Senyshyn’s Future in Boston Unclear

NHL: Preseason-Washington Capitals at Boston Bruins

(Photo Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

By Carrie Salls | Find me on Twitter @nittgrl73

It feels like Zach Senyshyn has been in the Bruins organization forever. The last of three first-round picks made by the Bruins in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Senyshyn was also the last of the group to earn a call to show what he can do on the NHL level. Although, like Senyshyn, draft classmate Jakub Zboril has seen very little time with the big club, Zboril’s chance came a bit sooner than Senyshyn’s. The other 2015 first-rounder, Jake DeBrusk, is entering his third season in Boston.

As far as Senyshyn is concerned, his biggest chance to make a name for himself so far came at the end of the 2018-2019 season, after the Bruins had clinched a playoff spot and were looking for options to rest the team’s stars and keep them healthy for the postseason. His first NHL goal was scored in that brief stint, but even that milestone was an inauspicious one for the 22-year-old winger. Senyshyn scored an empty-netter in the waning minutes of a game against the Minnesota Wild.

Still, it was a goal, scored in the NHL with his parents on-hand. And, it should not be overshadowed by the fact that Senyshyn seemed to relish his opportunity to show the Bruins’ brass what he can do. He approached his brief time in the NHL with poise, not letting the moment or his nerves get the better of him, and had a few quality chances and made an impact when he was on the ice.

That being said, big questions remain as to whether Senyshyn is ready and able to break into the NHL roster for the beginning of the 2019-2020 season. As part of the seemingly constant debate on who should play on David Krejci’s right wing, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney did offer some hope earlier this summer that Senyshyn could be thrown into the mix.

Much of Senyshyn’s future in the Bruins organization will depend on what role the coaches and front office want him to fill. If he is relegated to the hard-minutes, grinder role that it seems Providence coach Jay Leach would like to see from the Ottawa native, that could make “Senny’s” road to the NHL a bit bumpier. The Bruins have stocked up on bottom-six players in the past couple of years, all while already boasting arguably the best fourth line in the league.

With Sean Kuraly, Chris Wagner, Joakim Nordstrom, veteran David Backes and newcomer Brett Ritchie already providing Boston with hard-hitting options for those roles, and, perhaps most importantly to Senyshyn’s future, with several years of NHL experience already under their belts, it seems unlikely Senyshyn will break through that way unless an injury bug hits the team’s third and fourth lines.

How Sweeney sees Senyshyn potentially fitting into the search for a reliable second-line right ring, be it as a player that could slot into that position himself or a replacement for Danton Heinen or another player who would be moved there, remains to be seen. Senyshyn certainly has the speed to make an impact somewhere in the middle of the lineup, as well as the physical skill to make him an asset further down in the mix.

Although he is moving into the fifth season since being drafted by the Bruins, Senyshyn chose to return to the Ontario Hockey League for a couple of years after he was drafted and has actually only played two full seasons in Providence. In that time, he has racked up a total of 50 points. His points total fell slightly to 24 in the 2018-2019 season from 26 the year before, but he potted more goals this past season, with 14, compared to 12 the previous season.

Of course, a third season in Providence, at least to start the upcoming campaign, could only help Senyshyn’s development. However, he is coming into the final year of his entry-level contract. With restricted free agency looming, this season may be Senyshyn’s last chance, whether in camp or during a call-up, to prove that he deserves to stay in Boston for the long haul.

A Look Back: Bruins Prospect Frederic Notches 1st Pro Hatty

( Photo Credit: Circling The Wagon / Team Shred Photography )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twiter @BlackAndGold277

As a huge Boston Bruins prospect guy, I was looking at some of the B’s talent at the developmental levels particularly at the American Hockey League with the Providence Bruins during the 2018-19 regular season campaign. Looking at first-year American Hockey League pro and B’s 2016 first-round selection Trent Frederic and his best game offensively in April of 2019 when he notched three in a 5-3 road victory against boarding state rival Springfield Thunderbirds.

Frederic’s three goals all came in the second period from the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts and was a courageous effort to really put the team on his shoulders to get a victory over a birds team they see 12 times a year.  Frederic had a solid year learning the pro level rigors from Providence Head Coach Jay Leach and Assistant Trent Whitfield, and although didn’t have explosive numbers offensively with 14-11-25 numbers in 55 career games, his impact on the ice certainly overshadows his lack of finishing with point production, but that’s a work in progress nonetheless.

Below Is Frederic’s first career Pro Hat Trick and please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey Youtube channel!  We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE For Link To Our Youtube Channel

Also, give a listen to the latest Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast that was recorded on June 26th with longtime friend and Bruins diehard Heather Ingerson! We have episode 135 planned for the weekend after the American 4th of July so stay tuned for that as we update you on the recent NHL Bruins free agent signings.

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.

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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.

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Providence Bruins Sign Lee Stempniak to Professional Tryout

lee-stempniak

photo credit: Brian Babineau / NHL / Getty Images

By: Mandi Mahoney | Check me out on Twitter @phonymahoney

Providence Journal hockey writer and Rhode Island hockey expert Mark Divver announced today that the Providence Bruins signed forward Lee Stempniak to a professional tryout (PTO). Despite the fact that Stempniak has been practicing with the Bruins’ NHL squad since before the start of the season, this is an American Hockey League transaction only.

Stempniak, a National Hockey League journeyman, has played for ten different NHL clubs, which is tied for second-most in the league’s history. In a trade deadline deal on February 29, 2016, Stempniak was traded to the Bruins in exchange for a second and fourth-round draft pick. It was the third year in a row that Stempniak was dealt at the NHL’s trade deadline, as he was known to be a good addition to bring needed scoring punch to teams’ lineups. In his 19 regular season games for Boston, he scored three goals and assisted on seven, totaling ten points as a Bruin. Boston would go on to miss the playoffs that season, unfortunately, and despite a good showing in his 19 games, Stempniak would not be re-signed by General Manager Don Sweeney.

Stempniak signed with the Carolina Hurricanes in the summer of 2016 and scored 40 points in 2016-17 while playing all 82 games of the season. Last season, however, did not go so well for Stempniak, as he was plagued by injuries, missing 45 games. Ultimately, he scored three goals and notched six helpers for a total of nine points in 37 games for Carolina last year. Given the rough season he had, the 35-year-old wing was hard pressed to find any takers during free agency last summer, despite scoring 469 points in 909 career NHL games. Stempniak has called Boston home since graduating from Dartmouth in 2005.

This is a good move for Providence to gain some NHL and veteran experience for their lineup, however, it is an AHL tryout only, so Stempniak will not be taking an NHL roster spot with the Bruins unless he’s signed to a National Hockey League contract. Stempniak was invited to camp last year and had a good preseason with the Bruins, along with fellow bottom six forward Daniel Winnik. He was not signed, however, as the Bruins were stacked with a plethora of youngsters who would likely be filling out the bottom six for the Black and Gold. Obviously, it would not have been advantageous to the organization to dress a player of advancing age rather than continue to develop their youth.

Per Providence Head Coach Jay Leach, Stempniak will suit up for the P-Bruins at home tonight against the Toronto Marlies, and Sunday against the Springfield Thunderbirds, which will also be played at home, at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. One would think the Bruins are unlikely to sign Stempniak to an NHL contract since he’s been practicing with them for a half year at this point, but there is a distinct  possibility that the New York native could be looked toward for help in their bottom six, as the Bruins are in dire need of secondary scoring, and Don Sweeney has yet to make any trades this season. If Stempniak can capitalize on the opportunity and doesn’t look outmatched in the AHL, it would not be totally crazy for him to see NHL action again.

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!

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Providence Bruins Name Team Captain

( Photo Credit:  BostonBruins.com / NHL.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

After longtime Providence Bruins defenseman departed from the Boston Bruins organization there’s been a vacancy at the role of the definitive team captain. Cross, who held the captaincy honor for the last three of his six seasons with the top minor-pro affiliate of the National Hockey Leagues Bruins. The Providence club is certainly doing things the right way with addressing the vacancy, and after six games in the 2018-19 American Hockey League campaign so far it seems Bruins Head Coach Jay Leach and supporting cast have found their guy.  Earlier today veteran forward Jordan Szwarz was named the team’s thirteenth captain in franchise history.

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Szwarz, a 5′-11″ 201-pound versatile forward was originally drafted in the fourth round by the Phoenix Coyotes (Now Arizona Coyotes) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec. After a successful Canadian Junior career with the Ontario Hockey Leagues Saginaw Spirit where he appeared in 262 games posting 82-122-204 numbers. The now 27-year-old Ontario, Canada native has spent the last two seasons with the Providence club contributing 43-60-103 numbers in 121 games played with the Rhode Island franchise. His career in the AHL consists of 215 points in 368 games and when called up to the show he’s played 47 games in the NHL and has 4-3-7 numbers in 35 games with the Coyotes (4-0-4), and 12 games with the Boston Bruins (0-3-3).

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Jordan came to Providence camp before the 2016-17 season on a professional tryout agreement but would later sign a one-year two-way contract with the NHL Bruins in November of 2016. After signing with the Boston he would play the 2016-17 season with the Providence club. In his first year with Providence, he led the club in scoring with 54 points in 65 games earning another contract extension from the Bruins in March of 2018. Another impressive increase for Szwarz is his dollar value at the minor-pro level for a veteran who’s entering his eighth year in the AHL. From his minor-pro contract of $65K per season in the Coyotes system to $350K playing on a two-way contract with the Providence club this season.

Szwarz is off to a slow start to the 2018-19 campaign with one assist in six games, but slow starts have been an enigma for the Providence club in recent years as they seem to find team chemistry in the month of December. Even though this team has its troubles in the early going, the team has been a Calder Cup Playoff team for six straight seasons reaching the Eastern Conference Finals once, second round appearance twice, and three first-round best-of-five exits.

Although it’s early in the regular season, hopefully, this Providence team with the tutelage of Head Coach Jay Leach and Assistant bench boss Trent Whitfield can find what it takes to get the message embedded into the heads of these developing players and supporting veterans alike. The Bruins get back to work for game two of the weekend tonight at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island and try to erase the memory of last night’s overtime loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Prospects Challenge: Part 3 – Providence Bruins Head Coach Jay Leach

Coach Leach( Photo Courtesy of Joshua Bemis @ToCauseway )

By: Jen Stasio Coombe  |  Follow Me On Twitter @hockeygirl2976

One of the benefits to covering a preseason event like Buffalo’s Prospects Challenge is the amount of access to and the amount of time you get to spend with the players and coaches asking questions. I found that everyone was very amiable and ready to answer any questions I had for them, even when not directly hockey related.  For example, did you know the Jakub Zboril fell in love over the summer?  Ok — don’t get carried away here, he fell in love with tennis. He explained, “My brother and I took up tennis over the summer … other than hockey, the only sport I love is tennis.”

Now that I really have your attention, I will tell you, on a recent appearance on the Beers N’ Bruins podcast hosted by Mark Allred, he asked me what I felt about Jay Leach.  It wasn’t hard to come up with a solid answer really.  From a fan’s perspective, sitting in the stands week after week, watching him direct traffic, boost morale and guide the boys set to take the ice, what I saw was a calm, quiet, completely cool coach.

Whether they were winning or losing, having a “conversation” with the stripes or failing to make it past the first round of the playoffs, I never saw him break into a rant or flail about with frustration. Once the podcast was over, I began to wonder how naïve I was being — is he always like this or does he blow up behind closed doors? Is this the type of coach he aimed to be from the start? What does he think of his style? What do the boys on the bench think of him? The questions continued to swirl, but I knew right where to look for answers.

Leach( Photo Curtesy: Times Union )

I started with the man himself. On the second day in Buffalo, I interviewed Leach about how he coaches and what his plan was when transitioning from player to coach. He explained that he never really knew what to expect or how to be the best coach. “You try to do your due diligence, come in with an idea, but you go through a year with a bunch of experiences, and you come out the other side and things are just different.”

By nature, he is the type of person who likes to “check his boxes” and be sure that tasks are complete, but he tempers his needs to filter a ton of information down to the players with the understanding that makes him a “players’ coach.”

“I am 39 years old, I am not that far removed from playing, I don’t want to come across as anything other than who I am … obviously, we have standards, and we hold everyone to those standards, but it has to be organic, I try to create a good environment…”

Leach, Koppanen, Kuhlman( Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Stasio Coombe )

When I had the chance to ask his players about his coaching style and how he compared to other coaches they had worked with each player had their own take, but it all boiled down to three basic facts:

  1. He is always open to discussions and willing to offer advice or counsel. Whether it was professional or personal, each of the players confirmed that they had no problems talking to Leach about anything.
  2. He does have standards. “If you don’t play well and don’t improve, he will sit you,” said one player, but when I followed on asking about if this was a silent sit or if he explained I was told time and again, “He always explains himself, it is always to help us and to get better.”
  3. He has garnered the respect of each of the players. “He is not far away from being a player … he knows what it is like to be us, and we respect him. We don’t improve because he will yell, we want to do better because we don’t want to disappoint him.  He has our total respect.”

The last question I posed to both Coach Leach and each player was about his composure behind the bench. Jay responded, ”It’s all right here (motioning to his chest), right here and maybe a bead of sweat, I don’t know if you will ever get rid of that … I need them (the players) to not think that is happening.” Apparently, the old adage of never let them see you sweat holds fast with Jay.  Players responded likewise saying that he was always composed behind the bench and while once and a while he will blow off steam behind closed doors, all in all, “he is as level as they come.”

The result of the interviews with both Coach Leach and his players has solidified in my mind that he IS that solid coach I see behind the bench. He guides and directs them with composure and tough love when needed, but most of all he is truly invested in the development of not just the players, but himself. “I would imagine that every year I will come out a little different,” he said. “I think — I hope — that means I am growing.”

Prospects Challenge: Part 2 — A Tale Of Three Goalies For The Bruins

Round Up ( Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Stasio Coombe )

By: Jen Stasio Coombe  |  Follow Me On Twitter @hockeygirl2976

Dan Vladar, Kyle Keyser, and Dawson Weatherill were three netminders who played their way to Buffalo representing the Bruins in net over the four-day extended weekend event. Three men to tend the pipes gave Boston Brass the opportunity to scrutinize the skills and tenacity each of these players brought to the game.  As well as giving each of them their opportunity to shine as the squads starting goalie.

Game 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, was to be Kyle Keyser’s night in the spotlight. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound goalie has played for the Oshawa Generals since 2016 and at the young age of 19 was looking to convince the people upstairs that their faith in his growth and development were not misguided. Attending the development camp in the spring, there were a few doubts about his ability to keep the pace and continue to build his repertoire.  Kyle took Game 1 by the horns and left little doubt that he was here to work hard and win.

Keyser 2( Photo Courtesy of Joshua Bemis @ToCauseway )

Through the first two periods, Keyser was on fire, not letting one of the many shots he faced past his post. His determination in net saw the B’s entering the third with a 4-0 lead. This iron curtain did falter a bit in the third as he allowed two pucks to find their way into the net, but his composure was not to let him down.

Finishing his night off with a total of 35 saves, it was reasonable to think that perhaps fatigue is what caused the two pucks to slip by in the third, so the next day I asked Kyle his take on the situation. “Honestly, I didn’t feel fatigued at all in the third, sometimes when you are as a team 4-0 and you are going into the third, you maybe take your foot off the gas a little, even me, and I think that is just an area to focus in on to improve for everybody.”  Backing up his confident statement regarding his endurance Keyser did show a good bit of athleticism late into the third, using the butt of his stick while making a nice leap to ensure the puck would not find its intended target.

Vladar( Photo Courtesy: Joshua Bemis @ToCauseway )

Game 2, the feature game of the weekend, saw Dan Vladar take his place in the crease to put a kibosh on the Buffalo Sabres scoring chances.  His 6-foot-5, 185-pound frame towered over the net as the puck was dropped at the Harbor Center. After spending two seasons with the Atlanta Gladiators, Boston’s ECHL Affiliate, Dan was ready to make his next step up the pro ladder taking place in Providence as the second goaltender for the organization this coming year. His performance would not disappoint those invested in this 21-year-old’s blossoming career.

While the Sabres came into the weekend not only with a home-ice advantage but a strong and wily group of youngsters, the first period ended with only a single puck making it past this Czech beast. Not completely satisfied with his first period, Vladar came into the next two periods with a galvanized resolve and a positive outlook. Not one of the battery of shots on goal was able to penetrate this jolly giant’s façade.

Vladar 2 ( Photo Courtesy of Joshua Bemis @ToCauseway )

Finishing the night with a record of saving 38 of 39 shots on goal would leave many a goalie, tooting his own horn, but not our Vlad. When asked about his performance in the net his humble attitude and desire to continually better himself was on full display. “I feel good, but it is my first game of the season … I felt a little bit off my posts, but I got a little bit stronger over the summer, so my pushes were good…To be honest, it was not my best hockey. ”  In contrast, Jay Leach felt Vladar had an outstanding performance. “I think at first he had a few saves that looked like he hadn’t played in six months, which he hadn’t, but he settled right in, and ‘Vlady’ will always give you his best effort … guys love playing in front of him … and he was really very impressive.”

The third and final game of the weekend saw Dawson Weatherill step up in an attempt to send the New Jersey Devils packing. Another formidable obstacle at 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, Weatherill came to the prospect challenge as an invite. Basically, he was brought up to test the waters and fill out the third roster spot as some would say.  Not taking this merely a chance to mingle with the pro boys or a holiday with a bit of hockey thrown in, Dawson buckled down, worked hard at all practices and morning skates, and soaked up all the information he could from the coaches and teammates here in Buffalo.

Unfortunately, learning does not occur overnight and being the least seasoned of the goalies here for Boston, Dawson saw the third game come to a disappointing close with a score of Devils 6, Bruins 2.  He was not as focused or as agile as Vladar and Keyser, and he appeared to have trouble from time to time with letting the frustration overtake him.  While he was not able to vanquish these Devils, Weatherill will take what he has learned in this tournament back to the Spokane Chiefs in the WHL and continue to grow and develop, hoping for another shot in future seasons.

Finishing with a strong showing of winning two of the three matches, the Bruins goalies were ready to head back home and get the rest of the preseason underway.  Don Sweeney confirmed that Vladar would be heading to Providence to split time in net with Veteran P-Bruin Zane McIntyre. “We play a lot of three in three situations in Providence, where one goalie gets two out of those three,” he said. “You want that competition, he really needs to challenge and push Zane for as many starts as he can get.”

So, while Keyser and Weatherill set off to mature for another season, it is up to Dan Vladar to determine his own next big move.

Buffalo’s Prospects Challenge: Part 1 — Bruins Go Big And Go Home

 Photo Courtesy of Joshua Bemis (@ToCauseway) 

 By: Jen Stasio-Coombe  |  Follow Me O Twitter @hockeygirl2976

The Prospect Challenge in Buffalo, New York kicked off on Friday Sept. 7 and ran through Monday, Sept. 10. The challenge featured a round robin-style tournament between the Buffalo Sabres, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the New Jersey Devils, and our own Boston Bruins.  Boston, Buffalo, and New Jersey each won 2 of their 3 games and Pittsburgh waddled home without a single win on the weekend. Final standings, as seen below, ended up being determined by the goals for and goals against.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be putting out a series of articles on my experiences and takeaways from this incredible experience. So, sit back relax and enjoy the first of these here and now.

When it comes to prospect tournaments, the play is often rough and tumble, a little chaotic and very, very fun to watch.  You bring together a team composed of young men who may have had a few pro games under their belt (if they were lucky) may or may not have played together before, and some who have barely even skated North American ice until now.  Next, you put them in a game situation where they are required to rely not only on their own skill and understanding of the game but trust in the teammates they have just met and possibly even learn a new style of play, which may completely differ from what they have trained their whole lives.

This is a recipe for a scrappy, emotion-filled, challenge ridden matchup and if you are looking for structured NHL formula style hockey, you are out of luck.  A chaotic environment results in one of two outcomes — you adapt, learn, and rise to the challenge, or you continue to do what you always have done and go back whence you came. Providence Bruins head coach Jay Leach said, “It’s about when they are ready…we will push them, but we won’t push them into something they aren’t ready for.”

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Photo Credit: Joshua Bemis (@ToCauseway)

In hockey, going back from where you came is not always a bad thing. Sometimes it is not because you aren’t adapting, sometimes it is for your own good, and sometimes it is because you just need more time. A prime example of this is one of the breakout stars of this challenge, Axel Andersson. He wasn’t perfect, but this kid is like an angel on skates, his puck handling is on point, and his touch is incredible. He is one of the boys I mentioned with little to no North American ice time and the style of defense played abroad is different so he had to learn on the fly. After seeing him skate the first night against the Penguins, paired up with Wiley Sherman on the third-line D, I was convinced. He has smarts and this pairing is sweet!

I asked each of them how they felt being paired with the other. Axel explained, “I liked having Sherman there, he was confident, and made me feel comfortable.”  The respect was mutual as Wiley said, “I have always been paired with skill players, he is a skills player,” placing a hard emphasis on skills, “I really enjoyed playing with him.”

Admiration for these skills does not end with his teammates. Leach had this to say after the first night’s matchup against the Pens.

“Andy (Axel Andersson)… he is smooth, isn’t he?” Leach said. “I’ve only been able to see him play one game and (in) development camp, I have been thoroughly impressed with his game.”

Over the next three days, Jay and I spoke each day about ‘Andy’ and each day he had good things to say about how the player was learning from the video and taking the constructive criticism. On the final day, he confirmed what we had discussed on Day 2.

“The program over there (Sweden) is very good at developing defensemen in particular.  It would be good for him to play one more year there, where he is comfortable, and then I am sure he will be fine to be here.” In a surprise twist of fate I was able to meet Axel’s father and he was of the same mind as Coach Leach, but for a more parental reason, “Axel has only one year left of school and he wants to finish that first (before coming to the states),” he said. “As a father, that makes me happy.  He will continue his play at home.”

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Photo Credit: Joshua Bemis (@ToCauseway)

Sweden has done a stellar job thus far, let them have at it, so long as Andy comes back to grace us with his angelic moves again next year. For now, he will be close to home, close to family, be able to finish his schooling and come back in the fall ready to get movin’ and Bruin.

A huge THANK YOU to @ToCauseway for the amazing photography you supplied for my articles for this series.  Your assistance was invaluable and your guidance even more so.  In addition, a giant THANK YOU to @wifeofsalmon for making me feel so welcome and helping me settle in on my first assignment.  You were both great and I owe you one.  Hope to work with you both again soon!

Look for the second article in the series coming soon.

Providence Bruins Playoff Primer (Round One vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms)

Photo Credit:  Providence Bruins Official Twitter Account @AHLBruins

By: Josh B.   |   Follow Me On Twitter @ToCauseway

April 13th, 2018 the Providence Bruins fell apart in the 3rd period against the Charlotte Checkers and lost 3rd place in the Atlantic playoff standings. Over the next two days, they were able to claw back to within a few points but were hoping for the Checkers to lose to the Sound Tigers on Sunday, April 15th. The Checkers prevailed, and Providence stayed in 4th place. On a brighter note, Providence is 7th in the 30-team AHL standings with a healthy 45-26-5 record through 76 games.

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With the regular season ended, Providence has drawn the first place in the Atlantic Division (2nd AHL-wide) Lehigh Valley Phantoms in the Atlantic Division Quarterfinals. In 2017-2018, Providence went 1-4-1 against the Phantoms in the regular season. Their only two wins came at home. In most outings against the Phantoms, the team has scored 3 or fewer goals, including a couple shutouts where no Bruin could solve the Phantoms goaltender.

This doesn’t faze Providence Head Coach Jay Leach.

“You’re going to have to beat them all,” Leach said postgame on April 15th. For what it’s worth, on the same day, one of the Springfield Thunderbirds added Wilkes-Barre Scranton would be a tougher pull for Providence. “They’re a heavier team, built for the playoffs.”

Side note: Josh Ho-Sang who I met at the Bridgeport Game in Bridgeport on April 7th said almost the exact quote word for word about Providence. Either a coincidence or maybe it’s a generic quote the players are given to say about other teams.

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Anyways, Providence opens up the best of 5 game series at home in the Dunkin Donuts Center on Friday, April 20th. Game 2 is played the following night also at the Dunk. After opening the series at home, Providence will travel to Allentown, PA, for the remaining 3 games played on April 27, 28, 30th respectively. Providence will need to win both games at home to have success in the series. With Providence’s only wins against Lehigh Valley coming at the Dunkin Donuts Center, the first two games may decide the outcome. Regardless, winning at least one at home is an absolute must. Fortunately, the regular season isn’t always a barometer for how a playoff matchup will go.

Providence’s Austin Czarnik (25G, 44A) and Lehigh Valley’s Phil Varone (23G, 47A) occupy the 3rd and 2nd spots respectively in AHL scoring for 2017-18. Both are slightly undersized centermen with excellent hands and vision capable of taking over a game at the AHL level. Czarnik, to his credit, has more games at the NHL level than Varone does and could be playing himself into a raise and NHL roster spot come next season. The next highest point getter for either team is Kenny Agostino, who his far removed from his AHL MVP season with (16G, 37A) and 29th overall; Providence’s Jordan Szwarz with (21G, 27A) comes in next at 47th overall. Lehigh Valley’s Nick Aube-Kubel (18G, 28A) is next at 60th overall, and teammate T. J. Brennan (14G, 31A) rounds out the top point-getters at 67th. Honorable mention here to Lehigh Valley’s Danick Martel at 100th overall, with the highest goal total of everyone mentioned (25G, 15A). For a complete rundown of the Providence Roster (as of April 18th), here’s the AHL’s site.

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Between the pipes, the goaltending tandem of Zane McIntyre (16th, 2.52 GAA, 0.914 SV%) and Jordan Binnington (2nd, 2.05 GAA, 0.926 SV%) is better on paper than Lehigh Valley’s netminders. The Phantoms goaltender duo Dustin Tokarski (24th, 2.65 GAA, 0.915 SV%) and Alex Lyon (31st, 2.75 GAA, 0.913 SV%) have won more games, however. In their two wins, Providence thumped Lehigh Valley with a 5 and 6 goal game respectively. In their two losses that weren’t shutouts, Providence posted 2 and 3 goal games to Lehigh Valley’s 3 and 5 goals respectively.

Predictions that will horribly go wrong: I see Providence bowing out in 5 games. They’re loaded with prospects and talent, but the Phantoms have played Providence enough to know where and how to expose the Bruins’ defense and weaknesses. The only way for the Bruins to win is by consistently good starts or winning the first 20 minutes. Otherwise, the Phantoms will run right over you before the midway point of regulation. I would like to see Providence exercise revenge on the Phantoms in this series as Boston has done to Toronto thus far in their playoff series. The NHL Bruins lost their season series with Toronto, yet are making a stand in the Atlantic division quarterfinals. Hopefully, the farm team of the Black and Gold will follow the same pattern and surprise me by defeating the Phantoms.

Bruins Prospect Trent Frederic Records First Pro Goal

(Brighton, MA 07/07/17) #57 Trent Frederic jumps over a rope during Bruins development camp at the Warrior Ice Arena. Friday, July 7, 2017. Staff photo by John Wilcox.

By: Mark Allred   |   Follow On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Last night in a thrilling 5-4 Providence Bruins overtime victory over Atlantic Division-leading Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 2016 first-round draft selection Trent Frederic scored his first professional goal in his second American Hockey League game. The first of many goals from this talented young man from the St. Louis, Missouri area came at the 11:05 mark of the second period and was unassisted as seen in the Tweet below followed by some interesting insight from @BruinsNetwork account owner Anthony Kwetkowski.

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The top-shelf tallie is just a small sample size of what this 6′-5″ 2015-pound forward can do with only two games with the top minor-pro affiliate of the Boston Bruins. Before joining his Providence team, the now 20-year-old center chose to shorten his colligate hockey career with the University of Wisconsin Badgers after his sophomore year for the next level in the higher ranks of professional play. In 66 games playing in the NCAA Big-Ten Conference, the 29th selection from the National Hockey Leagues Entry Draft from Buffalo, New York contributed 65 points (32-33-65) under the exceptional tutelage of former NHL’er and Badgers current Head Coach Tony Granato.

Granato had this to say to Wisconsin State Journal’s Todd D. Milewski in his article on March 14, 2018, after Frederic went public with his decision to leave school and turn pro.  “Trent Frederic is 100 percent an NHL player. No question in my mind,” Granato said. “Does Boston want him to play in Providence for the remainder of this year and 40 games next year, similar to what Minnesota just did with Luke? Only they know that plan, and that plan changes fast.””Does it leave a void at center ice for us temporarily? Absolutely,” Granato said. “You take Trent Frederic out of your lineup, a guy that probably could have got 25 or 30 goals in college hockey next year, you don’t just all of a sudden find another one in your backyard.”

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Tony also mentioned the loss and value in taking a player of Frederic’s caliber out of the lineup for the 2018-19 NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey season. “Does it leave a void at center ice for us temporarily? Absolutely,” Granato said. “You take Trent Frederic out of your lineup, a guy that probably could have got 25 or 30 goals in college hockey next year, you don’t just all of a sudden find another one in your backyard.”

Many Bruins fans didn’t approve of his selection in the first-round and believed he was a reach for possibly being a mid-second-round projection, but it’s heavily rumored the Anaheim Ducks were going to select him with the 30th pick from intel gathered on that particular 2016 draft day. It was a solid pick in my opinion and continues the additions to the depth up the middle of this franchise even though the center position throughout the organization may be over-filled.

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Frederic had this to say about his departure from the Big-Ten team and movement closer to the east coast and dream of reaching the top professional league in the world. “I wish I would have won some more games and left a bigger mark on the program,” Frederic said. “That’s one of the reasons I wanted to come back. It was really hard to leave. “But I just thought in my heart, that’s where I wanted to go. I want to make the National Hockey League, and I thought this was the best opportunity for me.”

Trent had decent success at the international level appearing in the World Junior Championships with his 2016 U-18 team which captured a bronze medal contributing seven points in seven games (4-3-7) and took home another bronze medal at the 2018 U-20 WJC scoring five points in seven games. His four-goal game from this year’s tournament from Buffalo, New York can be seen below in the video provided below.

Providence first-year Head Coach Jay Leach told Providence Journal’s Bruins beat writer Mark Divver after he skated in his first pro game on March 18, 2018, against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. ‘He didn’t even skate with us (before today). He literally skated with three guys yesterday. So we just kind of threw him in. Clearly has ability. I’m excited to get him into some practices this week, so he can really get used to the way we play….

The 39-21-3-2 Providence Bruins are back in action tonight in the second straight game in as many nights against the 42-16-4-5 Lehigh Valley Phantoms at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. The B’s are 1-2-0 against Lehigh Valley and in six games last season went 2-2-2-0, and both teams are seemingly going to avoid playing each other in the AHL’s Calder Cup Playoff first-round matchup when the season ends. Including tonight’s game, the Bruins have 11 regular season contests before returning to the postseason a place the B’s had decent success reaching the Eastern Conference Finals ultimately losing to the stronger Syracuse Crunch last spring.

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