Providence Bruins Name Team Captain

( Photo Credit:  BostonBruins.com / NHL.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

After longtime Providence Bruins defenseman departed from the Boston Bruins organization there’s been a vacancy at the role of the definitive team captain. Cross, who held the captaincy honor for the last three of his six seasons with the top minor-pro affiliate of the National Hockey Leagues Bruins. The Providence club is certainly doing things the right way with addressing the vacancy, and after six games in the 2018-19 American Hockey League campaign so far it seems Bruins Head Coach Jay Leach and supporting cast have found their guy.  Earlier today veteran forward Jordan Szwarz was named the team’s thirteenth captain in franchise history.

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Szwarz, a 5′-11″ 201-pound versatile forward was originally drafted in the fourth round by the Phoenix Coyotes (Now Arizona Coyotes) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec. After a successful Canadian Junior career with the Ontario Hockey Leagues Saginaw Spirit where he appeared in 262 games posting 82-122-204 numbers. The now 27-year-old Ontario, Canada native has spent the last two seasons with the Providence club contributing 43-60-103 numbers in 121 games played with the Rhode Island franchise. His career in the AHL consists of 215 points in 368 games and when called up to the show he’s played 47 games in the NHL and has 4-3-7 numbers in 35 games with the Coyotes (4-0-4), and 12 games with the Boston Bruins (0-3-3).

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Jordan came to Providence camp before the 2016-17 season on a professional tryout agreement but would later sign a one-year two-way contract with the NHL Bruins in November of 2016. After signing with the Boston he would play the 2016-17 season with the Providence club. In his first year with Providence, he led the club in scoring with 54 points in 65 games earning another contract extension from the Bruins in March of 2018. Another impressive increase for Szwarz is his dollar value at the minor-pro level for a veteran who’s entering his eighth year in the AHL. From his minor-pro contract of $65K per season in the Coyotes system to $350K playing on a two-way contract with the Providence club this season.

Szwarz is off to a slow start to the 2018-19 campaign with one assist in six games, but slow starts have been an enigma for the Providence club in recent years as they seem to find team chemistry in the month of December. Even though this team has its troubles in the early going, the team has been a Calder Cup Playoff team for six straight seasons reaching the Eastern Conference Finals once, second round appearance twice, and three first-round best-of-five exits.

Although it’s early in the regular season, hopefully, this Providence team with the tutelage of Head Coach Jay Leach and Assistant bench boss Trent Whitfield can find what it takes to get the message embedded into the heads of these developing players and supporting veterans alike. The Bruins get back to work for game two of the weekend tonight at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island and try to erase the memory of last night’s overtime loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Providence Bruins Sign Kovar To PTO

( Photo Credit: Getty Images / Bruce Bennett )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Providence Journal Bruins beat writer Mark Divver reported earlier today the American Hockey Leagues Providence Bruins have signed veteran forward Jan Kovar to a Professional Try-Out agreement. The 28-year-old Czech Republic native recently played in the Kontinental Hockey Leagues with the Metallurg Magnitogorsk where he registered 97-189-286 numbers appearing in 285 games in the last five years.

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The 5′-11″ 216-pound center was a free agent signing of the New York Islanders shortly after the 2018 free agent frenzy and was a saut after project with recent success over in Europe. Per EliteProspects.com Kovar’s development and pro-league play has been impressive to read with three Czech2 Championships,  Czech Extraliga Championship, and a two-time winner of the KHL Gagarin Cup Champion he certainly has worldly skills to take a chance on.

After his contract was over in the KHL, The Islanders were smart to roll the dice with a low cap experiment with Jan’s services and possibly be a seamless asset pending the retain or departure of the Tavares sweepstakes free agent talks which ending with his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs being the most attractive option in free agency. Kovar signed a one-year $2 million dollar contract and it was time for him to showcase his skills at the highest level in the world.

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I’m not exactly sure about what happened to the relationship Kovar and the Islanders had but it was sour enough for the two parties to walk away. What would entice a player who already accepted a contract and eager to join his new National Hockey League team in North America just to have cold feet and want to leave? Per Left Wing Lock Twitter Account,  Kovar was placed on Unconditional Waivers for the purpose of contract termination.

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Well, now that he’s with the Providence Bruins after being seen by the aforementioned Providence Journal Bruins reporter Mark Divver below at this mornings practice, now it’s speculation time where he’ll play alongside other Bruins developmental talent as a 28-year-old but better yet, who’s spot could he be taking? For me and it’s early in the 2018-19 AHL campaign but I don’t believe he will take the job of current Bruins prospects in the system but could have a player that recently signed an AHL contract to play only in Providence’s job or play the role of an extra forward as regulated roster size in the AHL is different than the NHL limit.

In a later Tweet today, Divver mentioned that Kovar most likely won’t see any game action this weekend with three straight games including a home-and-home series starting tomorrow night in Bridgeport, Connecticut against Sound Tigers the minor-pro affiliate of the New York Islanders. Also chiming in on all the questions concerning Kovar was his agent Alan Walsh who said below that both the Providence Bruins and his client are going to remain in the area for the next couple of weeks and see where things go. This is a common tactic to keep players around before returning to Europe or the KHL to keep playing and in leagues with familiarity.

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Kovar is good friends Bruins superstar and countryman David Pastrnak as seen in a Tweet below from the young B’s forward dating back to when Kovar and the Islanders made the deal in July of this year.

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UPDATE: Details Below From first-year New York Islanders General Manager Lou Lamoriello on the termination of Jan Kovar’s one-year $2 million contract per Andrew Gross’s verified Twitter account.

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Below are some video’s of what the Providence Bruins could see in his short professional tryout in the American Hockey League.

Bruins Prospect Swayman Earns First Win Of The 2018-19 Season

( Photo Credit:  UMaine Athletics )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Last season as a freshman playing for the University of Maine hockey team, Boston Bruins prospect goaltender Jeremy Swayman not only caught the eye of Bruins fans as a rookie but also gathered national attention as one of the best goaltenders in the NCAA. In 31 games played in the 2017-18 campaign, the 6-foot-2, 187-pound Anchorage, Alaska native posted a record of 15-12-3, a 2.72 Goals-Against-Average, and .921 Save Percentage.

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Other accomplishments last season include named as the third goaltender for the United States team in the 2018 World Junior Championships capturing a Bronze Medal, Hockey East Player of The Week (five times) and Hockey East Rookie of The Month honors for January. He was also named to the 2018 Hockey East Pro Ambitions All-Rookie team.

New NCAA Season Comes With Increased Expectations For Swayman

Last night the Black Bears played the first game of the 2018-19 season and started the year out with a 3-1 victory over the St. Lawrence University club in front of a home crowd of 3,648 at Alfond Arena in Orono, Maine. Swayman had a relatively easy night in the crease during last nights non-conference contest stopping 16 of 17 Saints shots. Below are highlights from last nights season-opening 3-1 win over the St. Lawrence Saints.

The high praise for Swayman is already set at a high bar for the goaltender entering his sophomore year and another year of much-needed development. In an interview, I had with Jeremy at this year’s Bruins Development Camp at the Warrior Ice Arena, he gave a lot of credit to Black Bears goaltending coach and former Maine alum Alfie Michaud along with another former Bears goaltender Mike Dunham who was hired as the Bruins developmental coach last summer. With the tutelage of both members above, I personally believe Swayman will have a better season this year and set a new high in career stats.

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Even before this collegiate season started and the season he had as a freshman last year, the soon-to-be 20-year-old in November is already garnering national attention to have a big year again playing in the powerful NCAA Hockey East Conference. In an article posted on Oct. 5 from the goblackbears.com website, Swayman along with 20 other netminders across the United States were named to the players to watch list for the 2019 Mike Richter Award. The award is in its sixth year of existence and is an annual award honoring the most outstanding goalie in NCAA Division I Hockey as nominated by all 60 Division I college hockey coaches and selected by a committee of coaches, scouts and members of the media.

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Swayman and Black Bear teammates get back to work tonight at the same place of last night’s 3-1 victory once again to match up against the St. Lawrence Saints team. It remains to be seen if Jeremy will get the start in back-to-back games but it’s not out of the realm of Bears Head Coach Red Gendron to roll the dice with his starting goaltender once again in front of the home fans. He could very well be back in the crease tonight as the Black Bears team will get a lot of rest in between games as the next contest for the club is set for next weekend with back-to-back games against the University of Minnesota-Duluth starting Friday, Oct. 19.

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Bruins Prospect Pare Is Off To A Great Start With New Team

(Photo Credit: MARC GRANDMAISON/AGENCE QMI)

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Boston Bruins prospect forward Cedric Pare has certainly been through the trials and tribulations when it comes to the roller coaster ride of developmental hockey in the Canadian Major Junior Leagues. A former first-round selection of the QMJHL  Saint John Sea Dogs as a rookie in the 2016-17 campaign he along with talented teammates such as B’s defensive prospect Jakub Zboril, along with blueliner Thomas Chabot and forward Joe Veleno had an outstanding regular season to set themselves up to be serious players for a long playoff run.

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After that successful regular season (2016-17) that captured 102 points in the 68 games, Pare and his Sea Dogs team would also have the energy and the will to truck through the 2017 playoffs. The Sea Dogs swept the Rimouski Oceanic in the first-round best-of-seven, swept the Val-d’Or Foreurs in the second-round best-of-seven, lost two games to the Chicoutimi Sagueneens in that best-of-seven, to sweeping the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada in the Conference final to capture the Presidents Trophy as the QMJHL Champions. With the league championship in hand, Cedric and Saint John organization punched their ticket to the 2017 Memorial Cup making it to the semifinal game after having a 1-2 record in the previous round-robin tournament.

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The Sea Dogs just couldn’t keep up with the better-skilled Otters club, losing 6-3, sending the team home after a noble effort. The 2017-18 season where many thought the Sea Dogs club could possibly come close to having the similar success of the year prior came back to earth when the team finished last place on the whole earning 39 points in 68 games. For Cedric, it was tough to see so many talented players that he got along with leave the organization, but he had the mindset to stay focused and work harder as he earned a top-six role with departing talent. Although the team struggled for the rest of the season, and six players traded away including talented forward and 2018 NHL Red Wings draft pick Joe Veleno, the Sea Dogs were in a rebuilding and it was just a matter of time before Pare — one of the highest players of value on the team — was to be moved as well.

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On June 1, it became official that Pare was in fact traded as the Sea Dogs continued to look for future sustainability through upcoming drafts and rebuild the squad properly to be back in contention as one of the best teams on the “Q” for years to come. Cedric was traded to the Rimouski Oceanic, who already were building up for something good and after the Bruins released him from NHL training camp on Sept. 19, he went to his new junior team with a mindset of a fresh start without sulking or a failed attitude. The Bruins sixth-round selection in 2017 instead went into the 2018-19 season on a mission to not only impress new fans and management in Rimouski but also make a statement in his development showing that he deserves a roster spot next season as he’ll be eligible to play in the American Hockey League full time as he’ll turn 20 in January of 2019.

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I strongly believe Pare is in a better place to succeed with the Oceanic club, and he’s certainly on pace to have a better year offensively than he did with the Sea Dogs. Last season the 6-foot-3, 210-pound center in his second full season in the QMJHL had 13-24-37 numbers in 60 games which offensively speaking was doubled from his rookie season in 2016-17 when he contributed 16 points in 64 games. What sticks out to me this season above previous years is his start and determination with his new team. Players can be streaky, but if you watch his game this season, he just looks different and engaging in all different scenarios. For instance, if you look at his year-to-year stats, he had one point in his first eight games in his rookie season, two points in his first eight games in his second season to this year with a new Oceanic team having eight points in his first seven games.

Unfortunately, Cedric snapped his longest point streak of the season tonight but as humble as a player he is I’ll bet from interacting with him over the last two development camps and rookie camps he’s more happy with the big Canadian Thanksgiving win today. Pare and the Oceanic beat the Shawinigan Cataractes by the score of 8-1 on the road and get back on the ice on Wednesday night October 10th at home against Chicoutimi and Saturday night Oct. 13 to round out the week again at home against Cape Breton.

Bruins Prospect Lauko Gets First QMJHL Goal

(Photo Credit: NHL.com/BostonBruins.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Boston Bruins prospect forward Jakub Lauko scored the first goal of his Quebec Major Junior Hockey League career last night in his third game with the  Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. Lauko’s first goal of the season came on a give-and-go when he skated hard through the neutral zone, crossing the blue line and passing it off to teammate Vincent Marleau who passed it back to the trailing B’s prospect on the left side beating the Quebec Remparts goaltender Anthony Morrone. The Huskies went on to beat the Remparts 6-4 in front of the home crowd at the Arena Lamgold in Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, with Lauko taking home the second star of the game honors.

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Lauko was released from NHL Bruins training camp and the team signed the speedy forward to a three-year entry-level contract and immediately assigned him to Rouyn-Noranda in late September. After going through the process of work papers and traveling visa issues, Jakub made his Huskies debut on Wednesday night Oct. 3 on the road against the Val-d’Or Foreurs contributing his first QMJHL point in a 5-2 Huskies win. So, with two points in three games, it’s apparent the youngster is adjusting well to his new surroundings as he continues his development and learns more about the game while playing in North American arenas with smaller ice than he’s used to playing on in Europe.

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With Lauko’s speed and creativity, I can see him having a 20 goal, 20 assist campaign as a rookie in the “Q” and might do better than that if he stays at this level for a few seasons. This is a great place for him to round out his game and gain a little more muscle before making the jump to the Providence Bruins team in the American Hockey League. He certainly looked good in development camp into Rookie Camp/Prospects Challenge in Buffalo, New York showing fans what kind of attributes he has now for future placement in the show, but for now, the Bruins need him to act like a sponge and absorb everything he can take at this level.

Many fans thought the AHL would be a perfect fit for him since being with the NHL B’s for a better part of training camp but roster spots with the top minor-pro affiliate of the Bruins might’ve been reserved in favor of the plethora of prospects the B’s have in the system. At least with this avenue and strategy, the B’s are taking time with him. He’ll get the important ice time he deserves and not in an AHL rotation where he could sit in a league that mostly operates a three-day schedule on the weekends.

You can watch last night’s highlights from the Huskies game vs the Remparts and Lauko’s first-period goal by clicking the link below.

http://theqmjhl.ca/video-channels/highlights/oct-618-remparts-4-huskies-6

The next games for the Huskies will be on Friday night Oct. 12 as they play host to the visiting Moncton Wildcats and again on Saturday night Oct. 13, when the visiting Drummondville Voltigeurs at the Arena Lamgold. Rouyn-Noranda is in second place in the QMJHL with a 7-1-0-0 record and is one point behind Baie-Comeau Drakkar who’s in first with 15 points in eight games.

Bruins Prospect Studnicka Is Adjusting Well In Return To Oshawa

( Photo Credit: Terry Wilson / OHL Images )

By: Mark Allred   |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

When the Boston Bruins sent talented prospect forward Jack Studnicka back to his Ontario Hockey League’s Oshawa Generals Major-Junior club after the second-to-last preseason game of the B’s 2018 exhibition schedule. It was hard for the 19-year-old, who worked his ass off to stay in training camp as long as he did. Obviously, there was something in his game the B’s brass saw that needed more attention as he continues to develop, and he was eligible for his age to be sent back to what I believe is the most highly skilled league in the Canadian Junior Hockey League.

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After watching his first three games since returning to Oshawa, it’s safe to say he’s determined to work harder and do what he and Bruins management staff suggested in private meetings before leaving Boston last week. The 2017 second-round draft pick mentioned he was tired from his efforts at Bruins training camp but was also enthusiastic about getting back on the ice with his Oshawa club to help out in any way he can while being team Captain for another year. In his first game back he certainly didn’t look out of place.

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On Thursday night, Sept. 27, the Generals took their 0-1 record and game No. 2 of a three-game road trip to start the 2018-19 campaign with a stop at the North Bay Memorial Gardens to play the Battalion in Studnicka’s first contest of the year. Captain Jack contributed an assist in the 7-2 victory accompanied by one shot on goal, a +/- of +1, and from the faceoff circle he went 6/15. Studnicka’s assist in the game came at the 6:21 mark of the second period when he got the primary assist on teammate Serron Noel’s hat trick and his fourth of the year.

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Oshawa Generals at North Bay Battalion 9/27/18 Game Highlights

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On Friday, Sept. 28, the Generals drove a little further northwest to the Community Arena in Sudbury, Ontario to take on the Sudbury Wolves. This matchup was a gritty contest from the puck drop and Studnicka, playing in his second game of the year, seemed to be a target for the hometown Wolves who roughed him up for a majority of the game. Offensively, Jack got his first goal on the power play at 12:08 in the first period when Giovanni Vallati shoveled over a pass to Studnicka, who was ready for the booming slapshot from the top of the circle.

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Studnicka definitely seemed a little more comfortable with six shots on net and 7/12 in the faceoff circle. The physical game that Sudbury brought to the ice that night seemed to get the Oshawa team a little frustrated and Studnicka ended the night with a +/- of -2.

Oshawa Generals at Sudbury Wolves 9/28/18 Game Highlights

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On Sunday, Sept. 30, Studnicka would appear in his third game of the season but this time the General three-game road trip came to an end and it was time to put on a show for the hometown crowd at the Tribute Communities Centre in Oshawa, Ontario. The first period started off with two goals in the first half of the period and the Generals weren’t showing signs of stepping back as they tied the score at two with Studnicka getting an assist on Serron Noel’s power play goal.

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Toward the end of the first period, Studnicka would score his second goal in as many games to tie the game at three with 18:05 remaining in the first frame. His even-strength goal came from Alan McShane and Serron Noel, who’s off to a monster start in the first part of this season. Jack’s second goal of the year came as he was perfectly placed between the hash marks to fire a shot past North Bay’s goaltender Christian Purboo.

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Studnicka would dish another helper to start the third period when he got the primary assist on teammate Matt Brassard’s first goal of the year. McShane would skate wide to the net and feed it to Studnicka who in turn slid a backhand pass to Brassard, who skated to the net unmolested as mentioned above for his first of the 2018-19 season.

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At the 16:53 mark of the third period, Studnicka would score a power-play goal on a one-timing feed from Vallati who dished a sweet pass to the left circle for the insurance goal in a 7-5 Generals victory. Captain Jack ended the night with two goals and two assists. With his effort, Studnicka now has six points in his first three games since coming back to the OHL. He also had seven shots in this game and was 16/26 from the faceoff dot.

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North Bay Battalion at Oshawa Generals 9/30/18 Game Highlights

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McIntyre Clears Waivers But Future With Bruins Remains Unclear

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

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

As the Boston Bruins roster gets set to finalize its player roster to the league-mandated maximum of 23, some players like goaltender Zane McIntyre had to go through the grueling waiver process before being sent down to the American Hockey League yesterday. After the 24-hour time period on the waiver wire, the 26-year-old netminder who’s been Bruins property since he was drafted in 2010 has cleared waivers and will report to the Providence Bruins for the upcoming 2018-19 campaign, which kicks off on Friday in Hartford, Connecticut against the host WolfPack.

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So, now that Providence Bruins training camp is already underway with their first preseason game tonight at the Dunkin” Donuts Center in Providence, the team’s goaltending tandem for the season is pretty much set in stone, but what’s next for McIntyre and his future with the Bruins organization? The North Dakota native has one more year left on his current 2-year two-way contract that he signed in July of 2017, but it remains to be seen what both sides will do when he once again becomes a restricted free agent in the summer of 2019.

Zane is a hard-working netminder and fan favorite who will no doubt take his placement back in the AHL with pride and continue to work on the attributes that got him to the pro level in the first place. He will once again gain valuable knowledge from goaltending coaches and former NHLers Bob Essensa as well as Mike Dunham, who was hired last summer as a developmental coach making his rounds around to the Bruins prospect goaltenders worldwide. Below are a few scenarios that could happen in McIntyre’s immediate future.

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Stays With The Bruins Organization

Although McIntyre will be in Providence for the upcoming season continuing to craft his skills, he will be a valuable asset when it comes to leadership with his goaltending partner, Dan Vladar, who recently spent the past two seasons with the Bruins Premier “AA” minor-pro affiliate — the Atlanta Gladiators of the ECHL. This will be Vladar’s first full season of AHL action and will split the 76 game schedule with McIntyre, which could very well be the AHL’s best netminding tandem in the league. McIntyre, an AHL veteran of 109 games with a 61-29-10 record, a career GAA of 2.41, and a .914 save percentage, will provide great tutelage to the 21-year-old Vladar, who’s only been involved at the AHL level in 12 games posting a 6-2-1 record, a GAA of  2.42, and a .922 save percentage.

Vladar is more than ready for this promotion and has impressed the Bruins brass in recent years either in his tenure with Atlanta, his short time in Providence covering for injuries at higher levels, or his outstanding work ethic in previous Bruins camp events such as the annual development camps, rookie camps, and NHL training camps. Now that McIntyre has cleared waivers, I’m really looking forward to what these two goaltenders can do as the Providence organization is in prime shape to challenge for a Calder Cup this year.

Trade McIntyre

I know what I’m about to say isn’t going to sit well with the fans of Zane and what he’s brought to the Providence club and surrounding community, but a trade out of the Bruins organization wouldn’t be a bad idea at least for him. The ultimate goal for every hockey player either at the AHL level or below is to be a permanent fixture in the NHL so I believe after nine years in the B’s depth he’ll have a better opportunity with another NHL franchise. This would certainly put the Providence club at a disadvantage with having to find another netminder to fill his shoes, but it can be facilitated by looking for talent around the world to come in as a free agent and could give Vladar even more time in the crease to get better with a hefty load of games favored his way.

In return, if the Bruins were to trade a player of McIntyre’s caliber to another team that can make his dream of NHL sustainability, the B’s could very well get something in return by way of a draft pick or developing player that the B’s scouting staff may be keeping an eye on. Zane still has what it takes to be a fantastic middle depth goaltender for an NHL franchise around the league, but it’s going to be up to him to reach the next level and how bad he wants it.

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Both Sides Agree To Part Ways After The 2018-19 Season

McIntyre is set to be a restricted free agent next summer as I’ve mentioned above but with a few prospect goaltenders seemingly passing him in the depth chart, it might be an opportunity to seek work elsewhere. With names like Vladar, Kyle Keyser (OHL Oshawa Generals) who will be eligible for AHL action next season, and Jeremy Swayman (NCAA) who’s entering his sophomore season at the University of Maine, Zane might look at that and not want to return to the Bruins organization. This will not be the first time a prospect has seen what’s ahead of him and decide to leave. A few seasons ago, former Bruins defensive prospect Matt Benning did the same thing when he looked at the competition ahead of him and requested to leave for greener pastures.

This is always a tough route for Bruins fans because a player will just pack up and leave without getting anything in return. With nine good years under the Bruins prospect umbrella, you know McIntyre’s fan favorites will go off the deep end if he walks with nothing coming back. Everything mentioned above is totally on the player and where he wants to be as an individual, but when it comes to both sides of the coin, it’s a business and a strong reason why most should not get too attached with the vast turnaround of talent at the developing depths of any NHL organization.

Bruins Sign Forward Prospect Lauko

( Photo Credit: Zimbio )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The Boston Bruins announced today that the team has signed forward prospect Jakub Lauko to a three-year entry-level contract. The 18-year-old versatile forward really made a name for himself over the summer in development camp and showed increased confidence during the fourth annual Prospects Challenge in Buffalo, New York. He has impressive speed, and a skilled pair of hands for a developing player and most likely key attributes to him staying with the big club during these final days of training camp.

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The 6-foot, 179-pound Czech Republic native was assigned to the Quebec Major Junior hockey Leagues Rouyn-Noranda Huskies shortly after being signed. Lauko was initially drafted by Rouyn-Noranda in the Canadian Hockey Leagues import draft where he was selected with the 107th pick of the second round in 2017. Although the Huskies held his rights, Jakub returned home to his Czech Republic Pirati Chomutov club in the Extraliga League to continue his development until his 2018 draft year where the Boston team saw something special in the young prodigy.

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Lauko only played in the first two preseason games with the Bruins team that was assembled for the domestic schedule but was phased out of the lineup when the team members that were playing over in China returned home. In those two games, he did see action in, he showcased his speed in each respected game to get on the scoresheet with breakaway goals.

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Scouting Report

The Draft Analyst Steve Kournianos had this scouting report on him below in an article he wrote in January of 2018 that can be seen in its entirety HERE.

“One of the 2018 draft’s fastest skaters was relegated to a support role and did not dress in the Czechs’ lone loss to Sweden. In his limited minutes, however, the excitable forward busted it from whistle to whistle and used his speed to create a significant amount of separation  Lauko is a useful player who backchecks and will throw his weight around, and the constraint of playing under 11 minutes a game has not limited his ability to make the most out of every shift.” – Steve Kournianos – The Draft Analyst

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As a European drafted skater, Lauko is eligible to play for the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League, but coming from bigger international ice in his home country to play in smaller North American ice, his placement will be very important for his future development. A solid upcoming season in the QMJHL will better prepare him for the AHL in a year. And who knows? If he explodes offensively and shows the Bruins brass he has what it takes he could very well see his way to the B’s lineup very soon. This Bruins team has a plethora of developmental talent in the system, so I’d be wary of rushing his progression and stand firm with patience and bringing a kid like him up too soon.

Bruins Prospect Studnicka Sent Back To The OHL

(Photo Credit:  Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The Boston Bruins announced earlier today that the club has returned highly touted forward prospect Jack Studnicka to the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League. The 19-year-old center spent a majority of his time during the summer offseason participating in Bruins events (such as Development Camp, Rookie Camp/Prospects Challenge) and showcased his skills to the Bruins brass for the B’s main camp before being cut today with two preseason games remaining in the exhibition schedule.

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Although it may not be a popular move from B’s fans that believed he was ready for third-line duties down the middle for the upcoming 2018-19 season, his placement back to the Canadian Major Junior ranks made sense for both sides. First, Jack is unable to report to the American Hockey League due to the agreement between the CHL and NHL that states any player under the age of 20 either makes the jump to the big leagues or has to be returned to his junior program. Second, the Bruins might believe that third line center spot should be a competition between two players higher in the depth chart — like prospects Jacob Forsbacka-Karlsson and Trent Frederic, who will get considerable looks tonight against Detroit and Saturday against Philadelphia.

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Studnicka plays a strong two-way game and is extremely intelligent in all situations, which are important attributes as he continues to develop. The 6-foot-2, 179-pound forward was selected by the Bruins in the second round (53rd overall) of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft and has played with the OHL Generals since the 2015-16 campaign. In 192 career OHL games with the Generals, the talented center contributed 44-106-150 stats and last season as a first-year team captain posted career numbers with 22-50-72 totals in 66 games. After his 2017-18 commitment was over with the second-round elimination in the OHL playoffs by the Niagara Ice Dogs, Captain Jack reported to the AHL’s Providence Bruins and appeared in five regular season games posting 1-4-5 numbers.

The Bruins signed Studnicka to a 3-year entry-level contract exactly one year ago today after he impressed B’s management after working hard during team offseason events and training camps in 2017. Below is a scouting report provided by Dominic Tiano, who covers the Ontario Hockey League for the OHL Writers website.

“Studnicka has good size – although adding bulk will be key for him. He is an excellent skater who has an explosive first step and decent top end speed who can change direction with ease. He possesses very good vision with high-quality playmaking skills with an ability to set up his teammates. His shot is underrated in my opinion. His release is deceptive and accurate and he puts every shot on goal with a purpose. Studnicka can be elusive in the offensive zone. He can break away from coverage almost undetected and put himself into scoring positions. He has very good puck skills and strong possession skills. Although he needs to add some muscle, he will not shy away from the hard areas. Once he gets stronger, it will become an area where he wins more often than he loses because of it – and his work ethic.” – Dominic Tiano

Amesbury Maples Legend Series: Larry Fournier

( Photo Credit:  The Fournier Family )

By: Mark Allred   |   Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Growing up in my hometown of Amesbury, Massachusetts, it was unfortunate for me as a passionate hockey fan to not see any of these Amesbury Maples hockey team legends play, but stories of the past from those who witness firsthand are always just as good. Like back in the day when former Amesbury Middle School athletics teacher Leo Dupere, who often used old Maples player comparisons when a young man, was making an end-to-end rush during the popular floor hockey season. Dupere was a longtime Maples player himself and had a tremendous hockey career. The former Northeastern University standout will be the subject of a future article and was a mastermind when it came to player development.

Every player that donned the Kelly Green and White jersey certainly earned the right to be a member on the roster throughout the years, but you also have to give an assist to the Amesbury families and their ability to produce generations of hockey talent under their respected roofs. The Fournier family was no slouch when it came to a family legacy in this area, and for those who don’t know, I’ll explain a lot more below.

The Fournier last name was brought up often in my Maples research that I’ve been doing for the past 3-4 years. The first mention was when Freddie Fournier Sr. stepped on the ice during the 1950-51 season. Fred, a tremendous skater, and from a hockey history standpoint, I’d compare his skills to former Bruins player Derek Sanderson who was a pest to play against. With the way, both could forecheck, and the ability to strip the puck off an opposing player with their skilled reach was most impressive to hear. Fournier’s offensive attributes were also a key to his success as he used his speed to transition the other way for defensive relief.

(Photo Credit: The Fournier Family)
Fred Fournier Sr. (right) showing you what I meant about his style of play.

Speaking of defense and strong skating, I should stop rambling and get to the point of my fourth Amesbury Maples Legend Series article, which is my tribute to Fred’s son, Larry Fournier. This was another great research project and want to thank all that were involved and who I personally met. Gathering information about a person’s unselfish acts from our Amesbury community on and off the ice are my favorite projects, and I hope everyone enjoys this article — most importantly the Fournier Family.

Larry Fournier: The Original Larry Legend

(Photo Credit: The Fournier Family)

Before Boston Celtics, great Larry Bird stepped on the parquet floor of the original Boston Garden and later be nicknamed “Larry Legend,” there was another Larry in the Merrimack Valley already earning legendary status with every day contributed to the game he loved. Born in 1953 to the parents of aforementioned Maples Legend Freddie Sr. and wife Lorraine (Lariviere), young Larry was the second born to the family of five who had Ricky leading the way (former Maples player) down to Fred Jr (former Maples player), Glenn (Retired AFD, 35 YOS), and rounding it off daughter Lynne who I had the pleasure of meeting as mentioned below.

Larry Fournier was a product of outstanding homegrown development that you are going to continue to hear from me when it comes to the history of the Amesbury Maples and the clubs sustainability for over 75 years. The tutelage from his father and older sibling Ricky helped mold the young prodigy’s game to be his best and represent family and community with the utmost respect on and off the ice. Fournier, a quiet young man, had his athleticism speak louder than words as he’s been mentioned to have excelled in multiple sports growing up and was a fantastic golfer like his father.

Having never met Larry myself and only hearing stories of the past, I wanted a better understanding of how Larry was as a person was on a day-to-day basis, I thought it was important to get in touch with his siblings as they’d know best for that character factor. Younger sister Lynne told me he was very active and would hardly be seen lounging around with nothing to do. She mentioned to me at a local coffee shop in Amesbury that he would often go on long trips around the area on his bicycle or would go on foot and run miles for exercise and pass the time. Without prior notice, one morning he woke up very early and rode all the way to the top of Mount Washington in New Hampshire and back in the same day. After hearing that, I was hooked into learning more about that never-quit attitude and that mentality when it came to his game on the ice.

(Photo Credit:  The Fournier Family)

The young Fournier rose through the Amesbury Youth Hockey leagues to be considered as one of the city’s all-time athletes. The three-time All-League Defenseman helped his Amesbury Indians High School team to a 52-5-3 record when he played from the 1968 to 1972 seasons. After graduating from Amesbury, the 18-year-old Fournier made his first appearance on the Maples roster during the 1972-73 winter season and immediately started playing like a pro in the higher leagues he played in. There was no shortage of leadership when it came to developing Larry’s game.

( Photo Credit: The Fournier Family / Unknown Local Paper )

Having played with the likes of defensemen Jim Henderson, Steve Klien, Roger Nadeau, Randi Picard, and Carl Vedrani on the blue line in his rookie season and names like Goerge Dodier, Leo Dupere, Doug Gleason, and Jack Morrill up on the offense, he didn’t exactly have to go far when seeking to get advise. He also came into the league as the Maples semi-pro organization was celebrating its 50th consecutive season as one of the top amateur teams in the United States since 1924. Larry also joined older brother Ricky and cousin Mike Fournier in his first year and unfortunately missed playing alongside his father Fred Sr. when he hung up the skates a year prior after the 1971-72 season and an honorable 22-year career. Fred Sr. also managed the Maples organization as a player for 10 seasons but relinquished his post after the 1962-63 season.

(Photo Credit:  The Fournier Family)

A lot of great things happened to Larry during the 1972-73 season as seen above but he also took a serious step in his hockey development as a postgraduate when he attended the Berwick Academy Prep School team in Berwick, Maine. Fournier showed his skills to the best of his ability and was fortunate to join the Berwick Prep team on a two-week trip to Sweden to participate in a youth tournament and play a few other teams throughout Scandinavia that year.

While playing with Berwick Academy, Fournier was fortunate to play and roommate with 1980 Team USA Gold Medalist Mike Eruzione. After leaving Berwick, Eruzione would go onto play at Boston University for four seasons before joining the United States team who would make history that year in Lake Placid, New York.

(Photo Credit: 15 Minutes With)

Eruzione, a Winthrop, Mass. native talked about his time with the Berwick Academy hockey club in a Foster’s Daily Democrat article written by John Doyle and mentions how great that team was playing alongside players like Fournier and others. Eruzione said:

“I remember we were awfully good and it was an honor playing for Pop. (Former Head Coach) He was a legend and a great guy to play for. I remember how good we were. Prep Schools couldn’t play against us. We played a lot of College JV teams. We played UNH a ton. We were basically all PG’s, some local kids.”

After the 1972-73 season, Fournier would attend Salem State College for one season and would play under legendary coach Barry Urbanski. According to a Larry Fournier Tournament Program’s brief history, the talented defenseman was a late cut in his dream of being an Olympian in 1980 representing his country during the Winter Games from Lake Placid, New York.  Fournier made it as far as the Eastern Region which was a great accomplishment for an Olympic bid.

(Photo Credit:  The Fournier Family)

Fournier returned to the Maples organization and was heavily involved in several semi-pro leagues from 1973 to 1986 according to the Fournier Tournament pamphlet. When it comes to a player’s defensive game on the ice, you can’t get any better than to have a chance to talk to his linemate and best friend, Steve Klien. Steve was a 24-year veteran of the Maple organization and a member of the greatest two seasons of his and Larry’s high school career when Klien joined the team as a freshman while Larry was to have his best season on record in his junior year. Klien says both became instant friends after one practice together and a bond that would continue for years. Off the ice, the fierce defensive tandem would often take their support for each other as teammates when they were walking about town. Klien said:

“Funny thing I remember we’d be walking downtown and if someone was walking at us we always made them go around as we walked never let anyone between us. Then after they passed by we would turn to each other an say “no one splits the D”!

(Photo Credit: Fournier Family / Local Newspaper Unknown)

Klien also mentioned Larry’s time and passion for coaching as he was heavily thought of from three different school systems. As taught to him as so many from the past advised him, he was very well known for his defensive coaching abilities. He was the assistant coach to mentioned Maples Legend Leo Dupre behind the Amesbury High School bench and also with Newburyport and Triton which are two schools located in the Northeastern part of Essex County.

Per an article that was written on March 15, 1988 by Daily News Sports Editor Kevin Doyle, former bench boss of the Amesbury High School hockey team Leo Dupre had this to say about Larry’s coaching style:

“You knew you could give Larry the defensemen and not worry. He had a knack to develop them. He had an even temperament and vast knowledge of the game and was a great help to me as a head coach.”

Triton Head Coach Dan O’Connell also chimed in on the 1988 article by Daily News Editor Doyle saying after spending 16 years with the team. Fournier was O’Connell’s assistant coach for two seasons:

“It doesn’t make much sense that one guy could coach in three systems and remain well-liked and well-respected by the people in all three. But that was Larry Fournier.”

In September of 1987 at the age of 33, Larry Fournier passed away from a short battle with cancer. His legacy and memory continued for over 28 years with so many charitable donations and successful Fournier Tournament Committee events that raised more than $130K to graduate students that were eligible from Amesbury, Newburyport, and Triton according to the Larry Fournier Official Facebook Page.

(Photo Credit: The Daily News/Kevin Doyle)

Dupere also mentioned that his dedication to the game went to the final days of his life when he missed only a few practices while coaching at Newburyport and was a regular attendee at several area summer hockey camps before leaving us in the fall of 1987. In 1988 and information shared from the article that Doyle wrote, Larry was to be honored by the Massachusetts State Hockey Coaches Association for his commitment to hockey and in the article Leo Dupere mentioned:

“Larry knew and liked everybody and had a great personality. You just don’t want a guy of his magnitude to be quickly forgotten. This award is a class act by the association,” and saying that “Larry was a model person. He left something for all of us who knew him.”

To End…

In the fall of 2017 Minnesota State resident, Roger Krafve got in touch with me after he did a website search related to the Amesbury Maples. He wanted to know if I had any information on an old jersey that he bought on Ebay from a collector in Texas. After I viewed the photos and particulars of the fantastic item, I said the jersey looked close but needed more details. He later sent me a photo of the tag on the inside and found that the Kelly Green and White jersey was manufactured in Brockton, Mass. by a company named Stall & Dean, who was one of the oldest sporting goods manufacturers in America and outfitted the NHL’s original six franchises until the league expanded in 1967.

To make this particular part of my tribute short, it was later confirmed that the jersey was, in fact, the hockey jersey worn by the late and great Larry Fournier. I later shared my findings with Michael Gorman who is working with Global Property Developers as a team to get a hockey facility back to Amesbury and erase a 40-plus year absence.

Through the mutual contact in the process, Mr. Gorman asked me for purchasing inquiries of the jersey to bring it back to it’s Amesbury home and closer to our town’s legacy when it comes to the Fournier family and their contributions to the area. Mr. Gorman mentioned he’d like to honor Larry and surviving family with a shrine somewhere in the new facility in the foreseeable future at the South Hunt Road location later to be called the Amesbury Sports Center.

In a June 26th, 2018 article written by Jim Sullivan of The Daily News out of Newburyport, Mass., The Town of Amesbury Planning Board approved the hockey mega center’s plan and taking positive steps forward to finally breaking ground. For the official Global Property Developers Corporation presentation that was released in 2016-17, please CLICK HERE

On Sep. 7, the aforementioned Jim Sullivan wrote an update about the permits that were granted from the City of Amesbury for the project that will cost $48 million. That article can be seen by CLICKING HERE.

Check out the photos of Larry’s Jersey below.

       

I want to take the opportunity to thank everyone that had a hand in this project and if it weren’t for those folks who helped out this wouldn’t have happened. Special appreciation goes out to Larry’s siblings Lynne and Glenn for the great conversations about your brother and other family members that have reached out with great information. Big thanks to Steve Klien for sharing his memories about his best friend to add to this project. Always a Class Act when I have Maples related questions. I will continue to thank the late and great sports researcher Bert Spofford for his amazing work gathering information for the Maples 75th Anniversary Ceremony in 1994, and to all of you that took the time to read my tribute to this unbelievable person.

Below is a video of the aforementioned Roger Krafve who found Larry’s jersey on Ebay and a little history of his hockey collecting throughout the years.

I hope you all enjoyed this read, and ask if anyone has Maples Hockey related news or photos that you’d like to share and contribute to future articles, please send me an  email at blackngoldhockeyblog@gmail.com.