Report: Boston Bruins Sign Undrafted NCAA Defenseman Ahcan

( Photo Credit: Dan and Margaret Hickling | uscho.photoshelter.com )

By: Will Montanez | Follow me on Twitter @Willfro3

The Bruins have reportedly come to terms on an entry-level contract with Jack Ahcan. The deal would most likely be for two years, consistent with similar college UFA’s. Ahcan, a five-foot eight-inch, left-shot defenseman, was playing for St. Cloud State University prior to the school’s cessation of on-campus and sports activity due to the spread of SARS-CoV-2. He had led the Huskies as team captain through 33 games during the 2019-2020 season, his senior year.

Ahcan has logged seven goals to compliment 18 assists from the Huskies’ back-end. His point total is good for third on the roster and first among his peers along the blue-line. Through his four years at St. Cloud State, Ahcan accumulated 21 goals, 103 points and a plus 13 rating in 144 games. He became the third defenseman in team history to earn 100 or more points and has set a record for blue-liners with 82 assists. Aside from his offensive production, Ahcan has proven to be a key piece to the Huskies indicated by his reputation in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

 

The Minnesota native has received numerous awards for his efforts in the NCHC including being named Defensive Player of the Week three times and earning a spot on the All-NCHC Second Team in both 2018 and 2019 as well as the 2016-2017 All-NCHC Rookie Team. He was also a part of the United States World Junior Championship Team that won Gold in 2017 as a teammate to current B’s star Charlie McAvoy.  His efforts on the ice and intangibles off of it have not gone unnoticed among NHL teams.

Although undrafted, Ahcan has been invited to several teams’ development camps in order for scouts to gain a closer look at the player and to give him a glimpse of what it takes to be a professional athlete. He participated in camps with the Los Angeles Kings in 2017, Columbus Blue Jackets in 2018 and the Colorado Avalanche in 2019, but was either not offered a deal or elected not to sign in each of those years. His offensive mindset and vision, skating ability and no-quit attitude have frequently been highlighted as his key traits.

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Ahcan’s listed height and weight put him in the category of “diminutive;” a four-letter word in the NHL that helps to explain why teams have passed on him in drafts and have played coy on offering contract opportunities to the collegiate senior. Even in the modern NHL, size is considered a factor and most certainly for the defense as they often are expected to bring an in-your-face, physical element to dissuade some of the most highly skilled players in the world from treading on those dangerous areas inside the house. In spite of his size, Ahcan’s strengths of excellent vision, skating, and leadership qualities are typical of a Bruins college UFA signing.

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Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy has implemented a system of fast neutral- and defensive- zone play that emphases protecting the slot and crease while aggressively pressuring attackers when outside of that zone to regain control of the puck to transition play quickly into the other end of the rink. General Manager Don Sweeney has done his best to acquire players to develop that will fit that mentality in the draft and in free agency. The team has additionally made his character a key consideration for prospective players and those leadership qualities have influenced signing decisions on other players like Karson Kuhlman in 2018 and Nick Wolf earlier in March 2020. Ahcan’s on-ice successes are indicative of his ability to conform to all of those requirements, both in two-way, decisive play and team-building intangibles.

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Regardless of what happens for the rest of the NHL’s regular- and playoff- seasons, Ahcan will have an opportunity to join a defensive-corps that will be in flux on the left flank in the fall of 2020. He will face stiff competition from the B’s current prospects and will most likely see duty in Providence for the Bruins’ AHL affiliate. If the season is restarted when normalcy has returned to the US and the world, he may get an opportunity to join the Providence Bruins on run for the playoffs and the Calder Cup this calendar year. Regardless of when he’s able to don a black and gold sweater for either team, Bruins’ management and fans should be happy they were able to secure a quality prospect for essentially nothing as they hope that he can develop into an impact player at the highest level.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 171 that we recorded below on 3-23-20! 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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What A Canceled Season Could Do For The Boston Bruins

( Photo Credit: Dave Sandford / NHLI via Getty Images )

By Jack Cinquegrana | Follow me on Twitter: @bruinschewy

It has been over one hundred years since an epidemic or a pandemic has derailed the course of a professional hockey season. The Spanish Flu in 1919 caused the Stanley Cup to not be awarded for that season. Folks all over North America are struggling to fill the void of a hockey-less March and what could be a hockey-less April. But I do not believe it is all bad. 

The Boston Bruins have made the playoffs over the past 3 seasons and has had the best record in the league during this 2019-2020 season. They made it to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final this past season and lost to the St. Louis Blues. After a short summer, they returned to training camp in September with a vengeance, but not completely healthy. 

Defenseman Kevan Miller has been out for the entirety of the 2019-20 campaign, after performing very well in my opinion during the 2018 playoff run and also the run in 2019. Having a player like Miller for the future is a valuable asset as a sixth or seventh defenseman.

( Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports )

There is, of course, the David Krejci conversation in which another year is burned off of his contract and Bruins fan debate trading him before he becomes an unrestricted free-agent in 2021-2022. Will we see the most out of Krech next season coming back fully healthy?

Patrice Bergeron has played some tough years and played through some awful injuries. Zdeno Chara is forty-two years old. Say if the Bruins went into the playoffs this year, guys would be tired and it would lead to a possible early exit, I am just speculating but there is always a chance that we do not make it back to the final. 

Beginning next season, in the case that the season is canceled, the Bruins would finally have had some rest going into a full 82-game season juiced up and healthy. I think this could be a blessing in disguise for our Boston Bruins, fully healthy and ready to tear up the league again in 2020-2021.

( Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports )

What does that mean for Boston? Hopefully, we can still get Torey Krug to sign, being that he may take a cut because of the pandemic, or we can lose him to a team with a lot of space still coming up like the Colorado Avalanche or the Detroit Red Wings. The Bruins still need to sign DeBrusk, Grzelcyk, and Chara. The owners do not want teams buying out many players because that is bad for the league, so the owners may have to move some money around and give teams a little more flexibility if they want the league to stay relatively the same

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 171 that we recorded below on 3-23-20! 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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Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast #171 3-23-20

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

In this episode, my good friend and longtime Boston Bruins fan Lance Scibetta was kind enough to lend the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast an hour of his time to talk about recent Boston Bruins topics. Please give Mr. Scibetta a follow on Twitter @Broonsman1

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Below are the show topics that host Mark Allred talked about in episode 171!

In this episode, as the NHL reaches week two of the current shut down of the 2019-20 regular season, I invited longtime Boston Bruins fan, Lance Scibetta, to join me for some more Boston Bruins talk and keep the content flowing during these troubling times. Give Lance a follow on Twitter @Broonsman1

Follow us on Twitter at:
Mark Allred @BlackAndGold277
Podcast Account @BlackNGoldPod

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Have a question or a comment for the hosts? Please send us an email at blackngoldhockeyblog@gmail.com

Thanks for tuning in and all the support! We’ll be back next week for another show of Bruins Hockey related material. Take Care and GO Bruins!

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Bruins, Jacobs Announce Plan To Compensate TD Garden Employees During COVID-19 Pandemic

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Photo: (Jim Michaud / MediaNews Group / Boston Herald)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

On Saturday morning, the Boston Bruins and the Jacobs Family announced a plan to compensate part-time gameday TD Garden employees due to the NHL’s current hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan is based around a fund of $1.5 million, should the remaining six games on Boston’s schedule go unplayed.

The NHL announced 10 days ago on Thursday, March 12, that the 2019-20 season was  suspended until further notice to try to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), following the lead of the NBA. The suspension of the season left part-time arena employees, especially those who may depend on their hourly wages, in the dark.

Over the last week or so, the remaining 30 NHL franchises and other professional sports organizations announced plans to compensate employees who would be affected, or at least made statements regarding the situation, leaving the Bruins as the only organization to contribute their voice to the matter. The lack of action on the Jacobs’ part over the last 10 days led to backlash and pressure from Bruins fans and members of the media.

Jeremy Jacobs, 88, and his family, most notably his son Charlie, have owned the Bruins since purchasing the team for a mere $10 million (by today’s standards) in 1975. Since, under his control, the Bruins brought the Stanley Cup back to Boston in 2011, and made six other trips to the Stanley Cup Final (1977, 1978, 1988, 1990, 2013, and 2019). Jacobs, who is also the chairman of Delaware North, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2017 under the builder category. In September, prior to Boston’s season, Jacobs announced his plans to confer ownership of the franchise to his children.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 170 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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Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast #170 3-18-20

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast is powered by BetOnline.AG With limited sports to bet on lately you can still go to BetOnline to play their casino games and sportsbook for activities that haven’t been shut down. Please support our podcast by signing up for a free account at BetOnline.AG and use code: CLNS50 for a 50% welcome bonus to your bankroll after your first deposit. A MINIMUM deposit of $55.00 is required to qualify for the bonus. Please see BetOnline’s general rules for additional terms and conditions regarding bonuses.

This week’s show was a little late due to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic that hit North America. With heavy advisement of creating distances away from each other and being diligent healthwise, hosts Heather Ingerson and Mark Allred had to figure out what we were going to do moving forward. We decided to put the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast on hold producing as a team until further notice but to keep the shows going, Mark is going to use the benefits of the internet and do video conferencing with special guests to keep the weekly Boston hockey talk going.

This week in episode 170 brought to you by the great folks at BetOnline.AG, host Mark had the pleasure of talking with Fansided’s Chowder & Champions B’s writer Sam Minton about the sudden pause in the sports world as humanity tries to get back on track after recent worldwide health issues. Sam was kind enough to join me for an hour and hope you enjoy the hockey talk in this episode below.

 

 

In this episode, as the NHL reaches week one of the current shut down of the 2019-20 regular season, I invited Chowder and Champions website expert and passionate Boston Bruins fan Sam Minton ( Twitter: @sam_minton22 ) to join me for a general discussion of updated Bruins and league news.

Watch The Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast Youtube Version Of This Episode 170 Below and please subscribe to our channel!

Follow us on Twitter at:
Mark Allred @BlackAndGold277
Podcast Account @BlackNGoldPod

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Have a question or a comment for the hosts? Please send us an email at blackngoldhockeyblog@gmail.com

Thanks for tuning in and all the support! We’ll be back next week for another show of Bruins Hockey related material. Take Care and GO Bruins!!

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Bruins G Prospect Jeremy Swayman Named Hockey East Player Of The Year

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Photo: University of Maine Athletics

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Bruins goaltending prospect Jeremy Swayman was named Hockey East Player of the Year per a league announcement on Thursday morning. Swayman signed his entry-level contract with Boston on Tuesday, forgoing his senior year at the University of Maine.

The now former Black Bears standout posted one of the best seasons by any goaltender in college hockey, totaling 1,099 saves, the most of in Division I. Swayman’s 782 conference saves, the most by a Hockey East netminder since the 2010-11 season, and .932 conference save percentage led the league.

The Anchorage, AK, native’s .939 overall save percentage was good enough for second in the nation. The junior also carried an overall record of 18-11-5 (12-9-3 Hockey East), posting 25 games with at least 30 saves and five contests with at least 40 stops. With the strong campaign, Swayman is firmly in the conversation to receive the Mike Richter Award, given annually to the goaltender voted to be the most outstanding in Division I.

The Player of the Year honor comes as yet another distinction for Boston’s fourth round pick (111th-overall) in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft as he was named a Hockey East First Team All-Star, and part of the All-USCHO Second Team. The 21-year-old was a also named the recipient of the Walter Brown Award as the top American-born college hockey player in New England, and as a top 10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, given annually to the nation’s top college hockey player.

Upon signing his pro deal earlier this week, Swayman joins a cast of goaltenders, including Dan Vladar and Kyle Keyser, vying to become the successor to Bruins netminders Tuukka Rask, 33, and Jaroslav Halak, 35.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 169 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!!

 

Breaking: Jeremy Swayman Signs Deal With Boston Bruins

Swayman

(Photo Courtesy of University of Maine Hockey)

By: Tim A. Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Amidst the uncertainty of the NHL season, the Boston Bruins have some news. Goalie Jeremy Swayman has signed a deal with the club. The details of the contract have not yet been released; however, news of the signing came to us via the University of Maine Hockey Twitter page.

Jeremy Swayman is coming off an excellent Junior season at the University of Maine. He would go 18-11-5 and was able to grab a 2.07 goals-against average with a .939 save percentage in 34 games. The Anchorage, Alaska native, was one of the main reasons why the Black Bears were nationally ranked 15th.

Jeremy Swayman was a fourth-round pick (111th overall) in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. The former Black Bear is joining an already young impressive goalie prospect pool with the Bruins. That prospect pool includes Dan Vladar, who just had an excellent season with Providence and Kyle Keyser, who had an injury-plagued season.

Being a Maine native myself, I may be a little bit biased, but Swayman is my favorite Bruins goalie prospect. My biggest reason for this is the amount shots Swayman saw this season. In 34 games, he had 1170 shots fired his way. That’s 34.4 shots a game. Getting as many pucks shot at you as possible is vital for young netminders. The Alaska native had that at the University of Maine. I would expect to see Swayman in Providence next season. Get excited Bruins fans, this is awesome.

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Bruins Minor-Pro Affiliate Done With Season After Virus Concerns Rise

( Photo Credit: Infinite Energy Center / Infiniteenergycenter.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Per CBC & Sportsnet reporter/writer Elliotte Friedman sent out a tweet below letting the hockey world that the ECHL would announce that the league is going to cancel the season on Monday. Minutes later the well informed Friedman updated the new that the cancelation of the 2019-20 was going to be within the hour and not on the upcoming Monday. Later in the series of tweets below, the ECHL did, in fact, announce that the regular season and playoffs are done for the remainder of the hockey year.

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This unfortunate news certainly came at a bad time when it comes to the Boston Bruins franchise as the Atlanta Gladiators are they’re “AA” minor-pro affiliate and feeder system to the American Hockey Leagues Providence Bruins which is Boston’s top minor-pro affiliate. The Gladiators have hovered around the bottom of the South Division standings but have played well before the ECHL cancelation to be in the mix of the 2020 Kelly Cup postseason. Before last night’s announcement, the Glads produced points in their last ten glams accompanied by an impressive 8-0-1-1 record good enough for 62 regular-season points just one point shy of tying the third-place Greenville Swamp Rabbits.

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As the 2019-20 season ended for Atlanta club they finish with a 29-28-2-2 record and when you look at the Eastern Conference postseason outlook they sit in the eighth position and would’ve qualified for a playoff spot unlike they did at the end of the 2018-19 campaign. Before this terrible virus seemingly took over the world, I believe with the way the Gladiators club was playing down the stretch the team could’ve earned more points to possibly reach the seventh position in the East with 11 games remaining.

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Some Gladiators players that were under contract and Providence Bruins property that deserve mentions this season offensively were longtime veteran forward Eric Neiley (24-31-55, 59GP) forward Samuel Asselin (26-26-52, 53GP) forward Tommy Marchin (21-27-48, 49GP) forward Scott Conway (17-16-33, 39GP) defenseman Joel Messner (8-29-37, 59GP) defenseman Zach Malatesta (14-20-34, 60GP). It was unfortunate that goaltender and Boston Bruins prospect Kyle Keyser wasn’t able to return to the Gladiators lineup as he was recently sent down to Atlanta presumably medical cleared to return to action after leaving the AHL Providence Bruins team he was with for several weeks getting back to game shape after a long absence with concussion problems.

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Bruins seventh-round prospect Pavel Shen who was struggling to get into games with Providence down the stretch was sent to Atlanta to keep his feet moving and would’ve added some offensive production at the lower level was unable to see any ice in Georgia due to the cancelation. With the top minor-pro affiliate in Providence in his AHL rookie season, the 20-year-old Russia native appeared in 35 games for the Bruins contributing 4-5-9 numbers. Shen was selected in the last round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft and impressed at the 2018-19 World Junior Championship Tournament where he had 3-1-4 numbers in seven games.

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With the end of the ECHL 2019-20 campaign officially over it remains to be seen what’s to become of the higher up AHL and even higher NHL and their thoughts on the current hockey season. The ECHL is a feeder to the higher AHL franchises so in emergency situations and callups presumably won’t be there. If the AHL is next, well there goes your feeder league for the NHL if the same scenarios are to arise. I’m not saying it’s going to happen, and don’t have any solid proof, but the ECHL might be setting the bar here for further cancelations of hockey seasons. This is something I’m not exactly happy about as a diehard Boston Bruins fan and pure speculation on my part but it seems like it may be a trend. Also, with the ECHL and the no winner of the Kelly Cup, hearing the 2019-20 regular season accolades at the higher above leagues and just giving the Cups to the clubs with the most points is just an unsettling feeling with those winning by default scenarios.

Tough times no doubt moving forward and honestly hope things get worked out for the better. Sports aside, I hope all are safe and in well health as we continue this worldwide pandemic. As mentioned in a previous article we hope all our BNG readers and families/supporters stay vigilant throughout this process and if anything gets our beloved sport oh hockey back when it’s safe to do so.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 169 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!!

Rumor: Amidst NHL Shutdown, Work Doesn’t Stop For Bruins Scouting Staff

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

First and foremost I want to speak for everyone here at the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast and tremendous website staff in saying we as fans understand the sudden stoppage of our beloved sport and it sucks but it’s also a time to think about yourselves and families. By doing our due diligence, humanity and daily routines will return including Boston Bruins hockey. We want to thank everyone for the continued support but also want to show gratitude in saying we’re thinking about you as well. I hope you enjoy this related article as others including myself provide any means of diverting world issue attention to something positive and hockey related.

Heavy Interest In Swedish Hockey Leagues Sandin

With the National Hockey League pausing the 2019-20 regular-season due to the coronavirus pandemic I’m hearing its work as usual with addressing future needs at the forward position even if it’s evaluating from a safer Boston office. Per source, Bruins management had scouts in the Swedish Hockey League under the advisement of local scout and former Bruins forward P.J. Axelsson. The rumor out of the SHL is the Boston organization has taken heavy interest in Linus Sandin a 23-year-old right-winger. The 6′-1″ 209-pound right-shooting forward is currently playing for the SHL’s HV71 club and has contributed offensively with SHL career-high 19-17-36 numbers this season in 51 games. The Swedish native has played in 143 games in the SHL with 38-28-66 totals and is the older brother of defenseman Rasmus Sandin currently with the Toronto Maple Leafs organization.

Sandin’s current contract is very interesting when you look into the details.  He has one more full season after this year with the HV71 club and if the idea of bringing him in this season I’m hearing with his no “NHL” out clause he’d have to pass through waivers to make his way to the National League. His last season of 2020-21 would be the ideal time to take advantage without the waiver process. With the work that General Manager Don Sweeney has in front of him this offseason pertaining to contract negotiations, it remains to be seen where Linus could fit. Would a player like Sandin who’d presumably be under a short-term “show me first” contract want to play in the American Hockey League to start while cap space and a roster spot open up at the NHL Bruins level in the future?

Sandin is playing on an impressive HV71 team that includes former Boston Bruins prospects Anthony Camara and Jonathan Sigalet. Also playing on this team is New York Rangers forward prospect, Lias Andersson, who’s holding out from playing in the NHL for the time being. The HV71 season regular season has come to an end and this unfortunate coronavirus has postponed the SHL’s playoffs so this is putting these continued scouting missions at a standstill and the idea of a North American appearance no matter what level is on pause. It’s important to know that Linus is being looked at by several NHL organizations as his SHL contract is on the backend and seemingly more attractive for a low-risk high reward gamble per the player’s terms of course.

The Boston Bruins owned the rights of former forward Carl Soderberg who came to the Boston club via a trade with the St. Louis Blues for what many thought would be a promising goaltender Hannu Toivonen. Soderberg who was a national star in the SHL accepted qualified offers for several seasons but stood firm on not coming to North America without starting in the NHL refusing time with the top minor-pro Providence Bruins organization. Sandin is a very good player when it comes to the international style of the game and his family name is well known so that success in the pro level in his home country might be more appealing over minor-pro duties.

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Obviously, former Bruin turned scout PJ Axelsson had something to do with Linus being invited to the 2019 B’s Development Camp at the Warrior Ice Arena and put on a good showing in front of the Bruins brass and media members such as myself who were covering the multi-day event. Before his 2019-20 hockey season was paused before moving onto the SHL’s postseason, the undrafted winger had six points in his last ten games in his best pro year at the highest level in Sweden. Keeping tabs on players you’ve had previous evaluation opportunities with isn’t a bad idea but it remains to be seen if the Bruins actually pull the trigger to get him here with other NHL franchises looming above like turkey vultures waiting to pounce grasping pro contracts.

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If Linus is in fact interested in leaving his native Swedish country to pursue a professional career in North America and accepts duties in the AHL with Providence, he’d certainly add to an already lethal offensive scoring punch. The Rhode Island team already has Jack Studnicka leading the way in goals and points and Captain Paul Carey not far behind. With a victory on Wednesday night on the road against the Hartford Wolf Pack, the Providence club leads the AHL’s Eastern Conference by one point and was on a 12-game point streak which had the team produce an 11-game winning streak in that timeframe before the shutdown of the regular season. Could a Calder Cup Playoff run with a potential front-running Providence team be tempting enough for Sandin to accept a role in the minors? At this point who knows what both sides are considering with so much confusion of when the AHL, NHL, and SHL are going to get back to playing after the virus ordeal.

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Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 169 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 Suspends Season, Halts Providence Bruins Impressive 2nd Half

(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Unfortunately, the spread of the Covid-19 virus has taken a toll on the North American sports scene as many amateur, minor-pro, and professional leagues shut down operations to appropriately contain this global pandemic. BNG Senior Writer Max Mainville updated Bruins Nation shortly after hearing the official National Hockey League press release of the 2019-2 being suspended (Seen Here), well shortly after the  American Hockey League followed suit as seen below.

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This egregious effort to cancel large gatherings is a no-brainer, in my opinion, but it does put a serious wrench in the gears of beloved sports fans and what goes on in day-to-day lives. As many Boston Bruins fans know, the team is in first place in the NHL. With a six-point lead over last year’s Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues, they pause their 2019-20 campaign as a favorite to return and hopefully capture the organization’s seventh league championship. The NHL Bruins top minor-pro affiliate the Providence Bruins have also reached impressive milestones this season with an outstanding second-half marching their way up the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference with playoff-type games leading up to the recent halt of the regular season.

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The AHL team from the smallest state in the Union (United States) started a better part of the 2019-20 season in the middle of the Atlantic, but in the second half, the Providence club has really put the pressure on teams leading the way. A team such as the Hartford Wolf Pack, who ruled the early season, have taken a plunge since their parent NHL club the New York Rangers recalled phenom goaltender Igor Shesterkin. AHL Clubs like the Hershey Bears and Providence Bruins took advantage of the Wolf Packs downward spiral to be the new leaders of the Atlantic. If you follow the AHL on the regular, the Eastern Conference postseason outlook has been tight since the beginning of January, so you could already see organizations jockeying for Calder Cup Playoff positioning.

Before this sudden pause in the Providence regular season, the B’s were on a season-high 12 game point streak, which contributed to the recent successful rise up the AHL league standings but also a season-high 11 game winning streak. Another high point of the second half of this 2019-20 Providence Bruins season is the way the affiliate of the NHL B’s has played at home in front of the La Salle Square faithful. Before the recent consecutive winning success, the Providence club was a franchise dipping above and below the .500 mark for a better part of this season at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Downtown Providence, Rhode Island.

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The Providence Bruins started the season off with a subpar home record of 7-8-0-1, but since the turn of the calendar year, have picked it up in front of the Providence faithful to produce a very respectable 10-3-2-1 record at the Dunk since the beginning of January 2020. Everything has been clicking nicely until today’s announcement, and as a media member under the credentials of the Providence organization, it’s going to be tough to see this what this minor-pro club has done this season to just stop and figure it out later. A huge chemistry speed bump, in my opinion, for everybody on this mission of a Calder Cup playoff run that I thought was coming this Spring.

The last time the AHL Providence franchise won season-ending bragging rights was in the 1998-99 campaign capturing a Regular-Season Title, Division Championship, Conference Championship, and raising the Calder Cup after beating the Rochester Americans in a seven-game series 4-1. I thought after watching this team and with the way goaltending from the backend was the catalyst to build on early on with the free-agent addition of Max Lagace. The 27-year-old Quebec, Canada native, was amongst the AHL league leaders when it came to highly ranked goaltenders. Lagace has been a solid depth netminder for the Bruins organization and might be Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney’s ace in the hole for another year of backup sustainability while on a cap-friendly contract.

Another member of the crease core in Providence is Dan Vladar, who I’ve always spoken high of has really turned his game around in the last season of his current three-year, entry-level contract. The former 2015 third-round draft pick is having his best pro season posting a 14-7-1 record with league-leading 1.79 goals-against-average, and .936 save percentage. The 22-year-old Czech Republic native is currently on a seven-game winning streak and, in that timeline producing an unbelievable 1.54 GAA and .940 Save%.

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Providence stands as the Eastern Conferences best team with a 38-18-3-3 record and 82 points and tied for second place league-wide with the Iowa Wild eight points behind  AHL leading Milwaukee Admirals who’re leading the league in its 84th year of operation as the top minor-pro affiliate of the NHL. After how this team came together orchestrated by bench boss Jay Leach who many fans wanted to see fired every start of regular seasons unable to wait for the mid-season ramp up. Yes, in previous years, the Providence club would struggle severely due to the fact that the NHL Bruins were recalling players ripping apart any youthful chemistry facilitating the higher up parent club. In recent years the new calendar year has been a turning point for Leach and staff to get healthy players back in the lineup and have a stronger competitive season.

Regardless of my displeasure of this whole situation and where this Bruins minor club was going, I hope that all of our readers do the right thing for your families and friends to help the cause. We need our sport back, but we also have to get our healthy life cycle back in order so we can go to these awesome spectator sports venues in the near future. It’s unfortunate that I had to cancel planned trips to Providence to cover this team as a media member via the Providence franchise for our production team, but it’s also a great little city to hang out in. I will miss my regular visits to the Trinity Brew House for a Rueben Sandwich and cold Rhode Island IPA, and Murphy’s Providence for an interesting Irish menu feast. Be safe everyone and the Bruins prospect talk from our BNG team will continue to keep the interest going through tough times.

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