AHL Bruins Sign Goaltender For Remainder Of The 2019-20 Season

( Photo Credit: ECHL / Utah Grizzlies )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Earlier this week I dropped the news of the Boston Bruins recall of goaltender Dan Vladar and the club’s top minor-pro affiliate the Providence Bruins signing of a new addition in the crease. That article I posted late on Wednesday night January 15th, 2020, can be seen HERE. The official news from the Boston organization pertaining to this transaction can be seen HERE from the team’s official website. Both can also be viewed via official tweets below.

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The second part of the article I got from the same source of the Vladar recall was correct even though I mentioned it was a loan in the article when it was, in fact, the signing of a new goaltender. With the injury news of Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (Upper-Body) and his unknown timeframe of return, the organization was on full alert creating space and making additions to accommodate the multi-levels that get affected when situations like these happen at the highest level of professional hockey. A signing like this was also important due to the injury status of B’s prospect goaltender Kyle Keyser who I talked about later in this article.

The Providence club signed veteran netminder Martin Ouellette for the remainder of the 2019-20 American Hockey League regular season. The 28-year-old Ouellette has spent time already this season appearing in ten games for the Bruins affiliate the Atlanta Gladiators this season but was involved in a December 2019, trade shortly after to the Beehive State (Utah) where his game certainly garnered interest from the Providence Bruins and General Manager John Fergerson Jr. Ouellette a former Columbus Blue Jackets seventh-round draft pick in 2010 has spent a majority of his minor-pro career with the Philadelphia Flyers organization covering the crease in both the AHL and lower ECHL levels. Lately, Martin has been a bit of a journeyman and an attractive risk to take when finding suitable talent to keep any team’s minor-pro developmental system competitive.

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The 6′-1′ 161-pound netminder from Quebec, Canada has New England ties as his alma mata the University of Maine Black Bears is nearby in the six-state Northeastern area. Ouellette played in 82 games in his four year NCAA hockey career in the Hockey East Men’s Division 1 Conference posting a record of 28-33-14 with a 2.82 goals-against-average and .893 save percentage. This season with the Utah Grizzlies team before coming to the Ocean State (Rhode Island), he appeared in 14 games posting an 11-1-2 record, a GAA of 2.11 and .924 Save%. This short time period with his former Utah club has been his best timeframe in the ECHL since he was with the Florida Everblades in the 2017-18 campaign when he posted a 33-5-3 record, a 2.02 GAA, and .921 Save% in 42 games played that particular season.

As soon as Boston Bruins 2020 All-Star nominated Tuukka Rask returns to the ice for the Boston club the trickle-down effect will commence having either Vladar or Max Lagace in Providence full time. Newly acquired Ouellette will most likely report back to the ECHL this time with the Atlanta club he’s already had familiar experiences with previous games as mentioned this season.

Kyle Keyser Update And What The Ouellette Addition To The Bruins Minor-Pro System Means To Him

( Photo Credit: Atlanta Gladiators )

Per RinksideRhodeIsland.com founder/writer Mark Divver’s tweet below, the undrafted Keyser has been suffering concussion symptoms which have caused many to speculate about his injury status which I thought was shoulder related dating back to when he was with the Providence Bruins earlier this season. In six games with Providence, the 20-year-old Keyser had a 1-4-1 record with his last game before his injury in November of 2019. He only appeared in one game for the Atlanta “AA” team when we all thought he was returning from the first injury but after his ECHL debut on December 13th, 2019, where he gave up four goals in a loss to the Jacksonville IceMen news about him vanished.

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So for the time being Ouellette will serve a valuable service in the AHL with Providence until things return to normal. With Keyser being out now and possibly for the foreseeable future, Martin will be a solid addition to the Gladiators team and used as a “break glass” in case of emergency scenarios if injuries happen to arise again in the Bruins organization. When Keyser returns to the Gladiators club after his head injuries it would add to the depth of the ECHL organization and not create the three-headed goaltending monster at the AHL level.

In my opinion, just by the way Ouellette has rejuvenated his minor-pro career in his short tenure with the Utah franchise. He comes to the Bruins system with determination to stay in the game at multiple professional levels and even though he might fly under the radar of the higher Boston Bruins franchise, at the lower level he seems like the perfect candidate and hard worker that can contribute whenever called upon. With Providence going with Dan Vladar in last night’s 2-1 loss to the visiting Bridgeport Sound Tigers and Max Lagace being returned to the AHL minor-pro affiliate today with the official news that can be seen HERE,  I’d be surprised if Oullette gets the call tonight on the road against the Sound Tigers. With the NHL Boston club playing the Pittsburgh Penguins tomorrow afternoon and who knows who gets the netminding recall, I could see Ouellette getting into his first action with Providence with a game Sunday afternoon at home against the Springfield Thunderbirds as the Bruins AHL team has three games this weekend.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Prospects Podcast episode 11 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Asselin Gets First Star Honors In Thrilling Victory For Bruins ECHL Affiliate

( Photo Credit: Dale Zanine / Atlanta Gladiators )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Last night the Atlanta Gladiators beat the visiting Orlando Solar Bears 5-4 in overtime at the Infinite Energy Arena. The “AA” minor-pro affiliate of the National Hockey Leagues Boston Bruins are having an up and down 2019-20 regular season in the tough South Division. With this Friday night January 17th, 2020 win the Gladiators improve to a 17-20-0-0 record with 34 points and stuck in the middle of a tough division led by powerhouse South Carolina Stingrays who have a league-leading 29-5-3-1 record with 62 points in 38 games.

Regardless of the Gladiator’s struggles and 5-5-0 record in their last ten games as a team, there are certain individuals going above and beyond in an effort to get noticed by their parent American Hockey League team. One particular Gladiator player who’s having a good season in his first year of professional hockey lead his final season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in goals during the 2018-19 season as a member of the Halifax Mooseheads with 48. After this tremendous season in the highly respected QMJHL, the Boston Bruins scouting staff were close by to pounce on this undrafted player as soon as his commitment was over in the Canadian Hockey League.

Samuel Asselin

( Photo Credit: OSC Our Sports Central / oursportscentral.com )

Samuel has been a welcome addition to the Boston Bruins organization with a low-risk “show me” first two-year AHL contract in early July of 2019 which gives him the flexibility to further his development either with the Providence Bruins or lower ECHL Atlanta team. In five games that Asselin has been recalled to Providence the undrafted free agent forward has three assists but in the coast, with Atlanta, he’s a point-per-game player with 15-14-29 numbers in 29 career games.

Last night the 21-year-old Asselin notched the second hat trick of his rookie season with two goals in regulation and a heroic ending to seal the deal for his Glads club. Samuel’s point production on this night started in the first period with the primary assist on teammate Tommy Marchin’s 13th goal of the season at the 14:12 mark of the opening frame as seen below.

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Asselin’s 13th goal and first in this game came at the 4:29 mark of the second period to give the Glads a 2-0 lead. The primary assist on this goal came from third-year Atlanta defenseman and Wilmington, Massachusetts native Zach Malatesta with the secondary helper going to Logan Nelson which can be seen below.

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The second goal of Asselin’s Trifecta came at the 5:18 mark of the third period and a 4-3 lead in the final frame. Samuel’s 14th goal of the season went unassisted when he comes in on the right side untouched for a snipe past visiting netminder and former highly regarded goalie Zach Fucale.

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Asselin’s final goal of the game and fourth point in the thrilling victory over the Solar Bears came in the extra frame as both clubs were deadlocked at four at the end of regulation. Samuel would only need 1:08 into overtime to send the Glads faithful home with a celebratory win over their South Division rival. Asselin received a behind the back pass on the cycle in the offensive zone from fellow teammate and Atlanta defenseman Joel Messner and protected the puck well working his way in-between the faceoff circles to snipe a wrister at the hash marks for the eventual game-winner and 15th goal of the season. The aforementioned Gladiators defenseman Malatesta his helper in the final Asselin goal was his second point of the night.

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Asselin is sure to garner some attention from the higher Providence Bruins club if they need some more scoring help or in case one of their AHL players come down with an injury. The 5′-9″ 181-pound forward is currently on a two-game point streak and has 3-4-7 numbers in his last five games. His longest point streak in this his ECHL rookie season came from the  October 18th, 2019, to the November 8th, 2019 timeframe where he contributed 7-7-14 numbers in his first eight games in the league.

Samuel and his Gladiators club are back on the ice tonight at the North Charleston Coliseum against the league-leading South Carolina Stingrays where the Glad could extend their winning streak to two games and Asselin could push for points in three straight games. After Asselin’s first career season-long point streak he was recalled to Providence so you never know when his talents are going to be needed with the higher parent Providence team.

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Check out the new Black N’ Gold Prospects Podcast episode 11 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!! 

Boston Bruins Recall Vladar, Providence Gets Netminder On Loan

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Word through the pipeline late this evening is that the National Hockey Leagues Boston Bruins have recalled goaltender Dan Vladar from their top minor-pro affiliate the Providence Bruins. In 12 games this season with the American Hockey League club from Rhode Island, Vladar has a 2019-20 regular-season record of 6-5-0, a 1.84 goals-against-average, a .935 save percentage along with two shutouts. Since his return from a high ankle sprain in early December of 2019, the former 2015 third-round selection has been on top of his game after spending time rehabilitating with goaltending coaches Bob Essensa and Mike Dunham and many hours of video sessions.

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With the departure of Vladar to the higher NHL for coverage, the Providence Bruins have accepted a loan from the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies for netminder Martin Ouellette. The 28-year-old Ouellette played for the Boston Bruins “AA” minor-pro affiliate the Atlanta Gladiators this season but has most recently been playing with the Utah club. The journeyman goalkeeper was a 2010 Columbus Blue Jackets draft pick but has spent a majority of his minor-pro career in the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers organization.

In ten games with Atlanta, this season he’s posted a record of 4-6-0 with a GAA of 3.74 and .874 Save% in ten games to posting an 11-1-2 record with the Utah club contributing with a 2.11 GAA and .924 Save%. He had a pretty decent NCAA career at the University of Maine where he might’ve received positive praise from the aforementioned Mike Dunham who also spent time in a Black Bears Jersey back in the day.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 162 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Boston Bruins Recall Blidh But How Long Remains A Mystery

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Per the American Hockey Leagues official website’s transaction page and seen below in a Tweet from Anthony Kwetkowski ( @BruinsNetwork ), The Boston Bruins have recalled forward Anton Blidh from the top minor-pro affiliate the Providence Bruins. Blidh who sustained an upper-body injury during the NHL’s preseason had successful shoulder surgery and returned to the ice in Providence on Friday, January 3rd, 2020 on a conditioning assignment. In four games in the AHL, he has two goals, both coming in two games over the weekend in the home-and-home series with the Atlantic Division rival Springfield Thunderbirds.

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As mentioned in @BruinsNetwork’s Tweet above, the former 2013 sixth-round selection of the NHL Bruins would need to go through the waiver process if he needs to be returned to Providence. Regardless if the 24-year-old versatile forward got injured or not in the preseason he would still need waivers to report to the AHL at the beginning of the season. Blidh has spent his entire professional career in the Bruins organization posting 43-38-81 numbers in 267 career AHL games in Providence and has 1-1-2 contributions in 21 games with the B’s at the NHL level.

Since there’s no pressing need for Blidh to be in Boston so stepping aside from the waiver priority rules, Anton could be of some service for the player that most fans are screaming for when it comes to the physical aspects of the game. Only playing in four AHL games since returning from injury the Swedish native was fully engaged in-game action for Providence and didn’t shy away around the net or along the boards hinting he was nervous of a reinjury. His speed and hitting ability were certainly on display and good to see in my opinion.

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Now, if this was just a paper transaction and the NHL Bruins are taking a gamble with his waiver eligibility to send him back to the AHL, I’m not sure he’s last long as a bottom-six grinder as any other NHL team out there would want to take a chance on the young forward. Also, have to keep in mind that if he does, in fact, get sent down and another club claims him off waivers, the NHL team has to keep him in the top league of the world for a minimum of 30 days before being able to return to their respected AHL farm team.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 162 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Weekend Recap (Week 14)

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The American Hockey Leagues Providence Bruins played their second three-game series of the 2019-20 regular season at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island over the weekend earning (Add Total Weekend Points Here). Heading into the weekend’s action the top minor-pro affiliate of the National Hockey Leagues Boston Bruins sat in the second position in the Atlantic Division with a 20-12-1-2 record with 43 points in 35 games played only trailing division-leading Hartford Wolf Pack by two points.

Looking at the big picture in the AHL’s Eastern Conference the Providence club was in the fourth spot with a .614 winning percentage and 5-5-0 in their last ten games. Although the B’s are in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference Calder Cup Playoff picture, the Ocean State team has struggled at home with a record of 7-6-0-1 while having a record away from the Dunk of 13-6-1-1. Leading the club in points so far this season leading into the weekend’s action has rookie and 2017 second-round pick Jack Studnicka leading the team with 14-12-26 numbers in 33 games. Veteran forward and Weymouth, Massachusetts native Paul Carey is second on the club with 14-11-25 totals in 34 games and rounding off the top-three is AHL rookie Robert Lantosi who’s contributed 9-14-23 numbers in 31 games.

Goaltending for the Providence team has been one of the key factors in the AHL clubs’ success with the addition of veteran netminder Max Lagace who signed a one-year, two-way free-agent contract over the 2019 offseason. Lagace has a record of 13-5-2 with a 2.44 goals-against-average, a .916 save percentage and leading the AHL in shutouts with five. Dan Vladar who struggled to get off on the right foot to start the 2019-20 campaign suffered a high ankle sprain early in the year returned to the crease on December 1st, 2019, and has been outstanding in his return thus far leading into the new 2020 calendar year. Vladar has a season record of 5-3-0 with a 1.67 GAA, a Save% of .940, and two shutouts on the season. Now let’s get you updated on the weekend games and how the Providence team did in the three straight contests at the dunk. Enjoy!

Friday, January 3rd, 2020, Hartford Wolf Pack vs. The Providence Bruins (Home)

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

Trailing the visiting Hartford Wolf Pack by a mere two points for the top position in the Atlantic Division this was a huge game against an opponent that the Providence club has certainly had a tough time against all season. Leading up to the action on Friday night the visiting Wolf Pack club has outscored the B’s 21-9 in six previous matchups in the 2019-20 regular season and it was important the home team came out on the right foot against a Packs netminder that has absolutely had their number for a majority of those games.

In the first period, the Bruins got off to a good start against a Wolf Pack team that they’ve been jockeying back-and-forth all season for the Division Lead. Captain Paul Carey got the first Bruins goal of the game scoring a shorthanded goal, his 15th of the year which was unassisted at 6:51 of the opening period. Hartford would only need three minutes after the Carey goal to tie things up at one on a goal from Tim Gettinger who scored his 8th of the year. Shots on goal to end the opening frame had the home Bruins team at an 11-7 advantage leading into the second period which was a tight battle in the middle of the game without either team putting the puck past the games netminders.

Jumping to the third period the scoring would all go to the visiting Wolf Pack. Pack leading goal scorer Vinni Lettieri would add his 12th of the year at the 19:34 mark of the final frame and to seal the deal for the visitors, winger Gettinger would get his second goal of the game with an empty netter at the 19:55 mark to end the game. Shots on goal in this game had the Wolf Pack with a 31-28 shot advantage

Bruins goaltender Dan Vladar got the start in goal on this night stopping 28 of 30 shots on goal and was a major reason the Wolf Pack club didn’t add several goals to make things worse. Regardless of this loss, the Bruins third-round selection in 2015 continues to play well since his return to the B’s lineup and will most likely get the call on Sunday against the Charlotte Checkers with the way Providence Head Coach Jay Leach has the rotation going. The Bruins have lost their last two games and look to snap out of this funk against a hot Checkers club that’s won their last three games before heading to the state of Rhode Island.

Saturday, January 4th, 2020, Charlotte Checkers vs. The Providence Bruins (Home)

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

The Bruins looked to change their recent misfortunes against an AHL team they’ve had recent success earlier this season. Providence has outscored the Checkers club 8-1 in the previous two games with one of the contests being a 36 save shutout in a 4-0 victory in Vladar’s return from injury. This night in game two of three on the weekend at the Dunk the end result would be very different.

After the Providence club commanded close to four minutes of the opening frame but that excitement was quickly deflated at the 3:59 mark when Checkers forward David Gust got the first goal of the game. Although there were times when the Bruins looked like they were getting back into the game the visiting Charlotte club just added more pressure holding the lead. At the 3:45 mark of the second period, the Checkers scored their second goal of the game on Steven Lorentz 9th of the season making things more difficult for the home Providence team.

The third period was a chippy affair as the Bruins started to show frustrations in being down on the scoreboard and were penalized four times putting themselves in a difficult situation. The Checkers club would score two goals in the final frame one from Julien Gauthier who scored his 15th of the season at the 1:54 mark of the third and sealing the deal on the night was an empty netter from Spencer Smallman who notched his third of the season at 16:48. The final tally on the shots on goal from both combatants had the visiting Checkers team finishing with a 43-25 advantage.

As mentioned above about the goaltending rotation, Providence Head Coach Leach did, in fact, go with Max Lagace in the second night of the weekend’s action. Lagace who’s been one of the best netminders in the AHL has had a recent run of bad luck giving up nine goals in his last three games and is on a three-game losing streak. Max stopped 39 of 42 Checkers shots on this night and did the best he could but ultimately the support in front of him didn’t do enough on the scoresheet to help out. Lagace suffered his sixth regulation loss of the year and will most likely have to wait until next Saturday, January 11th to try and snap his season-long losing streak.

Sunday, January 5th, 2020, Charlotte Checkers vs. The Providence Bruins (Home)

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

The final game of the Bruins weekend at the Dunkin Donuts Center came to a screeching halt with another loss in front of the Providence crowd. The Checkers club was again just too much to handle for the B’s outscoring the home team 8-1 in two of the three games in this weekend set and are now on a four-game losing streak.

The Checkers owned all-three periods leading up to a 4-0 lead with their fourth goal on a Brian Gibbons empty-netter at the 17:26 mark of the third. Providence broke the shutout bid for Anton Forsberg on a goal from B’s rookie Robert Lantosi who scored his 10th of the season at the 19:04 of the final frame. Shots advantage in this game went to the visiting team for the third straight contest in the weekend’s action this time giving the Checker a 33-27 total at the end of 60 minutes.

The AHL Bruins get back to work on Saturday, January 11th, 2020, in Springfield, Massachusetts with a tilt against a hot Springfield Thunderbirds team. The Thunderbirds are currently on a four-game winning streak and only one point behind the Providence club to tie for third place in the Atlantic Division. Springfield is 11-7-1-0 at the MassMutual Center and 53-3-2 in their last ten games. The Bruins wrap up the week’s action on Sunday against the same Thunderbirds team to finish up a home-and-home on Sunday, January 12th, 2020, at the Dunk in Providence Rhode Island.

The AHL’s Atlantic Division is very tight as rivals are starting to play better gearing up fro Calder Cup Playoff runs. In this said “tight” division the Providence team has an 8-8 record since December 1st, 2019 and is slowly going in the wrong direction as they started the year as one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. With almost a full week of practice B’s Head Coach, Leach and assistants behind the bench should have an interesting week of work addressing key areas that opposing teams have exposed in their game. Still, a lot of season left and keep in mind that this Providence team has gotten hot in previous years around this time of year and made the postseason debuts so I’m not giving up on this club just yet.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 160 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Report: Bruins Interested In University Of Minnesota-Duluth Defenseman

( Photo Credit: UMD Athletics / umdbulldogs.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Per Anthony Kwetkowski of @BruinsNetwork on Twitter and host of the Bruins Network Podcast Show is reporting that the Boston Bruins are interested in the University of Minnesota-Duluth defenseman Nick Wolff. The Eagan, Minnesota native is a 6′-5″ 230-pound blueliner and is currently in his senior year with his Bulldogs club. A big rugged blueliner like himself is certainly going to garner serious attention in the spring of 2020 from many NHL General Managers that will be circling above like vultures as soon as NCAA commitments are through. In Mr. Kwetkowski’s tweet below it sounds like Bruins GM Don Sweeney is getting ahead of the game.

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As mentioned above, Sweeney took part in a scouting mission to Merrimack College as the Bulldogs club was at Lawler Arena in North Andover, Massachusetts for non-conference games against the Warriors yesterday and today. The Bruins GM was already there to look at Bulldogs left-winger Quinn Olsen who was selected in the third round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft is having an up and down year in his freshman year in the state with 10,000 lakes learning the rigors of the collegiate playing lifestyle. With three points (1-2-3) in 14 games in his first season, the 18-year-old Calgary, Canada native looks to get back to the offensive production ways that saw him post 34-85-119 numbers in two seasons in the AJHL with the Okotoks Oilers.

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Now back to the article topic at hand talking about Nick Wolff. This isn’t the first time the Bruins were close enough to scout the 23-year-old defenseman as Wolff’s been in Boston as a development camp invite during the previous two beginning of summer events held at the Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton, Massachusetts. This season with the Bulldogs thus far, Wolff has contributed four assists in 16 games and has 14-33-47 numbers in 139 career NCAA Division I games. Nick is a left shooting defenseman the Bruins depth doesn’t necessarily need with a plethora of available blueliners shooting from the same side but his size and aggressiveness as a shutdown defender on the backend always seem to find a way to the B’s organization.

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Wolff’s leadership is an attractive attribute that Sweeney and scouting staff might navigate to above other areas of his game that need to continue to develop at this time. He’s a two time back-to-back NCAA National Champion with the Bulldogs and even shared the same ice recently in raising the ultimate collegiate award with Bruins prospect Karson Kuhlman who was captain of the Bulldogs when they were the nation’s best during the 2017-18 campaign. Kuhlman was born in Esko, Minnesota north of where Wolff grew up which borders Duluth close to Lake Superior.

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This certainly bears watching as the NCAA Men’s Division I hockey season is in the middle of it’s regular season but ideas like these have worked in the past when Sweeney and staff are out looking to sign undrafted talent with high rewards and minimal risk. Some previous players that have seen this route taken from the Bruins organization are names such as, forwards Noel Acciari, Austin Czarnik, Frank Vatrano, and most recently defenseman Cooper Zech.

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Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 160 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Providence Bruins Lagace Has Persevered In First Season With AHL Club

( Photo Credit: Michael Kuszay @TMGKuzKuz10 )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

In a recent article, I wrote which can be seen HERE, I mentioned how well Providence Bruins goaltender Dan Vladar was doing in his return to the crease after a lengthy lower-body injury. In this article, I’d like to stay with the goaltending depth with the Boston Bruins top minor-pro affiliate and talk about the effort thus far of netminder Max Lagace who’s having a successful first year with the B’s organization and is worthy of honorable mention in my opinion.

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The Man, The Myth, The Lagace

Since joining the Providence club as an undrafted free agent, the 26-year-old veteran netminder was signed to a one-year, two-way contract over the 2019 summer offseason and has made an immediate impact to the top-minor pro affiliate of the NHL’s Boston Bruins.  The journeyman netminder is having a career year which has him ranked with some of the AHL’s best in categories such as shutouts (Ranked #1), Wins (Ranked #2), games played (Ranked #5), goals-against-average (Ranked 9th), and save percentage (Ranked #10).

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This was a sneaky good signing from Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney because it addressed several different needs for the Boston organization. His addition to the B’s minor-pro depth in the crease covers the veteran leadership left from departing Zane McIntyre but also covers areas of concern at the NHL level with what’s to become of current backup netminder Jaroslav Halak. With the uncertainty of Halak staying or going, Lagace being in the mix may be the insurance policy or back up plan for each scenario. Although limited Max does have NHL experience which he gathered as a member of the Vegas Golden Knights before signing with the Boston club. In 17 career games at the highest level of hockey in the world the Longueuil, QC native has a record of 6-8-1 with a goals-against-average of 3.92 and .868 save percentage.

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Lagace and his Dominance in the city of Providence

So far in Providence this season the game plan is to seemingly give the workload to the veteran Lagace playing two of every three contests to keep him sharp and ready at a moment’s notice if services are needed at the NHL level. The AHL predominately operates on a weekend schedule with the occasional Wednesday night game but Providence players are very active with daily practice times and a travel schedule that’s close to the Rhode Island operations to allow the appropriate ice time. To me even though one netminder sees a little more time in the crease than another developing goaltender, the AHL level I see it as a “1A” and “1B” tandem scenario with games sometimes three in a row on a Friday to Sunday weekly schedule.

( Photo Credit:  Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images )

This season as the workhorse on the backend with injuries to aforementioned Vladar and his replacement from the “AA” minor-pro affiliated with the Atlanta Gladiators Kyle Keyser, Lagace has appeared in 20 of the 34 games played in the 2019-20 regular season. In that timeframe, Max has a 13-4-2 with a 2.36 goals-against-average, and .919 save percentage. Although mentioned previously, Lagace’s league-leading five shutouts have been nothing but amazing to watch, to be honest. Max has also been a benefactor of the knowledge and wisdom of former NHL goaltenders and now Boston Bruins goaltending coaching tandem of Bob Essensa and assistant Mike Dunham as previously mentioned in my Vladar piece seen HERE.

The Providence Bruins club is in first place of the Atlantic Division with a 20-11-1-2 record and 43 points, two points ahead of second-place Hartford Wolf Pack who the AHL Bruins team is set tom play in the final game of this current five-game road trip. With Vladar getting the start last night in a 4-3 victory on the over the cross-state rival Springfield Thunderbirds, it’s hard not to imagine with the way things have been scheduled that Providence Head Coach Jay Leach will look to Lagace to start in the crease tonight. If in fact, Max gets the nod in goal he’ll be going against one of the AHL’s top-ranked teams, and a 14th victory tonight will only bring him closer to his career-high of 15 and with this being game 35 of 76 of the 2019-20 regular season, there’s a strong chance he’ll surpass all career AHL numbers from the past and do it with a class organization, to say the least.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 159 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!! 

AHL Bruins Goaltender Vladar Has Been Stellar Since Return To Providence

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The 2019-20 American Hockey League regular season didn’t exactly get off on the right foot for Providence Bruins goaltender Dan Vladar in his second full season with the top minor-pro affiliate of the National Hockey Leagues Boston Bruins. After starting the campaign with a 1-1-0 record, a 2.99 goals-against-average, and .888 save percentage things would progressively get worse in his third appearance of the year.

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On October 16th, 2019, the Providence club was in Laval, Quebec to play in game one of a four-game road trip against the host Laval Rocket the minor-pro affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens. Veteran netminder Max Lagace got the start this night giving up four goals in the first period. To start the second frame, Providence Head Coach Jay Leach opted to take the struggling Lagace out of the game in favor of the fresh Vladar on the bench in hopes of an offensive spark. Netminder Vladar would go onto make eight saves in the second period but to end the middle frame the former 2015 third-round selection would need relief himself. Vladar went down with a lower-body injury and would need help off the ice from fellow teammates and Providence trainer prompting the AHL Bruins to back to Lagace to finish the game.

Further medical evaluations concluded that Vladar suffered a high ankle sprain and was listed as week-to-week. Dan would spend a better part of six weeks on the shelf recovering from his injury but used the downtime to his advantage working with training staff along with longtime Boston Bruins goaltending Coach Bob Essensa and assistant Mike Dunham who’s entering his third season with the B’s franchise.

( Photo Credit: Alan Sullivan Photography )

The Athletic Bruins beat writer Joe McDonald spent a day in Providence on December 15th, 2019, and unveiled some interesting information when he had the chance to interview Vladar. In the article from McDonald, aforementioned goalie coaches Essensa and Dunham spent a great deal of time with the 22-year-old as he recovered watching countless hours of video fine-tuning the netminders game ultimately finding that the Czech Republic native was too active in the crease and needed to minimize his movements to be better prepared. All quotes below from McDonald’s December 16th “Down On Th Farm” article can be found HERE or click the hyperlinked quotes below to direct you to the originator.

“I don’t think I had the greatest camp, so it was something I needed to work on,” Vladar said. “I felt good physically, but the pucks weren’t hitting me and I wasn’t playing the way I wanted. (Spending time with Dunham) helped and so far it’s working really well. A lot of pucks can hit me and that’s what I’m trying to do more and more, and I feel comfortable every single game.”

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On November 27th, 2019, The Boston Bruins sent Vladar to the organization’s “AA” minor-pro affiliate the Atlanta Gladiators for a conditioning stint to test his return to professional hockey from an injury that commonly takes a while especially when it comes to goaltenders. Dan got the victory over the visiting Norfolk Admirals giving up two goals in a 4-2 Atlanta win. That was apparently enough for the Providence Bruins staff to see as the AHL club recalled Vladar to join them on the road in Charlotte, North Carolina to finish up a short three-game road trip against the Charlotte Checkers.

Dan was spectacular in his return stopping all 36 Checkers shots for his first shutout of the season and a game that would start a tremendous return with all accolades gravitating back to the tutelage and wisdom of Essensa and Dunham. Vladar would need just three more games to earn his second shutout of the season when he blanked cross border and Atlantic Division rival Springfield Thunderbirds in a 5-0 victory stopping all 42 shots he faced. Although the 6′-5″ 185-pound netminder looks to be completely healthy, he had this to say to McDonald after the game at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island below.

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“I felt great,” Vladar said. “It’s always easier for a goalie when you face that many shots. I felt really good. It was one of those nights where I saw the puck really well and felt like everything was hitting me. It’s a long season though, it’s nice, but I’m not getting too high from it.”

“To be honest, I can still feel it a little bit,” Vladar said of his ankle. “I’m doing treatment every day and (trainers) are keeping an eye on it.”

Since Vladar’s return from injury at the beginning of December, the second-highest ranked goaltender in his draft year (European Netminders Only) of 2015, has posted a record of 3-2-0 and compiled impressive 0.99 GAA, and .954 Save% numbers in that timeframe. His overall record for this season is still a respectable 4-3-1 record with a 1.49 GAA and .945 Save%. Dan’s AHL career numbers of 23-18-6, a 2.48 GAA, a .911 Save% along with five career No-No tells me he’s certainly stepped up a level in maturity as he continues to develop and from this small sample size since his return from the said high ankle sprain, I’d expect him to have a stellar season in the remaining games working alongside Max Lagace.

( Photo Credit: Gregory Vasil / Getty Images )

Lagace who’s contributed his own stellar play in his first season with the Boston Bruins organization since signing a one-year, two-way free-agent contract in the early month of July 2019, has been a solid mentor for the younger members of the crease with of course Vladar being around along with appearances from Kyle Keyser and Sean Bonar who was up from Atlanta lightening the workload with so many injuries. While the Boston Bruins don’t exactly look like gangbusters when talking about ranking the NHL’s best goaltending depths, its good to know that the organization will be in good hands with Essensa and Dunham at the helm to offer advice with the proper tools for the continued development of future netminders.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 159 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Former Bruins Player Bronco Horvath Passes At The Age Of 89

( Photo Credit: imageshack.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The Bruins organization lost a member of its family today with the announcement of the passing of 89-year-old Bronco Horvath from the official Boston Bruins Alumni Twitter Account. Horvath a longtime journeyman of the North American professional ranks spent 664 games posting 263-484-747 numbers in the American Hockey League and 434 games in the higher National Hockey League contributing 141-185-326 totals. Bronco played for six franchises in his NHL career.

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Born in Port Colbourne, Ontario Canada, Horvath spent four seasons with the Boston organization from 1957-58 to the 1960-60 campaign. In that short timeframe, he would appear in 227 games posting 103-112-215 numbers with his best season coming in the 1959-60 season where he went 39-41-80 in 68 games played tying Chicago Blackhawks great Bobby Hull for the NHL goal-scoring lead.

Per Wikipedia, Bronco spent the majority of his time playing in Boston alongside NHL Hall of Famer Johnny Bucyk on the “Uke Line” accompanied by the third member of the fierce trio Vic Stasiuk. In 2015 Horvath was inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame and joined fellow Bruins legendary defenseman, Eddie Shore (2006 Inductee) and former B’s Head Coach Don Cherry (2019 Inductee) as honorary members.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 158 that we recorded on 12-15-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content! 

Bruins Recall Two From AHL Providence

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Per Boston Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy in a press conference earlier today, forward Patrice Bergeron will not make the trip to Montreal for tomorrow night’s contest due to a lingering lower-body injury. Cassidy also provided a few other injury-related updates that our very own Black N’ Gold Podcast team writer Patrick Donnelly wrote about earlier this afternoon. Check out Pat’s work in his article release tweet below.

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With Bergy not going to play the next two night’s in Canada with a stop tomorrow night in Montreal and the tail end of a back-to-back on Wednesday evening, some recalls needed to be made. A few hours ago the Boston Bruins officially released the news of Providence Bruins forward Brendan Gaunce and B’s prospect forward Jack Studnicka are heading to their respected Canadian country with the call for duty in relief of fallen comrades.

Brendan Gaunce

The 6′-2″ 216-pound Ontario, Canada native was signed as a free agent of the Bruins on a one-year, two-way contract in early July of 2019. Gaunce a 25-year-old versatile forward started the 2019-20 campaign on a positive note playing well with his big rangy frame and offensive capabilities. Brendan went 3-1-4 for Providence in his first 5 games in the NHL Bruins organization but was on the unfortunate end of a blindsided hit from Laval Rocket forward Michael McCarron. Rocket forward MacCarron did receive a suspension for his headshot actions but Gaunce would suffer a broken nose and concussion.

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After returning to the American Hockey League Bruins lineup getting back into a groove would prove to be slow coming back from an injury of that nature while wearing a protective cage. Brendan plays a gritty style game but also has the hands to be creative having 2-3-5 in the last five games for Providence and one of a few players for the top minor-pro affiliate of the NHL B’s that are producing regularly. Remains to be seen if he gets into a game but if he does look for him to play a bottom-nine role and throw his body around. Definitely, fun to watch along the boards and around the opposing net.

Jack Studnicka

Jack’s first full professional season with the Providence club has certainly been a pleasure to watch with the way he skates and sees the game unfold. The former 2017 second-round selection has always had a good two-way game and at every level of developmental hockey like everyone needs time to adjust. Not knocking his game “with” our “without” the puck to start his professional career but it’s relevant when going 1-5-6 in the first 10 games in his 2019-20 AHL rookie season.

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Studnicka’s game with Providence is exactly what you want to see from a highly regarded forward prospect and ultimately got the attention of higher-ups earning his first NHL recall. In Jack’s last 11 games in the AHL, the 20-year-old forward has goals in his last five games along with contributing 8-4-12 numbers in that 11 game timeframe. He’s a three zoned player with exceptional creativity and a professor of the game. Studnicka really took a huge step forward in his development at the faceoff dot from his days in the Ontario Hockey League with the Oshawa General and Niagara Ice Dogs a place he was traded halfway through the 2018-19 regular season.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 155 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!