Bruins Prospect Swayman Named One Of Three Hobey Baker Award Finalist

( Photo Credit: NHL | Nhl.com )

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

The Boston Bruins’ 2017 fourth-round pick, Jeremy Swayman, is one of three players named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. Swayman has been a stone wall for the University of Maine the past three years and won multiple awards this season for his outstanding play. The Hobey Baker award is essentially the Heisman trophy for NCAA Hockey, which is awarded to the top player in Division I hockey and the winner will be announced April 11th on ESPN during their SportsCenter Broadcast at 11 p.m. EST.

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Swayman led the NCAA this season with 1,099 saves and placed second in the nation with a 0.939% save percentage and a 2.07 GAA. He had saved 30 shots or more 25 times this season and even had an astounding 52-save game against Providence earlier this year. The other finalists for the Hobey Baker award are; North Dakota forward Jordan Kawaguchi and Minnesota Duluth defenseman Scott Perunovich. If Swayman is awarded the Hobey Baker award, he will be the first goaltender to receive the award since 2011.

The awards continue to pile on for Swayman; this season, he was crowned NCAA (Hockey East) Goaltender of the Year, Player of the Year, and First All-Star Team award as well. He was also named to the NCAA (All-USCHO) Second Team and won the NCAA (New England) Walter Brown Award. The last time a goaltender won the Walter Brown award was during the 2010-2011 season.

Swayman, a business administration major with a concentration in management, finished his academic career with a 3.38 GPA. He is forgoing his senior year at the University of Maine due to recently signing a three-year entry-level contract with the Boston Bruins organization. He will be looking to impress at camp this year to secure a spot with the Providence Bruins, with goaltenders Maxime Legacé (UFA) and Daniel Vladar (RFA) having their contracts expire this off-season.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 172 that we recorded below on 3-26-20! 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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Bruins Alumni: Happy Birthday Dwight Foster

( Photo Credit: Legends of Hockey / HHOF.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Happy 63rd Birthday To Former National Hockey League Forward Dwight Foster!

Foster was born on April 2nd, 1957 in Toronto, Ontario and grew up in Canada’s most popular city for a better part of his childhood. After playing many years of youth hockey around the mecca of hockey (Toronto) Dwight joined the Ontario Hockey Associations Kitchener Rangers as a 17-year-old. After Fosters rookie season which he contributed 39-51-90 numbers in 70 games during the 1974-75 season, he would go onto play the next years in Kitchener serving as the team’s captain. In his OHA career, all with the Ranger club Dwight would post 171-250-421 numbers with his best year offensively in his second to last season in Kitchener going 60-83-143 earning the leagues Eddie Powers Trophy for most points.

Dwight was selected by the Boston Bruins in the 1977 National Hockey League Amateur draft with the B’s taking him with the 16th pick in the first round. That same year Foster was also selected by the now-defunct World Hockey Association when the Houston Aeros took him in the first round with the 10th overall pick. He would start his professional hockey career bouncing up and down from the NHL Boston club to the minor pro affiliate the Rochester Americans. With the Americans team, he posted 11-21-32 numbers in 25 appearances and even played several games for the Broome Dusters in the North American Hockey League posting 1-3-4 numbers in 7 games. The Broome Dusters played their games at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton, New York, and the Dusters club was actually the inspiration for the movie “Slap Shot” per Wikipedia.

After spending his first four seasons with the Bruins team posting 47-70-117 numbers in 192 games played, Foster signed as a free agent in July of 1981 with the Colorado Rockies organization following the 1980-81 season where he had his best NHL campaign contributing 24-28-52 in 77 games for Boston. After playing one season in Colorado, Foster and the Rockies franchise would relocate the organization to New Jersey in June of 1982 and be named the Devils. Not spending much time in the Ocean State in October of 1982 Dwight was traded to the Detriot Red Wings for cash.

After playing several seasons with the Red Wings organization, in March of 1986 Foster was traded to the Boston Bruins for his second tour of duty for Edmonton, Alberta native Dave Donnelly who totaled 9-12-21 numbers in 62 games for the Bruins. Joining the Boston club late in the 1985-86 season, Foster didn’t register a point for the Bruins in their remaining 13 games of the season but in his final NHL campaign in 1986-87 he would contribute 4-12-16 numbers in 47 games.

Dwight’s NHL career saw him play for four teams appearing in 541 games posting 111-163-274 numbers and 420 penalty minutes. After ten seasons playing in the top professional league in the world, Foster would hang up his skates and retired in 1987 due to knee injuries. They say his best years in the NHL were when he centered Rick Middleton and Stan Jonathan for the Bruins which was a nice mix of offensive capabilities with the added grit factor.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 172 that we recorded below on 3-26-20! 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 Alumni: Happy Birthday Alex Smith

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Smith was born on April 2nd, 1902, in Liverpool, England but grew up in Ottawa, Ontario. The 5′-11″ 176-pound left shooting defenseman played a majority of his National Hockey League career with the Ottawa Senators winning a Stanley Cup in 1927. On January 25th, 1933, Smith was traded from the Senators to the Boston Bruins for future considerations which ended up being Earl Roche who played only three games going pointless during the 1932-33 campaign.

In 61 games played for the Bruins, Smith posted 9-10-19 numbers in two years of service. He was traded by the Bruins to New York Americans for cash considerations in October of 1934. In his 11 year NHL career, Alex would make stops in Boston, Detriot, New York, and Ottawa. Playing in 443 NHL games, Smith would go onto post 41-51-82 numbers in a playing career that lasted from 1925 to 1935 and amassed 645 penalty minutes. The former defenseman passed away at the age of 61 in November of 1963. Smith who was nicknamed “Boots” was inducted into the Lisgar Collegiate Institute Athletic Wall of Fame in 2009.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 172 that we recorded below on 3-26-20! 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 Alumni: Happy Birthday John Wensink

( Photo Credit: bostonbruinsalumni.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Happy 67th Birthday To Former Boston Bruins Forward John Wensink!

Wensink was born on April 1st, 1953, in Cornwall, Ontario and was a seventh-round selection (104th Overall) of the St. Louis Blues in the 1973 National Hockey League Amateur Draft. Before being selected by St. Louis, the 6′-0″ 200-pound played his junior career with the Cornwall Royals where he appeared in 169 games and posted 30-54-84 career numbers in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Wensink had his best season of major-junior hockey in his NHL draft year when he contributed 9-26-35 numbers in 52 games in his final season with the Royals.

John’s first year in the NHL didn’t go exactly as planned for the rugged rookie left-winger as he only appeared in three games for the Blues in the 1973-74 season. After being out of hockey for a season and a half due to having back surgery, Wensink would sign with the Boston Bruins on October 12th, 1976 and be sent down to the Bruins American Hockey League affiliate the Rochester Americans. With the AHL Americans, Wensink would appear in 49 games posting 11-15-26 numbers as a 23-year-old in the 1976-77 season. In that same season, he would return to the NHL when Boston recalled him and he posted 4-6-10 numbers appearing in 23 games finishing the 1976-77 regular season.

Wensink would play in Boston for a better part of four years and posted 57-55-112 numbers. In his first full season with the B’s John would compile 181 penalty minutes and finish his time in Boston amassing 429 minutes in the penalty box in 248 career games with the Black and Gold. After having his best career NHL season (28-18-46, 76GP) with Boston in 1978-79, his numbers went down to 9-11-20 the following season. In October of 1980, The Bruins lost Wensick in the waiver draft as the Quebec Nordiques selected him as the new NHL franchise was transitioning from the defunct World Hockey Association into what is now the NHL.

John would play only three more seasons in the NHL after leaving Boston making stops in Quebec, Colorado, and New Jersey. He ended his NHL career posting 70-68-138 totals in eight years of service and a whopping 840 penalty minutes. John would retire from the game of hockey after the 1984-85 season playing in Holland for the SIJ Nijmegen club where he contributed 15-12-27 numbers as a 31-year-old veteran.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 172 that we recorded below on 3-26-20! 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!!

Amesbury Maples Legend Series: George Herbert “Fuzzy” Thurston

( Photo Credit: Amesbury News )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

In the early years of the Amesbury Maples organization, first-team managers Armand Hudon and Emilien “Mickey” Jutras would predominantly scout local talent in the town of Amesbury, Massachusetts. As the team was gaining notoriety in the Merrimack Valley of Essex County with their play on the ice, the need to get better year-by-year sometimes had the organization looking outside of town for additional talent. During the first six winter seasons of the club’s existence, the Maples believed in the homegrown experience but before the 1930-31 campaign changes had to be made to keep the competitive drive alive.

Before the 1930-31 season, the Amesbury club would suffer their first loss when it came to the player on the roster with the death of goaltender Raoul “Chiefie” Lemoine. This was the first time the Maples would go outside of the town’s borders looking for a replacement between the pipes as the “next one” in goal John Reddy was a greenhorn and not up to the task as a developing player. The team would go to Haverhill, Massachusetts to acquire netminder Earl Ryan but would also make another bold move looking to another popular hockey hotbed area in New England which was making noise in the hockey community since the early 1900s.

The game of hockey was gaining popularity in the mid to late 1800s with the influx of French-Canadian citizens migrating down to New England to find work in the thriving horse-drawn carriage and textile mill industries. The first game recorded in the United States was credited to have been played at the St. Pauls Preparatory School in Concord, New Hampshire in 1883. Exeter, New Hampshire was the next area to take off with the interest of the game especially at the Philips Exeter Academy prep school and was a major source of producing talented hockey players for generations. In 1911 the first organized game of “shinny” was played in Exeter which spurred major interest with many playing on several waterways throughout the town.

With the town of Exeter becoming that “hotbed” of hockey talent in the Southern New, Hampshire community, it wasn’t hard for the Amesbury Maples management team to do their due diligence with scouting future talent as Exeter is only 11 miles to the north. After increased negotiations, the Amesbury club got their hands on one of the best up and coming defensemen in the Northeast of the United States working out a deal that would allow this individual to play for the Maples but also return home to play games for his hometown team. The Maples were already known to be a strong “shutdown” defensive club but the acquisition of this player on the backend would make opposing teams fearful as they crossed center ice trying to gain traction in the offensive zone.

George Herbert “Fuzzy” Thurston Jr

Born in Exeter, New Hampshire on September 15th, 1903, to the parents of George H. Thurston and Ellen S. Day Thurston. Father George worked as a was a mortar tender for a successful concrete business in the area and the couple would grow their family to 12 children with only eight of the offspring being mentioned in the 1918 census. The young Thurston (Fuzzy) who was the ninth child in the family picked up the game of hockey quickly as he grew up at two Exeter residents. His first house around the time of his birth was on High Street and later the family moved to the River Street Extension area. Both locations were alongside the Squamscott River where winter season activities were plentiful and nearby for constant development.

( Photo Credit: HockeyGods.com )

As a young person, Fuzzy would learn the speed of the game on open ice along the mentioned Squamscott waterway but would also take advantage of a flooded rink that was constructed on the Academy’s Plimpton Playing Fields when the local rivers weren’t safe. The flooded rink at Plimpton Field measured 175X75 and on the smaller ice surface, the Thurston honed his defensive attributes. There’s a big difference from the pond or river games as a stray puck sliding away gives participants the time to catch their breaths but in a contained environment the game moves so much faster. Thurston would attend Exeter Public Schools until he was 16-years-old forgoing further education to work with his father in the masonry trade and did not graduate after two-years of High School. In my research assisted by the great folks at the Exeter Historical Society, Fuzzy never attended Philips Academy as he was heavily rumored in previous years.

( Photo Credit: Exeter Historical Society )

As an out-of-school 16-year-old working with his father in masonry spending a majority of his time constructing buildings and walls in Hampton, New Hampshire, Fuzzy would join the Exeter Hockey Club halfway through an eight-season run where the team reportedly only lost one game. During this period of time, Thurston played center for the Exeter club making him a valuable asset being able to play multiple positions. After playing many years with the Exeter Sextet, Thurston would extend his playing time and accepted a defensive position with the Amesbury Maples a club who’ve had him in the organization’s crosshairs for quite some time when it came to scouting players from afar.

Fuzzy joined the Maples team in the organizations beginning of National stardom when he donned the Kelly Green and White sweater for the first time in the 1930-31 winter season. That year the hard-hitting defenseman along with a roster of (C) Eddie Nichols, (LW) Charley Broderick, (RW) Albie Roy, (C) Chewy Williams, (W) Archie Cloutier, (D) Everett Picard, (D) Aurel Picard, Tom “Ike” Wall, and goaltenders Earl Ryan and John Reddy would finish Thurstons first season with the Maples compiling an  18-2-1 record. That same year the Maples played so well in the Essex County League the Amesbury club participated in the prestigious NEAAU Tournament which was held at the Rhode Island Auditorium in Providence, RI. This annual postseason regional tournament was constructed of the best amateur hockey teams in New England and the winner of these games would go onto play in the AAU for a chance to win a National title against well known collegiate talent at that time. This was one heck of a rookie season for Thurston but his story is far from over.

Thurston was not only heavily scouted by the Maple team in previous years but was also looked at from the higher levels of hockey as well. After a successful rookie season with the Amesbury team in 1930-31, Fuzzy would only need to play five games for the Maples in 1931-32 where he compiled 13-2-15 numbers ranking him fourth in team scoring. Leading the way in scoring during the 1931-32 winter campaign was Harlan “Chewie” Williams who posted 43-7-50 totals when the Maples club finished that year with a record of 17-4-1. The Amesbury club scored a total of 146 goals that year giving up only 44 all season to their opponents. This number in goals-against was heavily credited to a Maples defense and goaltending that opposing forwards often never got behind.

( Photo Credit: HockeyGods.com )

Thurston’s two seasons with the Maples and previous playing career in Exeter didn’t go wary of the keen eyes of the higher Boston Olympics scouting staff who came calling for Fuzzy after only five games in the 1931-32 season. The Olympics organization was a minor-pro team compiled of talented “All-Star” players throughout New England and was owned and operated by Walter Brown. Brown a key member in the development of ice hockey in New England was also the founder of the Boston Celtics in 1945 as manager of the old Boston Garden. The relationship between Brown and Thurston could be dated back to the years between 1923 and 1926 where Brown could’ve watched Fuzzy play as he was close to the Exeter, New Hampshire community as a student of Philips Exeter Academy.

Walter Brown and his team of “All-Stars” which included Thurston would set sail on January 26th, 1932, on the S.S. Majestic for a tour of Europe playing several highly skilled teams along the way. The Boston Olympics six-week tour would see game action in 14 cities and nine different European countries which included stops in popular places overseas like Davos Switzerland, London England, Milan Italy, Munich Germany, Paris France, Prague Czechoslovakia (Now the Czech Republic), and Vienna Austria. The Olympics team would come back to the United States in mid-April of 1932 sailing into New York City aboard the steamship Antonia bringing back an impressive record of 20-1-2 and playing in front of an estimated 90,000 European spectators. During these games abroad, Thurston posted 4-5-9 numbers but was listed as playing center as Brown would have seen him play back in Southern New Hampshire when he was with the Exeter Hockey Club. Without the services of Thurston the very next year in 1933, Brown orchestrated the first gold medal in United States hockey history winning it all at the Ice Hockey World Championships tournament.

Fuzzy also took his hockey talents outside of New England when he was invited to play for the Eastern Hockey Leagues Bronx Tigers. At the time during the 1933-34 season, he was still playing for the Maples organization but left the Amesbury club for the tryout. The Tigers played their games at the Bronx Coliseum in New York City. Thurston only appeared in five games earning zero points in his short stint ultimately leaving New York to finish the winter season back in the Northeast of Massachusetts with the Maples club.

( Photo Credit: Ohrstrom Blog )

After returning from the lavish European trip with the Olympics funded by Brown, Thurston would return to the Maples team and be a cornerstone for the Amesbury club on the defensive backend for the next five seasons. Fuzzy did not play for the Maples during the 1937-38 hockey season accepting a paying job as head coach of the University of New Hampshire’s freshman club. That season without the grizzled veteran on defense, the Amesbury team posted a winter season record of 15-5-1. Thurston would return to the Maples team the following year and would be a consistent presence defensively as the Amesbury team had higher accolades in mind.

The second-biggest thrill in Thurston’s hockey career came during the 1939-40 winter season when he helped the Maples earn an Essex County Championship with a 19-3-2 record claiming a spot in the annual NEAAU Tournament held at the old Boston Garden. The Maples would go onto beat Massachusetts Higham Cove team 3-1 in the quarter-finals, beat Hyde Shoe of Cambridge, Mass. 3-1 in the semi-finals and beat a powerful Sacred Hearts club from Concord, New Hampshire 7-0 in the finals, The Amesbury sextet would go onto win the organizations first and only New England Hockey Championship. The Maples would move up to the National Bracket after their 1939-40 NEAAU title to play in the AAU Tournament held in Lake Placid, New York.

( Photo Credit: Amesbury News )

The Maples team would be involved in a six-team elimination tournament against heavily favored University of Minnesota team that scored 100 goals in 16 undefeated games leading up to the AAU tournament. The Amesbury team received a bye in the first round of the tournament and went right into the semi-final round against the belly of the beast where the Minnesota club was ready and waiting. The game between the Maples and Gophers was pretty close having both clubs tied at two apiece mid-second period but the loss of Thurston on the backend after an injury just made it just too easy for the Gophers who finished the second frame with a 6-2 lead. The Maples would continue to push being a man down and outnumbered when you look at the player’s benches due to the fact that the Gophers came to Lake Placid with a full roster and the Maples did not. Amesbury would go onto score two more goals in the final period at Olympic Arena but Minnesota kept piling it on finishing the contest with a 9-4 Gopher victory ultimately ending Amesbury’s dreams of a National Championship. Thurston had the 2-1 go-ahead goal in the first period before leaving the ice in the second period for the remainder of the game.

( Photo Credit: TeamGB.com )

After the 1939-40 campaign which was the best known in Amesbury Maples history, the 37-year-old Thurston returned to the team for another triumphant run for a National Title but after a successful season that had the Maples earn a 16-4-1 record, the team from the Northeast once again got into the NEAAU Tournament at the famed Boston Garden. After beating the Lynn Rangers 7-3 in the quarter-finals, beating the Pla-Mor sextet from Lexington, Mass. 3-1, the Maples just didn’t have enough in the tank to beat the Hingham Cove Mass. team losing in the final round by the score of 5-2. After this 1940-41 season, Thurston and the Amesbury team did not see much action on the ice due to World War II and the fact that many of Fuzzy’s teammates enlisted into the war efforts. With a minimal roster and powered light restrictions at night, travel restrictions during the day there were only a couple of games mentioned in the papers from the 1941-42 winter season to the 1947-48 season.

The Maples team was back up to a full roster and regular-season schedule without wartime restrictions in the 1947-48 campaign. The pleasant return of the game to the supporting Amesbury community was also a perfect time to introduce a new home rink on the “flats” of Amesbury. The new rink facility called the Powwow Skating Arena was up to league specifications of 200X85 located on the corner of South Hampton Road and Clinton Street Extention. Unfortunately, Thurston did not play at the new home rink nor did he return to the Amesbury club opting to move back to his hometown of Exeter with his longtime wife Mary V. Thurston. It’s heavily rumored that Fuzzy continued to play hockey until the age of 66 for various Exeter club teams and was also an ambassador of the game when it came to teaching younger players much like the guidance he needed as a member of the Exeter Youth Hockey that he was a part of so many years ago.

( Photo Credit: Amesbury Gazette )

Thurston was a hard worker on and off the ice but when it came to supporting his family he continued to be s self-employed mason that his father George Sr. taught him so many years ago until 1941. His mason skills also got him a job with the Philips Exeter Academy School when he returned home after leaving the Maples team. Fuzzy was employed by Philips Exeter until 1952.

On October 31st, 1987, George Herbert “Fuzzy” Thurston Jr. passed away at the age of 84 at the Exeter Health Care Center after a brief illness. His wife of many years passed away in December the year prior. In 1960 Philips Exeter Academy honored Thurston for his contributions to hockey in the community. He was very active with Exeter Youth Hockey as an administrator and coach for many years following his playing career. He was known as Mr. Hockey to many in the Exeter, New Hampshire area and in 2017 the New Hampshire Legends of Hockey inducted Thurston into their prestigious Hall of Fame immortalizing his playing career along with his commitment to the game and youth development.  The New Hampshire Legends Hockey Hall of Fame was established in 2002 to recognize and honor those men and women who have made significant contributions to the sport of ice hockey in New Hampshire by their participation as Players, Coaches, Builders, Officials or members of the Media.

My appreciation to those who’ve contributed to this and many articles in this Amesbury Maples Legend Series

I’d like to thank Mr. Bert Spofford for all his hard work in gathering a majority of Amesbury Maples’s information and stats I used above and in many of these articles. Rest In Peace Bert! As always I have to thank the Picard family for the abundance of newspaper clippings and information that Tammi (Picard) Perkins’ father Alphonse Picard gathered over the years before his passing. Also, a shoutout to the Cloutier family for their contributions when this Maple project originally got started.

Pertaining to this article, I’d like to send my sincere appreciation to Barbera Rimkunas as she’s the Exeter Historical Society Curator and was a great help when I reached out in November of 2019. Although not listed, if anyone else from the Exeter Historical Society helped Barbera in gathering most of the information above, I also want to say thanks for your effort in this project.

Below are some of the websites that I obtained information for this research project on the Amesbury Maples Legend  Mr. George H. “Fuzzy” Thurston that I also owe many thanks as another avenue to track down facts along the way.

ExeterHistory.org

New Hampshire Legends Of Hockey

HockeyDB.com

SeacoastOnline.com

HockeyGods.com

If anyone has an old Amesbury Maples hockey equipment, images, or information and would like to contribute to this continued Legends Series, please send me an email to blackngoldhockeyblog@gmail.com and let’s talk! Thank You!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 172 that we recorded below on 3-26-20! 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!!

On This Day In Bruins History: Jacques Plante!

A Look at the Bruins in the Hockey Hall of Fame(Photo Credit: NHL.com)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

It’s not too often a legendary Montreal Canadiens goaltender can also share the spotlight in Boston Bruins history. Even if only for a minute.

That’s exactly what happened when NHL Hall of Famer Jacques Plante was traded to the B’s in the twilight of his hockey career in early 1973. And on this day — March 28th — he won his final game in the NHL, leading the Bruins to victory over the Rangers 6-3.

Plante was 44 years old at the time of the victory making him the oldest Bruins goalie to win an NHL game. In another fun historical fact, he’s one year younger than the man who owns the record as the oldest ever NHL goalie: Maurice “Moe” Roberts. And way  back when in 1925 at the ripe age of 19, Roberts made his professional hockey debut for… you guessed it… the Boston Bruins!

I couldn’t have Plante-d a better nugget of B’s history as we March towards April. Stay tuned to the Black N’ Gold blog for more OTDIBH (On This Day In Bruins History) articles as our break from hockey continues into the Spring — but hopefully not all Summer!

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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.

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’ Options If Rask Decides To Retire After 2020-21 Season

( Photo Credit: The Athletic / theathletic.com )

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow Me On Twitter @andrewlindrothh

According to Matt Porter of The Boston Globe, in a recent interview with Boston Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask, he recently claimed he would not rule out the option of retiring after his contract expires in the 2021 off-season. With this being said, this could drastically affect the Bruins as their unstoppable goalie tandem of Rask and Jaroslav Halak, as Halak’s contract expires this upcoming 2020 off-season and now with the possibility of Rask retiring after the 2021 season. The Bruins could be looking at a completely different rotation of goalies in the near future, but what will that look like?

Jeremy Swayman

( Photo Credit: UMaine Athletics / GoBlackBears.com )

The 6’3, 187-pound goaltender, Jeremy Swayman, was Boston’s fourth-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft and since then committed to playing for the University of Maine. Swayman played for three years at the NCAA level and finished with an impressive resume, averaging a .930% save percentage and 2.40 GAA. He was lights out last this past 2019-2020 season, collecting 18 wins with three shutouts, 2.07 GAA, and an astounding .939% save percentage. Due to his stellar year, Swayman was named 2019-2020 Hockey East Player of the Year.

Swayman recently surrendered his senior year at the University of Maine and signed a three-year entry-level contract worth $925k a season with the Boston Bruins. If Swayman performs well during camp this year, you will most likely see him suit up for Bruins AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins. The current goaltenders for Providence are Maxime Legacé and Daniel Vladar, but both goaltenders’ contracts will expire this upcoming off-season. There is no doubt Swayman will look to capitalize on this opportunity and prove to everyone that he is the future of the Bruins goal-tending.

Kyle Keyser

( Photo Credit: Atlanta Gladiators )

The 6’2, 179-pound goaltender, Kyle Keyser, is another young player just entering the Boston Bruins organization. Keyser signed an entry-level contract deal with the Bruins in 2017, but that contract did not begin until this past season when he made his professional debut with the Providence Bruins for six starts, and the Bruins’ 2019-2020 ECHL affiliate, Atlanta Gladiators, for one game. In his six-game stint with Providence, he only secured one win and maintained a .890% save percentage, and lost his only start with the Atlanta Gladiators making 18 saves.

Although he was off to a slow start for the Bruins’ minor-league affiliates, he stole the show when playing for Oshawa Generals in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) from 2016-2019. In 2018-2019, Keyser appeared in 47 regular-season games and came up huge for the Generals with 32 wins and a 0.915% save percentage. Keyser is packaged with a ton of potential and will be with the Bruins organization until the 2022 off-season.

Daniel Vladar

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

The 6’5, 185-pound goaltender, Dan Vladar, was chosen as a third-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft and has been with the Boston Bruins minor league affiliates Providence Bruins and Atlanta Gladiators since the 2016-2017 season. His entry-level contract expires this upcoming off-season. Vladar has been developing each year for an opportunity to start with the Bruins, and he proved he could be a reliable back-up in case Halak decides not to re-sign this off-season, or to help replace Rask if he decided to retire after this next season.

This past season with the Providence Bruins, he led the American Hockey League (AHL) with a 0.936% save percentage and 1.79 GAA. He played in 25 games and helped Providence with 14 wins, and collected three shutouts. Although his contract is up this off-season, I hope the Bruins take advantage of his restricted free-agent status and re-signs Vladar to a new deal as he could be part of the Bruins next unstoppable goalie tandem.

Although Halak’s status for a contract extension with the Bruins is unknown, it is also possible he re-signs with the Bruins for more than one year and takes over Rasks’ starting position as one of the other goalie prospects continues to develop and serve as a back-up to Halak. For now, it is safe to say the Boston Bruins have promising goalie prospects, and we can all look forward to watching them play soon.

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.

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!!

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.

 

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!!

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

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.

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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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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