goal, but none of them made it through the Wolf Pack keeper to provide a Providence point on the board.  The only penalty in the first was issued to Hartford’s Bigras late in the period at 17:35 for cross-checking.

The second period did not look any better for Providence and only 5:22 into the period Blidh took exception to Hartford’s Andersson and both were sent to the box with 5 minutes for fighting.  If it was an attempt to fire up the team, Blidh did not succeed where he had intended. The only team that scored for the rest of the second was the Pack at 14:47 bringing their lead to 3.  The period ended without another score or scuffle.

The third period started the same as the first two. A disheveled and ragtag Bruins team fought harder against themselves than they did to win.  At 4:52 when Hartford scored yet another goal, it appeared they had all but sealed the deal.  Three penalties followed, two to Providence minors to Lauzon and Pond, and a third was a bench penalty handed out to the Pack for, once again, having too many men on the ice.  The B’s were not able to capitalize on this powerplay.  However, I don’t know what was said in the 16th minute, but Providence decided to no longer hit snooze, finish their coffee, and kick it in gear.  Two goals were scored in the 17th minute, one by Zach Senyshyn and the other 15 seconds later by Colby Cave.  This giant burst of scoring must have thrown them for a bit of a loop as it took a whole 2 minutes for them to score their 3rd.  This time finding a way past the goalie was Anton Blidh.  It was a solid rally, but just too late to claim a victory as the Wolf Pack Came out on top this time with a 4-3 win at the Dunk.

Sunday, October 14, 2018, Providence Bruins vs. Springfield Thunderbirds (AWAY)

The first matinee of the year was hosted by the Springfield Thunderbirds and was the final game of the 3-in-3 for the Providence Bruins.  Unfortunately, while more consistent throughout the game, the Bruins have just not meshed as a team yet.  The first period saw the Bruins on the board first with a goal by Zach Senyshyn at 7:11 with assists by Cehlarik and Vaakanainen.  While the T-Birds failed to fly past Zane McIntyre even once in the first.  There was no shortage of penalties though.  They came rolling in, hot and heavy, as they often do when these teams meet.  The T-Birds had two penalties on the board within the first five minutes, and the Bruins took the rest of the period but managed to rack up three more. A 5-penalty period to start the day off right.

The second period was livelier at the net with Springfield starting the period literally 1,2,3 as they scored goals at 1 minute, 2 minutes and a 3rd at 3 minutes, causing Zane to bow his head in dejection following the last of these.    Apparently, this goal at three minutes broke something in Anton Blidh’s filter as he was sent to the box with a 10-minute misconduct penalty for abuse of officials.  Seeing him sitting there must have inspired Colby Cave as he came out with a Providence goal at 6:22 assisted by McNeill and Clifton.  Not to let the Box get cold, Breen and Turgeon took up arms and were each sent to the box for fighting at 13:09.  Still feeling feisty Providence took two more penalties, Goloubef at 14:31 for Cross-checking and Senyshyn at 17:17 for high-sticking and to finish off the period T-Bird Still was sent to the pokey for Interference.  A 6-penalty period in the books.

The third was nearly a repeat of the second with Springfield coming out sending three goals past McIntyre, though they did spread them out this time taking almost 11 minutes to score all three.  The only non-bench penalties called were against the T-Birds, three in total and one bench penalty to Providence for too many men on the ice.  (As the Pack wasn’t here the B’s took care of it for them.)  In the last-ditch effort, Fitzgerald sent a zinger by the T-bird goaltender to bring them within 3-points, but it was too little too late again, and the Bruins walked away with a second loss for the weekend.

Providence Bruins Week 2 Preview

(Photo Credit: Heather Rose/Smoke & Honey Photography)

By: Jen Stasio Coombe  |  Follow Me On Twitter @hockeygirl2976

We stand at the precipice of week 2 with Providence holding a less than desirable record of 0-2-0-0, but this weekend has 3 games on tap and if the stars align, our mighty P-Bruins could skate into Week 3 with a 60%-win average. Not too shabby considering today we wallow at a big fat goose egg. To make this feat a reality the baby B’s have a steep hill to climb starting Friday; back-to-back nights against the Hartford Wolf Pack, followed by a Sunday afternoon matchup against the Springfield Thunderbirds. Let’s take a look…

groundhog(Image Courtesy of IMDB.COM)

Friday, Oct. 12: Providence Bruins vs. Hartford Wolf Pack (AWAY)

and

Saturday, Oct: 13: Providence vs. Hartford Wolf Pack (HOME)

As if it were Groundhog Day and we were all waking up to Sonny and Cher on our alarm clocks, this Friday’s match-up is once again against Hartford in Hartford. The main difference this week is coming off a two-game loss the Baby B’s are going to be fired up and ready to take on the shaggy puppies on their home turf. As we covered prior to last week’s game, these two teams are fairly evenly matched when looking at their stats from last year. Each team a little more likely to win when they have the home-ice advantage.  The second difference between this week and last is that the Pack are following the P-Bruins home. The second match-up of the weekend will see the same two teams take the ice, but this time at the Dunk.

For the P-Bruins, the key to winning each of these games is going to be their defense.  Last week saw an abysmal display in the net by the veteran tender and a confused and disorganized effort being put forth by the rest of the team. Perhaps the most suitable phrase here is, “Patience Grasshopper.” Cliché, I know, but very appropriate, in most of these cases. With the possible exception of Zane McIntyre, the rest of the team has at least one new player they are getting used to having to rely on at every turn. With the amount of time it took to trickle the players back to the AHL from NHL training camp, no one had a chance to really mesh. I am hoping after a solid week of training the team has a little bit stronger bond and a better understanding of each other going into Friday’s “Groundhog-esque” match-up.

springfield(Image Courtesy of Springfield Thunderbirds)

Sunday, Oct. 14: Providence Bruins vs. Springfield Thunderbirds (Away)

Sunday welcomes the first matinee game of the season and what would a matinee be without some chirping birdies. I guess the answer is, a matinee without chirping birdies, but I digress. The Springfield Thunderbirds welcome us back to their home ice after we casually swept them aside two games to none in preseason this year. Now that we meet in the matches that really matter, I have no doubt the Springfield T-Birds will be looking to even the score.

Meeting up around a dozen times each year, these two teams have developed a rivalry that Providence likes to take the winning side of.  In the ‘17-18 season, meeting up 14 times the Bruins marked up 9 wins; the previous season was about the same with 12 games played and 8 W’s for Providence. Three of the games last season ended regulation in a tie, while two of those ended in OT (1 OT Win for PRO:1 OT Win for SPR), and the last ended in a shootout that saw Providence come out on top.

In terms of Penalties, historically, Springfield tends to rack up more penalty minutes than the Bruins when head to head. Which is not quite what we saw in the preseason games, which are always a little more raucous than the typical regular season game. Of the currently active players, Jordan Szwarz leads in Points against Springfield with a career record of 21-27-48.  Little doubt he tries to topple 50 this Sunday.

Still, out of the lineup this weekend is David Broll and we haven’t heard any update on Jesse Gabrielle. Cody Goloubef is expected to be back on the ice this weekend according to Mark Divver from the Providence Journal. The other addition to the lineup will be Urho Vaakanainen, who was released from Boston last weekend. While we have no official word on starting lineups for this weekend, I wouldn’t expect the front lines to differ too much from last week, and the additions that I see coming into the defensive lines are the pairing of Vaakanainen and Goloubef.

Lineup(Image Courtesy of Providence Bruins)

My picks to watch this weekend would be:

Up Front:

Blidh/Pond/Fyten – This trio seemed to have good chemistry last week and were arguably the best line out there.  I would love to see this trend continue.

On The Blue Line:

Goloubef/Vaakanainen  – I am hoping to see Goloubef lend some mentorship to Vaakanainen that will round out the youngster’s game.

In Net:

Zane McIntyre – Having an arguably rough and rocky start, the proof will be in the pudding.  Can Zane pull a Taylor Swift and “Shake It Off” or will he be filled with “Bad Blood.”

Cheers to the challenge of a comeback weekend and best of luck to our Baby B’s.  I will catch up with you next week and until then, feel free to message me on twitter with any questions or comments and as always take some time to check out the other great articles by the incredible team here at Blackngoldhockey.com. Now Go Get Hockey With It!

Providence Bruins Opening Weekend Preview

Leachy(Photo Courtesy Of Providence Bruins)

By: Jen Stasio Coombe  |  Follow Me On Twitter @hockeygirl2976

“I’m Back!!!!!”

Yes, that’s right, its finally here, the time we have all been waiting for, Providence Bruins Opening Weekend. Tonight, the Baby B’s first regular season game will be on the road hosted by the Hartford Wolf Pack, but never fear — AHLtv is here! Thanks to the AHLtv free weekend offer everyone can watch the very first regular season game of the year even though it’s away.  If you crave more than televised hockey and need to be live and in person, Saturday night is for you. The Providence Bruins host the home opener against the Laval Rocket, and there are seats still available. So, come and join me as we cheer on the Baby B’s in their fight against the Baby Habs. That is going to be fun.

Wolfpack(Image Courtesy Of Hartford Wolf Pack)

Friday, October 5: Providence Bruins vs. Hartford Wolf Pack (AWAY)

Tonight’s matchup against Hartford should be interesting as the stats for the past season show a fairly even split. Last season the Wolf Pack finished 6th in the Eastern Division two behind our fourth-ranked Bruins. Hartford had 11 fewer marks in the win column than the Bruins overall, but they draw level when you consider they have the home field advantage here. Providence has a 50% away win percentage and Hartford matches that with their home ice win percentage. Last season the Bruins took away 6 W’s in the 10 meetings, one of which came in overtime and a second in a shootout. With a record as tight as this, I am sure both teams will be giving it their all this evening. An additional point of interest to tonight’s matchup is former P-Bruin Rob O’Gara, now a member of the Wolf Pack, who will be skating against his old teammates for the first time.

Laval Rocket(Image Courtesy of Laval Rocket)

Saturday, October 6: Providence Bruins vs. Laval Rocket (HOME)

Saturday’s game against the Laval Rocket looks to be a bird of a different feather. Laval came in last in their division, their conference, and the league this previous season.  While we do not share a division (they are North, and we are Atlantic), we do share a conference so the comparison there is Providence Bruins coming in at 6th and 7th with 45 Wins and Laval coming in at 15th and 30th with 24 Wins (conference and league respectively).  We have beaten Laval both times we played them last season and this week does not look to be any different. However, this does NOT mean we sit back and take it easy. If we get lazy and get sloppy, that is when we lose … just ask the Patriots after their loss to the Lions. (I mean the Lions, really?!? This coming from a girl born and raised in Michigan.) Seriously though, even with overwhelmingly positive odds, the boys will need to keep their heads up,  their sticks down and remember to use their hockey sense. Former Bruin of the night for Saturday is Kenny Agostino. Now a Rocket, it will be Kenny’s first time skating in Providence without the Spoked-P.

Providence Bruins(Image Courtesy Of Providence Bruins)

Sure to be absent on the ice this weekend are David Broll and possibly Colby Cave. Broll is out for at least four weeks due to hand and wrist injuries sustained in his brawl last weekend against Springfield. Cave is out for a personal matter and is questionable for a Saturday return. Other question marks lie with Cody Goloubef and Jesse Gabrielle who have both been nursing upper-body injuries but have been seen skating before practices this week.

No official word on starting line-ups for tonight or tomorrow, but best guesses are we will see lines similar to what Mark Divver has tweeted out for practice lines this week.  Mark, a journalist at the Providence Journal, has been keeping an eye on practice all week and reported the practice lines this week as of yesterday like this:

Fitzgerald-Swartz-Cehlarik

Hughes-JFK-McNeill

Kuhlman-Frederic-Senyshyn

Blidh-Koppanen/Pond-Fyten

On the blue line, I would look for Wiley Sherman, Jakub Zboril, and Connor Clifton to make a solid showing this weekend. The defensive pairings Mark suggested we might see tonight are: Breen-Zboril / Lauzon-Clifton / Johansson-Sherman. The netminder situation is a little more solid.  With two very strong goalies and the plan to rotate them throughout the season, Jay Leach suggested we will see McIntyre in net tonight, and I would imagine that means Vladar manning the pipes on Saturday.

Two goalies(Image Courtesy of Jen Stasio Coombe)

If you are concerned that this year is going to be lackluster, let me assure you it will be far from that. Last season, McIntyre served up 7 shutouts and is only 2 shutouts away from tying the Providence career record highs of Tim Thomas and Hannu Toivonen at 11. Let’s not stop there though, with only 7 more wins Zane will overtake the franchise record of victories in net, currently held by John Grahame at 67. Because naturally, we like things to come in threes, the third record set this season could be by Jordan Szwarz.  A 20-goal season will make Jordan one of only 5 Bruins in Providence history to have three 20+ goal seasons. There is a lot to look forward to. It should be a fun and exciting season, and we are looking to kick the weekend off right. So, remember to tune in tonight and turn up tomorrow to see our Providence Bruins battle it out to make a deep run for the Calder Cup.

Providence Bruins 2018 Preseason Opening Weekend

Header Imager(Photo Courtesy of Jen Stasio Coombe)

By: Jen Stasio Coombe  |  Follow Me On Twitter @hockeygirl2976

On Saturday,  the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence was the scene of the first preseason game of the 2018 exhibition schedule for the Providence Bruins. The visiting team was the Springfield Thunderbirds — a team that’s been a thorn in the Bruins’ side for many years being a cross-border rival. The night was as action-packed as any fan could have hoped for and certainly an indication of what’s to come when the 2018-19 AHL campaign kicks off on Oct. 5 on the road in Hartford against the WolfPack.

Starting up front for the Bruins were Karson Kuhlman, Anton Blidh, and Colby Cave.  At their backs were Jeremy Lauzon and Mark McNeill with Dan Vladar in net.  The first period got off to a bang with a power-play goal from Cameron Hughes after Springfield was called for holding.  Shortly after that tempers flared and the gloves came off. The first fight of the night was a quick but good one between Springfield’s Tony Turgeon and Providence’s David Broll.  Broll appeared to have the upper hand in the clash, but apparently, that took a toll on his actual hand — there’s no word on the status of his hand at this point.

Shortly after this tete-a-tete, McNeill came back to double the score on the board for Providence with an assist from Jacob Forsbacka-Karlsson. Answering a goal with a fight was the story of the first period as Austin Fyten took on Springfield’s Juho Lammikko. It was a little more prolonged and involved in this one, without a doubt, saw Fyten living up to his name. The end of the first came with the Bruins still leading the T-Birds 2-0.

Perhaps a word or two was said in the locker room between the periods as the gloves did not come off the rest of the game. However, the roughhousing was far from over, including one hard takedown of Vladar well away from the net. The second period saw Zach Senyshyn find the back of the net for the Bruins, but it also saw the T-Birds come back with two goals. One of these goals was decidedly iffy as a T-Bird decided to carry on from the early sack of Vladar and perched himself upon the goalie’s shoulder. Vladar uncharacteristically displayed his frustration as he punched the glass on his way off to punctuate the end of the period.

Bonar(Photo Courtesy of Jen Stasio Coombe)

The third and final period of the night began with new goalies in each net. Providence’s net was manned by Sean Bonar, a PTO from the Atlanta Gladiators. Sean did his ginger brothers proud, keeping the net free from T-Bird pucks and giving the Bruins the win in their first preseason game of the year.

The two teams faced off again on Sunday, Sept. 30, this time in Springfield. Providence jumped out to an early 2-0 lead with goals by Fyten and Riley in the first before extending their lead to 3-0 with a goal by Sherman to end the second.  The T-Birds came out motivated in the third and fought back to within a goal but still fell 3-2 to the Bruins.

All told it was a solid preseason for Providence, going 2-0-0 against their first foes of the year. We will be looking forward to seeing them again next weekend.  Oct. 5 opens the regular season as the Bruins will be in Hartford playing the Wolf Pack. The team’s home opener will be Oct. 6 versus the Laval Rocket.

Bruins Place Five On Waivers

colby-cave-providence(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins)

By: Jen Stasio Coombe  |  Follow Me On Twitter @hockeygirl2976

Only 8 more days until the regular season is here and the preseason squad has been trimmed down a few at a time, getting closer by the day to take its final form. Today’s biggest whack came by placing Jordan Szwarz, Mark McNeill, Cody Goloubef, Colby Cave, and Anton Blidh on waivers. For these five players, the next 24 hours will be telling.  They can either be picked up by another team or they can clear waivers, which would mean the Bruins could assign them to another league. In this situation, the only league available to assign them to would be the AHL, as only players on ELCs (entry-level contracts) can be loaned to an ECHL team. Szwarz, Cave, and Blidh have all spent time in Providence previously.  While Goloubef and McNeill came to the Bruins organization this year from Calgary and Dallas, respectively.

Jordan Szwarz(Photo Courtesy: Providence Bruins)

Jordan Szwarz, the 27-year-old RW/C, has been in Providence for two seasons, spending 12 games last season up with the big club but only showing them 3 assists in those 12 games. His numbers in Providence were much more promising, playing 65 games his first season posting numbers of 22-32-54 and 52 games last season walking away with 21-27-48 for numbers all while sporting an ‘A’ on his chest. Szwarz is a fan favorite at the Dunk and is a tough competitor whose presence would be missed should he be picked up by another NHL team.

colby cave(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins)

Colby Cave, the 23-year-old center, has graced Providence ice for three full seasons.  Playing nearly every game every season cave has worn an ‘A’ since his first full year here but has only spent 3 games up in Boston. He is consistently around 30 points per year but has never improved beyond that to show the extra drive and skill that Boston is looking for to move him up, especially in such a crowded field of players.

Anton Blidh(Photo Courtesy: Providence Bruins)

Anton Blidh, the 23-year-old winger, joined Providence the same year as Cave, but direct from Sweden. He has spent more time in the NHL than Cave, with 20 games in the past two years. Considering he came directly from a European league, where play and the actual rink size is different, it sometimes takes a bit for these players to mature to NHL readiness, so waivers are not a huge surprise here. However, Anton has a very gritty style of play that may or may not fit well in the future NHL and only time will tell for sure.

cody-goloubef-2017-2330(Photo Courtesy: HockeyDB.com)

Cody Goloubef is a 28-year-old right-handed D-man that has spent 8 seasons bouncing around the midwest and west with the AHL/NHL before joining us here in New England over the summer. Not known for his high scores or excessive penalties Cody appears to be one of those steady Eddy type players who is there primarily to fill the gaps when needed. Perhaps he could lend that veteran vibe that may be lacking now that Cross has gone.

Mark McNeill(Photo Courtesy: AHL.com)

Last for today’s waivers was Mark McNeill, a 25-year-old RW/C with history in the WHL, AHL, and NHL over the past 9 years. Having not had much opportunity to observe McNeill play I cannot comment much on what he has to offer, but it does appear that his stats have actually taken a downturn over the past couple seasons, not the upturn we would like to see in a growth candidate.

There you have it.  Five men on waivers and 24 hours to think about it. Assuming they all clear waivers, the Bruins have the option of assigning them to their AHL affiliate in Providence. If any of them don’t clear waivers, we will be waving them farewell by this time tomorrow.images

Prospects Challenge: Part 3 – Providence Bruins Head Coach Jay Leach

Coach Leach( Photo Courtesy of Joshua Bemis @ToCauseway )

By: Jen Stasio Coombe  |  Follow Me On Twitter @hockeygirl2976

One of the benefits to covering a preseason event like Buffalo’s Prospects Challenge is the amount of access to and the amount of time you get to spend with the players and coaches asking questions. I found that everyone was very amiable and ready to answer any questions I had for them, even when not directly hockey related.  For example, did you know the Jakub Zboril fell in love over the summer?  Ok — don’t get carried away here, he fell in love with tennis. He explained, “My brother and I took up tennis over the summer … other than hockey, the only sport I love is tennis.”

Now that I really have your attention, I will tell you, on a recent appearance on the Beers N’ Bruins podcast hosted by Mark Allred, he asked me what I felt about Jay Leach.  It wasn’t hard to come up with a solid answer really.  From a fan’s perspective, sitting in the stands week after week, watching him direct traffic, boost morale and guide the boys set to take the ice, what I saw was a calm, quiet, completely cool coach.

Whether they were winning or losing, having a “conversation” with the stripes or failing to make it past the first round of the playoffs, I never saw him break into a rant or flail about with frustration. Once the podcast was over, I began to wonder how naïve I was being — is he always like this or does he blow up behind closed doors? Is this the type of coach he aimed to be from the start? What does he think of his style? What do the boys on the bench think of him? The questions continued to swirl, but I knew right where to look for answers.

Leach( Photo Curtesy: Times Union )

I started with the man himself. On the second day in Buffalo, I interviewed Leach about how he coaches and what his plan was when transitioning from player to coach. He explained that he never really knew what to expect or how to be the best coach. “You try to do your due diligence, come in with an idea, but you go through a year with a bunch of experiences, and you come out the other side and things are just different.”

By nature, he is the type of person who likes to “check his boxes” and be sure that tasks are complete, but he tempers his needs to filter a ton of information down to the players with the understanding that makes him a “players’ coach.”

“I am 39 years old, I am not that far removed from playing, I don’t want to come across as anything other than who I am … obviously, we have standards, and we hold everyone to those standards, but it has to be organic, I try to create a good environment…”

Leach, Koppanen, Kuhlman( Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Stasio Coombe )

When I had the chance to ask his players about his coaching style and how he compared to other coaches they had worked with each player had their own take, but it all boiled down to three basic facts:

  1. He is always open to discussions and willing to offer advice or counsel. Whether it was professional or personal, each of the players confirmed that they had no problems talking to Leach about anything.
  2. He does have standards. “If you don’t play well and don’t improve, he will sit you,” said one player, but when I followed on asking about if this was a silent sit or if he explained I was told time and again, “He always explains himself, it is always to help us and to get better.”
  3. He has garnered the respect of each of the players. “He is not far away from being a player … he knows what it is like to be us, and we respect him. We don’t improve because he will yell, we want to do better because we don’t want to disappoint him.  He has our total respect.”

The last question I posed to both Coach Leach and each player was about his composure behind the bench. Jay responded, ”It’s all right here (motioning to his chest), right here and maybe a bead of sweat, I don’t know if you will ever get rid of that … I need them (the players) to not think that is happening.” Apparently, the old adage of never let them see you sweat holds fast with Jay.  Players responded likewise saying that he was always composed behind the bench and while once and a while he will blow off steam behind closed doors, all in all, “he is as level as they come.”

The result of the interviews with both Coach Leach and his players has solidified in my mind that he IS that solid coach I see behind the bench. He guides and directs them with composure and tough love when needed, but most of all he is truly invested in the development of not just the players, but himself. “I would imagine that every year I will come out a little different,” he said. “I think — I hope — that means I am growing.”

Prospects Challenge: Part 2 — A Tale Of Three Goalies For The Bruins

Round Up ( Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Stasio Coombe )

By: Jen Stasio Coombe  |  Follow Me On Twitter @hockeygirl2976

Dan Vladar, Kyle Keyser, and Dawson Weatherill were three netminders who played their way to Buffalo representing the Bruins in net over the four-day extended weekend event. Three men to tend the pipes gave Boston Brass the opportunity to scrutinize the skills and tenacity each of these players brought to the game.  As well as giving each of them their opportunity to shine as the squads starting goalie.

Game 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, was to be Kyle Keyser’s night in the spotlight. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound goalie has played for the Oshawa Generals since 2016 and at the young age of 19 was looking to convince the people upstairs that their faith in his growth and development were not misguided. Attending the development camp in the spring, there were a few doubts about his ability to keep the pace and continue to build his repertoire.  Kyle took Game 1 by the horns and left little doubt that he was here to work hard and win.

Keyser 2( Photo Courtesy of Joshua Bemis @ToCauseway )

Through the first two periods, Keyser was on fire, not letting one of the many shots he faced past his post. His determination in net saw the B’s entering the third with a 4-0 lead. This iron curtain did falter a bit in the third as he allowed two pucks to find their way into the net, but his composure was not to let him down.

Finishing his night off with a total of 35 saves, it was reasonable to think that perhaps fatigue is what caused the two pucks to slip by in the third, so the next day I asked Kyle his take on the situation. “Honestly, I didn’t feel fatigued at all in the third, sometimes when you are as a team 4-0 and you are going into the third, you maybe take your foot off the gas a little, even me, and I think that is just an area to focus in on to improve for everybody.”  Backing up his confident statement regarding his endurance Keyser did show a good bit of athleticism late into the third, using the butt of his stick while making a nice leap to ensure the puck would not find its intended target.

Vladar( Photo Courtesy: Joshua Bemis @ToCauseway )

Game 2, the feature game of the weekend, saw Dan Vladar take his place in the crease to put a kibosh on the Buffalo Sabres scoring chances.  His 6-foot-5, 185-pound frame towered over the net as the puck was dropped at the Harbor Center. After spending two seasons with the Atlanta Gladiators, Boston’s ECHL Affiliate, Dan was ready to make his next step up the pro ladder taking place in Providence as the second goaltender for the organization this coming year. His performance would not disappoint those invested in this 21-year-old’s blossoming career.

While the Sabres came into the weekend not only with a home-ice advantage but a strong and wily group of youngsters, the first period ended with only a single puck making it past this Czech beast. Not completely satisfied with his first period, Vladar came into the next two periods with a galvanized resolve and a positive outlook. Not one of the battery of shots on goal was able to penetrate this jolly giant’s façade.

Vladar 2 ( Photo Courtesy of Joshua Bemis @ToCauseway )

Finishing the night with a record of saving 38 of 39 shots on goal would leave many a goalie, tooting his own horn, but not our Vlad. When asked about his performance in the net his humble attitude and desire to continually better himself was on full display. “I feel good, but it is my first game of the season … I felt a little bit off my posts, but I got a little bit stronger over the summer, so my pushes were good…To be honest, it was not my best hockey. ”  In contrast, Jay Leach felt Vladar had an outstanding performance. “I think at first he had a few saves that looked like he hadn’t played in six months, which he hadn’t, but he settled right in, and ‘Vlady’ will always give you his best effort … guys love playing in front of him … and he was really very impressive.”

The third and final game of the weekend saw Dawson Weatherill step up in an attempt to send the New Jersey Devils packing. Another formidable obstacle at 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, Weatherill came to the prospect challenge as an invite. Basically, he was brought up to test the waters and fill out the third roster spot as some would say.  Not taking this merely a chance to mingle with the pro boys or a holiday with a bit of hockey thrown in, Dawson buckled down, worked hard at all practices and morning skates, and soaked up all the information he could from the coaches and teammates here in Buffalo.

Unfortunately, learning does not occur overnight and being the least seasoned of the goalies here for Boston, Dawson saw the third game come to a disappointing close with a score of Devils 6, Bruins 2.  He was not as focused or as agile as Vladar and Keyser, and he appeared to have trouble from time to time with letting the frustration overtake him.  While he was not able to vanquish these Devils, Weatherill will take what he has learned in this tournament back to the Spokane Chiefs in the WHL and continue to grow and develop, hoping for another shot in future seasons.

Finishing with a strong showing of winning two of the three matches, the Bruins goalies were ready to head back home and get the rest of the preseason underway.  Don Sweeney confirmed that Vladar would be heading to Providence to split time in net with Veteran P-Bruin Zane McIntyre. “We play a lot of three in three situations in Providence, where one goalie gets two out of those three,” he said. “You want that competition, he really needs to challenge and push Zane for as many starts as he can get.”

So, while Keyser and Weatherill set off to mature for another season, it is up to Dan Vladar to determine his own next big move.

Buffalo’s Prospects Challenge: Part 1 — Bruins Go Big And Go Home

 Photo Courtesy of Joshua Bemis (@ToCauseway) 

 By: Jen Stasio-Coombe  |  Follow Me O Twitter @hockeygirl2976

The Prospect Challenge in Buffalo, New York kicked off on Friday Sept. 7 and ran through Monday, Sept. 10. The challenge featured a round robin-style tournament between the Buffalo Sabres, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the New Jersey Devils, and our own Boston Bruins.  Boston, Buffalo, and New Jersey each won 2 of their 3 games and Pittsburgh waddled home without a single win on the weekend. Final standings, as seen below, ended up being determined by the goals for and goals against.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be putting out a series of articles on my experiences and takeaways from this incredible experience. So, sit back relax and enjoy the first of these here and now.

When it comes to prospect tournaments, the play is often rough and tumble, a little chaotic and very, very fun to watch.  You bring together a team composed of young men who may have had a few pro games under their belt (if they were lucky) may or may not have played together before, and some who have barely even skated North American ice until now.  Next, you put them in a game situation where they are required to rely not only on their own skill and understanding of the game but trust in the teammates they have just met and possibly even learn a new style of play, which may completely differ from what they have trained their whole lives.

This is a recipe for a scrappy, emotion-filled, challenge ridden matchup and if you are looking for structured NHL formula style hockey, you are out of luck.  A chaotic environment results in one of two outcomes — you adapt, learn, and rise to the challenge, or you continue to do what you always have done and go back whence you came. Providence Bruins head coach Jay Leach said, “It’s about when they are ready…we will push them, but we won’t push them into something they aren’t ready for.”

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Photo Credit: Joshua Bemis (@ToCauseway)

In hockey, going back from where you came is not always a bad thing. Sometimes it is not because you aren’t adapting, sometimes it is for your own good, and sometimes it is because you just need more time. A prime example of this is one of the breakout stars of this challenge, Axel Andersson. He wasn’t perfect, but this kid is like an angel on skates, his puck handling is on point, and his touch is incredible. He is one of the boys I mentioned with little to no North American ice time and the style of defense played abroad is different so he had to learn on the fly. After seeing him skate the first night against the Penguins, paired up with Wiley Sherman on the third-line D, I was convinced. He has smarts and this pairing is sweet!

I asked each of them how they felt being paired with the other. Axel explained, “I liked having Sherman there, he was confident, and made me feel comfortable.”  The respect was mutual as Wiley said, “I have always been paired with skill players, he is a skills player,” placing a hard emphasis on skills, “I really enjoyed playing with him.”

Admiration for these skills does not end with his teammates. Leach had this to say after the first night’s matchup against the Pens.

“Andy (Axel Andersson)… he is smooth, isn’t he?” Leach said. “I’ve only been able to see him play one game and (in) development camp, I have been thoroughly impressed with his game.”

Over the next three days, Jay and I spoke each day about ‘Andy’ and each day he had good things to say about how the player was learning from the video and taking the constructive criticism. On the final day, he confirmed what we had discussed on Day 2.

“The program over there (Sweden) is very good at developing defensemen in particular.  It would be good for him to play one more year there, where he is comfortable, and then I am sure he will be fine to be here.” In a surprise twist of fate I was able to meet Axel’s father and he was of the same mind as Coach Leach, but for a more parental reason, “Axel has only one year left of school and he wants to finish that first (before coming to the states),” he said. “As a father, that makes me happy.  He will continue his play at home.”

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Photo Credit: Joshua Bemis (@ToCauseway)

Sweden has done a stellar job thus far, let them have at it, so long as Andy comes back to grace us with his angelic moves again next year. For now, he will be close to home, close to family, be able to finish his schooling and come back in the fall ready to get movin’ and Bruin.

A huge THANK YOU to @ToCauseway for the amazing photography you supplied for my articles for this series.  Your assistance was invaluable and your guidance even more so.  In addition, a giant THANK YOU to @wifeofsalmon for making me feel so welcome and helping me settle in on my first assignment.  You were both great and I owe you one.  Hope to work with you both again soon!

Look for the second article in the series coming soon.

What’s ‘Bruin’ In Providence For Austin Fyten?

Fyten_Austin_10_11_1( Photo Credit: everettssilvertips.com )

By: Jen Stasio Coombe | Follow Me On Twitter @hockeygirl2976

Colton Hargrove has said goodbye to the smallest state in the union and donned his Ten Gallon Texas Hat.  The funny part is not that his new hat is as big as his old state, but that we immediately welcome Austin Fyten to remove his giant tuque and join this itty-bitty piece of the planet.  That’s right P-Bruins peeps off one goes to Texas and in one comes from the same.

Fun and games aside, who is Austin Fyten and what does he bring to Providence?    Austin Fyten was a promising 20-year-old forward playing in the WHL for Lethbridge Hurricanes.  In 2010, the 54-point season he put up had many talking draft and development camp.  According to an article by Paul Prass, that talk was stifled when in an exhibition game days before attending his first development camp he suffered an injury, resulting in a torn ACL.  Sitting out the entire 2011 regular season rehabbing his knee and fighting back from such a devastating blow did not prevent Fyten from putting up 5 points in 6 playoff games post-season.

Never to be kept down and without being drafted, Fyten entered the 2012 season at the ECHL level for the Idaho Steelheads seeing 47 games and posting 41 points.  Apparently showing the Dallas organization what they wanted to see, Fyten was given a PTO with their AHL affiliate, the Texas Stars.  However, while he saw 11 games, he only put up 2 points, and it was back to the Steelheads.

The 2013 Season saw much of the same with time split between the AHL and ECHL.  The number of games played went up to 62, but his numbers saw the reverse with a slide down to 35.  2014 saw the Philadelphia Flyers taking a chance on the kid they had vetted 3 years previous and had felt had a ton of promise.  Assigning him to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, their AHL affiliate, for the entire season. They were looking for a solid payout on their risk.  Numbers of 2-9-11 in 64 games followed by another lower body injury were not the rewards they were hoping for so once again the seeds of change had been sewn.

The 2015 season was spent mostly in the ECHL, with the South Carolina Stingrays, and only 6 games played at the AHL for the Hershey Bears.  It appears however that this extended period in the ECHL this late in his career may have been a wake-up call.  After helping the Stingrays through 19 playoff games with a showing of 19 points, Austin has spent all but 5 games in the 2016 and 17 seasons in the AHL with the Dallas Stars. Including 11 games in the postseason ending in a brutal defeat by the Toronto Marlies.

Now coming to our own little slice of heaven here in Providence, Austin brings with him, a physical style to his forward game with the ability to play Center or Left Wing.  Obviously not a high scoring forward he seems happy to kill penalties and bring some grit up front if it’s needed.  With the depth we have at center it will be interesting to see where he fits in and how well he meshes with the other players on the team.  Sometimes it is not just who you are, but who you are with, so I am going to give Austin a ‘Fyten’ chance to make a solid start here.  Only time will tell if he has truly found his Providence, divine or not.