Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 14 Preview

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Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr

By Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Heading into week 14 the Providence Bruins currently sit at 16-16-5 (37 points) and 5-5 in their last 10 games good for seventh in the Atlantic Division and 12th in the Eastern Conference. The Baby B’s have a full docket of games this weekend starting out with some home cooking on Friday, January 11th when the Hartford Wolf Pack invade the Dunk again.

Next up, as Yogi Berra would say “it’s like déjà vu all over again” when the boys wearing the spoked P travel to Springfield, Massachusetts to take on the home team Thunderbirds at The MassMutual Center on Saturday, January 12th. Finally, the weekend ends back where it started on Sunday, January 13th when the Springfield Thunderbirds follow our boys in black and gold back to the Dunk. One thing to keep an eye out for is both teams that the Bruins play this weekend are ahead of them in the standings. Win all three games, and we could see our boys climb the division and conference standings.  

Friday, January 11th Providence Bruins vs. Hartford Wolf Pack (HOME) 

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

The third leg of the season series saw the Pack come out victorious, winning 4-3. The Providence club got goals from Zach Senyshyn, Colby Cave, and Anton Blidh. Goalie Dan Vladar had a busy game stopping 26 of 30 he faced. In game four these two clubs both fought hard, but Hartford came out on top 4-3 in overtime. The boys wearing the spoked P got goals from Karson Kuhlman, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Kyle Cumiskey. Goalie Zane McIntyre turned away 18 of 22 shots faced in the losing effort. In the fifth meeting this year the New York Rangers’ affiliated blanked Providence 3-0. Goalie Dan Vladar played well in the game stopping 30 of 33 shots faced. More recently, the sixth meeting of the year could not have gone better for the spoked P, winning the game 5-1. The Bruins got goals from Peter Cehlarik (2), Emil Johansson, Gemel Smith, and Jordan Szwarz. Goalie Zane McIntyre looked excellent in net stopping 15 of 16 shots he faced.  

The seventh part of this season series should be a difficult task for the Baby B’s. The Wolf Pack come into the game 17-16-2-2 (38 points) and 6-3-1 in their last 10 games good for sixth in the Atlantic Division. The Bruins have had a mixed back of luck against the Rangers’ affiliate overall this season going 2-3-1. However, the Providence club has been good against them historically going 12-4-1-1 against Hartford at home over the past five seasons and going 19-13-4-2 overall in that time frame. First-period scoring is going to be a major key in this game for clubs. When leading after the first period, Providence is 9-5-2 this season, and Hartford is 8-1. The other big key for the Bruins will be keeping center Peter Holland off the score-sheet. He is the leading scorer for the Pack with stats of 12-23-35. If our boys in black and gold can come out of the first period with a lead, while also keeping Holland from scoring they have a great chance of grabbing two points.  

Saturday, January 12th (AWAY) and Sunday, January 13th (HOME) Providence Bruins vs. Springfield Thunderbirds 

These games mark the fifth and sixth times the Bruins and Thunderbirds have faced off this season. In the first meeting, Springfield beat Providence 6-3 with the Bruins getting goals from Zach Senyshyn, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Colby Cave. Meanwhile, goalie Zane McIntyre was a little off his game stopping 14 of 20 shots. The second meeting between the two teams saw a different score with the same result. The Florida Panther’s affiliate beat the Baby B’s 4-2 with the Bruins getting goals from now-departed Martin Bakos and Jan Kovar, while current goalie Zane McIntyre looked much better stopping 17 of 20 shots in net.

The third game of the season series saw the Bruins finally break through and get a win beating the Thunderbirds 5-4. The boys in black and gold got goals from Mark McNeill, Karson Kuhlman, Peter Cehlarik, Jordan Szwarz, and Connor Clifton while Dan Vladar stopped 22 of 26 shots he faced. The most recent installment of the season series did not go according to plan for the spoked P as they fell to the Springfield club 5-3. Bruins got goals from Zach Senyshyn, Gemel Smith, and Jordan Szwarz. Meanwhile, goalie Dan Vladar was a little off his game despite facing a barrage of shots stopping 34 of 39 he faced.  

The Springfield club comes into the two-weekend games with a record of 16-12-5-3 (40 points) and 3-4-3 in their last 10 games good for 5th in the Atlantic Division. You could say the Panthers’ affiliate has brought the lightning and the thunder against Providence this year. The Baby B’s are 1-3 against them so these two games will be anything but easy. Something that does bode well for our boys in black and gold is over the past five seasons they have records of 9-4 at home and 9-6-2 on the road for an overall record of 18-10-2. A major key to these games is going to be special teams.

The Thunderbirds have one of the best power plays in the league ranked first in the Eastern Conference and second in the entire American Hockey League at 25.3%. Meanwhile, the Bruins have one of the best penalty kill units in the league ranked second overall in the Eastern Conference and third overall in the entire American Hockey League. With both clubs being elite in the facet of the game it’s something that has the potential to turn a game over on its head quick. The other thing to look out for is Springfield’s balanced offensive attack. They have five players with 24+ points on the season. Playing an all-around good defensive game is something the Baby B’s must do if they want to win. 

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

Hot 

Gemel Smith: Gemel Smith was acquired from Dallas via waiver claim by Boston earlier in the year. Since being sent down to Providence, he’s been excellent in 9 games with stats of 5-2-7 including 4-0-4 in his last three games. The former OHL product has a career AHL point per game average of 0.48 (40-53-93 in 195 games), but in his small sample with the Bruins, it’s 0.78. Let’s hope he continues his hot play throughout the rest of the season. 

Jordan SzwarzThe Bruins’ Captain has played very as of late. Especially over the weekend which saw him have stats of 2-1-3. Overall this season Szwarz’ point per game total is 0.63 (12-7-19 in 30 games) which is up from his career AHL total of 0.59 (102-131-233 in 394 games.) This has helped the spoked P greatly this year, and it is part of the reason why they named him captain in the first place.  

Not 

Zach SenyshynThe speedy forward did have stats of 1-1-2 over the weekend, however, they were his first points since December 12th. The OHL product has been a streaky player since coming to Providence. Sometimes it does take some time to adjust to the pro game. One positive note, the young forward’s point per game total this season is 0.47 (11-4-15 in 32 games) which is higher than his AHL career of 0.42 (23-18-41 in 98 games).  

Mark McNeill: The gritty forward found himself in the middle of a hot streak last week and was in the hot category, it seems as though he’s cooled off a little bit having not registered a point in his past four games. Though it should be noted, that the WHL product is still scoring at a higher point per game total this season 0.68 (4-13-17 in 25 games) than his AHL career of 0.57 (93-117-210 in 368 games), but it is closer to his WHL totals of 0.88 (97-146-243 in 276 games). 

My players to watch this weekend 

Up Front 

Peter CehlarikCehlarik has been excellent for the Providence Bruins this year with stats of 7-17-24. However, he’s been especially good against Springfield and Hartford in 10 games against the two clubs he has stats of 3-5-8 good for a point per game clip of 0.80. Look for him to have another big weekend.  

On the Blue Line 

Jakub ZborilThe young defenseman returned to the lineup last weekend after missing almost a month with an injury. Not only did Zboril play well defensively, but he also contributed offensively getting on the score-sheet with 0-2-2 numbers in three games. Look for him to continue to get stronger as he puts the injury behind him.  

In Net 

Zane McIntyre: This is a repeat from last week, but it cannot be stated enough how good McIntyre has been at home this season. Last weekend the young netminder improved to 7-0-1 at home with a .929 save percentage and 1.86 goals against average. With two of the games, this week at the Dunk look for Zane to have another big weekend. 

The Providence Bruins had a very good week 13. They were able to come away with four points and inch closer in the standings. With both teams they play this weekend ahead of them in the standings it’s another perfect opportunity to continue that climb. The Baby B’s have been good at home this season, and with two games at the Dunk, I would look for at least another four-point weekend. If they can pull that off, it would go a long way to climbing into playoff contention. We will catch up with you next week to let you know how the team fared but feel free to send any questions or comments to me on Twitter. I hope everyone enjoys the games this weekend and Go, B’s, Go! 

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 13 Recap

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(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr)

By Tim Richardson| Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

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

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

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

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

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

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(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr)

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

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

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

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

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(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr)

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

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

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

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

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(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr)

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

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

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

Honorable Mention 

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

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

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

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

Not So Honorable Mention 

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

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

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Bruins Prospect Ryan Fitzgerald Named To AHL All-Star Classic

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PHOTO CREDITS: (ahl.com)

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

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

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

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

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Gregory Vasil/Getty Images)

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

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

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

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

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

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 12 Recap

( Photo Credit:  Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By: Mark Allred |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

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

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

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

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

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

( Photo Credit:  Providence Bruins / Flickr )

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

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

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

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

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

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

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

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

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

  ( Photo Credit:  Providence Bruins / Flickr )

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

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

Honorable Mentions

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

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

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

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

Not So Honorable Mentions

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

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

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

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Bruins Prospect Gabrielle Reassigned To ECHL Wichita

( Photo Credit:  Atlanta Gladiators Instagram )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 12 Preview

PBruins

(Photo Courtesy of Amanda Statland – The Sin Bin )

By Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hot 

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

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

Not 

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

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

My players to watch this weekend: 

Up Front: 

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

On The Blue Line: 

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

In Net:  

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

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

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What Does The Bruins Lineup Look Like When Healthy?

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By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Mer On Twitter @lucaspearson_

The Bruins finally look to be getting fully healthy. With Jake Debrusk, Zdeno Chara and Kevin Miller all nearing their returns, the Bruins will have quite a few lineup and roster decisions to make. With the addition of the four injured players, the Bs will have 14 F and 8 D, with only 21 slots for skaters on the roster, the Bruins would have to make a tough roster decision.

Who gets sent down?

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We recently learned that Jeremy Lauzon and Urho Vaakanainen have been sent down to the AHL which makes sense. They’ve both stepped in and played very well when they’ve been asked to, at this point the two are no better than any of the Bruins current top 7 and would be better off getting a lot of minutes in the AHL.

The only players on the Bruins that don’t need to go through waivers when sent down are Charlie McAvoy, Jake Debrusk, Ryan Donato and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson. The first two obviously don’t have a chance to get sent down. With the very strong play and increase in confidence and the strong play of the latter two, I don’t want to see either of them going back to Providence. However, there is a decent chance of JFK getting demoted. I’d say that leaves Noel Acciari, Colby Cave, JFK, and Steven Kampfer as the final “contenders” of getting sent down.

This decision is based on if Cassidy wants an extra D or forward. Cave has found his groove and is really stepping up his game as of late with his two points showing against the Canadiens last Monday. We’ve seen a lot more offense and consistency from Cave and would be a lot more attractive for another team to claim on waivers than a guy like Acciari who has one point all year. I’d like to see the Bruins hang on to Kampfer rather than Acciari because it seems the back end is a lot more prone to injuries than the forward group. Chances are JFK gets sent down simply based on the fact that he doesn’t have to get through waivers, but for the good of the Bruins right now, he’s deserved a spot on the big club over Acciari.

Forward Lines

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So now that I’ve speculated on the roster moves, it’s time to move onto the lineup. I think it would be worth a shot to entertain the option of keeping Krejci on the top line, but ultimately, I think the Bergy-Marchy combo may be too much. Now that the two are continuing to build on their chemistry, I’d like Pasta and Krejci to stay together on the second line with Debrusk when he comes back. That obviously leaves a hole on the first line, and a couple players can fill that role.

There are two options, if they are lacking in scoring, I think Ryan Donato who has looked much better since getting recalled should be given a look on the first line. We’ve seen that Bergeron and Marchand can elevate anyone’s game and I think it could do wonders for Donato’s. If the Bs are looking for more of a two-way style, Danton Heinen could fit very well. He filled in last year on the top line for a few games when Marchand was suspended and filled in well, again it could be great for Heinen to develop his game with some of the best.

With that as the top 6, the third line starts to take shape. JFK has looked a lot more comfortable as of late and seemed to have taken a bottom six center job, but with Bergeron back, he was just recently a healthy scratch for two straight games. The young Swede might have to take a seat in the press box. The Bruins have entertained the option of having Joakim Nordstrom play center, but due to his sub-par face-off percentage, he’s likely to continue to play wing. As I previously said, Colby Cave has earned a spot on the team with his strong two-way game and sparks of offense, he would be a solid option on the third line for now. David Backes, who has looked great recently, would be a good fit on the line as a defensively reliable “bodyguard” type of player for the younger players on the line.

That leaves Sean Kuraly, Chris Wagner, Nordstrom and JFK vying for 4th line minutes. Nordstrom has been outstanding all year and has been a swiss army knife for Cassidy with all of the injuries, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be playing. Wagner and Kuraly have played very well together and have garnered some chemistry so I think the two should fill out the 4th line. That all leaves JFK as the 13th forward to fill in wherever is needed. I think if any forward anywhere in the lineup goes down or needs a quick rest, Cave and Nordstrom can fill in admirably, Cassidy should just ride the hot hand for the rest of the year.

Defensive Pairs

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(FRED KFOURY III/ICON SPORTSWIRE/GETTY IMAGES)

With the forwards done, it’s time to look at the defense. There are four D that should play every night without question. Those being Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, Torey Krug, and Brandon Carlo. The first pairing of Chara and McAvoy proved last year in the playoffs that they could shut down the best of the league, leaving the Maple Leafs and the Lightning (for most of the series) looking for more out of their stars. Krug’s offense cannot be replicated on the blue line, and Carlo has really come out of his shell this year, adding more grit to his game and continuing to improve on his already sound defensive game.

The final defensive pair would consist of two of John Moore, Matt Grzelcyk and Kevin Miller. I think Grzelcyk and Moore have been the Bruins unsung heroes this year. They both proved they can play very well in roles playing 25+ minutes a game and a more condensed role will only make them look better. Kevin Miller brings a physical side of the game that the majority of the roster can’t match and while I think the Bruins don’t need to go out and get an enforcer, that grit is incredibly important on the blue-line. For this final pair it will probably go on a game by game basis, whoever is playing the best gets to play unless Cassidy wants to play Miller against more physical teams but may want a bit more offense and play Gryz and Moore. If I had to pick the final pair I would choose Gryz and Miller, I think Grzelcyk’s hockey sense is too good to sit in the press box.

With all that being said, the Bruins lineup decisions aren’t necessarily a bad thing. With all of the depth on the back-end, Cassidy can pick and choose his matchups on a day to day basis and know that he will always have a solid six guys to roll out there. For the forwards, they have a lot of flexibility. Backes has been really solid as of late and can fill in any of the four lines. If Cassidy needs a goal, he can put Pastrnak back with the top line and switch the rest of the lineup accordingly. All four lines have big strengths to their game, and I feel if the Bruins get enough out of their younger players, this lineup has the potential to do wonders. What do you guys think?

FULL LINEUP

Marchand-Bergeron-Heinen/Donato

Debrusk-Krejci-Pastrnak

Heinen/Donato-Cave-Backes

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner

JFK/Acciari

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Miller

Moore-Kampfer

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 11 Recap

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The Providence Bruins wrapped up their weekend games going one-for-one in games two and three of the current six-game road trip. The top minor-pro affiliate of the Boston Bruins won’t return to the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island until after the new year when the Lehigh Valley Phantoms come to town on Friday night January 4th, 2019. If you happen to be in the Providence area or in a city where the B’s play on the road and would like to see the American Hockey Leagues Providence Bruins club in action to end 2018 and in the new year, please either CLICK HERE and use discount code BNGP or go to the bottom of this article to view ticket availability from our partners over at SeatGiant!

The Providence Club started the weekend traveling to the  Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton, New York to take on the Binghamton Devils. The Bruins entered the Friday, December 21st, 2018, matchup against the top minor-pro affiliate of the New Jersey Devils winning only once in the last six games. The Bruins who sit in the in the seventh position in the AHL’s Atlantic Division were desperate to get a victory to set off the weekends action nicely, but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case the Devils trounced the B’s by a score of 6-3.

Remaining on the road, the B’s headed to the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts to wrap up the weekend’s action before the holiday break to play the Springfield Thunderbirds on Saturday, December 22nd,2018. On this night in South Western Massachusetts, the team from Rhode Island faired better in the second game of the weekend with a 5-4 win over the host Thunderbirds. The players will take a break to be with family and friends ready to return to the ice when the Providence club gets back to work on Friday, December 28th, 2018, as they continue their road trip in Lehigh Valley against the Phantoms to finish the six-game roadie with three-straight games next weekend in the final days of 2018.

Friday, December 21st, 2018, The Providence Bruins vs. The Binghamton Devils (Road Game)

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

The Bruins owned the first period from start to finish with defenseman Connor Clifton getting things started just 16 seconds into the opening frame scoring his second of the year. New Providence forward Gemel Smith got his first goal of the season on the power-play at the 18:26 mark of the opening 20 minutes entering his second game since being placed on waivers from the NHL Bruins team. Besides an unassisted goal for forward Anton Blidh who scored his sixth of the season in the second frame, the Binghamton club was too much to handle as the Devils would go onto own the last 40 minutes of the contest especially in the third period were the team from New York would go onto score four straight ending the game with the home team winning 6-3

Bruins goaltender Zane McIntyre got the start in goal on this night in Binghamton and continues to show signs of struggling the 2018-19 roller coaster season. He stopped 17 of 22 Devils shots taking the loss while taking the loss. The 2010 sixth-round selection of the Bruins is 7-7-3 on the year with a 3.20 goals-against-average, and .875 save percentage in 17 appearances this season.

Saturday, December 22nd, 2018 The Providence Bruins vs. The Springfield Thunderbirds (Road Game)

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

After a tough loss in Binghamton the night before, The Providence club looked to wipe away the memory or lack of effort to the hands of the Devils to focus on the game and better results in Springfield, Massachusetts. Once again the Bruins got off to a good start with a man advantage goal from veteran forward Mark Mcneill who scored his third of the season at the 14:45 mark of the first period. Almost a minute later in action, the Thunderbirds club would tie the game at one which seemed to get the attention of the Bruins team when they got a late first frame goal by Karsons Kuhlman who scored his fourth of the year to get the B’s to a 2-1 lead.

The second period was owned by the Providence team scoring three straight starting with B’s Captain Jordan Szwarz netting his 10th of the season on the power-play at the 6:38 mark to make the score 3-1 B’s. Peter Cehlarik scored his fifth of the year at the 16:26 mark of the second to pull the Bruins away from the home Thunderbirds team with a 4-1 advantage. B’s defenseman Clifton would finish the middle period scoring his third of the year and second goal in as many nights with his own power-play goal giving Providence a 5-1 lead with 20 minutes to go.

With a significant lead over the Thunderbirds, the Bruins seemingly didn’t show up in the last frame giving up three straight but held on to win the game by the score of 5-4. Rookie goaltender and NHL Bruins third-round selection in 2015, Dan Vladar got the start in goal against the Birds on this night stopping 22 of 26 shots that came his way. Like his netminding partner McIntyre, the 21-year-old Vladar has struggled in his first year of AHL action appearing in 15 games in the 2018-19 campaign posting a record of 6-6-2 with a 2.71 GAA and .899 Save%.

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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.  

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Bruins Vaakanainen Added To Team Finland For World Junior Championships

NHL: OCT 23 Bruins at Senators

PHOTO CREDITS: (Boston Sports Journal)

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

The Boston Bruins will have another prospect representing them in the 2019 World Junior Championships from Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. According to many sources, including Chris Peters of ESPN, defenceman Urho Vaakanainen will be joining his native Team Finland for the tournament.

This is a huge addition to Finland as they gain a big defender with some National Hockey League experience under his belt. Vaakanainen was Boston’s first-round draft selection (18th overall) in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. The six-foot-one, 185-pound Joensuu, Finland native has played the majority of his hockey career in the Liiga hockey league.

In 109 career Liiga games played, Vaakanainen has tallied 7-16-23 totals, including another four points in twenty-three postseason games. Prior to being selected by the Bruins in 2017, Urho had some success on the international stage with Finland. In the under-18 World Championships, he posted three goals and three assists for six points in five games.

The Bruins management decided to play Vaakanainen in the American Hockey League with the Providence Bruins to begin the 2018-19 season. After only six games where he put up two assists, Vaakanainen was recalled by Boston due to the number of injuries to the NHL Bruins’ blue line. All of a sudden, Vaakanainen went from playing out in Finland to playing on an NHL roster.

Unfortunately, the young d-man only played two games before an elbow by Mark Borowiecki nailed him in the head, giving him a concussion. At the time of the injury, Vaakanainen was averaging roughly nine minutes a game, with a 60.7% Corsi For percentage.

In response, the NHL’s Player Safety suspended Borowiecki for one game and was forced to forfeit just over $6,000 for the elbow. It was a very unlucky situation for Vaakanainen who was seemingly just finding his game. Since this occurrence back in October, Vaakanainen has been out of the lineup and has not been cleared by doctors due to that concussion until now.

With Boston continually winning games and players such as Chara and Miller making strides to returning to the lineup, it would seem selfish for the Bruins not to lend Vaakanainen to Finland for the World Juniors. Experience on the world stage is something that most players do not have the opportunity to play in so for Urho, it may be quite crucial to the development of his evolving game. Below are some prospect analysis quotes from different people.

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

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

Finland’s first game of the 2019 World Junior Championships is on Boxing Day against Sweden in Victoria, B.C.

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