Bruins’ Prospect Beecher Shined At World Juniors Summer Showcase

John-Beecher

( Photo credit Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images )

By: Ian Frazier | Follow Me On Twitter @ifrazier95

Boston Bruins fans must be feeling pretty good right now after reading the reports and watching recent YouTube videos about the team’s 2019 National Hockey League first-round draft selection John Beecher. The 18-year-old Elmira, New York native was labeled as a draft steal to some experts when he was selected 30th in late Junes NHL Entry Draft from Vancouver, British Columbia. The jury is still out on him, but with the way Beecher played in the 2019 World Junior Summer Showcase held at the Team USA Arena in Plymouth, Michigan, the B’s scouting staff certainly got this one right when addressing future needs.

Beecher looked like an absolute beast compared to other prospects his age. As shown in the video above, he was able to win puck battles on the boards as well as score a couple goals down low. He also battled hard on faceoffs and generated a nice breakaway goal that was made possible by his fast acceleration down the ice beating two defenders. During his time at WJSS, he developed great chemistry alongside fellow Bruins’ prospect Curtis Hall showing their nice one-two punch that was on display during the domination of Finland 7-1. One of his biggest attributes on display was his overall team awareness. He knew exactly where his teammates were and was able to make crisp passes or be able to skate in and help contain the puck near the crease. From what he has shown so far, many hockey insiders believe his style of play is very similar to Sean Couturier with additional speed and size.

With Beecher showing flashes of top six potential, this should be great news for Bruins center David Krejci going forward. Krejci has had seasons where he struggled to have consistent scoring due to the lack of explosiveness on his right side and someone like Beecher could bring that explosiveness to the black and gold and could fill the much-needed position soon. The Bruins had a few prospects the last few seasons try out there with Jackob Forsbaka Karlsson being the most recent. JFK, however, decided to go back to Sweeden to help his development. In the meantime they found a solid replacement with Bruins forward Karson Kuhlman to hold down the fort until someone like Beecher is ready to be called up. Beecher is scheduled to transfer to the University of Michigan where he will play for the Wolverines during the 2019-20 NCAA season.

Over the past few seasons, players like this have been a much-needed asset for many teams and Beecher may be the next in line that fits that mold. One thing is for sure though, Bruins fans should be excited about him, and they should be happy knowing that Sweeney may have found a future solution at second-line right wing. We still don’t know for sure if Beecher is a long-time solution for the club down the road, but the future looks bright for this young man. Time will tell!

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.

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.

Massachusetts Native Mike Hardman Excited To Attend Bruins Development Camp

<who>Photo Credit: Lorne White/KelownaNow </who>Mike Hardman's scored his seventh of the season for the Warriors.

( Photo Credit: Lorne White/KelownaNow )

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

A native of Hanover, Massachusetts, the early portion of Mike Hardman’s hockey career started with the Bay State Breakers and Providence Capitals as a young kid, and eventually blossomed into a very productive year in the BCHL that helped him catch the eye of Jerry York and the Boston College Men’s hockey staff. I caught up with Hardman ahead of development camp.

For Hardman, his determination and diligence paid off in his quest to play college hockey at the Division I level. Hardman will join the Boston College Eagles, along with 2019 first-round pick Matthew Boldy, Spencer Knight, and Alex Newhook, amongst others this fall.

After development camp, Hardman is very excited to be a part of such a talented group. “It’s really exciting, grew up in Hanover so going to Beanpots and Hockey East games, it’s really just a dream come true to play for coach York and just to go to school at BC is unbelievable,” said Hardman. “We have a good class coming in, but if you look at all of the other Beanpot schools, there’s a lot of good freshmen going to those schools too, so, it’s going to be a really, really fun year and hopefully we can win some championships.”

Hardman played prep hockey at The Winchendon School (MA) before playing for the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers for a year ahead of his most recent season with the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors.

His lone season with West Kelowna, ahead of his freshman year with Boston College this fall was his best yet. His 72 points (39-33-72) in 58 games were good for third in BCHL scoring behind Ryan Brushett (84) and Alex Newhook (102). His 39 goals were good for second in the league. His success at the BCHL level drew the attention of more college teams, so Hardman eventually decided to flip his original commitment from Union College to Boston College this past January. Although he gained a lot of confidence from playing in the BCHL, he knows the transition to NCAA hockey will be a challenge.

At 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, Hardman carries a big frame on the left wing and uses his size to his advantage. He looks forward to continuing to do so in the future, starting with development camp. “I think the big thing for me is I’m a big guy with a good shot, good hands as well and I think my skating has gotten a lot better in the past couple years,” said Hardman.

As much as he recognizes his strengths on the ice, he is looking forward to improving parts of his game that need some work. “The biggest thing for camp is to see how my game is against others, you’re playing against some guys that are first-rounders, so I’m just looking at these guys and seeing what I need to work on,” said Hardman.

Additionally, he wants to improve certain aspects of his skating game, “It’s my first three steps, accelerating, I think when I’m skating, I can keep up with anybody, but getting off to a quicker start is the biggest thing for me.”

Unfortunately for Hardman, his name wasn’t called this past weekend at the NHL draft, but he isn’t going to let going undrafted deter his focus going forward. “I was pretty disappointed with what happened in the draft, but I think it might be the best thing for me going forward,” said Hardman. “I’m really just humbled and happy to be invited to Bruins camp, it’s going to be a ton of fun.”

Boston Bruins Karson Kuhlman: Expect The Unexpected

( Photo Credit: Boston Informer )

By: Greg Aker  |  Follow Me On Twitter @akesNpains1

When it comes to name recognition, Karson Kuhlman isn’t your ordinary household name.  Outside of northern Minnesota and the greater Boston area, most hockey fans don’t know much about him.

 A 23-year-old from Esko, Minnesota, Kuhlman is starting to get the attention that he has long deserved.  A 2014 graduate of Esko High School, Kuhlman got his shot at some big-time hockey at a fairly young age. He rose through the youth ranks as a standout player and caught the attention of potential suitors further down the road on his hockey journey. Having played high school hockey in what is arguably the most competitive state from top to bottom in the entire country, Karson shined. He totaled 50 points as a freshman in only 25 games. After a stellar sophomore year, he headed south to get his feet wet in the United States Hockey League. He played the maximum amount of games allowed to retain his high school eligibility with the Dubuque Fighting Saints after he was selected 48th overall in the 2011 Future’s Draft.  With multiple appearances at national camps and countless games in elite leagues, Kuhlman had name recognition.

Following his junior season, Karson left for good. He jumped into the Fighting Saints lineup just in time to help his team win the 2013 Clark Cup, awarded to the USHL playoff champions. In his first full season playing with Dubuque, Kuhlman led the team in goals (25), was second in points (44), and earned a spot on the league’s Eastern Conference All-Star Team.  His former head coach, Jim Montgomery (and current head coach of the Dallas Stars), took a job as the head coach of the storied Denver University Pioneers and hoped to land him. After official visits to the University of Minnesota Duluth and the University of North Dakota, it was on the car ride home from Grand Forks, N.D. that Kuhlman told his father that he wanted to be a Minnesota Duluth Bulldog.

 In college, Kuhlman started to fly under the radar a bit, and many that know his story often question why. He was told by multiple NHL organizations that he was a potential draft pick. It never happened. Talking with Karson’s mother Jennifer, she mentioned Karson was and continues to be his biggest critic. Not being drafted by a professional club only further motivated him. He didn’t let it bother him, continued to work hard, and has always lived “in the now.” Nothing about his college career would jump out at you on paper.

He posted 80 points over the course of four seasons, a fairly modest total for a kid now jumping into an NHL lineup. Still, what makes Karson special is what doesn’t always show up on the point sheet. He was selected as an assistant team captain of the Bulldogs as a junior and captained the team as a senior.  His leadership qualities were so strong that head coach Scott Sandelin didn’t name a third captain after underclassman, and then assistant captain Adam Johnson left for the professional ranks within the Pittsburgh Penguins organization. Kuhlman played in every single game of his college career. 166 straight if anyone is counting. Former UMD assistant coach and 8-year NHL veteran Derek Plante had this to say about the current Bruin: “Karson is the hardest working player that I have had the pleasure to work with.

It comes as no surprise that he is continuing to have success at the highest level. He is the player that every coach wants on his team and is a joy to be around.”  His senior year as a collegiate player wasn’t promising to start. The Bulldogs were hoping to rebound from a devastating loss in the National Championship to the University of Denver the previous April. Onlookers didn’t have high expectations for the 2017-2018 UMD Bulldogs. Instead of accepting the predicted outcome by others, Kuhlman worked extra hard and instilled his leadership in his teammates. The end result was the program’s second-ever national championship.  You can probably guess who was named the tournament’s most valuable player. It was Karson Kuhlman.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

 Kuhlman attended professional development camps during his collegiate career in Winnipeg, Montreal, and Boston. Only four days removed from winning a national championship, Kuhlman signed a two-year NHL contract with the Boston Bruins. Kuhlman joined the Providence Bruins on an Amateur Tryout Agreement for the remainder of the 2017-2018 season, tallying a lone assist over the course of two games. Kuhlman has totaled 12-18-30 over 58 games for Providence this season, but it’s what he has shown at the professional level that has been most impressive.

He has played alongside virtually every forward in the Boston lineup over the course of 11 games. He has factored in the scoring column and sits at a +5. Karson Kuhlman is versatile. He kills penalties. He plays a tremendous two-way game. He plays instinctively and intelligently regardless if he has the puck or not. He always seems to be in the right place at the right time. It’s these qualities that have gained the attention of Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, and rightfully so. Like he has proven time and time again throughout his life, he won’t let anyone out-work him. What he lacks in skill he makes up for it through dedication and hard work.

 Karson Kuhlman isn’t your ordinary household name, but the fact that he will play a factor for the Boston Bruins moving forward just might change that. 

Interested in going to any Boston Bruins 2019 Stanley Cup Playoff games or the last regular season contests for the Providence Bruins? 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!

—–> Click Here To Get Your Boston Bruins First Round Stanley Cup Playoff Tickets From The Great Folks at SeatGiant! <—-

—> Click Here To Get Your Providence Bruins Regular Season & Calder Cup Playoff Tickets From The Great Folks at SeatGiant! <—

Bruins Prospects Cehlarik And Kuhlman Sent To Providence

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The National Hockey Leagues Boston Bruins have made a few additions to the roster via trades in the last week to beat today’s 3pm EST. trade deadline and with those moves come sacrifices to facilitate roster availability. Today after making a trade with the New Jersey Devils which brought veteran forward Marcus Johansson the Bruins announced that prospect forwards Peter Cehlarik and Kardon Kuhlman have been returned to the Providence Bruins the clubs top minor-pro affiliate in the American Hockey League.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Peter Cehlarik

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

The 6′-2″ 203-pound Slovakian native has certainly racked up the miles this season traveling from Providence, Rhode Island to the Massachusetts State Capitol when recalled. Well, the former 2013 third-round selection of the B’s (90th Overall) is back on his way down south to join his AHL team where he’s spent a majority of this hockey season.  Cehlarik has played in 14 games for his parent NHL club and has chipped in offensively with 4-2-6 numbers in that timeframe and has 10-19-39 totals with Providence in 39 appearances.

Cehlarik is one of my favorite prospects lately for his versatility as a big rangy forward, but the way he’s developed in the AHL and always at the highest priority when emergency recalls or loan assignments happen. Peter has seen this type of up and down movement on the regular and should report to Providence with his head high and ready to get to work.  Although today was most likely an off-day because of the three games Providence played this past weekend, he should be involved in practice for the rest of the week and be ready before the team plays the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in downtown PVD on Friday night.

If Peter actually remains with Providence for the remainder of the season, he will be a huge upgrade with 20 games to play as the B’s look for their seventh straight Calder Cup Playoff appearance, and they would certainly welcome back his hard work and leadership capabilities. He’s had a decent career in the AHL obviously producing more when it comes to points at the lower level.  He has 90 points in 123 career games in the AHL and 5-5-10 in 31 games for the NHL Bruins.

Karson Kuhlman

( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images )

Bruins NCAA scouting staff quickly took notice of Kuhlman’s speed and creativity with rumors of B’s having eyes going back to his Junior year at the University of Minnesota-Duluth possibly earlier as he posted 80 points in 166 career games. His best year by far of his collegiate career in the land of ten thousand lakes and growing up in nearby Esko, Minnesota was his senior year when he captained his Bulldog team to an NCAA Men’s Division 1 National Championship. After his final season which brought him his highest career goal total of 13, the Boston Bruins came down quickly from circling above like a hungry predator up in the air and signed him as an undrafted free agent to a two-year entry-level contract worth $140K in the AHL and $750K at the NHL level.

In his first season with the Providence club the 5′-11″ 185-pound forward has appeared in 50 games and has 12-13-25 numbers in that timeframe. Before his first-ever NHL recall, the 23-year-old went through a slight struggle only producing 2 points in six games. What I believe got the attention of head coach Jay Leach and ultimately a message to higher members in the Bruins management was his fantastic play through his career-high point streak where he produced 7-7-14 numbers in the previous 14 games before the aforementioned struggle before his recall and NHL debut.

In his first four NHL games, I thought the speedy forward played well and certainly caught the eye of Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy who put him in multiple situations and earning more confidence from the bench boss with increased minutes. His second career NHL game will be one he’ll never forget as the young forward got his first NHL goal against the Los Angeles Kings. When talking about his minutes, it was really good to see that he went from under ten in his NHL debut to a little over 14 minutes in his final game against St. Louis before leaving for Providence.

Kuhlman’s addition moving forward with Providence is going to be important for both sides as he’ll continue to develop and be a key member in coach Jay Leach’s offensive arsenal with 20 games remaining to help seal a playoff spot. His speed and hockey IQ are something to watch when he possesses the puck, but he does a lot of great things off the puck that I was very surprised at with his transition from the NCAA to the AHL in his rookie season.

Check out the available tickets from our advertising partner SeatGiant for your next Boston Bruins game. Click the link below, and when purchasing any event ticket, from the NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL to concerts and shows, please use discount code BNGP to save a little money. Thank You!

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

Click Here for The Providence Bruins Schedule and Ticket Info From SeatGiant.com

Bruins 2015 NHL Draft: Grading Sweeney’s Selections

(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @lucaspearson_

After taking a look at every trade by Bruins GM Don Sweeney, we now dive into his draft history. We begin with his first and most controversy draft, the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

In grading the picks, I’ll look at: where they were projected to go, what they have done so far, what players before and after have done so far, their fit to the Bruins at the time, among other aspects. These grades can easily change in a years time, some prospects take longer to groom before being. This entire grading as a whole is still way too early, you can really only grade a draft a decade down the line and see what impact (or lack thereof) the players have made.

Round 1, 13th Overall: Jakub Zboril

Grade: D+

It was well documented that the Bruins wanted to flip a couple of picks and move up in the draft to select the slick two-way defender Noah Hanifin. Obviously, they weren’t able to do that, and the Bruins also ended up missing out on similar D in Ivan Provorov and Zach Werenski to take the rains from Chara. Rather than go for a more offensive guy in Thomas Chabot (hindsight is 20/20) the Bruins ended up picking a more reliable, hard-working defenseman in Zboril. The young Czech D has slowly been developing in the AHL and has grown both offensively and defensively. While he didn’t play much (averaging 10:56 in his two games), he didn’t look out of place in his brief stint with the big club. He’ll carve a role the NHL at some point, there’s no questioning that, it’s just a matter of when and where.

(sportingnews.com)

Round 1, 14th Overall: Jake Debrusk

Grade: B+

Already a fan favorite in just his second season with Boston, Debrusk has been exactly what the Bruins’ management wanted him to be. The 22-year-old shows his work ethic every single shift he’s on the ice and is really starting to develop into a big goal scorer. If he wasn’t injured earlier on, he had a very good shot of hitting the 30 goal mark on the season. You can compare him to guys like Matthew Barzal or Brock Boeser who were drafted behind him, but Debrusk had embodied what it means to be a Bruin from the get-go.

Round 1, 15th Overall: Zachary Senyshyn

Grade: D

I like Senyshyn a lot. Despite being behind in development compared to some of his fellow draftees, he’s the type of player that the Bruins need. He’s got great speed, solid size, and being a right shot power-forward, it’s exactly the kind of player that would look great on the right side of David Krejci. My biggest problem with this pick is that the Bruins didn’t trade down in the 1st round to get him. Because he was projected to go early to mid 2nd round, you would think that if the Bruins wanted the player so badly, they could’ve moved down in the draft with one of these picks similar to what Toronto did in trading their 1st rounder (24th overall) to the Flyers for a 1st rounder (29th overall) and a 2nd rounder (61st overall). With all of the talent in the 1st round, there were bound to be other teams with the wish to move up in the draft to select a guy like Matthew Barzal or Kyle Connor. I have no problem with the player, I think at some point he will certainly become a consistent middle-six forward, but if Sweeney managed his assets a little better, maybe they come out of the draft with another talented prospect along with Senyshyn.

 

(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Round 2, 37th Overall: Brandon Carlo

Grade: A

The Bruins hit a home-run with this pick. After playing just seven games in the AHL in the previous season, Carlo made the jump to full-time NHLer in 2016 as a 19-year-old. He played the entire 82 game season but definitely looked shaky at times. Since then, Carlo has really started to carve out a role on the Bruins back-end. I think he’s the Bruin that has improved the most since last season. He’s been an outstanding penalty killer and overall great shutdown defenseman while adding a lot more grit to his game. If Carlo could work on his offensive skills a bit more (just three points in 41 games this year), I can see him on the top pair for the Bruins for many years to come.

Round 2, 45th Overall: Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson

Grade: B+

Now while calling him “Patrice Bergeron 2.0” is a bit far-fetched at this point in his career, there’s no doubt that the young Swede has the skill-set to be a full-time NHLer. We’ve seen flashes of brilliance both offensively and defensively in his 28 games with the Bruins, but the consistency just isn’t quite there yet. At times, JFK looks a bit lackadaisical and not giving his full effort, but if he can work out his quirks, his two-way prowess will allow him to be a very good NHL player.

 

(Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports)

Round 2, 52nd Overall: Jeremy Lauzon

Grade: B+

With the ridiculous amount of injuries the Bruins’ D-core had, we got to see a lot of Lauzon in the NHL. He looked very comfortable in his 15 games in the NHL, there was nothing not to like. His 6’1, 205 lbs frame, combined with his puck-moving ability, makes him a two-way threat from the back-end. I’d say he deserves to be a regular NHLer next season, although he’s is unlikely to be that with the amount of depth the Bruins already have on D.

Round 3, 75th Overall: Daniel Vladar

Grade: B-

Goalies are always hard to judge after they’re drafted. So many of them are busts, but so many of them are late bloomers. Only two goalies (Mackenzie Blackwood and Adin Hill) have seen an NHL game from the entire draft. Vladar has been solid in the AHL but not outstanding. I’d expect him to challenge for the Bruins backup goalie position after Jaroslav Halak’s contract expires but the 6’5 Czech-man will have to wait a while until he gets his shot with the Bruins.

 

cut (3).jpg

(dobberprospects.com)

Round 5, 105th Overall: Jesse Gabrielle

Grade: C

Gabrielle is a very confusing player. After the Bruins drafted him in 2015, he went on to have two very good seasons in the WHL, lighting the lamp a total of 75 times in those two seasons. He’s got a bit of snarl to his game and some silky hands, but it just hasn’t clicked for Gabrielle in his pro career as of now. This year, he has a -22 rating in the ECHL and hasn’t even been given a look in the AHL. I’m not ready to call the player a bust just yet because he’s still just 21 years old, but something needs to change, whether it’s mentally or physically, if he wants a shot at making the NHL.

Round 6, 165th Overall: Cameron Hughes

Grade: B

A really good find late in the draft by the Bruins. After a so-so draft year at the University of Wisconsin, he progressed very nicely, upping his goal total each following season and eventually being named “captain” in his senior year in the NCAA. He’s continued on this path and has been a really solid player in the AHL this year, totaling 10 goals and 25 points in 45 games.

 

(Pioneer Press: Ben Garvin)

Round 7, 195th Overall: Jack Becker

Grade: C+

Now the chances of a 7th rounder making the NHL are slim, but there’s actually quite a bit to like with Becker. Now at the University of Michigan, Becker has had a decent year with 10 points in 25 games. He plays the game hard, but the best thing about Becker is his size. He’s 6’3, and with that frame, I won’t be surprised if he’s able to challenge for a bottom 6 role in the NHL at some point down the line.

So even with the controversial 1st round, there’s no questioning that the Bruins came out of this draft with a lot of talent. Many of the players have already sniffed the NHL and have very good chances to be everyday players with the Bruins. Sweeney’s average grade on this draft is just under a B- which is fairly accurate in looking at this draft. I do want to say again that these draft picks really can’t be properly judged until many, many years down the line but it was a fun thing to do as I’m continuing grading Don Sweeney’s tenure with the Bruins so far.

Check out the available tickets from our advertising partner SeatGiant for your next Boston Bruins game. Click the link below, and when purchasing any event ticket, from the NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL to concerts and shows, please use discount code BNGP to save a little money. Thank You! 

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

Providence Bruins Prospect Player Profile: Ryan Fitzgerald

Fitzy

(Photo Courtesy of NBCSports Boston)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Ryan Fitzgerald was drafted in the fourth-round (120th overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft. Expected to get picked in the second round, the young center was thought of as a great pick for the Bruins. He possessed a high hockey IQ, great vision on the ice, good defensive awareness, with some play-making abilities sprinkled in. This combination made him a good two-way player, and after being drafted, it seemed like playing in Boston was Fitzgerald’s destiny.

After playing three seasons of High School hockey at Malden Catholic and posting 76-94-170 career numbers at that level, the gritty forward would forgo his Senior season to play in the EJHL with the Merrimack Valley Junior Warriors. With the Warriors, he would go onto contribute 14-16-30 numbers and represented the United States on the US National U-18 Team where he appeared in eight games with one goal in that timeframe. Ryan would go on to play at Boston College after he left the draft podium where he spent four full seasons playing for the Eagles in the NCAA Hockey East Conference.

The 2013-14 season was Fitzgerald’s first at Boston College. Despite his small stature (5’9), the young center proved early on that he belonged in the tough Hockey East. Playing in 40 games, the fourth-round pick showed off his offensive ability netting 13 goals while dishing out 16 assists for 29 total points and a +/- rating of +8.  Not only were the 29 points impressive, but so was his defensive awareness making this a good season by any measure.

Fitzgerald’s Sophomore season wasn’t as impressive as his previous, but it still was above average. The former fourth-round pick’s play-making ability took a bit of a step back, but his goal scoring ability took a leap forward. In 38 games the Florida native potted 17 goals while tallying 8 assists for 25 total points and a –4 rating. Even though the 2014-15 season wasn’t as point filled as the previous, it was still a season that the young Eagle could build upon going forward. The 17 goals were proof that he didn’t need to get others involved in the offense to be productive. This will bode well for the young center moving forward. 

Coming into his Junior season, Fitzgerald grew into a leadership role for the Boston College Eagles. This was unsurprising given the young center’s lineage. His father is former Nashville Predators’, Captain Tom Fitzgerald. It would seem that the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. In his new-found leadership role, the former fourth-round pick had his best season with the Hockey East club netting 24 goals while tallying 23 assists for 47 total points and a rating of +24 in 40 games. The Bruins were happy with the young Eagle’s 2015-16 season, and they could not wait to see what was to come.

The 2016-17 campaign was Fitzgerald’s Senior year in the maroon and gold, and the team made his leadership role official giving him an “A” on his sweater. The young center did not disappoint in his new role potting 12 goals while dishing out 19 assists for 31 total points and a rating of +14 in 34 games. As the former fourth-round pick’s college career came to an end, he signed a two-year entry-level contract and was able to suit up in 8 games for Providence. The new Bruin didn’t find the back of the net but did dish out 2 assists for 2 total points and a rating of 0. The Boston College grad did pick up his play in the playoffs netting 1 goal and dishing out 4 assists for 5 total points and a rating of +3 in 13 games. From Boston College to Providence it was a great season for Fitzgerald.  

The 2017-18 season was Fitzgerald’s first full year in Providence. The Bruins hoped that he would show off the play-making ability and defensive awareness that led Boston to draft him back in 2013. The young center certainly delivered. In 65 games wearing the black and gold, he found the back of the net 21 times while tallying 16 assists for 37 total points and a rating of +5. Providence went on to make the playoffs, and in the team’s 3 playoff games the former Boston College Eagle netted 2 goals and didn’t tally an assist for 2 total points and a rating of 0. The young Bruin had a good season showing that he did a good job driving to the net while also creating his own space and scoring opportunities. Despite his small stature, he isn’t afraid to get into the dirty areas of the ice and bang around with the big boys. This is something that will prove to be useful for the young center as his career progresses.  

This season Fitzgerald looked to improve on his play from last season and grab the attention of the big club. The former fourth-round pick has not disappointed in 29 games he’s found the back of the net 7 times while dishing out 16 assists for 23 total points and a rating of –10. The young center has certainly made a case to be called up this season. We may see him make his NHL debut at some point this year, but if we do not, I expect him to seriously contend for a roster spot next season.

Fitzgerald is showing that being patient and letting a prospect develop over time can work out in the team’s favor. I think it’s preferable than calling a player up too soon. That is something that can ruin a player’s confidence and derail his career a bit. The approach with the former Boston College Eagle has been perfect, and the Boston Bruins will benefit from it very soon.  

Interested in going to a Providence Bruins 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!

Click Here For The Providence Bruins Schedule and Ticket Info From SeatGiant.com

Click Here For The Boston Bruins Schedule and Ticket Info From SeatGiant.com  

Providence Bruins McIntyre Sets Franchise Record

( Photo Credit: KDP Studio )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The Providence Bruins beat the Hershey Bears last night by the score of 6-2 at the Dunkin” Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island to improve their 2018-19 regular season record to 12-11-5-0. Speaking of record, with the victory over the Bears, Providence goaltender Zane McIntyre recorded his 68th American Hockey League win in franchise history. The 26-year-old Grand Forks, North Dakota native passes former B’s goaltender John Grahame who previously held the organization’s record since the end of the 2000-2001 regular season.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

McIntyre, a 6′-2″ 205-pound goaltender, has been with the Boston Bruins organization since his 2010 National Hockey League Entry Draft when he was selected in the sixth-round with the 165th overall pick. Zane has always been a strong goaltender learning the game throughout the developmental leagues creating instant success wherever he landed. The Bruins drafted him after he finished his last season of high school hockey playing for the Thief River Falls club where he posted an 18-8-1 record, a 1.81 goals-against-average and .925 save percentage.

The Bruins saw something very special in Zane to draft him out of a Minnesota High School and playing at the higher levels would seemingly fit his game continuing forward as he gained valuable experience with increased playing time and longer regular seasons. At the end of the 2009-10, High School season, Zane was the recipient of the Frank Brimsek Award for the Minnesota Senior Goalie of the Year. For those who don’t know, Frank Brimsek was a former Boston Bruins goaltender who was with the organization for 11 years winning two Stanley Cups.

After leaving the Minnesota, high school ranks Zane went to play in the USHL with the Fargo Force where he posted a career record of 38-24-4 with a 2.22 goals-against-average and .914 Save percentage. His play in the USHL particularly in the second and final season with the Force team he posted a 26-16-4 record earning himself another high honor of winning the Award for the USHL’s Goaltender of the Year for the 2011-12 campaign. The United States Hockey League is the nations only Tier 1 junior hockey league which is a fantastic developmental league that many current and former Boston Bruins players spent time in.  B’s players such as Anders Bjork and Charlie McAvoy played for the Team USA club, Torey Krug played for the Indiana Ice, and David Backes spent time playing with the Lincoln Stars all before stepping foot in the NCAA ranks of Division 1 College hockey.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

The next step was a three-year collegiate hockey career at the University of North Dakota where he started gaining popularity at a national level with his tremendous play. After the 2012-13 season which was McIntyre’s rookie season playing for the Fighting Hawks as the backup goaltender and posted a 9-4-3 record with a 2.46 GAA and .920 Save%. His next two seasons he was given the reigns as the starting goaltender and ran with the opportunity to produce a 49-20-6 record with a 2.02 GAA and .927 Save%. This third and final season at North Dakota was simply a work of art and a huge boost in confidence for Zane when he was a Hobey Baker Award Finalist, winner of the Mike Richter Award for the NCAA Top Collegiate Goalie. McIntyre was also the NCAA/NCHC Goaltender of the Year after his best career season for the Fighting Hawks going 29-10-3 in 42 games in the 2014-15 campaign before turning pro.

From College To The Pro Ranks

Adjusting to the pro level for Zane during the 2015-16 season was a bit of a challenge after he left school for the AHL’s team in Rhode Island. His rookie season started off with a three-headed monster in the crease that year as he split duties with former 2012 first-rounder Malcolm Subban and Jeremy Smith who was later shipped to the Iowa Wild on loan because of the bottleneck of netminders in the system. In 31 games as a rookie, he went 14-8-7 with a 2.68 GAA, and .898 Save% to be one of the best goaltenders in the AHL in his second season going 21-6-1 and leading the league with a .930 Save%. Zane’s third season in the AHL was good, but you can see that he had moments of struggles and even though he had good numbers with a 26-15-2 record you could see he was slowly getting passed in the depth chart but continued to work hard regardless of stretches where he honestly didn’t look great.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

The 2018-19 season has not been a great start for the Providence club with the constant recalls from the higher NHL Boston team that’s been rattled with injuries and McIntyre who’s sharing the crease duties with rookie Dan Vladar continues to show signs of struggles. This year mac has appeared in 16 games posting a 7-6-3 record with a 3.07 GAA and .880 Save% in the last year of his current two-year deal. I will admit that the team is starting to play somewhat better and have been trending to turn their fortunes for the better in the month of December the last few seasons. After starting the AHL regular season in the basement of the Atlantic Division, the Bruins have risen up the standings with a 12-11-5-0 record and 29 points which is good enough for sixth place in the eight-team AHL division.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Moving Forward

As mentioned above, McIntyre is in the last year of his current deal, and even though he’s going to be a restricted free-agent at seasons end, it remains to be seen where both sides go with the veteran minor-pro goaltender. His unsuccessful cup of coffee at the NHL level and continued struggles at the AHL level might have the Bruins organization moving on without him with due to a seemingly bottleneck in the developing depths of the organization. B’s prospect goaltender Kyle Keyser who was signed as an undrafted free agent signed a three-year entry-level contract with the departure of goaltender Malcolm Subban who was claimed off of waivers from the Vegas Golden Knights in year one of the franchise. Keyser who will be eligible to play with the top minor-pro affiliate of the B’s is having a career year so far with the Ontario Hockey Leagues Oshawa Generals and might force the hand of Bruins management to walk away from McIntyre in favor of the younger netminder.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Check out the available tickets from our advertising partner SeatGiant for your next Boston Bruins game. Click the link below, and when purchasing any event ticket — from the NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL to concerts and shows — please use discount code BNGP to save a little money. Thank You & Happy Holidays!

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

Click Here For 2018-19 Providence Bruins Regular Season Games and Ticket Info From SeatGiant.com

Bruins Prospect Swayman Earns First Win Of The 2018-19 Season

( Photo Credit:  UMaine Athletics )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Last season as a freshman playing for the University of Maine hockey team, Boston Bruins prospect goaltender Jeremy Swayman not only caught the eye of Bruins fans as a rookie but also gathered national attention as one of the best goaltenders in the NCAA. In 31 games played in the 2017-18 campaign, the 6-foot-2, 187-pound Anchorage, Alaska native posted a record of 15-12-3, a 2.72 Goals-Against-Average, and .921 Save Percentage.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Other accomplishments last season include named as the third goaltender for the United States team in the 2018 World Junior Championships capturing a Bronze Medal, Hockey East Player of The Week (five times) and Hockey East Rookie of The Month honors for January. He was also named to the 2018 Hockey East Pro Ambitions All-Rookie team.

New NCAA Season Comes With Increased Expectations For Swayman

Last night the Black Bears played the first game of the 2018-19 season and started the year out with a 3-1 victory over the St. Lawrence University club in front of a home crowd of 3,648 at Alfond Arena in Orono, Maine. Swayman had a relatively easy night in the crease during last nights non-conference contest stopping 16 of 17 Saints shots. Below are highlights from last nights season-opening 3-1 win over the St. Lawrence Saints.

The high praise for Swayman is already set at a high bar for the goaltender entering his sophomore year and another year of much-needed development. In an interview, I had with Jeremy at this year’s Bruins Development Camp at the Warrior Ice Arena, he gave a lot of credit to Black Bears goaltending coach and former Maine alum Alfie Michaud along with another former Bears goaltender Mike Dunham who was hired as the Bruins developmental coach last summer. With the tutelage of both members above, I personally believe Swayman will have a better season this year and set a new high in career stats.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Even before this collegiate season started and the season he had as a freshman last year, the soon-to-be 20-year-old in November is already garnering national attention to have a big year again playing in the powerful NCAA Hockey East Conference. In an article posted on Oct. 5 from the goblackbears.com website, Swayman along with 20 other netminders across the United States were named to the players to watch list for the 2019 Mike Richter Award. The award is in its sixth year of existence and is an annual award honoring the most outstanding goalie in NCAA Division I Hockey as nominated by all 60 Division I college hockey coaches and selected by a committee of coaches, scouts and members of the media.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Swayman and Black Bear teammates get back to work tonight at the same place of last night’s 3-1 victory once again to match up against the St. Lawrence Saints team. It remains to be seen if Jeremy will get the start in back-to-back games but it’s not out of the realm of Bears Head Coach Red Gendron to roll the dice with his starting goaltender once again in front of the home fans. He could very well be back in the crease tonight as the Black Bears team will get a lot of rest in between games as the next contest for the club is set for next weekend with back-to-back games against the University of Minnesota-Duluth starting Friday, Oct. 19.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Amesbury Maples Legend Series: Larry Fournier

( Photo Credit:  The Fournier Family )

By: Mark Allred   |   Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Growing up in my hometown of Amesbury, Massachusetts, it was unfortunate for me as a passionate hockey fan to not see any of these Amesbury Maples hockey team legends play, but stories of the past from those who witness firsthand are always just as good. Like back in the day when former Amesbury Middle School athletics teacher Leo Dupere, who often used old Maples player comparisons when a young man, was making an end-to-end rush during the popular floor hockey season. Dupere was a longtime Maples player himself and had a tremendous hockey career. The former Northeastern University standout will be the subject of a future article and was a mastermind when it came to player development.

Every player that donned the Kelly Green and White jersey certainly earned the right to be a member on the roster throughout the years, but you also have to give an assist to the Amesbury families and their ability to produce generations of hockey talent under their respected roofs. The Fournier family was no slouch when it came to a family legacy in this area, and for those who don’t know, I’ll explain a lot more below.

The Fournier last name was brought up often in my Maples research that I’ve been doing for the past 3-4 years. The first mention was when Freddie Fournier Sr. stepped on the ice during the 1950-51 season. Fred, a tremendous skater, and from a hockey history standpoint, I’d compare his skills to former Bruins player Derek Sanderson who was a pest to play against. With the way, both could forecheck, and the ability to strip the puck off an opposing player with their skilled reach was most impressive to hear. Fournier’s offensive attributes were also a key to his success as he used his speed to transition the other way for defensive relief.

(Photo Credit: The Fournier Family)
Fred Fournier Sr. (right) showing you what I meant about his style of play.

Speaking of defense and strong skating, I should stop rambling and get to the point of my fourth Amesbury Maples Legend Series article, which is my tribute to Fred’s son, Larry Fournier. This was another great research project and want to thank all that were involved and who I personally met. Gathering information about a person’s unselfish acts from our Amesbury community on and off the ice are my favorite projects, and I hope everyone enjoys this article — most importantly the Fournier Family.

Larry Fournier: The Original Larry Legend

(Photo Credit: The Fournier Family)

Before Boston Celtics, great Larry Bird stepped on the parquet floor of the original Boston Garden and later be nicknamed “Larry Legend,” there was another Larry in the Merrimack Valley already earning legendary status with every day contributed to the game he loved. Born in 1953 to the parents of aforementioned Maples Legend Freddie Sr. and wife Lorraine (Lariviere), young Larry was the second born to the family of five who had Ricky leading the way (former Maples player) down to Fred Jr (former Maples player), Glenn (Retired AFD, 35 YOS), and rounding it off daughter Lynne who I had the pleasure of meeting as mentioned below.

Larry Fournier was a product of outstanding homegrown development that you are going to continue to hear from me when it comes to the history of the Amesbury Maples and the clubs sustainability for over 75 years. The tutelage from his father and older sibling Ricky helped mold the young prodigy’s game to be his best and represent family and community with the utmost respect on and off the ice. Fournier, a quiet young man, had his athleticism speak louder than words as he’s been mentioned to have excelled in multiple sports growing up and was a fantastic golfer like his father.

Having never met Larry myself and only hearing stories of the past, I wanted a better understanding of how Larry was as a person was on a day-to-day basis, I thought it was important to get in touch with his siblings as they’d know best for that character factor. Younger sister Lynne told me he was very active and would hardly be seen lounging around with nothing to do. She mentioned to me at a local coffee shop in Amesbury that he would often go on long trips around the area on his bicycle or would go on foot and run miles for exercise and pass the time. Without prior notice, one morning he woke up very early and rode all the way to the top of Mount Washington in New Hampshire and back in the same day. After hearing that, I was hooked into learning more about that never-quit attitude and that mentality when it came to his game on the ice.

(Photo Credit:  The Fournier Family)

The young Fournier rose through the Amesbury Youth Hockey leagues to be considered as one of the city’s all-time athletes. The three-time All-League Defenseman helped his Amesbury Indians High School team to a 52-5-3 record when he played from the 1968 to 1972 seasons. After graduating from Amesbury, the 18-year-old Fournier made his first appearance on the Maples roster during the 1972-73 winter season and immediately started playing like a pro in the higher leagues he played in. There was no shortage of leadership when it came to developing Larry’s game.

( Photo Credit: The Fournier Family / Unknown Local Paper )

Having played with the likes of defensemen Jim Henderson, Steve Klien, Roger Nadeau, Randi Picard, and Carl Vedrani on the blue line in his rookie season and names like Goerge Dodier, Leo Dupere, Doug Gleason, and Jack Morrill up on the offense, he didn’t exactly have to go far when seeking to get advise. He also came into the league as the Maples semi-pro organization was celebrating its 50th consecutive season as one of the top amateur teams in the United States since 1924. Larry also joined older brother Ricky and cousin Mike Fournier in his first year and unfortunately missed playing alongside his father Fred Sr. when he hung up the skates a year prior after the 1971-72 season and an honorable 22-year career. Fred Sr. also managed the Maples organization as a player for 10 seasons but relinquished his post after the 1962-63 season.

(Photo Credit:  The Fournier Family)

A lot of great things happened to Larry during the 1972-73 season as seen above but he also took a serious step in his hockey development as a postgraduate when he attended the Berwick Academy Prep School team in Berwick, Maine. Fournier showed his skills to the best of his ability and was fortunate to join the Berwick Prep team on a two-week trip to Sweden to participate in a youth tournament and play a few other teams throughout Scandinavia that year.

While playing with Berwick Academy, Fournier was fortunate to play and roommate with 1980 Team USA Gold Medalist Mike Eruzione. After leaving Berwick, Eruzione would go onto play at Boston University for four seasons before joining the United States team who would make history that year in Lake Placid, New York.

(Photo Credit: 15 Minutes With)

Eruzione, a Winthrop, Mass. native talked about his time with the Berwick Academy hockey club in a Foster’s Daily Democrat article written by John Doyle and mentions how great that team was playing alongside players like Fournier and others. Eruzione said:

“I remember we were awfully good and it was an honor playing for Pop. (Former Head Coach) He was a legend and a great guy to play for. I remember how good we were. Prep Schools couldn’t play against us. We played a lot of College JV teams. We played UNH a ton. We were basically all PG’s, some local kids.”

After the 1972-73 season, Fournier would attend Salem State College for one season and would play under legendary coach Barry Urbanski. According to a Larry Fournier Tournament Program’s brief history, the talented defenseman was a late cut in his dream of being an Olympian in 1980 representing his country during the Winter Games from Lake Placid, New York.  Fournier made it as far as the Eastern Region which was a great accomplishment for an Olympic bid.

(Photo Credit:  The Fournier Family)

Fournier returned to the Maples organization and was heavily involved in several semi-pro leagues from 1973 to 1986 according to the Fournier Tournament pamphlet. When it comes to a player’s defensive game on the ice, you can’t get any better than to have a chance to talk to his linemate and best friend, Steve Klien. Steve was a 24-year veteran of the Maple organization and a member of the greatest two seasons of his and Larry’s high school career when Klien joined the team as a freshman while Larry was to have his best season on record in his junior year. Klien says both became instant friends after one practice together and a bond that would continue for years. Off the ice, the fierce defensive tandem would often take their support for each other as teammates when they were walking about town. Klien said:

“Funny thing I remember we’d be walking downtown and if someone was walking at us we always made them go around as we walked never let anyone between us. Then after they passed by we would turn to each other an say “no one splits the D”!

(Photo Credit: Fournier Family / Local Newspaper Unknown)

Klien also mentioned Larry’s time and passion for coaching as he was heavily thought of from three different school systems. As taught to him as so many from the past advised him, he was very well known for his defensive coaching abilities. He was the assistant coach to mentioned Maples Legend Leo Dupre behind the Amesbury High School bench and also with Newburyport and Triton which are two schools located in the Northeastern part of Essex County.

Per an article that was written on March 15, 1988 by Daily News Sports Editor Kevin Doyle, former bench boss of the Amesbury High School hockey team Leo Dupre had this to say about Larry’s coaching style:

“You knew you could give Larry the defensemen and not worry. He had a knack to develop them. He had an even temperament and vast knowledge of the game and was a great help to me as a head coach.”

Triton Head Coach Dan O’Connell also chimed in on the 1988 article by Daily News Editor Doyle saying after spending 16 years with the team. Fournier was O’Connell’s assistant coach for two seasons:

“It doesn’t make much sense that one guy could coach in three systems and remain well-liked and well-respected by the people in all three. But that was Larry Fournier.”

In September of 1987 at the age of 33, Larry Fournier passed away from a short battle with cancer. His legacy and memory continued for over 28 years with so many charitable donations and successful Fournier Tournament Committee events that raised more than $130K to graduate students that were eligible from Amesbury, Newburyport, and Triton according to the Larry Fournier Official Facebook Page.

(Photo Credit: The Daily News/Kevin Doyle)

Dupere also mentioned that his dedication to the game went to the final days of his life when he missed only a few practices while coaching at Newburyport and was a regular attendee at several area summer hockey camps before leaving us in the fall of 1987. In 1988 and information shared from the article that Doyle wrote, Larry was to be honored by the Massachusetts State Hockey Coaches Association for his commitment to hockey and in the article Leo Dupere mentioned:

“Larry knew and liked everybody and had a great personality. You just don’t want a guy of his magnitude to be quickly forgotten. This award is a class act by the association,” and saying that “Larry was a model person. He left something for all of us who knew him.”

To End…

In the fall of 2017 Minnesota State resident, Roger Krafve got in touch with me after he did a website search related to the Amesbury Maples. He wanted to know if I had any information on an old jersey that he bought on Ebay from a collector in Texas. After I viewed the photos and particulars of the fantastic item, I said the jersey looked close but needed more details. He later sent me a photo of the tag on the inside and found that the Kelly Green and White jersey was manufactured in Brockton, Mass. by a company named Stall & Dean, who was one of the oldest sporting goods manufacturers in America and outfitted the NHL’s original six franchises until the league expanded in 1967.

To make this particular part of my tribute short, it was later confirmed that the jersey was, in fact, the hockey jersey worn by the late and great Larry Fournier. I later shared my findings with Michael Gorman who is working with Global Property Developers as a team to get a hockey facility back to Amesbury and erase a 40-plus year absence.

Through the mutual contact in the process, Mr. Gorman asked me for purchasing inquiries of the jersey to bring it back to it’s Amesbury home and closer to our town’s legacy when it comes to the Fournier family and their contributions to the area. Mr. Gorman mentioned he’d like to honor Larry and surviving family with a shrine somewhere in the new facility in the foreseeable future at the South Hunt Road location later to be called the Amesbury Sports Center.

In a June 26th, 2018 article written by Jim Sullivan of The Daily News out of Newburyport, Mass., The Town of Amesbury Planning Board approved the hockey mega center’s plan and taking positive steps forward to finally breaking ground. For the official Global Property Developers Corporation presentation that was released in 2016-17, please CLICK HERE

On Sep. 7, the aforementioned Jim Sullivan wrote an update about the permits that were granted from the City of Amesbury for the project that will cost $48 million. That article can be seen by CLICKING HERE.

Check out the photos of Larry’s Jersey below.

       

I want to take the opportunity to thank everyone that had a hand in this project and if it weren’t for those folks who helped out this wouldn’t have happened. Special appreciation goes out to Larry’s siblings Lynne and Glenn for the great conversations about your brother and other family members that have reached out with great information. Big thanks to Steve Klien for sharing his memories about his best friend to add to this project. Always a Class Act when I have Maples related questions. I will continue to thank the late and great sports researcher Bert Spofford for his amazing work gathering information for the Maples 75th Anniversary Ceremony in 1994, and to all of you that took the time to read my tribute to this unbelievable person.

Below is a video of the aforementioned Roger Krafve who found Larry’s jersey on Ebay and a little history of his hockey collecting throughout the years.

I hope you all enjoyed this read, and ask if anyone has Maples Hockey related news or photos that you’d like to share and contribute to future articles, please send me an  email at blackngoldhockeyblog@gmail.com.