NHL Free Agency: Bruins To Sign Goaltender For Minor-Pro Depth

( Photo Credit: Dave Sandford /Allsport )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney and staff certainly have their hand full this offseason with locking down restricted free agents highlighted by names such as Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy, and Danton Heinen. Also, on offseason agenda is to negotiate with unrestricted free agents before the July 1st NHL Free Agent Frenzy deadline. Forward’s Marcus Johansson and Noel Acciari are currently per B’s GM Sweeney in discussions for a return which might seem unlikely with the salary cap sitting at $12 million per  CapFriendly.com.

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Regardless if players are coming and going after Monday’s free agent deadline, one thing that intrigued me was what Sweeney said in his post 2019 Bruins Development Camp press conference. Sweeney mentioned that the club will, in fact, be actively shopping the free agent market for another goaltender. With NHL netminders Jaroslav Halak and Tuukka Rask under contract and seemingly not going anywhere for another year, this potential free agent signing is pointing towards the developmental depths of the organization with a crease addition in the AHL with the Providence Bruins.

It seems like the end of the road for AHL goaltender Zane McIntyre a player who’s been the property of the organization since 2010 when the B’s selected him in the sixth round from the USHL’s Fargo Force and later attended the University of North Dakota for three seasons. Assuming McIntyre does depart, many would think prospect goaltender Dan Vladar and Kyle Keyser who signed as a free agent back in October of 2017 would be fine manning the crease but with this recent news, it looks like the organization could be shifting players around for the upcoming season.

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Now I know many minor-pro teams have had the three-headed monster in goal in the past, but in my opinion, it’s not a very good idea. Playing time is so important to developing netminders, and in a league that predominantly operates on a Friday to Sunday weekly game schedule, one goaltender may take a step back in his pro progression due to lack of playing time. Another scenario that many may be sour about and get away from the potential three-ringed circus in Providence is to place one netminder in the ECHL whenever a Premier “AA” Bruins affiliate is mentioned. At the close of the 2018-19 campaign, the B’s do not have an ECHL club to work with as a feeder league to the higher AHL.

When the Bruins were affiliated with the Atlanta Gladiators, prospect goaltender Vladar spent a full season in the “Coast” and even though his numbers weren’t great on a struggling Atlanta franchise, he was there to get increased playing time and a whole lot of shots. Vladar’s experience in the ECHL was a positive one and could be the route this B’s organization takes again from another player that’s eligible to join the minor-pro ranks such as Kyle Keyser. After a career year in 2018-19, posting a record of 38-8-0, a goals-against-average of 2.75 and .915 save percentage, Kyle is more than ready to make the jump regardless of what pro level he ends up in.

It’s hard to say what avenue the Bruins take in signing another goaltender. Sweeney didn’t exactly give any indication if the franchise is going to look for experience or youth in the addition so I did some searching to see who would be a good fit with our developing netminders at the AHL level from both sides of the coin. Below is an idea in opinion form of course on who I would go after if the choice was mine.

Going With Experience?

Andrew Hammond

( Photo Credit: American Hockey League / Scott Paulus )

Yes, the hambugler will be looking for work next summer, and I believe he’d be a fantastic fit for the goaltending depth for the Bruins. In 56 NHL games, the British Columbia Canada native has a record of 27-15-6 with a 2.31 GAA and .923 Save%. Hammond played last season with the AHL’s Iowa Wild and had a record of 19-14-0. Might be a sneaky move to get a player like Hammond under the umbrella of the B’s organization with a one-year two-way cap friendly deal. The 31-year-old netminder made $300K in the Minnesota Wild’s system.

Chad Johnson

( Photo Credit: Alchetron )

Old friend Chad will also look to continue his career, and if he doesn’t field any NHL offers after July 1st, the Bruins could certainly come calling for the 33-year-old’s services. After already playing in Boston, this would be a solid veteran addition from a player that seen it all from so many different angles. Sadly, after Johnson posted his best year in the NHL when he backstopped the B’s to a 17-4-0 record, he really didn’t do much better with any of the several organizations he’s been with the last several years.  He did have a 22 win season with the Buffalo Sabres, but he also had 16 losses that year. In 192 career NHL games, Johnson has an 80-72-15 record with a 2.73 GAA and .907 Save%. Johnson’s salary was $1.75 million so if he’s still available depending on how long the B’s want to wait he’d be a decent low-risk insurance policy and mentor to a goaltender like Vladar.

Calvin Pickard

( Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports )

Pickard has not had any luck securing a job in the last few seasons being waived and claimed by several teams looking to make space or add to the respected team’s depth, but I believe he still has something to give. In 104 career NHL games, he has a record of 32-50-9 spending time with Colorado, Toronto, Philadelphia, and Arizona.  The 27-year-old Moncton, New Brunswick native, might be a solid addition to the goaltending depth and a player that can start the year in Providence and be ready at a moments notice if Halak or Rask get injured. A one-year, two-way contract wouldn’t break the bank to have that security blanket, in my opinion.

Going With Youth?

Zachary Fucale

( Photo Credit: The Journal Gazette / Jeremy Wadsworth )

Fucale was a highly touted goaltending prospect that slowly slipped down the depth chart of the Montreal Canadiens who drafted him in the second round back in 2013. The 24-year-old has bounced up and down the minor league ranks having yet to see anytime in the show. They say goaltenders take longer to develop, so why not take a chance on Zachary and see what he can do with the tutelage of Bruins goaltending coaches Bob Essensa and assistant Mike Dunham. Last season with the ECHL Fort Wayne Komets, Fucale had a 20-9-3 record and although its a gamble his cap number wouldn’t be terrible if they wanted to take a risk.

Brandon Halverson

( Photo Credit: NHL.com / New York Rangers )

Halverson is another goaltender that’s been through the rigors of the AHL and ECHL all with the New York Rangers. The 23-year-old Michigan native posted an 8-11-0 record with the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack and first-year ECHL affiliation the Maine Mariners where he had a 15-13-1 record. This might not be the greatest idea, but he is young and could serve a valuable service with Providence on a one-year roll of the dice.   A $600K two-way contract is not out of the realm to add depth in the crease. With only one NHL game under his belt, this is obviously not the ideal scenario in case something happens with the Boston goaltending in the NHL.

Mason McDonald

( Photo Credit: ECHL / Kansas City Mavericks Verified Account )

McDonald is a good sized netminder that hasn’t seem to have caught on to full-time professional expectations that the Calgary Flames expected of him when they selected him in the second round in 2014. I feel that he’s another player that could use a change of scenery and guidance to be a solid pro either at the AHL level or the NHL if needed. With no previous NHL games on his resume, I believe the drive is still there for Mason, and if I was the Bruins GM and adding depth, it’s not a bad low-risk thought. He’s another suggestion that the training staff and goaltending coaches could mold into something but who knows. McDonald played in 36 games last season with the ECHL Kansas City Mavericks and had a record of 23-10-3.

Exploring the European free agent market is another avenue the Bruins and scouting staff might consider. I know the ending was a train wreck but finding a goaltender like Niklas Svedberg’s who had two great seasons for Providence posting a record of 65-24-6 in 97 career games for the top minor-pro affiliate of the NHL Bruins. Again, who knows what’s going to happen with the Bruins and their search for another depth goaltender, but it should be interesting to see who in fact they do sign and what shifting will be done in the minor ranks to facilitate the addition.

Check out last weeks Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 133 below!

Exploring ECHL Affiliates for Bruins’ 2019-2020 Season

( Photo Credit: ECHL.com )

By: Ian Frazier | Follow me on Twitter @ifrazier95

With the 2018-2019 season coming to a close and the Bruins still playing for the Stanley Cup, the offseason is right around the corner for the black and gold.

Down in the ECHL, the Bruins’ affiliate Atlanta Gladiators had a disappointing season by missing the Kelley Cup playoffs by only a few points. While their season comes to a close and the Kelley Cup is in the hands of the Newfoundland Growlers, the negotiation period is about to open up for NHL teams to discuss affiliation deals with ECHL clubs. The Atlanta Gladiators contract is ending with the Bruins and therefore leads us to the question of “who do the Bruins look to sign an affiliation contract with?” Below are a few options to consider.

Atlanta Gladiators

Quite simply the easiest team to link with the Bruins due to their current contract ending and with the familiarity between both front offices. The Bruins could simply sign a renewal contract on the dotted line and continue to partner with the Gladiators.

Greenville Swamp Rabbits 

Located in South Carolina, the Swamp Rabbits have been chomping at the bit to grab an affiliate for years as they have been independent for the last three seasons. The south has become a new age hockey region with the surges of the Hurricanes and Lighting so maybe it’s worth dipping into the “snowbird” fans down in the Carolina’s.

Rapid City Rush

Located in South Dakota, Rapid City has been an interesting team in the last couple of years in terms of affiliation. They originally started as the affiliate to the Minnesota Wild until Vegas came into the league and then they were assigned to them until Vegas signed an affiliation contract with the Fort Wayne Komets. This team has a very good financial situation with just signing a five-year contract extension to remain in the ECHL. A Bruins affiliation could help extend that contract longer if the Bruins are partnered with them in the next few years when the next ECHL team contract is up.

What about other teams? 

As many of you New England locals know, the Manchester Monarchs were also an ECHL team located in the New Hampshire area and would have been an option as an affiliate. Unfortunately, the organization folded last offseason due to financial difficulties once the LA Kings dropped their affiliation with them, and they struggled to gain any attendance boost after the fact.

The same thing can be said about the Quad City Mallards who were located in Iowa and Illinois (City is located right on the border). Quad City used to be affiliated with the Anaheim Ducks until they opted out of the contract due to them suspending operations.

When the offseason starts, the Bruins will have some interesting choices when it comes to affiliates, and Jeremy Jacobs will have some decisions to make. Look for the affiliate announcement in July if the Bruins go for a new partnership or earlier if they decide to resign the agreement with Atlanta.

Help Wanted: Join Our Digital Content Team!

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Our Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast and affiliated blackngoldhockey.com website is looking to fill several open positions on our Boston Bruins related digital content team. We are seeking enthusiastic individuals that are team-oriented and willing to participate in group discussions. Applicants don’t need to have sports journalism degrees to join our team, but we do ask that you either have previous writing experience or possess decent punctuation and writing skills. Knowledge of the media program WordPress is preferred but not required. We do offer a training program for those who might not be familiar with WordPress.

We are looking for more contributors in the following areas:

  • National Hockey League Boston Bruins Writers
  • American Hockey League Providence Bruins Writers
  • Premier “AA” ECHL Affiliate Writers
  • Bruins CHL Prospects Writers ( OHL / QMJHL / WHL )
  • Bruins European Prospect Writers ( KHL /  Czech Extraliga / SHL / Finland SM-Liga / German DEL / IIHF World Juniors etc. )
  • Bruins NCAA Prospect Writers ( Men’s Division 1 Only )
  • NWHL Boston Pride Women’s Hockey Writers
  • Bruins Player Analytic Writers ( Corsi / Fenwick / Heat Maps )
  • Bruins Youtube Video Contributors  ( Minimal Writing Required ).
  • Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast Co-Host. We are looking to add another member to our show covering the Providence Bruins and B’s prospects in all developmental leagues around the world. This is a weekly show during the regular season.
  • Editors and Copy Writers Are Needed! These Specialties Come With Reduced Article Publications Per Month. Workload Can Be Discussed During the Interview Process.
  • On-sight reporters for weekly Black N’ Gold video reports from the Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton, Mass. Audio and video equipment will be provided to the right candidates.

If you are interested in any one of the open positions above, please continue forward with our website requirements below to see if you have the time and dedication to be a team member with us.

  • Must have a Twitter account or means of establishing one.
  • Article length is to be 500 words or more unless you have access to the “Breaking News” group where a maximum of 250 words is acceptable to get the news out faster. Deeper In-depth articles are accepted, but please stay under 2500 words because a majority of our readers are viewing from mobile devices
  • From September 1st to when the Boston Bruins regular season and playoffs are over, each member is required to post four articles a month. During the offseason, the required total monthly posts to keep an account with us is two.
  • We have a Slack channel for team communication and activity on there is mandatory, or at least please acknowledge important group announcements. Slack can be viewed via mobile phone app or on any PC.
  • We ask that you be a team player and take a few minutes to support other group members with the kind gesture of sharing everyone’s work on your social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter and so on. Everyone here at BNG is expected to have each other’s backs with the ultimate team support.
  • If an opportunity comes up to attend a Boston Bruins related events as a media member/guest, these privileges will go to those who go above and beyond. To be granted access under the BNG team umbrella, you must be a member that we can count on and show up to these events as a professional and not a fan. Bruins fan attire that will not be acceptable in any media situation includes team jerseys, t-shirts, and so on. Please dress appropriately.
  • Besides original articles, if you happen to get an article idea from any member of “Big Media” you need to give those folks credit by hyperlinking their twitter account when mentioning the author and also hyperlink the article you got the information from. Plagiarizing other media members work without the appropriate mention from where the news came from will result in immediate termination.
  • Last but not least, please write your articles as a professional. These means do not bash any player or the Bruins organization for something that you don’t agree with. Bring respectful angles to your argument instead of this sucks and that player is terrible types of contributions.

If you’ve read through everything above and are interested in applying for one of the many open positions available, please send an email to blackngoldhockeyblog@gmail.com and tell us a little about yourself and provide a writing sample of your previous work if available. We hope to hear from you as we look to grow our team! Take Care and Go, Bruins!

Mark Allred – Founder & CEO

The Future Of The Boston Bruins ECHL Affiliation

( Photo Credit: icethetics.co )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

The Boston Bruins recently announced a 10 year extension with their AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins. It was a record agreement and a tribute to the successful partnership between the two teams, which Bruins president, Cam Neely, cited as a major factor in securing a long-term deal. With the AHL affiliation tied down until 2029, the B’s have yet to make a decision, at least publicly, on the agreement with current ECHL affiliate, the Atlanta Gladiators, which ends this season.

The Gladiators became the ECHL affiliate of both the Boston Bruins and the Providence Bruins after signing a two-year agreement in 2015. In February of 2017, the agreement was extended a further two years, securing the affiliation until the end of the current season. With the announcement of the 10 year extension with Providence back in March, many expected the B’s to follow-up with news on their relationship with Atlanta, but we are still waiting. With the Bruins focused on the Stanley Cup playoffs, an announcement on the future of the ECHL affiliation is unlikely until the team is finished on the ice.

Boston has a number of options, the most obvious would be to extend the affiliation with Atlanta. The Bruins have a number of goaltenders in their prospect pool and the ECHL is a great place for them to hone their skills. Providence goaltender Dan Vladar featured regularly for Atlanta in the 2017-18 campaign and with Kyle Keyser eligible for the pros next season, Atlanta would be an ideal spot for him to continue his development. Throughout the regular season, as players were summoned from Providence to Boston, Atlanta reinforced Providence with the likes of Tanner Pond and Sean Bonar, while giving regular playing time to Olivier Galipeau, Joel Messner and Brett McKenzie. The fundamental role of a minor-pro affiliate is to support the senior teams, Atlanta has certainly fulfilled that role for the Bruins.

It is possible that the Bruins part ways with Atlanta. If they do, there are currently two independent ECHL teams that they could partner with, the Greenville Swamp Rabbits or the Rapid City Rush. Geographically this would not make much sense, as neither team is close to New England. Unless the B’s plan on bringing the affiliation closer to home, it would be a shame to sever ties with Atlanta after building a close relationship with them, only to start over with another team based so far away.

It was reported earlier in the season that the Manchester Monarchs are seeking new ownership, casting doubt on their future. This creates a potential opportunity for the Bruins to step in and replace the LA Kings as the senior affiliate. It would make sense to have an affiliate closer to both Boston and Providence to reduce travel between the teams, making it easier for players to move up and down and allowing the organization to keep a closer eye on prospects. Perhaps a relationship with the Bruins would help the Monarchs, who have seen their attendance decline since they were switched to the ECHL. This is of course speculation, for now the Monarchs are still affiliated with the LA Kings, though things could change quickly with new ownership.

If the Bruins were to end the affiliation with Atlanta, expect the Glads to strike a deal with the Nashville Predators organisation. The Gladiators have worked closely with the Nashville’s AHL affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals this season. Atlanta coach, Jeff Pyle, likes to push his players towards the higher levels and a relationship with a senior team makes that possible. Atlanta would most likely become Nashville’s ECHL  affiliate if Boston were to move on.

The Gladiators have certainly lived up to their side of the bargain, what Boston decides to do remains to be seen. For now we can only speculate on the future of their ECHL affiliation.

Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Season Ending Week 26 Recap

( Photo Credit: Dale Zanine / gwinnettdailypost.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

The Atlanta Gladiators season came to an end on Sunday as they came up short against the South Carolina Stingrays. The Glads fought hard all week but an overtime loss to Orlando followed by two defeats against South Carolina left them three points short of the playoffs after 72 games.

The week began in Orlando where the Glads faced off against the Solar Bears for the last time this season. Determined to get ahead of South Carolina in the playoff race, Atlanta took the lead midway through the first period with a power play goal from Nolan LaPorte, assisted by Justin MacDonald and Joel Messner. The Glads doubled their lead four minutes later when Brett McKenzie found the net with help from Jake Flegal and Hugo Roy. The home team fought back in the second, forcing save after save from Sean Bonar who was doing an incredible job in the Atlanta goal. Orlando finally beat Bonar with less than two minutes remaining in the second, Chris LeBlanc the scorer. The third frame began with another Orlando goal, Alexander Kuqali leveled for the hosts. Neither team could add to the score before the end of regulation so the game went into overtime. Colby McAuley sealed the comeback for Orlando after four minutes, 3-2 the final score.

After the Orlando game, the Glads traveled to South Carolina for the first of two matches against the Stingrays to decide the final playoff place. As expected it was an exciting start, with both teams desperate to establish a lead. Tad Kozun put the hosts ahead after nine minutes. Cameron Askew doubled the ‘Rays lead in the final minute of the first, putting the Glads two down at the break. Atlanta came out swinging in the second but could not find the back of the net before Askew put South Carolina three goals ahead. Atlanta refused to give in and Derek Nesbitt finally got them a goal to kick-start the comeback, assisted by Nick Bligh and Hugo Roy, ending the second period 3-1.

The Glads were awarded a power play early in the third period, they took full advantage of the opportunity and Bligh scored with help from Brett McKenzie and Matt Lane. Coach Pyle’s men kept going and Joel Messner scored a stunning one-handed goal to tie the game, LaPorte and McKenzie were credited with the assists. The Glads had the momentum but were stunned in the final minute of regulation when Jordan Samuels-Thomas put the ‘Rays back into the lead. Seconds later Kozun scored an empty-netter to complete a 5-3 win for South Carolina, a bitter result for Atlanta who fought hard to get back into contention.

The Stingrays were in Atlanta for the final game of the regular season. For the Gladiators, the objective was simple; a win in regulation would see them into the playoffs, any other result and it would be South Carolina heading into the postseason. The ‘Rays were the first to score, a power-play goal from Kozun on 15 minutes gave them the lead heading into the first intermission. LaPorte scored the only goal of the second period with help from Messner and MacDonald, giving the Glads 20 minutes to beat the Stingrays to the playoffs. Andrew Cherniwchan scored for SC with about 10 minutes left in the game. Atlanta needed two goals to keep their season alive, with time running out McKenzie scored to tie the game with less than a minute to play, Lane and LaPorte with the assists. With the crowd on the edge their seats, willing their team on, Mason Mitchell scored off the faceoff, sending South Carolina to the playoffs. It was a cruel way to end the season, and the Gladiators bowed out with a 3-2 loss.

The Glads deserve credit for turning their season around. Last Christmas they were dead and buried, lurking at the bottom of the ECHL standings. Coach Pyle rallied the team and they started 2019 with a franchise record point streak. They began to climb the South Division standings and came very close to fighting their way into the playoffs. Although they did not make the postseason, the Glads have built a solid platform to build on for next season.

Interested in going to an Atlanta Gladiators or Boston Bruins game? Take a look at the upcoming schedule and ticket availability from SeatGiant. Click the links below and use discount code BNGP to save a little cash!

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Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 26 Preview

( Photo Credit: Amanda Bingham / gwinnettdailypost.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

With 69 games played, the Atlanta Gladiators are finally on the home stretch. After looking down and out before Christmas, Jeff Pyle’s team has fought back to within touching distance of the playoffs. With three regular-season games remaining, the Glads are tied with South Carolina for the final postseason spot, the entire season comes down to the next three games.

There are four playoff spots available in the South Division, the first three have been secured by Florida, Orlando, and Jacksonville. The Glads are battling with the South Carolina Stingrays for the fourth and final spot. Both teams have 72 points each, but Atlanta has the advantage of having three games remaining compared to South Carolina’s two. If that is not compelling enough, the last two games of the season are head-to-head matchups between the Glads and the ‘Rays.

After the wave of AHL reinforcements last week, there has been very little activity on the Glads roster in the last few days. On Sunday forward Alex Overhardt was activated from reserve, while defenseman Jake Flegal was placed on reserve.

Atlanta starts the final week of the regular season on the road against the Orlando Solar Bears. The Glads thrashed them 5-1 last week, and another win would give them a huge advantage before they face the Stingrays. The Solar Bears have nothing left to play for with their spot in the playoffs secured, but they would love to upset Atlanta. The rivalry between the teams this season has produced some very physical games, this matchup will be the same. With the season on the line, Coach Pyle will ensure his players are highly motivated and will want two points to put them ahead in the playoff race. You do not want to miss this one.

After the Glads finish with Orlando, they have two back to back games against the South Carolina Stingrays. Game one is in South Carolina, and game two is in Atlanta. It truly is a winner takes all scenario and there will be no margin for errors. The previous 70 games can be forgotten for both teams, it all comes down to this, two games Glads fans simply cannot miss.

This Week’s Gladiators To Watch:

Nick Bligh: The third-year forward was in stunning form last week, notching six points (2g, 4a) in four games. The Glads offense is firing on all cylinders last week and his natural hunger for goals makes him one to watch this week.

Joel Messner: After a stint in the AHL with the Providence Bruins, the rookie defenseman returned to Atlanta in explosive form, tallying five points (2g, 3a) last week. He probably won’t maintain that level of offensive output, but he is one to watch for his defensive contributions. He is a very consistent presence on the blue line and the Glads will be pleased to have him back for the playoff push.

Derek Nesbitt: With three assists last week, Nezzy became the Gladiators all-time leading point scorer. His record-breaking season has been a joy to watch. He leads the team in points this season with 49 (17g, 32a) and his experience will be vital this week.

Interested in going to an Atlanta Gladiators or Boston Bruins game? Take a look at the upcoming schedule and ticket availability from SeatGiant. Click the links below and use discount code BNGP to save a little cash!

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Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 25 Recap

( Photo Credit: Amanda Bingham / gwinnettdailypost.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

After winning two out of four last week, the Atlanta Gladiators find themselves level on points with South Carolina with three games left in the regular season. Victories over Orlando and Jacksonville put the Glads in touching distance of the playoffs. As it stands, every game is crucial.

After a disappointing loss against Orlando the last time they met, Atlanta was in search of revenge against the Solar Bears. The Glads got off to a great start with Nick Bligh scoring the only goal of the first period, less than two minutes into the game, he was assisted by Matt Lane & Filip Pyrochta. The Solar Bears leveled midway through the second period with a goal from Zach Frye. Atlanta responded quickly, Zach Malatesta restored the lead with helpers from Zach Magwood and Jack Stander. 2-1 the score heading into the final intermission.

The Gladiators showed no mercy after the break, Brady Fleurent extended the lead with a power-play goal, assisted by Derek Nesbitt and Joel Messner. The Solar Bears had no answers for the Glads offense, and Matt Lane bagged Atlanta’s fourth of the night with help from Olivier Galipeau and Bligh. Justin MacDonald wrapped up the demolition of Orlando with an empty netter, assisted by Pyrochta and Sean Bonar. 5-1 the final score, a great start to the week for the home team.

With bags of confidence after their big win, the Glads traveled to Jacksonville for the first of two games against the Icemen. Messner found the net to put the visitors ahead, assisted by Pyrochta and Hugo Roy. Jacksonville tied the game with a goal from Kyle Shapiro, ending the first period 1-1. Atlanta’s offense exploded in the second, as Bligh put the Glads ahead with help from Nesbitt. Moments later, Messner scored his second of the night on the power play, assisted by Nesbitt and Bligh. Dajon Mingo pulled a goal back for Jacksonville, but it was quickly canceled out by Roy who notched the Glads fourth of the night, assisted by Magwood and Messner. The Icemen were crushed in the final period by an empty-netter from MacDonald and an equal strength goal from Tyson Fawcett, assisted by Fleurent and MacDonald. 6-2 the final score. Nesbitt’s assists made him the all-time leader in points for the Gladiators, congratulations Nezzy.

The rematch against the Icemen was not as fun for Atlanta fans. The Glads got off to a poor start, giving up an early short-handed goal, scored by Cameron Critchlow. Jacksonville doubled the lead in the second with a score from Garrett Ladd. Brett McKenzie grabbed one back for Atlanta, assisted by Bligh. For a while, the Glads looked threatening, and Stander managed to tie the game with help from Lane and Bligh. Seconds after catching the Icemen, the Glads let them pull away with a goal from Christophe Lalancette, 3-2 the score after two. Atlanta gave up a second short-handed goal early in the third when Wacey Rabbit scored what ended up being the game-winner. The Glads fought back with a goal from Stander, assisted by Fawcett, but it was in vain as Jacksonville held on for a 4-3 win.

Atlanta’s final game of the week was against the South Carolina Stingrays, with the final playoff spot at stake, both teams had everything to play for. Patrick Gaul put the hosts ahead in the seventh minute, with the only goal of the first period. Lane scored early in the second to tie the game, assisted by Pyrochta and McKenzie. South Carolina restored the lead with a goal from Grant Besse before the end of the second. The Glads refused to give up and leveled again, Magwood, the scorer with help from Roy and Messner. Unfortunately for Atlanta, it was the last time they would celebrate, a power play goal from Cameron Askew and an empty-netter from Andrew Cherniwchan sealed a 4-2 win for South Carolina.

Interested in going to an Atlanta Gladiators or Boston Bruins game? Take a look at the upcoming schedule and ticket availability from SeatGiant. Click the links below and use discount code BNGP to save a little cash!

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Bruins Extend Affiliation With Providence, So Is ECHL Deal Next?

( Photo Credit: Commercial Construction & Renovation )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The National Hockey Leagues Boston Bruins came to an agreement last week on a ten-year extension with the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League. This agreement with the top minor-pro affiliate of the B’s was one that just made sense from both sides. One, geographically having prospects and others so close to areas of operations is never a bad idea for emergency purposes, and two you can’t beat the fan support and the consistently high attendance numbers when the team is playing at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island.

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The Providence Bruins have been one of the most successful franchises when it comes to minor-pro development and has been a pipeline of the NHL B’s since the 1992-93 season. Previous to last weeks agreement the Providence club has amassed a record of  1030W-782L-96T-84OTL-60SOL in 2,053 games played over 26 years as an affiliate of the parent Boston Bruins team.  Providence has seen it’s a fair share of current Boston Bruins players such as Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Jake DeBrusk, Matt Grzelcyk, and Tuukka Rask. Since the teams, inaugural season (1992-93) the Bruins have seen three regular-season titles, five division championships, one conference championship, and of course the franchise’s only Calder Cup Championship that the club captured after the 1998-99 regular season campaign.

This is not the first time a successful minor league franchise called the city of Providence home. The NHL Bruins also housed developing players of interest with a team called the Providence Reds who per HockeyDB.com had affiliations in the AHL’s inaugural campaign in 1936 to 1938 and making returns in 1958 to 1962, and for the final time from 1963-64  to the 1968-59 season. The Reds were no joke back in the day as the organization saw nine regular-season titles, 13 division championships, and four Calder Cups. Hockey Hall of Famers such as goaltender Frank Brimsek (1937 to 1939), forwards Milt Schmidt (1936-37), and Ed Westfall (1963-64).

The 2018-19 regular season for the Providence team is quickly coming to a close with six games remaining. The B’s have a 35-24-8-3 record after 70 games and sit in the fourth position in the Atlantic Division and currently occupy the seventh position when you look at the Eastern Conference and the Calder Cup Playoff outlook. The Providence club looks to secure a postseason birth for the seventh straight season after being knocked out for three consecutive years prior to the current postseason streak.

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This season has certainly been a challenging one for second-year Head Coach Jay Leach, and the AHL Bruins from key developing players departing via emergency recalls to player injuries and finding suitable replacements to fill the roster. I believe in the current path of development from an organizational standpoint, but if you ask me how deep this Providence club can go in the postseason I’d love to think they can go all the way but with the up and down the regular season I’s be certainly happy with a Conference Final. Providence visited the third round briefly during the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs losing to the eventual Conference Champions Syracuse Crunch who beat the B’s in a best of seven series 4-1.

Regardless of my personal prediction or hope for a conference final appearance the Jekyll and Hyde home vs. road playoff schedule has to get better with the regular season records on either side of the coin. As mentioned the B’s have six games remaining and have done a fantastic job on home ice thus far with a record of 27-7-4-1 but have been sub-par away from the Dunk compiling a 13-17-4-2 record. Aside from the home and road rollercoaster this season the Bruins are going to have to figure out what’s not working on the road and figure it out quickly. The Checkers have a home record of 23-6-5-0 and the way things are lined up with travel the Checkers could easily get the first two games at home with an elimination contest back at the Dunk for game three. Lets’ hope that doesn’t happen.

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Above is a playoff primer courtesy of theahl.com website. As you can see a postseason appearance for the seventh straight time is not going to be easy especially against the leagues best Charlotte Checkers who already clinched a playoff spot with a regular season record of 46-16-7-1 good for 100 points thus far. These two teams have a 2018-19 regular season series of  4-3-1 with Providence winning only twice at Bojangles Coliseum and needing more than 60 minutes to get it done. The Bruins record at home against the Checkers is actually not bad if the B’s can extend the first round series and play another home game.  Home cooking at the Dunk this season against the Charlotte club has produced a record of 2-1-1.

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What’s next for the Boston Bruins and the future plans for an ECHL affiliation?

This is a topic that I’ve been thinking about a lot and trying to crack the code of what’s going on with the decision of where this Bruins organization could place prospect if needed at the ECHL level? First and foremost I believe the Atlanta Gladiators have a fantastic franchise and a return to the state of Georgia is always a good possibility. Another option is to find a location closer to areas of operation particularly with the above mentioned Providence club and the need for a constant pipeline of players that are able to participate quickly and play at the AHL level in emergency situations.

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One area of New England that I’m paying close attention to is the city of Manchester, New Hampshire and the current dumpster fire that’s going on with the ECHL Manchester Monarchs franchise. This metro area once was one of the Northeasts best-attended venues when the AHL Monarchs were in the Queen city before the NHL’s LA Kings came and took the AHL club and ECHL club and swapped them around making the trip for prospects in a matter of hours instead of lengthy cross country travel. Since the AHL moved westward it seems like the fan base walked out with it as season ticket numbers and overall fan attendance has dwindled to what seems like 500 fans.

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As a former season ticket holder of the AHL Monarchs and personal experience gathered from a fun place to enjoy a hockey game, it’s disturbing to hear that the ECHL is just not the product for this area and if something can’t be done soon they might miss their window to gain popularity again in the New Hampshire city with so much tradition in the sport. Purely speculating here but news in January of 2019 had the ECHL Manchester Monarchs seeking for new ownership and later reports of the organization ceasing operations for the 2019-20  season.

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I know that the current agreement with the Monarchs and their affiliation with the Lod Angles kings is ongoing and seems to be in good order regardless of the ownership news but minor-pro deals are pretty much fly by night operations and walk away from deals as seen in the past from a franchise like the AHL’s Portland Pirate and their agreement with the Cross Insurance Arena. If the Kings would like to place another minor-pro franchise closer to California, this would be a tremendous time to revitalize the Manchester hockey fandom with representation from one of New England’s most popular and respected professional franchises.

Now just spitballing here but if the Bruins were to in fact be affiliated with an ECHL franchise in Manchester I’d have to believe the numbers would be better than the current product just knowing that the Bruins label would be involved. Also, a key factor is how many actual prospects would be involved as the current number of Bruins property playing with the Atlanta club is zero. This season B’s prospects Jesse Gabrielle and Joona Koppanen were the only ones to play in Atlanta as they spent a few games there at the start of the season. Gabrielle was later reassigned to play with the Wichita Thunder halfway through this season.

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With a new Collective Bargaining Agreement coming up with the players and owners going toe to toe again soon, I believe it would be wise for both to come to common ground and agree on adding 10 more contracts to the max contracts allowable which are currently set at 50 contracts. What an increased number of contracts could do in my opinion is add more spots to develop and make better use of the ECHL and the availability that NHL teams have with their Premier “AA”  affiliations. This will certainly increase development at the middle levels and could accelerate the progression of deserving players for looks and evaluating purposes. Ten extra contracts to play with would be a fantastic way to sign undrafted players worldwide and ones that just finished college and available to be signed as free agents.

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Click Here For The Boston Bruins 2018-19 Regular Season Schedule and Ticket Info From SeatGiant.com

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Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 25 Preview

( Photo Credit: Taylor Trebotte / gwinnettdailypost.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

The race to the ECHL playoffs is almost over. With the finish line in sight, the Atlanta Gladiators face a tricky path to secure their place in the postseason. The Glads are two points behind South Carolina, who is currently in the final South Division playoff position. This week, they face Orlando at home, before three back to back road games, two against Jacksonville and one against South Carolina. Nobody said it would be easy.

The Gladiators roster was boosted by the return of defenseman Joel Messner. He was reassigned from Providence after a stint in the AHL, where he featured in 29 games. Messner was also joined in Atlanta by defenseman Filip Pyrochta and forward Zach Magwood, who return from the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals. Forward Hugo Roy has also been assigned to Atlanta by Milwaukee. To make room for the new arrivals, the Gladiators announced that forwards Jared Ross, Luke Stork, Joe Widmar, and defenseman Sean Campbell have been released from their contracts. In other news, forward Nolan LaPorte has been placed on reserve.

The Glads take on the Orlando Solar Bears in their only home game of the week. They will be desperate to avenge last weeks 5-1 defeat at the Amway Center. The Solar Bears play a physical game, and with so much on the line for Atlanta, you can expect the gloves to be dropped at some point. With this game followed by three tough road games, it will be important for the Gladiators to start this week on a positive note. Atlanta has the advantage of AHL reinforcements and will be targeting a win at home.

After the Orlando game, the Glads travel to Jacksonville for two games against the Icemen. Atlanta won 4-1 the last time they faced off at the Veterans Memorial Arena and will be looking for similar results this week. The Icemen are two points ahead of the Stingrays, but their playoff place is not secure yet. They will be fighting for their place just like the Glads so these two games will be intense, you do not want to miss out.

Atlanta will finish the week in South Carolina to take on the Stingrays, this will be a huge game for both teams. The Glads have actually won the last five matchups against the ‘Rays, but four of those games have gone into overtime. With added pressure on both teams, it will be a test of nerves as much as a test of skill. These are the types of games you have to win to be a playoff contender, it will be a must-see.

This Week’s Gladiators To Watch:

Derek Nesbitt: He was the hero last week after scoring five points (2g, 3a) in three games, with the pressure mounting as the team approaches the ‘Business’ end of the season, his experience and leadership will be vital. The ever-reliable forward is so important to this team, keep an eye on him this week.

Joel Messner: His return will improve the Atlanta defense. The numbers speak for themselves, the Glads are much better with Messner in the team. He has a great reading of the game and that allowed him to play in 29 AHL games this season. Shortly before his call up to Providence, the rookie blueliner was named as an alternate captain for the Gladiators, highlighting his importance to this team.

Sean Bonar: It is no coincidence that the Glads started winning games when Bonar got healthy. He has been one of the most important players on the team since he returned from an injury that kept him sidelined earlier in the season. A reliable goaltender is important at any level, the Gladiators are fortunate to have one of the leagues best. He has made some incredible saves this season and was featured on ESPN’s Sports Center for his heroics last week.

Interested in going to an Atlanta Gladiators or Boston Bruins game? Take a look at the upcoming schedule and ticket availability from our advertising partners over at SeatGiant. Click the links below and please use discount code BNGP to save a little cash! Thank You!

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Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 24 Recap

( Photo Credit: Taylor Trebotte / gwinnettdailypost.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

The Gladiators recovered from a tough loss in Orlando with two wins against Kansas City and Greenville to keep their playoff hopes alive. The results leave Atlanta just two points behind South Carolina in the race for the final South Division playoff spot.  With only seven games remaining, every point is crucial.

Atlanta started the week on the road to Orlando. Sean Bonar was the starting goaltender. He was tested early by two power plays from the home side, and the Solar Bears found the net soon after, with goals from Colby McAuley and Otto Somppi, giving them a comfortable two-goal lead at the end of the first period. The misery continued for Atlanta in the second, Brent Pendersen and Chris LeBlanc both scored, prompting Jeff Pyle to replace Bonar with backup goalie, Michael Bitzer. Nolan LaPorte scored late in the second, thanks to an assist from Brett McKenzie. His goal was over-shadowed by Cody Donaghey, who scored to extend Orlando’s lead back to four goals. Neither side could find the net in the final frame, and the game ended 5-1 to the Solar Bears.

The Gladiators returned home to take on the Kansas City Mavericks for game two of the week. Sean Bonar was given the chance to redeem himself as the starter, but it was the visitors who struck first. Rocco Carzo opened the scoring on the power play for Kansas City. Atlanta responded quickly with a goal from Tyson Fawcett, his first as a Gladiator, assisted by Avery Peterson. The Mavericks crept ahead with just six seconds left in the first period, with an equal strength goal from Darian Dziurzynski.

It was ‘Super Hero Night’ at the Infinite Energy Center, and the Glads needed saving. Veteran forward, Derek Nesbitt, stepped up and scored his first of the night, assisted by Nick Bligh and Zach Malatesta. With the game wide open, Greg Betzold put Kansas City back into the lead, 3-2 the score after two. Determined to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Gladiators came out fighting in the final frame. The Mavericks defense stood firm for 16 minutes but Matt Lane finally leveled the score for Atlanta, with help from Nesbitt and Jack Stander. Just 14 seconds after tying the score, Nesbitt pounced on a defensive error to fire the Glads into the lead with the game-winning goal. A dramatic end to a great game of hockey, 4-3 the final score.

The Gladiators finished the week at home against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. Bonar started the game and the Glads set out to secure a win and keep the pressure on South Carolina. Danny Elser put Greenville ahead with the only goal of the first period. The Swamp Rabbits were the better team in the second, but a goal from Jake Flegal tied the score 1-1. He was assisted by Brett McKenzie and Avery Peterson. With both sides level at the final intermission, the stage was set for an exciting third period.

Atlanta struck first with a power play goal from Joseph Widmar, assisted by Brady Fleurent and Matt Lane. Both teams continued to have chances as the clock ticked on. In the dying moments, Lane scored the winning goal with help from Nesbitt and Jack Stander. Brendan Harms pulled one back for the Swamp Rabbits with seconds remaining in the game, but it was not enough to stop the Glads from securing a 3-2 win.

Interested in going to an Atlanta Gladiators or Boston Bruins game? Take a look at the upcoming schedule and ticket availability from our advertising partners over at SeatGiant. Click the links below and please use discount code BNGP to save a little cash! Thank You!

—>Atlanta Gladiators 2018-19 Schedule & Ticket Info<—

–> Boston Bruins 2018-19 Schedule & Ticket Info <–