Bruins Trade D Goloubef To Senators For F Paul Carey

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PHOTO CREDITS: (bellevillesens.com)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj 

On Friday, January 11th, 2019, the Boston Bruins have traded defenceman Cody Goloubef to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for forward Paul Carey, one-for-one.

Paul Carey is a 30-year-old center from Boston, Massachusetts who is coming into the Bruins organization in the midst of a fairly solid AHL season. Carey was drafted 135th overall (5th round) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft by the Colorado Avalanche, but only played a combined twenty-two games with the Avalanche in the National Hockey League.

The four-year Boston College veteran already played for the Providence Bruins for a brief time in 2014-15, scoring two goals and five assists for seven points in seventeen games. He also scored one goal in the playoffs with Providence that year. With little National Hockey League experience under his belt, Carey played in sixty games during the 2017-18 season with the New York Rangers, scoring 7-7-14 totals and a -13 rating with twenty penalty minutes.

This season, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound forward has spent the majority of the time with the Belleville Senators of the American Hockey League, scoring 5-22-27 totals in twenty-nine games. Carey went pointless in five NHL games with the Ottawa Senators with an even rating as well. It is most likely that Carey joins the Boston Bruins AHL affiliate team, the Providence Bruins.

So, who exactly is Boston trading away and why? Cody Goloubef is a 129-game NHL veteran, amassing a total of twenty-three points in that time. Goloubef has just joined the Providence Bruins after spending time with the Stockton Heat, the Calgary Flames AHL affiliate team for only one season.

General Manager Don Sweeney signed the 6-foot-1, 201-pound Goloubef to a two-way, one-year contract to add depth to the P-Bruins blueline. The Bruins did use his services well, as he scored twelve points (3 goals, 9 assists), in sixteen games this season. The main reason for the trade is because of the return of Urho Vaakanainen from both the 2019 World Junior Championships from Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada – where he took home a gold medal with the Finland hockey team, as well as a concussion that sidelined him for numerous months.

The Bruins would rather get a scoring asset in return for Goloubef instead of just scratching him for the rest of the idea so Vaakanainen could play. Urho is one of the best prospects on the defensive core for the Bruins organization and it is without a doubt that he should play when given a chance.

Above all else, this is just a simple AHL transaction – no massive implements will come from it. Here is some insight from Providence Journal’s own, Mark Divver.

“Assuming he’s sent to Providence, Paul Carey should give P-Bruins a boost up front. With everyone healthy, they could afford to move a D.” – Mark Divver

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 13 Recap

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(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr)

By Tim Richardson| Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Week 13 for the Providence brought their first three games of 2019, and much-needed return home to the Dunk. Our boys in black and gold came into the weekend 14-15-5 (33 points) good for seventh in the Atlantic Division. The Baby B’s had hoped week 13 would bring some much-needed wins and points so they could to claw their way back into the playoff picture. When the weekend started, they sat at 13th in the Eastern Conference, which is just out of the playoff range.  

The Providence Bruins won two of three games over the weekend which improved their record to 16-16-5 (37 points). They remain in seventh place in the Atlantic Division, however, only four points separate the Baby B’s and fourth place in the division which currently belongs to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Meanwhile, the top Boston Bruins minor league affiliated moved up to 12th in the Eastern Conference, and only 6 points separate them and the sixth place Utica Comets.  

Hopefully, the Bruins can have a strong week 14, which is jam-packed with three games over the weekend. Two of the games are at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence where the Bruins are 9-3-2 this season. The one road game will be in Bridgeport, Connecticut against the Sound Tigers where the Bruins are 1-0-2 this season, and 7-13-3 overall.  

Let’s strap in and look back at the weekend that was for the Providence Bruins with some key offensive details for the first three games of 2019.  

Friday, January 4th Providence Bruins vs Lehigh Valley Phantoms (HOME)  

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(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr)

The first of three-weekend games on the docket was at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, who currently sit third in the Atlantic Division. The Baby B’s came out with vengeance in the first period scoring three goals. The first came late in the period when Trent Frederic buried the puck in the back in the net in a goal that was assisted by Cameron Hughes and Karson Kuhlman. Less than a minute later with the Bruins on the power play, Gemel Smith was able to score to make 2-0 with assists coming from Jakub Zboril and Trent Frederic. The Providence club’s quick-strike ability struck again when less than 30 seconds later Gemel Smith found the back of the net again to make it 3-0 with the assists coming from Connor Clifton and Zach Senyshyn.  

With the Bruins ahead 3-0 going into the second period the Lehigh Valley Phantoms picked up their play. They would go on to score two goals in the frame and it would be 3-2 at the end of two periods. The score would remain that until early in the third period when Joona Koppanen scored to make it 4-2 on a goal that was assisted by Connor Clifton and Kyle Cumiskey. The 4-2 score would end up being the final with the Baby B’s getting a need two points. Goalie Zane McIntyre looked excellent in net stopping 20 of 22 shots. He improved to 6-0-1 at home with a .928 save percentage and 1.97 goals against average. Gemel Smith, who was acquired by Boston via waivers from the Dallas Stars earlier in the year has been very good in nine games since being sent down to Providence with stats of 5-2-7.  

The Providence Bruins would go on to out-shoot the Phantoms by a 34-22 margin and go one for three on the power play. The Baby B’s currently sit fifth in that category in the Eastern Conference with a 21.3% power play percentage which also ranks seventh in the entire American Hockey League. Meanwhile, the Bruins were also able to kill off both Lehigh Valley penalties. The penalty kill has been elite for the boys in black and gold which currently sits second in not only the Eastern Conference but the entire American Hockey League with 86.3%. 

Saturday, January 5th Providence Bruins vs Springfield Thunderbirds (AWAY) 

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(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr)

The second game of weekend would see the Providence Bruins travel to Springfield, Massachusetts to take on the home team Thunderbirds at the MassMutual Center. The Florida Panther’s affiliate current sits at fifth in the Atlantic Division at 16-12-5-3 (40 points). The game would start out promising for the Baby B’s when they scored early in the first period to make it 1-0. The goal was scored by young prospect Zach Senyshyn his 11th on the year, and it was assisted by Austin Fyten and Chris Breen. The Bruins lead the Thunderbirds 1-0 after one period of play. 

The good news would stop there when thunder struck for Springfield and they would go on a scoring spree netting four goals in the second period to make it 4-1 after two periods of play. The Thunderbirds would score again a quarter of the way through the third period making it 5-1. This made five unanswered goals for the Panther’s affiliate in just over 26 minutes of play. The Bruins would go on to score two more goals in the third period to make it 5-3. The first third-period goal was on the power play scored by Jordan Szwarz assisted by Cody Goloubef and the second of the period was netted by Gemel Smith assisted by Chris Breen and Emil Johansson. The Baby B’s would go on to pull goalie Dan Vladar in the last few minutes of the game to try and get the extra attacker on the ice, but they still came up short losing 5-3.  

The Providence Bruins would go on to outshout the Thunderbirds 46-39, and both clubs would go one for five on the power play. Goalie Dan Vladar who’s normally sure-handed on the road, suffered the loss falling to 6-8-2 with a .897 save percentage and 2.82 goals against average overall on the season. Gemel Smith’s play stuck out again, making it two straight games with a goal.  

Sunday, January 6th Providence Bruins Vs Hartford Wolf Pack (HOME) 

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(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr)

The final game of the weekend saw the Providence Bruins return the Dunk for some home cooking against the Wolf Pack of Hartford. Our boys in black and gold would start off the game strong scoring two goals. The first came a little over halfway through the period when Captain Jordan Szwarz pocketed a goal that was assisted by Cameron Hughes and Kyle Cumiskey. Then in the final seconds of the period, Peter Cehlarik netted a power play goal that was assisted by Kyle Cumiskey and Jordan Szwarz. The period would end with Bruins up 2-0. 

The second period of play would bring out some chippy play with old friend Matt Beleskey fighting Wiley Sherman, but the period would end with the score still 2-0 Providence. The third period would see the Baby B’s score three more times. The first came about halfway through the period when Emil Johansson netted a shorthanded goal that was assisted by Karson Kuhlman and Cameron Hughes. A few minutes later, Peter Cehlarik would find the back of the net on a goal that was assisted by Wiley Sherman. Then with a little under five minutes to play and the Hartford goalie pulled, Gemel Smith would add an empty net goal for the Bruins that was assisted by Jakub Zboril to make it 5-0. The Pack would go on to spoil the shutout netting a power play goal of their own in the final three minutes of play to make 5-1 and that would be your final.  

The Providence Bruins would go on to out-shoot the Wolf Pack by a whopping 37-16 margin with both teams going one for five on the power play. Goalie Zane McIntyre was excellent again at home stopping 15 of 16 shots. He improved to 7-0-1 at home with a .929 save percentage and 1.86 goals against average. Gemel Smith would go on to score in his third game in a row and his fourth goal of the weekend.  

Honorable Mention 

Gemel Smith: Smith had an excellent weekend for Providence with stats of 4-04. Since being sent down to the AHL he has been a spark for the offense. 

Jordan SzwarzThe Captain had a great weekend for himself with stats of 2-1-3. The two goals brought his overall total to 12 on the year. Eight more goals and he will be the fifth player in Providence Bruins history with 20+ goals in three seasons. 

Jakub ZborilZboril returned to the lineup for the first time in almost a month due to injury and had stats of 0-2-2 while playing good defense for the Bruins. It was nice to see him back and on the score sheet. 

Zane McIntyre: Zane had a phenomenal weekend for the Bruins. He went 2-0-0 stopping 35 of 38 shots for a .921 save percentage and goals against average of 1.50. 

Not So Honorable Mention 

Zach SenyshynIt was nice that Senyshyn scored and got an assist over the weekend, but those two points were his first two since December 12. Hopefully, these two points will open the floodgates a little bit. 

Anton BlidhBlidh continues to be as cold as the ice the team skates on. The gritty forward has not registered a point since December 22.  

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Bruins Prospect Studnicka Traded to Niagara Ice Dogs

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photo credit: NHL.com

By: Mandi Mahoney  |  Check Me Out On Twitter @phoneymahoney

The Ontario Hockey League trade that has been rumored for the past week or so has finally happened: Boston Bruins center prospect Jack Studnicka has been acquired from the Oshawa Generals by the Niagara IceDogs. Canucks prospect Matt Brassard is heading to Niagara with Studnicka, in exchange for defenseman Lleyton Moore and six draft picks, spanning from 2020 through 2024. This is an OHL trade only, and the Bruins still own the NHL rights to Studnicka.

Studnicka, one of the Bruins organization’s top prospects, was selected by the Boston Bruins 53rd overall in the second round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. He impressed during the Bruins’ training camp and preseason this year, but ultimately was returned to his OHL team at the time, the Oshawa Generals. Studnicka recently returned to Oshawa from a disappointing sixth place finish with Team Canada in the IIHF World Junior Championship in Vancouver. Studnicka scored one goal and assisted on three, totaling four points in five games.

In 222 games over three and a half seasons in Oshawa, Studnicka tallied 184 points – 56 goals and 128 assists – while captaining the Generals squad since 2017-18. This season, Studnicka had scored 34 points in 30 games before being traded to the IceDogs, where he will undoubtedly continue the tear he’s been on lately.

In a press release, Generals Vice President and General Manager Roger Hunt said, “Jack came in following our Memorial Cup year and right away proved he was a leader and the exact guy we needed to build our team around. While playing with the Gens he has represented Canada at the Under-17, Under-18 and World Junior level. It was a no brainer for him to become our captain two years ago and he will always be remembered as one of the great captains of the Oshawa Generals.”

In a press release out of Niagara, IceDogs General Manager Joey Burke said, “This is a huge day in Niagara. In Jack and Matt we are adding the exact two players we targeted as a perfect fit for our roster. The skill set they will add to an already deep group could not be more exciting, and I can’t wait to watch how well they fit with our guys… To be able to add something of this caliber, something had to go out, and it was a very difficult decision to move Lleyton Moore. As we know, he will go on to become a star in this league. Lleyton is a great young man and athlete, and we wish him nothing but success.”

The IceDogs are currently holding onto second place in the Ontario Hockey League’s Eastern Conference, and are four points above Studnicka’s former Oshawa Club, which is currently in third place. Oshawa got a solid return for Studnicka and Brassard in 16 year old defenseman Lleyton Moore, but Niagara made a fantastic addition to their roster as well, as Studnicka has proven to be one of the OHL’s best players over the last couple of seasons.

 

Bruins Prospect Ryan Fitzgerald Named To AHL All-Star Classic

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PHOTO CREDITS: (ahl.com)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj 

The Providence Bruins announced today, January 3rd, 2018, that forward Ryan Fitzgerald has been named to the 2019 AHL All-Star Classic on January 27-28, 2019 in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Ryan Fitzgerald is in the middle of arguably his best season while in the American Hockey League. The 24-year-old North Reading, Massachusetts native has 7-19-26 totals in thirty-four games this season, leading all Providence Bruins players in assists and points. His seven goals on the year rank him fourth on the team for goals as well.

Before Fitzgerald joined Providence in the 2016-17 season, he played in four consecutive seasons in the NCAA with Boston College. In his 152 career NCAA contests, Ryan tallied 66 goals, 66 assists for 132 points. Fitzgerald’s best season came back in 2015-2016 where he scored forty-seven points (24 goals, 23 assists) in only 40 games played.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Gregory Vasil/Getty Images)

Fitzgerald was drafted by the Bruins in the 4th Round (120th Overall) in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and was signed to a two-year entry-level contract in the Spring of 2017. The Bruins management liked his play with Boston College, deciding to sign him to that deal that allowed him to play in the AHL, where he has been for the past two seasons.

As fellow Black N’ Gold writer, Tim Richardson said in his Prospect Profile on Fitzgerald, the 5-foot-9 forward was expected to go in the second-round in 2013. Heading into his draft, Fitzgerald was that two-way player that almost every team would like to have in their centre core. He possessed good hockey IQ and defensive awareness on the ice but could also pitch in offensive such as he has done with Providence this season.

Entering his first All-Star game, Fitzgerald has an entire family of hockey players. Father Tom Fitzgerald played in 1097 career National Hockey League games, seventy-one of which with the Boston Bruins back in 2005-06. NHL forwards Jimmy and Kevin Kayes as well as Matthew and ex-NHLer Keith Tkachuk are Fitzgerald’s cousins according to Elite Prospects.

Many people in the Boston Bruins fanbase have urged management to try Fitzgerald in the NHL if (when) another injury hits the Bruins forward core. Fitzgerald seems to be more responsible defensively compared to some of the Bruins already on the roster and yet, he can still score goals and make plays as mentioned already.

Do you think that Ryan Fitzgerald should get a shot with the NHL Bruins at some point this season if an injury comes up again?

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 13 Preview

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(Photo Courtesy of the Springfield Thunderbirds)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

The Providence Bruins come into the weekend 14-15-5 (33 points) and 3-6-1 in their last 10 games good for seventh place in the Atlantic Division. Our boys in black and gold kickoff a jam-packed three-game weekend coming home to the Dunk for the first time in five games when the Lehigh Valley Phantoms roll into town on Friday, January 4th. The Baby B’s continue the weekend on Saturday traveling to Springfield, Massachusetts to take on the home team Springfield Thunderbirds at The MassMutual Center. Finally, the Providence club finishes up the weekend with more home cooking on Sunday, when the Hartford Wolf Pack invade the Dunk. It should be an exciting hockey filled weekend for all involved.  

Friday, January 4th Providence Bruins vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms (HOME)  

The Friday match-up marks the fourth time the Bruins have faced the Phantoms this season. In the first meeting, Lehigh Valley beat Providence 5-4 with the Bruins getting goals from Karson Kuhlman, Cameron Hughes, Colby Cave, and Wiley Sherman. Meanwhile, goalie Dan Vladar was off his game stopping 21 of 26 shots in net. The second meeting between the two teams saw a much better result for the Bruins. The Baby B’s beat the Philadelphia Flyers affiliate 6-3 with the Bruins getting goals from Austin Fyten (2), Cameron Hughes (2), Ryan Fitzgerald, and Jordan Szwarz, while goalie Dan Vladar looked much better in net stopping 18 of 21 shots. The third match-up was another tough outcome for our boys wearing the spoked P. Lehigh Valley beat Providence 3-1. With Providence getting their lone goal from Joona Koppanen with goalie Dan Vladar continuing his solid road play stopping 17 of 19 shots he faced.  

The fourth installment in the season series is going to be tough for Providence. Lehigh Valley comes into the game 19-10-1-2 (41 points) and 6-3-0-1 in their last 10 games good for third in the Atlantic Division with games in-hand. That doesn’t even fully illustrate the uphill battle the Baby B’s. The Philadelphia Flyers’ affiliated has the Bruins’ number over the past five seasons going 7-3-1 in Providence during that time and 15-7-1 overall. A major key for Providence will be scoring early and keeping the game close. When tied or leading after the first period this season, the Boston Affiliate is 12-4-3. Meanwhile, for the Phantoms a major key is out-shooting their opponents, they are 6-4-0-2 when doing so.

Saturday, January 5th Providence Bruins vs. Springfield Thunderbirds (AWAY) 

This game marks the fourth time the Bruins and Thunderbirds have faced off this season. In the first meeting, Springfield beat Providence 6-3 with the Bruins getting goals from Zach Senyshyn, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Colby Cave. Meanwhile, goalie Zane McIntyre was a little off his game stopping 14 of 20 shots. The second meeting between the two teams saw a different score with the same result. The Florida Panther’s affiliate beat the Baby B’s 4-2 with the Bruins getting goals from Martin Bakos and Jan Kovar, while goalie Zane McIntyre looked much better stopping 17 of 20 shots in net. The third game of the season series saw the Bruins finally break through and get a win beating the Thunderbirds 5-4. The boys in black and gold got goals from Mark McNeill, Karson Kuhlman, Peter Cehlarik, Jordan Szwarz, and Connor Clifton while Dan Vladar stopped 22 of 26 shots he faced.  

The Springfield Thunderbirds come into the weekend 15-11-4-3 (37 points) and 3-4-2-1 in their last 10 games. Providence not only has excellent numbers against Springfield (9-5-2 in Springfield and 18-9-2 overall in the past five seasons), they’re playing at a time where the Florida Panthers’ affiliate is on a downward trend. This could bode well for the Baby B’s. A major key to the game will be who’s leading after two periods. Springfield is 12-0-1, and Providence is 10-3-2 in that scenario. Meanwhile, when down after two periods the Thunderbirds are 0-10 and the Bruins are 3-12-2.  

Sunday, January 6th Providence Bruins Vs. Hartford Wolf Pack (HOME) 

The Sunday game marks the sixth time the two teams have faced off this season. The first matchup saw the Wolf Pack beat the Bruins 4-2 with Providence getting goals from Austin Fyten and Mark McNeill while goalie Zane McIntyre was pulled in the first period after stopping 7 of 10 shots faced. Dan Vladar finished the game turning away all 8 shots he would see. The second meeting between the two teams saw a better result with Providence winning 4-3 in overtime. The Baby B’s got goals from Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Anton Blidh, Trent Frederic, and Cody Goloubef (OT GW), and goalie Zane McIntyre looked much better stopping 15 of 18 shots faced.

The third leg of the season series saw the Pack come out victorious, winning 4-3. The Providence club got goals from Zach Senyshyn, Colby Cave, and Anton Blidh. Goalie Dan Vladar had a busy game stopping 26 of 30 he faced. In game four these two clubs both fought hard, but Hartford came out on top 4-3 in overtime. The boys wearing the spoked P got goals from Karson Kuhlman, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Kyle Cumiskey. Goalie Zane McIntyre turned away 18 of 22 shots faced in the losing effort. Finally, in the fifth meeting this year, the New York Rangers’ affiliated blanked Providence 3-0. Goalie Dan Vladar played well in the game stopping 30 of 33 shots faced.  

The Hartford Wolf Pack come into the sixth game of the season series with a record of 15-15-2-2 (34 points) and 4-5-1 in their last 10 games good for sixth in the Atlantic Division. Despite this year’s misfortune, this match-up is one the Bruins should be looking forward to. Over the past five seasons, the Bruins have an 11-4-1-1 against the Pack and are 18-13-4-2 overall in that time frame. Special teams will play a major key in the outcome of this game. The Baby B’s power play against Hartford this season is at 22.7% (5/22) this is up from their overall percentage of 20.8% (30/144). Meanwhile, their penalty kill is 83.3% (3/18) against the Pack which is down from their overall penalty kill of 86.6% (20/149). Hartford’s 16.7% (3/18) power play against the Providence club is down from their overall power play of 20.7% (30/145). Their 77.3% (5/22) penalty kill against the Bruins is also down from their total season average of 80.7% (28/145).  

Who’s hot and Who’s not for the Bruins 

Hot 

Karson Kuhlman: Over his past five games Kulhman has stats of 3-1-4. Last week, he was in the not category for Providence, and it was stated that the former NCAA Champion and the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs was very streaky thus far for the Baby B’s. This continues to be true, but after a good weekend, the gritty forward finds himself in the hot category.  This past weekend saw him go 2-1-3 in 3 games and it raised his point per game from 0.33 (4-7-11 in 33 games) to 0.39 (6-8-14 36 games). He’s slowly getting closer to his college average of 0.48 (39-41-80 in 166 games) points per game. The former UMD captain seems to be getting more comfortable playing against AHL talent, and we could see his point per game total rise even closer to his college average this weekend.  

Mark McNeill: McNeill has found himself in the middle of a hot streak with stats of 2-5-7 in his past five games. A product of the WHL’s Prince Alberta Raiders, the gritty forward, is a career AHL player who has been very good for the Bruins this year scoring 4-13-17 in 22 games. That’s good for a 0.77 point per game clip which is closer to his WHL days of 0.88 (97-146-243 in 276 games) than his AHL career number of 0.58 (93-117-210 in 365 games).  

Not 

Anton BlidhOver his past five games Blidh has scored 1-1-2. The gritty winger has been a streaky player since coming over from Sweden’s SHL to play with the Bruins. Despite being on a cold streak, Blidh’s season point per game total of 0.41 (6-8-14 in 34 games) is higher than his career AHL total of 0.31 (37-33-70 in 223 games). Hopefully, he can get back the scoring touch this weekend and make his way out of the not category.  

Cameron Hughes: Over the past five games Hughes has scored 0-1-1. The former University of Wisconsin Badger has still adjusted well overall to AHL talent since graduating. Even though he currently finds himself in the not category on the year, he’s scoring at a 0.56 (9-10-19 in 34 games) clip which is very close to his NCAA number of 0.66 (23-69-92 in 139 games). This is very good for someone in their first full professional season. The hope is that this is just a minor bump in the road and Hughes will find himself back in the hot category very soon.  

My players to watch this weekend 

Up Front: 

Ryan Fitzgerald: Ryan Fitzgerald has played very well all season, but he’s played particularly well against the three opponents the Bruins have coming up. Against Lehigh Valley, Springfield, and Hartford the young forward has played in 11 games with stats of 3-8-11. The Baby B’s will need him to carry the load for them if they want to win this weekend. If the former Boston College Eagle can keep up his play against these teams, he would remain a candidate to be called up to get a look with the big club.  

On the Blue Line:  

Cody GoloubefGoloubef has been good for Providence this season. He returned to the lineup from injury on December 29th and scored two goals against Hershey. On the year the defenseman has scored at a 0.73 (3-8-11 in 15 games) clip. Look for the former University of Wisconsin Badger to continue to regain his form coming back from injury.  

In Net:  

Zane McIntyre: Zane McIntyre has had an up and down season this year for Providence. However, at home, he’s been excellent. The young goalie has a 5-0-1 record at home stopping 160 of 172 shots for a .930 save percentage and 1.97 goals against average. These are fantastic numbers at home, and with two of the weekend’s games at the Dunk look for Zane to have a big weekend.  

The Providence Bruins have had an up and down season thus far. Being 3-6-1 in their last 10 games, I am optimistic that a little home cooking is just what the doctor ordered to turn the season around. Winning these three games would be important for multiple reasons. All three teams the Baby B’s are playing are ahead of them in the standings and are in the same division. Being able to win all three games would mean the boys in black and gold would gain ground in the division, and they could start to claw their way back into playoff contention. We will catch up with you next week to let you know how the team fared but feel free to send any questions or comments to me on Twitter. I hope everyone enjoys the games this weekend and Go, B’s, Go! 

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World Juniors 2019: Bruins Prospects Heading Into Quarter-Finals

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PHOTO CREDITS: (saultsports.com)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

The 2019 World Junior Championships have truly been entertaining so far this year. From dominating performances such as the 14-0 by Canada over Denmark and Slovakia’s 11-2 win over Kazakhstan. Valiant comeback efforts such as the United States scoring four unanswered goals in the final ten minutes to force overtime versus Sweden. And of course, the feel-good stories like the support of the underdogs – Team Kazakhstan as every shot, save, and goal were met with loud, roaring cheers.

The Boston Bruins, like many NHL teams, are well represented in the tournament. Jakub Lauko and Daniel Bukac on the Czech Republic, Jack Studnicka on Canada, Kyle Keyser on the States, Pavel Shen on Team Russia, and the addition of Urho Vaakanainen just before the tournament to Team Finland. Not only are these players playing in the tournament, but they are playing a crucial role for their respective countries.

G Kyle Keyser – United States

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PHOTO CREDITS: (JONATHAN HAYWARD / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

As one of the favourites to win the gold medal when the under-20 tournament concludes, the United States used the four preliminary games to judge who gets the starting role in between the pipes because once the team makes it into the Quarter-Finals, it is not too common to switch goaltenders as you would see in the National Hockey League regular season.

Keyser’s teammate, Cayden Primeau, is the other goaltender that is looking to grab that starting role. The Montreal Canadiens’ 2017 seventh-round selection played two games and so did Bruins’ goalie prospect Keyser. Keyser played two games – the 5-4 OT loss to the Swedes and the 2-1 win over Slovakia on Boxing Day.

Keyser’s 1-1-0 record alongside his 0.87 save percentage and 2.95 goals-against-average is ranked as the second-worst for goaltenders heading into the Quarter-Finals. Only Switzerland goalie, Akira Schmid has worse statistics so far in the World Juniors. It is fair to note that the five goals he allowed versus Sweden drastically impacted those numbers.

Against the Swedes, Keyser made many solid saves off of poor plays by his defensemen. The Swedish players had numerous 2-on-1s that were stopped by Keyser and his saves arguably gave the team the drive to come back and tie the game.

With that said, Team USA announced that Cayden Primeau, the other American goaltender, will get the start in the crease for the United States in their Quarter-Final game against the Czech Republic. Yesterday, Head Coach Mike Hastings said it was a coin toss as to who will get the starting role as both goalies earned it, but clearly, he decided to go with the Canadiens prospect due to his strong 4-to-1 win over Finland.

F Jakub Lauko – Czech Republic

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

Drafted 77th overall (3rd Round) by the Boston Bruins in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, forward Jakub Lauko has had a successful season with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), scoring 12-14-26 totals in 26 games this season before being called to the World Juniors.

While at the U20 World Junior Championships, Lauko has one goal and one assist in four preliminary games. The 18-year-old forward scored his lone goal of the tournament in the 4-0 win over Denmark on New Year’s Eve. The tally ended up being the game-winning goal for the Czechs. Lauko also helped out in the opening game of the tournament, recording his only assist thus far on the overtime-winning goal against Switzerland.

Lauko has been good on the other end of the ice too. In the same game as his assist versus the Swiss, Lauko made a great defensive block on a 2-on-1 that kept the game tied around the midway point through the third period of play. Without that Lauko block, the Swiss may take a 2-1 lead and may end up winning the hockey game.

D Daniel Bukac – Czech Republic

Only one team in the World Juniors this year has two Bruins prospects on its roster – the Czech Republic and it seems more and more that the Bruins like having Czech players when you look at David Pastrnak and David Krejci on the full-time Boston roster up in the NHL.

As with the already-mentioned Jakub Lauko on the forward core, the Czechs have 6-foot-5, 209-pound defenceman Daniel Bukac on their blueline as well. The Bruins drafted Bukac with their seventh-round selection in the 2017 NHL Draft. The former player in the Western Hockey League joined the Niagara Ice Dogs of the Ontario Hockey League in the 2018 CHL Import Draft.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Doug Westcott)

Bukac is not known as an offensive defenceman by a stretch of the imagination. With his big frame, he is a solid shutdown defender on the back end and that was mentioned by the Ice Dogs General Manager, Joey Burke, when they added Bukac to their roster.

“Daniel is a big addition for our club. He provides help in an area we needed to improve in. A proven player at this level who brings size, defensive prowess as well as strength, adds a special dynamic to our group. Anytime you can add an NHL drafted player,  it always makes an impact. We look forward to the pedigree Daniel will bring. This is yet another exciting signing for us this offseason, and Daniel will be fun to watch in Niagara.”

Bukac has six points (two goals, four assists), in twenty-four games with the Ice Dogs before going to the WJC. Bukac has one assist in the World Juniors, against Denmark, when he assisted on the fourth and final Czech goal in the 4-0 win. Bukac has also been one of the top penalty-killers for the Czech Republic, who has a third-best 85.71% success rate on the penalty-kill.

Bukac, Lauko, and the Czech Republic battle Kyle Keyser and the United States in today’s quarterfinal.

D Urho Vaakanainen – Finland

Coming off a concussion that he suffered during his brief tenure in the National Hockey League, the eighteenth-overall draft pick in 2017 by the Boston Bruins joined his national country of Finland for the World Juniors.

Due to his NHL experience earlier in the year, Finland knew that they had to play Vaakanainen in a top role on the defensive core due to the lack of experience on the rest of the team. For the majority of the preliminary games, Vaakanainen played in the most minutes over all of the other Finnish players.

Dawning the “A” on his sweater, Vaakanainen also added two assists in the four games – in a 5-1 win over Slovakia on December 29th and assisted on the only goal by Finland in the 4-1 loss to the United States. Below are some scouting reports on the Finnish defenseman.

“An intelligent, two-way defender…reads the play really well, has his head up all the time and makes quick decisions with the puck.” – Futureconsiderations.ca 2017

“He has good puck moving ability and strong offensive upside. He is also a good skater and can rush the puck up ice with confidence.” – Hockeyprospect.com 2017

Urho Vaakanainen and Team Finland will play Jack Studnicka and the Canadians in the second quarterfinal of the day.

F Jack Studnicka – Canada

Before the tournament started, many analysts covering the competition said that Jack Studnicka was the best player in the pre-tournament events including the multiple games that Canada played in.

While Studnicka did not play at the high-scoring level that say, a Maxime Comtois on Team Canada has, but he has been key on the Canadian power-play, even though it has struggled. Studnicka played right in front of the opposing net on that man-advantage, in a position called the “bumper spot”. Someone else who is great in that spot on the ice on the Bruins, a guy by the name of Patrice Bergeron.

Studnicka is currently on a point-per-game status, scoring four points in four games. Three of those points are assists, but he did add a goal back on December 26th in the 14-0 Boxing Day shutout over Denmark. Jack continues to be one of the better players on Canada’s bottom-nine forward core.

The Bruins drafted Studnicka in the second-round, fifty-third overall in the 2017 NHL Draft. He is currently playing in the Ontario Hockey League with the Oshawa Generals, where he had 12-21-33 totals in 29 games before being sent to Vancouver/Victoria for the World Juniors.

F Pavel Shen – Russia

The final prospect of the Bruins to be listed and he just happens to be on the team who took the first place in Group A, after a narrow victory over Canada on New Year’s Eve. Shen has played a big part in Russia’s success in the tournament so far. Shen is currently tied for second on the team in points with four points in four games.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

In the December 31st game against Canada, a game between two undefeated countries and that would decide who wins Group A, Pavel Shen had a game that put himself on the hockey map. The Russian drafted in the 7th Round back in this past draft scored the game-winning goal late in regulation off of a nice zone entry, drive to the net and a goal past DiPietro of Canada.

Shen’s goal-scoring talent has been shown in the past, such as when he scored three goals and one assist in six games during the CIBC Canada/Russia Series, where the top Russian prospects play the best CHL players in the three different leagues (WHL, OHL, QMJHL). Shen has the ability to score and he can do it well.

Many have said that Shen is a sleeper player in the tournament and one of the underrated prospects in the Bruins system. If his development continues the way it has, he very well could make the Providence Bruins and maybe even the Boston Bruins in the near future. Pavel Shen and Russia play Slovakia in the Quarterfinals tonight.

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 12 Recap

( Photo Credit:  Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By: Mark Allred |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Week 12 for the Providence Bruins brought three straight games to end the 2018 calendar year. The top minor-pro affiliate of the Boston Bruins certainly hope they can turn the 2018-19 campaign around and show better results in the new year. At about the half-way point of the current hockey season, the team from Rhode Island sits in the second to last spot in the seventh position in the Atlantic Division and outside the American Hockey Leagues, Calder Cup Playoff picture holding the 13th spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Providence club has a 14-15-5-0 season record after 34 games played accruing 33 points and 18 points away from catching division front-running Charlotte Checkers who have a 24-8-3-0 and 51 points. The B’s have given up 102 goals while scoring 105 needs to tighten up as a team and come to the rink with a 60 minute a night effort regardless of the up and down season thus far. The first game of 2019 is Friday night which ends a six-game road trip that saw the B’s go 2-4 and the club has gone 3-6-1-0 in their last ten games.

Hopefully, Providence is ready as the workload for week 13 isn’t going to be easy with another three-straight game schedule this weekend with two of those games at the Dunkin” Donuts Center in Providence where the B’s are 7-3-2-0. The one roadie of the weekend is in nearby in Springfield, Massachusetts against the Thunderbirds at the MassMutual Center where the Bruins are 1-2 and have a season road record of 7-12-3-0.

Let’s take a look back at the weekend that was for the Providence Bruins and some key details to who got involved offensively in the three games that ended the season-long road trip.

Friday, December 28th, 2018, Providence Bruins vs. The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Road Game)

( Photo Credit:  Providence Bruins / Flickr )

The first of the three started at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania against the Phantoms who sit in the Atlantic’s third position. The Lehigh club owned a majority of the game scoring goals in the first and third periods being up 2-0 and outplaying the visiting Bruins team until the half-way point of the last frame where the B’s started showing signs of life. Bruins prospect forward Joona Koppanen scored his first goal of the season and third of his career at the 12:39 mark of the third period assisted by rookie forward Karson Kuhlman and veteran defenseman Chris Breen.

Koppanen who started the 2018-19 season with the ECHL Atlanta Gladiators took advantage of a Phantoms turnover in their own zone to come in on Lehigh Valley goaltender Alex Lyon all alone to wrist one home for the first and only Bruins goal of the contest. The Phantoms would put the dagger in the hearts of the visiting Providence club with a shorthanded empty-netter with 30 seconds remaining in the game to seal the 3-1 victory over the B’s. Bruins rookie goaltender Dan Vladar got the start in goal stopping 17 of 19 shots in the loss. Vladar is 6-7-2-1 on the season and holds a 2.67 goals-against-average, and .889 save percentage in 16 games in this his rookie campaign.

The Providence Bruins would outshoot the Phantoms in the game by a 34 to 20 margin and would go zero for five on the man advantage. The Bruins currently sit in the 9th position when talking about the leagues best powerplay at 20.8%. This was the first time in two previous games the B’s didn’t score on the man advantage but also have to mention the exceptional play on the other side of the special team’s spectrum concerning the penalty kill. The Bruins are ranked second in the league with an 86.6% and ranked third in the league on the road with a man down.

Saturday, December 29th, 2018, Providence Bruins vs. The Hershey Bears (Road Game)

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

The first of two games against the Hershey Bears would have the Providence club travel to the Giant Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania to play the division dwelling 14-18-0-2 Hershey Bears. As in most night’s this season, the Bruins would come from behind after the Bears scored the first goal of the game late in the second period. After being down one for the first forty minutes of play, It seemed the message in between the second and third intermission lit a fire under the asses of the Bruins squad.

During the last period of the game, the B’s would, in my opinion, have their best late game heroics of the year posting four straight goals to end the night against the team from the chocolate city. Veteran defenseman Cody Goloubef scored two straight in the period to leap over the Hershey team by the score of 2-1 notching his second and third goals of the season with his third of the year coming on the powerplay. Both of Goloubef’s goals on this night we assisted by forwards Peter Cehlarik and Mark McNeill. Late in the game Providence rookie forward Karson Kuhlman would take advantage of the empty net after the Bears goaltender was pulled to score his 5th of the year and a shorthanded tally.

After a 3-1 Providence lead late in the third, Hershey Bears Head Coach Spencer Carbery would pull his netminder once again with pretty much the same results. Veteran forward McNeill would seal the win with his own empty net goal in the yawning cage for a 4-1 B’s victory. Zane McIntyre got the win in goal against the Bears stopping 23 of 24 shots for his eighth victory of the season. Zane now sits at 8-8-3 with a 3.02 goal-against-average, and .880 save percentage.

Sunday, December 30th, 2018, Providence Bruins vs. The Hershey Bears (Road Game)

  ( Photo Credit:  Providence Bruins / Flickr )

The final game of the weekend and the seasons longest road trip thus far had the Providence and Hershey teams meet once again at the Giant Center, but on this night there would be different results. The Bruins continued the trend of coming from behind as the Bears got on the board at the 5:06 mark of the first period. In the second period, the B’s would get closer by tying the score at one on a sweet backhand goal from rookie Kuhlman who accepted a heads-up pass from Trent Frederic at the side of the net. A big part of this goal from Kuhlman was the hard work and forechecking abilities of prospect Cameron Hughes who turned over the puck and brought it back of the net where a fortunate Frederic was there and quick to read the play to the crashing Kuhlman at the 11:16 mark of the second period.

Almost as soon as the puck was dropped after Kulman’s sixth goal of the year in the second period, the momentum quickly changed for the Hershey team and instantly fired back over a minute later to go ahead 2-1. Providence just didn’t have what it took as the Pennsylvania team clamped down defensively not giving the Rhode Island club any offensive opportunities ending the game with the same score mentioned above. McIntyre got his second straight start of the weekend taking the 2-1 loss stopping 17 of 19 Hershey shots and suffering his eighth defeat of the season. This was the first time this season McIntyre started consecutive games in as many nights.

Honorable Mentions

F Peter Cehlarik – Peter the great has played very well as of late posting 2-9-11 numbers in his last 12 games.

F Mark McNeill – In the last seven games, the rugged AHL veteran has 2-6-8 numbers. He has a total of 17 points in 22 games in his first year as a Providence player.

F Karson Kuhlman – After going a season-long five game stretch without a point, the former NCAA National Champion has 3-1-4  numbers in a four-game point streak.

D Cody Goloubef – After missing a majority of the December 2018 month, the veteran defenseman came back from an injury on December 29th to score two goals and continue a six-game point streak to have that foiled in Sunday’s loss to Hershey where he went pointless.

Not So Honorable Mentions

F Ryan Fitzgerald – The Providence leading point getter has been off the scoresheet for the last three games. Not saying he’s playing bad but this is the longest pointless stretch since he went five games from October 19th to November 2nd, 2018.

F Anders Bjork – After going the first seven games since his demotion to Providence where he went 1-8-9 in that timeframe has only produced one assist in this last six games. In my opinion from the games I’ve watched him play this season in the AHL, his game hasn’t gotten much better than what Bruins fans saw from him in his limited time in the NHL.

F Trent Frederic – The former first-round selection of the NHL Bruins has 1-2-3 numbers in his last 16 games. In 26 games in his first full season in the AHL Frederic has contributed 6-2-8 numbers and would like to see him get a little more offensive numbers moving forward with the skill set he brings to the team.

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Bruins Won’t Call Up Bjork…Yet

Image result for anders bjork bruins(Photo Credit: NBC Sports)

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

It’s only Human Behavior (especially in Reykjavik) to wonder what’s up with the B’s and Anders Bjork this season. What’s not “up” at the moment? His Winter Classic call from Providence.

According to Bruins’ bench boss Bruce Cassidy, the talented 22-year-old winger just isn’t ready to consistently compete at the NHL level right now. And to thrust him into such a big game, well, that just wouldn’t be fair (even with him playing his entire collegiate career for the Fighting Irish).

“I think that’s too much pressure. We all know the deal with Anders… he was a terrific player for Notre Dame, but our roster is what it is. So if he comes in, what about the guys that have helped us get here?” — NESN interview excerpt from Conor Ryan, Boston Sports Journal

Most likely, It’s Oh So Quiet in the Bjork household currently (maybe even in Iceland as well). But certainly not on social media, where fans, bloggers, wildly speculative hockey heretics, and passionate insiders are all chiming in on the breaking Bjork news:

So, what does this all mean in the big B’s picture? Should Bjork just quit & Play Dead now? I certainly hope not. But, I do agree with “Bruins Arsenal” from Twitter who’s timely take on the situation may be the most realistic given the circumstances:

I’m more of the position… I’m not [left] winging it just yet… that the latter is the more likely long-term scenario since the B’s brass knows, and has invested in, No. 10’s game, fundamentals & skill-set–and for quite some time now. The organization also wants to ensure Bjork succeeds both now AND later, even if it means missing out on an opportunity near and dear to him, his Alma Mater and his family and friends, thus leaving him in a Violently Happy mood if I had to guess (I’m also thinking of another “moody” Bjork if you can’t tell by now).

Image result for anders bjork bruins(Photo Credit: WEEI)

But, enough with all the guess work and would’ve/should’ve prognostications, I say. I couldn’t even convince an Army of Me to vote for sentimentality over common sense. Remember, Bjork DID lace up the skates for 20 games recording only 1 goal for the Black N’ Gold in Boston before being sent down to Providence to work on his game, build up his confidence and prepare for a big return to the B’s (with Big Time Sensuality no doubt).

So that return won’t be in time for the Winter Classic, which does kinda suck as the aforementioned “Bruins Arsenal” tweeted. However, I’m confident Bjork will return — just like his entertaining namesake did for her epic Vulnicura album — and with plenty to prove in the process. As we learned from another notable Notre Dame alum of sporting significance, Mr. Rudy Ruettiger, NOT getting into “the big game” maybe the best form of motivation ever.

 

If you don’t think so, that’s OK. All is Full of Love for me right now with the B’s winning big against Buffalo and gaining ground on that coveted number three playoff seed in the Atlantic. And all will be good with Anders soon, too. I just hope the parts of Bruins Nation that think It’s In Our Hands when it comes to this kid’s future maybe trust in the process just a bit more before ripping the team, management & current players apart. Because Possibly…Maybe what’s going on behind the scenes right now is what we’ll all be celebrating later.

Now, wouldn’t that be (Winter) classic, indeed?

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Bruins Prospect Gabrielle Reassigned To ECHL Wichita

( Photo Credit:  Atlanta Gladiators Instagram )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

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Yesterday there were some rumors floating around that a Boston Bruins prospect might be on the move to another team, well waking up this morning and doing my daily routine of checking the many hockey leagues transactions I indeed found a player was relocated. After Mark Divver’s tweet yesterday, B’s prospect Jesse Gabrielle was recalled after playing in 25 of 28 games this season with the Bruins “AA” minor-pro affiliate the Atlanta Gladiators. What would seem like a paper transaction this morning, the 21-year-old gritty winger was immediately reassigned by his parent National Hockey League club to the Wichita Thunder of the ECHL.

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Gabrielle was selected in the fourth round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft from Sunrise, Florida after splitting the 2014-15 season starting with the Western Hockey Leagues Brandon Wheat Kings who originally drafted him in the 2012 Bantam Draft and end the year with the Regina Pats and combining 23-21-44 numbers. In the 2015-16 campaign and the first full season under the Boston Bruins prospect umbrella, the crafty forward would have his Junior rights moved to the WHL’s Prince George Cougars where he really stretched his legs and showed promise with his creativity and increasing speed. In 72 games with the Cougars, the 5′-11″ 205-pound winger posted career-high 40-35-75 numbers including 101 penalty minutes. His points alone in his first year with Prince George had him ranked 20th in the league.  The 2016-17 year he was named as an assistant captain and contribute with 35-29-64 numbers and seemingly ready for the professional level.

The Saskatchewan, Canada native signed his entry-level contract on December 11th, 2016 and was eligible per the CHL and NHL agreement to play his first year of pro hockey closer to reaching his dream with the Providence Bruins. After paying close attention to Jesse since leaving the draft podium in 2015, this was an exciting jump for him and myself who’s watched many of his WHL games and evaluate what he could bring to the table at the AHL level. Something was off to me with the relationship from the get-go when Gabrielle played his first game in his AHL rookie year against the Springfield Thunderbirds where head coach Jay Leach was using him sparingly with minimal minutes each game. Jesse was with the Providence club for 32 games appearing in 21 of them in the 2018-18 season.

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Now, I’m not totally sure what went on and not going to mention the many theories surrounding the rumors about this topic, but I can say from what I’ve noticed and heard the two sides were like oil and water. The seemingly sour relationship between the player and organization translated in major struggles for the aspiring NHL pro while going pointless in his first 16 of 21 career AHL games and would end with 1-3-4 numbers in that timeframe. With his struggles at the AHL level, I thought for sure an assignment in the ECHL with the Gladiators team would be the next course of action for the young prodigy to create a spark in the players offensive capabilities but was shocked at the news that he was heading back to the WHL to finish the 2018-18 season.

On January 5th, 2018 Gabrielle’s rights were traded from the PC Cougars to the Regina Pats who won the bid to host the very popular Memorial Cup which celebrated its 100th year in existence later that spring. In a surprising move, he was later loaned from the Boston Bruins to the Regina club where he finished the year posting 13-6-19 numbers in 27 games and would appear in the first round of the WHL playoffs playing two games going pointless. Gabrielle would not appear in any of the 2018 Memorial Cup round-robin tournament action as he was nursing an injury sustained in the second game of the 4-3  best-of-seven series defeat to the hands of the later league champion Swift Current Broncos.

As a healthy Gabrielle tried to erase a tough 2017-18 season that certainly had it’s ups and downs as mentioned above, it wouldn’t get any easier as both sides continued to butt heads. Gabrielle mentioned in a Rinkside Rhode Island Article from website founder/writer Mark Divver back in late September of 2018 during an interview at camp that he was not contacted by Bruins management to participate in the team’s four-day development camp in late June of 2018 and not a word was spoken about Septembers rookie camp which a majority was spent in Buffalo, New York for the fourth annual Prospects Challenge. Jesse mentioned that the Bruins finally contacted him via “text” to report to Providence for their camp and go from there.

Seriously my friends! If you did not click that link from Divver’s article, I highly recommend you do for factual reasons for why I got the idea to publish this post in the first place. You can also just CLICK HERE

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As any prospect under contract would do, Gabrielle reported but would be released along with fellow forward prospect Joona Koppanen to report to the Atlanta club in the ECHL where he most recently played. If anyone needs to know, the ECHL Wichita Thunder is the “AA” minor-pro affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers and a direct affiliate of the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors.  The Wichita team is in action for two games this weekend starting tonight at the Thunder’s home InTrust Bank Arena as they host the Kansas City Mavericks and tomorrow night when the Tulsa Oilers visit. The Monday New Years Eve game will be played on the road in Kansa City, and it’s not out of the realm for Bruins prospect Gabrielle to get into any of these three matchups mentioned above.

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Regardless of where Jesse plays, he’s in year two of his current three-year entry-level contract, and it certainly seems like both sides would like to part ways and create a little distance from each other with a move like this. Of course, it remains to be seen what the outcome and the thought process will be moving forward with this prospect that has the skills to be a solid pro anywhere on any level.  Also wanted to mention that this article is not to trash the player as I did not mention some of the many things heard because of unconfirmed reports, but I will say that if there is, in fact, an issue with this talented individual, I hope he can find out what that speed bump is in his progression moving forward to succeed in his life goals. I’m also not calling out an organization for potentially playing a heavy role in all the speculation but its newsworthy in my opinion.

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Click Here For All ECHL Wichita Thunder Hockey Games Home and Away

Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 12 Preview

PBruins

(Photo Courtesy of Amanda Statland – The Sin Bin )

By Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

This weekend is the last leg of the 5-game road trip for the Providence Bruins. Our boys in black and gold currently sit at 7th in the Atlantic Division with a record of 13-13-5 (31 points) and 3-5-2 in their last 10 games. The team continues the aforementioned road trip on Friday traveling to Allentown, Pennsylvania to take on the home team Lehigh Valley Phantoms at the PPL Center. The Providence club finishes up the road trip with two games against the host Hershey Bears in Hershey, Pennsylvania on Saturday and Sunday.  

Friday, December 28th Providence Bruins vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AWAY) 

The Friday match-up marks the third time the Bruins have faced the Phantoms this season. In the first meeting, Lehigh Valley beat Providence 5-4 with the Bruins getting goals from Karson Kuhlman, Cameron Hughes, Colby Cave, and Wiley Sherman. Meanwhile, goalie Dan Vladar was off his game stopping 21 of 26 shots in net. The second meeting between the two teams saw a much better result for the Bruins. The Baby B’s beat the Philadelphia Flyers affiliate 6-3 with the Bruins getting goals from Austin Fyten (2), Cameron Hughes (2), Ryan Fitzgerald, and Jordan Szwarz, while goalie Dan Vladar looked much better in net stopping 18 of 21 shots.  

The third game of the season series will not be easy for Providence. Lehigh Valley comes into the game 18-9-1-2 (39 points) and 6-3-0-1 in their last 10 games good for 3rd in the Atlantic Division with games in hand. To make matters worse, over the past five seasons the Bruins are 4-6-0-1 at Lehigh Valley and 8-11-2-1 overall in that time frame. A major key in this game will be the number of goals scored. On the year the Phantoms score 3.8 goals a game, and Providence is 3-12-5 when giving up 3+ goals in a game. Along those same lines, the Baby B’s are 10-5-2 when they score first. Grabbing the early momentum and keeping it will go a long way to shutting down the Flyers’ affiliate. Despite the uphill battle, the Baby B’s hope they can break through against the Phantoms and grab a much needed two points.  

Saturday, December 29th and Sunday, December 30th Providence Bruins vs. Hershey Bears (AWAY) 

The Saturday and Sunday games will mark the second and third time Providence has played Hershey this season. In the first meeting between the two clubs, the Baby B’s beat the Washington Capitals’ affiliate 6-2 with the Bruins getting goals from Jordan Szwarz (2), Cameron Hughes, Anton Blidh, Kyle Cumiskey, and Tanner Pond while goalie Zane McIntyre looked great in net stopping 19 of 21 shots he faced.  

These next two games are ones the Bruins should be looking forward to. Hershey comes into them 12-17-0-2 (26 points) and 3-6-0-1 in their last 10 games good for 8th in the Atlantic Division. On top of that, Providence holds a 4-4-2 record in Hershey over the past 5 seasons and a 12-6-2-1 record overall in that time frame. A few things to look at this weekend, Providence is 9-6-2 when playing on Saturday or Sunday this season, and are 10-3-2 when leading after two periods. If they can get an early lead, the home team from Hershey could melt from the pressure. These are two games the Baby B’s should win to grab a needed four points in the standings.

Who’s hot and Who’s not for the Bruins 

Hot 

Jordan Szwarz: Over the past 5 games the Bruins’ captain has played very well, scoring three goals and tallying two assists for five total points. Leading by example is big for Szwarz who has stats of 10-5-15 overall this year. Something to start looking for as the season progresses, if Szwarz scores 20 goals this year, he would be the fifth player in Providence Bruins history with three 20+ goal seasons. One thing the OHL product does have going for him is that he’s scoring 0.625 points per game which is higher than his AHL career mark of 0.59.

Peter CehlarikOver his past 5 games Cehlarik has netted two goals while dishing out four assists for six total points. He has looked good recently, and overall on the season, he’s posted 5-15-20 numbers. If the young forward can keep up these numbers we may see him up in Boston before the season is through.

Not 

Tanner Pond: Pond has produced 1-0-1 numbers in his last 5 games. Hopefully, the center can pick it up this weekend for Providence and light up the score sheet. The gritty forward has 24 penalty minutes in 13 games in his time with the Providence Club as he’s spent most of the 2018-19 season with the ECHL’s Atlanta Gladiators. Over his career in the ECHL, the former Northeastern Husky has scored at a 0.69 point per game clip with stats of 16-28-44 in 64 games. Given a little time to acclimate himself to the AHL’s talent, Pond could find himself in the hot instead of the not category.

Karson Kuhlman: Kuhlman has found the back of the net once in his last 5 games of action. The former NCAA National Champion and 2018 Tournament MVP with the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs has been a streaky player since joining the Providence club after his commitment to his college team was over. The former Bulldog is another player who may just need some time getting used to the skill level of the AHL before climbing out of the not category. With Providence, he’s scoring at a 0.33 ( 4-7-11 in 33 games) point per game clip which is less than his college days of 0.48 (39-41-80 in 166 games).

My players to watch this weekend: 

Up Front: 

Anders Bjork: Since being sent down to Providence, Bjork is scoring at a 1.00 point per game pace with 1-9-10 numbers in 10 games played thus far. Look for him to keep it up this weekend. If he plays well, we could see Boston call him up for the Winter Classic which is being played at his Alma Mater Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

On The Blue Line: 

Connor Clifton: Clifton has played well for Providence this year posting 3-6-9 numbers in 22 games. He even saw a call-up to Boston when they needed help with injuries. Look for him to keep up his play this weekend. The young defenseman’s uptick in scoring is not as surprising as one may think. While at Quinnipiac University he was scoring 0.36 points per game (19-37-56 in 156 games). This is much closer to this season’s 0.41 points per game than last’s of 0.24. 

In Net:  

Dan VladarI would look for Vladar to have a good weekend for Providence, especially with the games against Hershey. The Bears have had a rough go of it this season, and Vladar could shine against them. Something to look for, the young goalie is 4-3-1 on the road this year stopping 212 of 234 shots for a .906 save percentage and  2.51 goals against average.

I am optimistic that the Baby B’s will find some magic this weekend before they return home. The game against Lehigh Valley will be tough. However, the two games against Hershey are ones they should absolutely win. If our boys in black and gold can skate away from the weekend with at least four points, it would go a long way to helping them climb the Atlantic Division standings. We will catch you up next week and let you know how the team fared but feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, and Go, B’s, Go!

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