Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Sign Multiple Free Agents

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(Photo Credit: Offical ECHL Atlanta Gladiator’s Hockey Club)

By: Ian Frazier | Follow me on Twitter @ifrazier95

The Atlanta Gladiators have been quite busy with free-agent transactions, a few of which are big-ticket players. The ECHL affiliate of the Boston Bruins opened up the league’s free agency period by hitting the market signing several players. From forwards to defense, the Gladiators made many moves to bolster their roster for the 2019-20 season.

To start, the Gladiators signed a pair of free-agent forwards Anthony Collins and Logan Nelson. These two are no strangers to playing the Gladiators since last season they both played for their rivals the Indy Fuel. Collins, a 29-year-old forward out of Langley, British Columbia is about to play in his seventh season in the ECHL and first with Atlanta. Last season with the Fuel, Collins managed to score zero goals and record one point on one assist and 94 penalty minutes in thirty-one games played. He is being brought in to be a rotational forward who will serve as a bottom-six. Nelson, the 25-year-old gritty forward out of Rogers, Minnesota, spent the beginning of last year with the Orlando Solar Bears before being traded to the Indy Fuel. He recorded 16 goals, 25 assists for 41 points in 64 games during the 2018-19 season and was also a big factor in Indy’s Kelly Cup playoff push last spring.

On defense, the Gladiators locked up a pair of their in-house free agents by re-signing Zach Malatesta and Jack Stander to new contracts. Malatesta might sound familiar as he is a Boston native and played Junior Hockey for the Boston Jr. Bruins and is now playing for Atlanta. As he begins his third season with the club, he has six goals, 27 assists for 33 points in 108 games. He was very durable last season in which he played all 72 games of the ECHL season. Stander, the 24-year-old out of Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan, played hockey at Canisius College in New York before transferring to Atlanta. Last season he scored three goals, with 12 assists totaling 15 points. Both of them are key members of the Gladiators defense, and it was imperative they get them locked up early as soon as possible.

A couple of big pieces were also added to the roster by signing defenseman Jake Flegel and forward Thomas Frazee. While Flegel returns from last year’s roster, Frazee is a big addition to the team. Flegel, the 27-year-old defenseman from Ajax in Ontario, Canada played at Adrien College in Michigan before he transferred to the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) and then the ECHL. After one game last season in the SPHL, he joined the Gladiators where he recorded three goals and added three assists for six points. Frazee, the 29-year-old forward from Vancouver, British Columbia is considered one of the bigger names on the market in ECHL free-agency this season. He was on the Gladiators during the 2015-16 season tallying 16 goals, 31 assists for 47 points in 71 games.

The following year he recorded a career-high 19 goals, with 20 assists totaling 39 points in 60 games before he went on loan to the San Antonio Rampage in the AHL. He entered the last offseason as a free agent and decided to sign back with Atlanta after fielding many offers from other teams. He put up 15 points in 12 games on 5 goals and 10 assists. Because of his dynamic ability to play as a team supporter, the Gladiators re-signed him this offseason after he tested free agency. Expect Frazee to get top-six minutes going forward in 2019-20.

The Gladiators were busy in free agency, and we will see how these players this upcoming season as the Gladiators hope to make a long postseason run after falling short of the playoffs last year.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 141 that we recorded on 8-18-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Bruins Renew Affiliation With The Atlanta Gladiators

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(Photo Credit: Amanda Bingham / gwinettdailypost.com)

By: Ian Frazier | Follow me on Twitter @ifrazier95

Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced today that the organization has renewed its affiliation with the Atlanta Gladiators for the 2019-20 season. The Bruins originally made the first affiliation agreement back in the 2015-16 season and now enter their third affiliation after 2017-18’s renewal with this announcement.

Gladiators head coach Jeff Pyle states that “this affiliation with Boston and Providence has provided great support for all clubs involved, and we look forward to developing the relationship and providing good young players for depth from our side that can help all of us be successful as well as bring more Gladiators and Bruins fans together at matches.” Gladiators team president Jerry James states that the club is “excited to share great hockey history with Boston and be able to extend the fanbase in the Atlanta metro area and surrounding communities.”

The Gladiators first began as the Mobile Mystics located in Mobile, Alabama from 1995-2002. In 2003 the franchise relocated to Georgia where they played in Gwinnett County and therefore were renamed the Gwinnett Gladiators. That name might sound familiar to some as they were the ECHL affiliate of the Atlanta Thrashers back in the day. When the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg and became the Jets, the club changed their name to the Atlanta Gladiators to give Atlanta a hockey team that supports the growing community. They also served as the ECHL affiliate of the Blackhawks, Blue Jackets, Sabres, and Coyotes at one point. Also, both the South Carolina Stingrays and the Reading Royals served as the Bruin’s affiliates in the past

Because of this renewed affiliation, the Bruins can continue to designate players in their development system to the Gladiators. This should provide some much-needed development time for any prospects the Bruins feel they need to see more growth out of before they are ready to be called up to Providence. Keep in mind that the Bruins are not allowed to send down players from the NHL directly to the ECHL. They would have to choose which prospects in their development system to send to the ECHL. The prospects chosen are mostly ones that the Bruins don’t see being ready for the NHL, but they would like to keep them in their system. Therefore they can send them down to the ECHL to get some playing time. Many goalies in the system can be sent to the ECHL to develop “pro-like” skills and give the club something to keep an eye on down the road. Many goalies that have played in the NHL today have started their careers in the ECHL.
Sweeney says he “thanks the Gladiators franchise for the renewed affiliation and we like to extend our gratitude to the many associates of the ECHL club and we would like to thank the community of Duluth, Georgia for its unwavering support of the Gladiators and the Bruins.”

The Bruins should have some prospects in the system that don’t fit right now that would benefit spending a couple of seasons in the ECHL before they get a crack at Providence. One thing for sure is that the renewed Bruins/Gladiators affiliation should bring some more fans who live near Atlanta together as well as attract some new ones.

Allred: Top-10 Bruins Prospects

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

As a diehard Boston Bruins fan, I also pay close attention to the organization’s prospects in the American Hockey League with the Providence Bruins and lower levels of developmental hockey around the world. I believe it’s important for B’s fans to not only be up to date with what’s going on with the National Hockey League team in Boston but also who’s standing out in the prospect pool and about to cross the threshold of future NHL professional careers.

These top-ten ranking below are my thoughts on where I see these prospects in the B’s developing depth with minimal if no games in the NHL. This was a great idea from our Senior writer Mike Cratty who came to our writing team of 17 members for that offseason content and to keep the B’s conversation going. Check out the two previous prospect ranking articles from Mike Cratty HERE, and writer Lucas Pearson’s rankings Here to see the difference in opinions when it comes to this offseason topic. Without further ado, here are my Top-10 Boston Bruins Prospect Rankings.

10) Jakub Zboril

( Photo Credit: ProvidenceBruins.com )

Sometimes first-round NHL drafted players don’t get to the highest level in the world after leaving the draft podium, but with NHL contracted players ahead of Zboril it gives time to properly develop. The now 22-year-old two-way defenseman has one-year remaining on his current entry-level contract before becoming a restricted free agent. Jakub will most likely spend another season with the Providence Bruins where he’s played in 124 career games posting 8-30-38 numbers. In two career NHL games during his callups from the AHL, Zboril went pointless but did get a taste of the NHL which could drive him to seriously compete for a spot at training camp in September.

9) Zach Senyshyn

( Photo Credit: ProvidenceBruins.com )

Another young player with tremendous upside when he was selected in the first round in 2015 along with the aforementioned Zboril. In my opinion, Senyshyn has the attributes to be an NHL’er, but the pipeline ahead of him hasn’t been easy to crack the code to be a regular. With one-year remaining on his entry-level deal Zach is going to have to work harder than ever to get the attention of the Bruins brass high above to address a serious need on the right side of the B’s forward core.

In 132 career AHL games with Providence, the 22-year-old has 26-24-50 numbers and in two games during the 2018-19 campaign got his first career NHL goal when he was called up and played in a 3-0 victory over the Minnesota Wild. I can see Senyshyn playing a majority of next year in Providence, but he could also get more looks during this upcoming 2019-20 NHL season.

8) Jeremy Lauzon

( Photo Credit: ProvidenceBruins.com )

Jeremy is another prospect that is being hindered by the bottlenecking factor of this Bruins organization, especially for a depth defenseman. Lauzon is on the last year of his entry-level deal and overly not sure of his NHL timeline with the core ahead of him. I’d expect he’s going to have a solid camp and will impress those who are constructing a winner in the next regular season campaign but another season in Providence developing is what I see in my crystal ball. Lauzon did play in 16 games at the NHL level during the 2018-19 season and thought he played well earning his first and only NHL goal in that timeframe. With Providence appearing in 81 games the former 2015 second-round selection posted 2-12-14 numbers in his career thus far in the AHL.

7) Trent Frederic

( Photo Credit: Team Shred Photography )

By far, one of my favorite prospects in the Bruins system. Frederic has speed and creativity, but above all, he plays with that edge that can get him into the NHL Bruins lineup no matter what forward line. He has good speed with or without the puck, and his strength in the faceoff circle is another tremendous attribute when winning draws in critical situations.

The 2018-19 season was Frederics first full season of AHL hockey and as a rookie in the league contributed offensively with 14-11-25 numbers. I still believe that Trent’s game can only get better with his time developing in Providence but did have a few good looks in his first career NHL games in the 2018-19 season where he spent 15 games with the Boston club failing to register a point.  Frederic is another big kid with serious upside as a 21-year-old and can definitely see his offensive numbers getting better with the upcoming season with two more full seasons under his current entry-level contract.

6) Kyle Keyser

( Photo Credit: TheAHL.com / NBCSports.com )

Signed to an entry-level contract as an undrafted free agent back in October of 2017 after losing former Bruins prospect netminder Malcolm Subban via the waiver process to the Vegas Golden Knights. Since Keyser’s addition to the future plans of the Bruins crease, the Coral Springs, Florida native has really impressed me and continues to pass other goaltending prospects that were drafted in previous years.

Keyser is a 20-year-old netminder who’s eligible for the AHL action in the upcoming season. With Zane McIntyre out of the picture and the Bruins signing Maxime Legace to a one-year deal to add to the netminding depth there are rumors he could start his minor-pro career in the ECHL. The AHL full time is not out of the realm depending on what the B’s want to do with goaltender Dan Vladar. Kyle had a career year last season playing for the OHL’s Oshawa Generals where he tied his career-high in games played with 47 and a record of 32-8-0 with a 2.45 goals-against-average and .915 save percentage.

5) Axel Andersson

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

One of the more intriguing defensive prospects, in my opinion.  Drafted in the second round in 2018, Andersson was quickly signed to an entry-level contract after the close of the teams annual Development Camp. The 6′-0″ 180-pound defenseman has impeccable skating abilities along with impressive edge work. He has a high hockey IQ and the ability to snap tape to tape stretch passes for quick transition offensively.

Andersson is not a point-producing blueliner, but that part of his game could be incorporated with his time in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Moncton Wildcats a team who selected him in the 2019 CHL Import Draft where he went 30th overall in the first round. From the folks I talk to in the Moncton, New Brunswick Canada area is that he’s going to be heavily relied on the backend and could see top-line minutes in all situations.

4) Jakub Lauko

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

Probably one of the most exciting prospects when it comes to raw talent. Lauko’s speed and puck control in full speed has been a pleasure to watch in his first development camp and his games in the “Q” with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. After he was selected in the third round of the 2018 NHL draft, he joined the Huskies club a year later as the Rouyn-Noranda club had his rights from drafting him in the CHL import draft. Lauko and the Huskies would go onto have one of the best seasons known to be with the team being the best in the QMJHL during the regular season, capturing the Presidents Trophy in the playoffs, and marching into Halifax, Nova Scotia to take home the Memorial Cup,

In 44 games for the Huskies, Lauko contributed with 21-20-41 numbers and 6-7-13 totals in the postseason. He’s definitely a work in progress and will be in the pro ranks soon enough, but I’m a firm believer in properly developing players and could see him back with the Huskies for the upcoming 2019-20 season. The AHL is another possibility but like I said another solid year in the QMJHL defending the outstanding President Trophy and Memorial Cup-winning year wouldn’t be a bad idea.

3) John Beecher

( Photo Credit: by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images )

Beecher is a 2019 first-round draft pick that has intimidating size and speed for an 18-year-old that’s about to start his NCAA hockey career at the University of Michigan in the fall of 2019. With players like Studnicka, Lauko, and Keyser excused from the 2019 Bruins Development Camp festivities, Beecher had the spotlight on him as the new kind in the system. His power forward mentality and creativity for a bigger player has been something to watch that’s for sure. His tremendous upside was on full display in the 2019 World Junior Summer Showcase held in Plymouth, Michigan where he was in the top-six of the tournament scoring for earning 4-1-5 numbers in five games played.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what this type of player he becomes at Michigan in his first year of collegiate hockey. If he can earn five points in five games on a team highlighted with names like Cole Caufield, Arthur Kaliyev, and Joel Farabee, the young Beecher could see an increased role with the NCAA Wolverines in a top-six powerhouse role under the tutelage of Head Coach Melvin Pearson and play with fellow B’s prospect Jack Becker.

2) Urho Vaakanainen

( Photo Credit: NBC Sports )

If any prospect defenseman is ready to cross the threshold of a long NHL Bruins career, it’s former first-rounder Vaakanainen. Due to an unfortunate head injury to start the 2018-19 NHL regular season, Urho would come back to the game later after recovering from a concussion to play the remaining games of the year with the Providence Bruins. The 20-year-old Vaakanainen started his pro career with Providence and was called up in October of 2018 due to injuries at the NHL level.

After only two NHL games and zero points, Urho suffered a concussion and didn’t return to the game for two months. When he did return to the game, he was placed in Providence where he played the remainder of the 2018-19 AHL season. Vaakanainen’s return would be in mid-January of 2019 and in 30 games to close the regular season Urho posted 4-10-14 numbers. As mentioned above a few times, current NHL contracts in Boston could hinder Vaakanainen from an NHL return for the upcoming season but the rumors of B’s defenseman going on the LTIR to start the year, Urho could easily make a return to the NHL lineup without a doubt.

Jack Studnicka

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

Drafted in the second round of the 2017 NHL Draft, Studnicka has worked extremely hard the last couple of seasons trying to make the NHL out of training camp. This year he could very well be in the mix for a forward position, but with the current depth up the middle, jack very well could see time on the wing if needed. The 6′-1″ 172-pound natural center has spent the last four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League and last season posting 12-22-34 numbers in 30 games for the Oshawa Generals before being shipped to the Niagara Icedogs via trade where he posted 24-25-49 numbers in 30 games played.

Between Oshawa where Captain Jack played three seasons prior and Niagara for a 30 game stint, Studnicka had his best offensive numbers posting 36-47-83 totals for his best OHL career season surpassing his previous career-high of 72 points in the 2017-18 campaign. As a person that like to see Bruins prospects properly develop, I’d like to see Studnicka play at least a full season in the AHL because if the B’s organization is seriously considering moving him to a wing position, he should learn that transition in Providence with what’s looking like a very impressive lineup for the upcoming season.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 139 that we recorded on 8-2-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Sticher.

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.
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  • 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.

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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!

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

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