The Future Of The Boston Bruins ECHL Affiliation

( Photo Credit: icethetics.co )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Season Ending Week 26 Recap

( Photo Credit: Dale Zanine / gwinnettdailypost.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 26 Preview

( Photo Credit: Amanda Bingham / gwinnettdailypost.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

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

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

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

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

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

This Week’s Gladiators To Watch:

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

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

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

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

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Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 25 Recap

( Photo Credit: Amanda Bingham / gwinnettdailypost.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 25 Preview

( Photo Credit: Taylor Trebotte / gwinnettdailypost.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

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

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

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

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

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

This Week’s Gladiators To Watch:

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

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

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

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

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Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 20 Preview

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( Photo Credit: gwinnettdailypost.com / Taylor Trebotte )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

The Gladiators franchise-record point streak ended last week, but the team has already laid the foundations for another unbeaten run. After a disappointing loss to the Newfoundland Growlers, Atlanta bounced back with comfortable wins against Greenville and South Carolina. This week, the Glads head to South Dakota for a three-game series against the Rapid City Rush.

There have been some significant departures from the Gladiator’s roster over the last week. Forward Brett McKenzie was recalled to Providence after an impressive rookie season in Atlanta. He leaves the Gladiators ranked second for points on the season with 34 (11g, 23a) and will be missed by the fans and his teammates. Defenseman Joel Messner was also recalled to Providence, and like McKenzie, will be a big loss for Atlanta. He was establishing himself as one of the most important players on the roster and had recently been made alternate captain. The Gladiators have resigned defenseman Brandon McMartin who did a feature for the team earlier in the season but has spent the majority of 2018-19 with the Knoxville Ice Bears of the SPHL. He has joined up with the squad and could feature against Rapid City this week.

This week’s opponents, the Rapid City Rush, are the second non-divisional opponents that the Glads will face this season. Atlanta will be hoping for much better results than the game against the Newfoundland Growlers. Both the Glads and the Rush are very close in the league standings, with 50 points each. The Rush have a 5-3-2 record in their last 10 games and will pose a physical threat to Atlanta, with almost twice as many penalty minutes on the season. Gladiators netminder, Michael Bitzer, could face his former team if he gets a start over Sean Bonar, and the Glads will be up against former forward, Darby Llewellyn, who has 16 points (5g, 11a) on the season for the Rush. It is difficult to predict who will come out on top as the teams have not faced each other yet, home advantage will help the Rush, but Atlanta will be hoping to improve their playoff chances with points on this road trip.

This Week’s Gladiators To Watch:

Daniel Leavens: The veteran forward has hit the ground running for Atlanta. He grabbed three points (2g, 1a) in three games for the Glads last week and is establishing himself as a key part of the offense. His experience will be very valuable on what will be a tricky road trip, he will want to lead by example. Keep an eye on him.

Michael Bitzer: The second-year goaltender has been waiting patiently for a run in the Atlanta team and he made a great impression last week, recording his first professional shutout in the game against Greenville. Facing his former team will give added motivation and makes him an intriguing player to watch this week.

Nick Bligh: The third-year forward has eight points in his last eight games and has scored some very important goals for the Glads already this season. He’s been one of the most important forwards in recent weeks and his contributions have gone slightly under the radar. An exciting player and definitely one to watch out for this week.

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

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Providence Bruins Week 10 Begins

locker(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins)

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

It’s going to be a long week for the Providence Bruins as they headed out on a four-game tour of the North Division yesterday. The trip began with their first stop in Toronto, followed by tomorrow in Rochester, Saturday in Belleville and finally next Wednesday they will be in Utica. The only team of these four they had already met this season were the Rochester Americans, and that game ended up with a Providence win thanks to a goal from Ryan Donato in overtime. With Ryan back in Boston the team will have to find another lethal weapon to slay their northern foes. If they continue to use the skill, speed, coordination, and teamwork we have seen from them the past two weeks, they need look no further.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018, Providence Bruins vs. Toronto Marlies (AWAY)

marlies(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins)

The first stop in the great white north was to face the Toronto Marlies.  Ranked two places below Providence at eleventh in the Eastern Conference with a total of twenty-two points they were separated from Providence by only two points.  This game could have made the difference for the Marlies if it had gone their way.  The current Calder Cup champions are no doubt unhappy with where they are currently positioned in the rankings and were eager to claw their way closer to the top. So last night’s result was far from certain.

Toronto had scored eighty-six goals this season out of the 710 shots they had taken that put them at about a 12% success rate. Providence, on the other hand, was a little lower only being successful about 11% of the time. However, neither of these stats appeared to be a factor last night.  It came down to Providences strength on the Penalty Kill, the ability to take advantage of the power play opportunities in the second period, and the stellar goaltending of Dan Vladar.  This was the second shutout of the season for Vladar and a 5-0 victory for the Bruins over the Marlies.  A good start to a road trip and no matter how the rest of the week goes, they will have the support of all the fans back home who will anxiously be awaiting their arrival back at the Dunk on the 14th of December.

Friday, December 7, 2018, Providence Bruins vs. Rochester Americans (AWAY)

amerks(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins)

The Providence Bruins travel back stateside for Friday’s game to meet up in New York with the Rochester Americans for the second time this season. With the first game being so close and finally falling Providences way, the pressure is surely going to be strong for the Americans to take this game and get a record win against the Bruins. Meeting twice a year for at least the past three years the Bruins seemed to have been charmed taking home the W in every match-up. So a win for Rochester this Friday would break a very long losing streak and dare we say it, a curse?

Rochester may have the man with the plan this year. Currently, they have a top 10 scorer, who also happens to be the overall defensive leader in goals, power-play goals, and shots on goal. That’s right Zach Redmond, the Rochester d-man, boast numbers of 13-9-22 in just 21 games. That is someone who deserves a little extra attention this Friday night if we want to be sure his numbers don’t climb higher that evening.

That is a strong player true, but one player does not make a team, and with the coordination and teamwork our boys are currently displaying they can definitely put an end to any run the Americans would like to start against the Bruins.

Saturday, December 8, 2018, Providence Bruins vs. Belleville Senators (AWAY)

belle(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins)

Having only one year in the league the Belleville Senators and the Providence Bruins have a rather short history. They have played two games against each other one in Providence and the other in Belleville. The game in Providence was won by the Bruins in regular time while the game in Belleville took into overtime for the Senators to score the game-winning goal, but win they did. With two games in the history books, these two teams have a .500 lifetime record, and this one game will make that number swing one way or the other by .250. Funny how quickly things change when the sample size is so small.

One other set of numbers to watch is the conference position and total points. As of today, the Senators are at fourteenth with twenty-one points, and the Bruins sit at eighth with twenty-six points. With six points up for grabs this weekend and two of them being a direct battle between the two teams, they could switch positions on the table very easily.

The significant items that would point toward Providence coming out on top of this battle are where the team names show up on the AHL Daily Report. Providence has players, not many mind you, scattered throughout many positive tables. Dan Vladar is a top fifteen goalie, Joel Messner leads with shorthanded assists and two players Fitzgerald and Hughes with successful penalty shots. Belleville shows up very little but does show up with the third most losing goalie, having lost eight, and a defenseman with the fifth most penalty minutes in the league with  51 PIMs in 22 games. These items do not spell victory for Providence, but they do give me a good feeling about it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018, Providence Bruins vs. Utica Comets (AWAY)

utica(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins)

The Utica Comets welcome the Providence Bruins for their first meeting of the year.  Providence won all four matches between these two teams last season, and the Comets are looking to change that going forward.  They come into this match with speed and the ability to aim for the net, already having taken seven hundred shots on goal this season as compared to Providences six hundred fifty number.  The number of times you shoot at the net doesn’t really matter if they never become goals. So, the question here is who actually has more goals.  The answer is, even with a much lower shot count, the Bruins have five more goals in total.

So we now know offensively who has the numbers advantage, let’s take a quick look at the defense.  We can see that Providence has allowed sixty-seven goals to slide by their goaltender in the twenty-three games so far this year.  Utica has allowed ninety-four to reach the back of the net, but they have played two additional games thus far. That’s a 2.91 and 3.76 goals against average for the two teams respectively.  Dan Vladar and Zane McIntyre have both had an amazing couple of weeks, and the defensive team has really picked up their game as well. Even if we take into account our rocky start, this looks good for the Bruins.  I don’t know about you, but I am under the impression that if the boys keep their wits about them and continue playing as they have, barring a catastrophic disaster, the Bruins should take those two points home to end their tour of the North Division.

My picks to watch this weekend:

Up Front:

Everyone – I know it seems like a cop-out, but honestly last week I could not pick a single outstanding front-runner. Everyone was working hard and pick-pocketing like they had been ripped from the pages of David Copperfield. Let’s take another week to enjoy the beauty that is/are, the Providence Bruins front lines at the moment.

On The Blue Line:

Olivier Galipeau – Overall I don’t know too much about him. He has one assist and two minor penalties in the four games he has played with Providence so far.   He was captain of his team in the QMJHL and had a +89 over a total of 308 games in 5 years. I recommend we all take a look this weekend and see what we think.

In Net:

Dan Vladar – Last week both our goalies performed stellar feats of tending. This week I thought we would focus on checking out the different style that Vlad brings to the net. His size naturally leads him to cover more of the net, but that does not end the conversation. How does he cover the correct parts of the net and how does he move that tall, lanky frame so quickly and effortlessly into position to prevent the goals that to an outsider appear unstoppable?

Cheers to week ten and best of luck to our Baby-B’s. Welcome to the first full week of December.  I will catch up with you next week and until then, feel free to message me on twitter with any questions or comments and as always, take some time to check out the other great articles by the incredible team here at Blackngoldhockey.com. Now Go Get Hockey With It!

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Gladiators Training Camp Update

( Photo Credit: @atlgladiators Twitter )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

The 2018-19 Atlanta Gladiators training camp is in full swing. New Ownership marks the beginning of a new era in Georgia, and preparations are underway for what promises to be an exciting season. The return of head coach, Jeff Pyle, has created a genuine feel of optimism amongst the players as well as the supporters. Roster spots are up for grabs with senior players away on AHL tryouts, so there’s strong competition in the camp with everybody trying to impress the new bosses. Training camp ends on October 7th, so the clock is ticking for players eager to earn their place.

The Gladiators management have been busy with a number of players returning to Atlanta after AHL try-outs, and some new faces joining the squad. Branden Troock, Darby Llewellyn and Jack Stander returned from try-outs with the Milwaukee Admirals, in addition, the Gladiators also loaned forward Alex Overhardt from Milwaukee. Ben Danford returns from the Chicago Wolves, and Luke Sandler is back from the Rockford IceHogs. On Monday, October 1st, the Gladiators announced that 6 players had been added to the squad from the Providence Bruins. The AHL affiliate have loaned defenseman Olivier Galipeau and forward Brett McKenzie, and assigned defenseman Joel Messner to Atlanta. Sean Bonar, Zach Malatesta, and Tyler Deresky have been released from their try-outs with Providence and will report back to the Gladiators. On Tuesday, October 2nd The Milwaukee Admirals loaned forwards Tyler Moy and Carl Persson, and assigned Matt Lane to the Gladiators. The team also confirmed that Zac Sikich, Alfred Johanson, Hunter Stewart, Matt Harrington, and Robbie Hall have been released from their PTOs.

The Gladiators have been very clear in their expectations for the new season. Coach Pyle has high standards and will be aiming to go one step further than his previous tenure in charge of the team. When discussing his first stint with the Gladiators, Pyle claimed: “This place was special in my heart, I helped build it, I helped being part of a really good thing and I want to bring that back.” With the support of new team owner Dan Orlich, Pyle has every opportunity to finish what he started in Atlanta, it’s clear he’s hungry for success. The players seem to be buying into Pyle’s approach with Gladiators captain, Derek Nesbitt, claiming “I’ve known him for 14 years, he just brings a lot of positivity to the game and to the locker room, just every day it’s a fun place to be, and you get excited to be here”. It’s important for a team to have belief in the system and the early signs suggest that the players share the team’s ambition and vision for success.

It’s not long before we get to see the team in action, on Thursday, October 4th, the Gladiators will head to Greenville to take on the Swamp Rabbits in their only official preseason game against a league opponent. Training camp concludes with an intrasquad exhibition game which has been arranged for Sunday, October 7th, giving the players one last chance to impress coach Pyle as he prepares his final roster ahead of the 2018-19 season. The Gladiators start their quest for the Kelly Cup on the road against the Orlando Solar Bears on Saturday, October 13th. Keep an eye on BlackNGoldHockey.com for updates throughout the season.

Boston Bruins: Training Camp Invites

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PHOTO CREDIT: (nhl.com)

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

When the Boston Bruins Training Camp comes around, it always gets me even more amped up for the upcoming regular season because it is one of the final team events before the opening faceoff. This year, however, is a bit different for the Bruins. The training camp roster will be split into two, as some players will be headed off to China for the pair of preseason games against the Calgary Flames.

Expected Roster For O.R.G China Games (Camp Opens Sept. 11*)

Forwards: David Backes, Martin Bakos, Peter Cehlarik, Jake DeBrusk, Ryan Donato, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Trent Frederic, Colby Cave, Brad Marchand, Joakim Nordstrom, David Pastrnak, Jack Studnicka, Jordan Szwarz, Chris Wagner

Defense: Brandon Carlo, Matt Grzelcyk, Charlie McAvoy, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, John Moore, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril

Goaltenders: Jaroslav Halak, Tuukka Rask

Expected Roster For Domestic Preseason (Camp Opens Sept. 13*)

Forwards: Noel Acciari, Patrice Bergeron, Anders Bjork, Anton Blidh, David Krejci**, Ryan Fitzgerald, Austin Fyten, Danton Heinen, Cameron Hughes, Joona Koppanen, Karson Kuhlman, Sean Kuraly, Jakub Lauko, Brett McKenzie, Mark McNeill, Marcel Noebels, Cedric Pare, Tanner Pond, Zach Senyshyn, Daniel Winnik, Lee Stempniak

Defense: Axel Andersson, Chris Breen, Daniel Bukac, Zdeno Chara, Connor Clifton, Mark Fayne, Olivier Galipeau, Cody Goloubef, Emil Johansson, Torey Krug, Jeremy Lauzon, Joel Messner, Wiley Sherman

Goaltenders: Kyle Keyser, Zane McIntyre, Dan Vladar

*According to the Boston Bruins website in a press release on September 4th. 

**Was taken off of the China roster due to troubles with his Visa. Colby Cave will replace him. 

You may recognize all of the players that will be headed to the most populated country in the world this September, but there are a few names in the domestic preseason roster that are not quite familiar to the Bruins organization. Joel Messner, Brett McKenzie, Tanner Pond, Marcel NoebelsMark Fayne, Daniel Winnik, and Lee Stempniak are invited to the camp, but who exactly are they?

Joel Messner (D)

After four seasons in the NCAA with the University of Nebraska-Omaha, the 24-year-old Messner recently signed a professional tryout contract with the Boston Bruins and he will be included in Boston’s training camp.

Messner started his junior career with the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL), playing with the Selkirk Steelers for three full consecutive seasons. His best season with the Steelers came back in the 2013-14 campaign when he produced 9-44-53 totals in 54 games as a defenseman. That season earned him the honors of Top Defenseman in the league as well as making the MJHL First All-Star Team.

The season earned him the chance to play with the University of Nebraska-Omaha, starting in the 2014-15 season. While he wouldn’t come close to the 52 points he scored in junior, Messner would become the captain of the team for this past 2017-18 season. In his first season, (and only to date), as captain, he scored five goals and 23 points for the club.

Joel also won the Don Leahy Senior Career Achievement Award in the 2017-18 year, which recognized the male athlete that had a stellar career at the University.

The 6-foot-2 defender could be someone to watch when he participates in the camp on the Sept. 13.

Brett McKenzie (F)

Brett McKenzie is one of two players on this short list of Bruins training camp invites that has an AHL contract with the Providence Bruins.

Even though he has an AHL deal with the P-Bruins, McKenzie is not quite considered a Boston Bruin. According to Habs Eyes on the Prize, when a player signs an AHL deal, he is not eligible to be called up to the National Hockey League and play for that NHL team, even if it is the affiliate team of the AHL team.

Therefore, it can be considered that McKenzie and other AHL contracted players are invites to the Boston training camp because they do not have the opportunity to play with the team during the course of the regular season.

McKenzie was a seventh-round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft by the Vancouver Canucks, but the Canucks failed to offer the Ottawa, Ontario, Canada native to an Entry-Level deal, leaving him a free agent. In the season of his draft year, McKenzie finished his third year with the North Bay Battalion in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), scoring 26-27-53 totals in 66 games that year. He would also help with five-points in 11 playoff games that same year.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (TERRY WILSON / OHL IMAGES)

Due to the fact that he would not sign with the Canucks right after the draft, he would play another season with the Battalion, this time as the alternate captain. In the 2016-17 season, he would set a career-high in points, finishing the year with 67 points (29 goals, 38 assists) in 67 games.

This past hockey season, McKenzie started the year with the Battalion as he had for the three seasons prior. Following a time where he scored 23 points in 31 games, he was involved in a trade that sent him to the Owen Sound Attack. In the 33 games with Owen Sound, McKenzie scored 26 points. Below is a scouting report from Elite Prospects’ Tyler Parchem back in 2015. 

“McKenzie can be described as a smart defensive forward who skates well and is excellent on the draw. He is not overly physical, but is overall awareness in all 3 zones is coveted.” (Tyler Parchem, EP 2015)

Tanner Pond (F)

Tanner Pond brings another American Hockey League contract to the Bruins training camp and the 2016 NCAA Hockey East Champion is looking to make a name for himself.

Even though he plays at the center position, the Walled Lake, Michigan, USA native is still a decent player and could bring an interesting style of play to Boston’s camp. Pond has played in the USHL, NCAA, ECHL, and now more recently, the AHL. Following 137 games played over three seasons in the USHL, Pond played four seasons with the Northeastern Huskies in the NCAA.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Amanda Bingham)

 

The 6-foot, 194-pound forward only scored a combined 12 points in 109 NCAA contests, accumulating more than 70 penalty minutes. He played a pivotal role on the 2016 NCAA Hockey East Championship-winning team that defeated the UMass-Lowell River Hawks by a score of 3-2.

After a lackluster 2016-17 campaign, he signed a deal with the Atlanta Gladiators of the ECHL, starting in ’17/’18. Once the deal went through, Gladiators Head Coach Andy Brandt said the following about Tanner Pond.

“Tanner is a player who is a full out competitor,” said Gladiators Head Coach Andy Brandt. “Our research indicates that he excels on the forecheck and is defensibly responsible.”

Tanner would play 61 games with Atlanta, producing 14-23-37 totals and 163 penalty minutes. On March 9 of this year, Pond would sign a PTO with the Providence Bruins, going scoreless in the four games he played.

This past off-season, Pond agreed to a contract with the Providence Bruins and is expected to play with them for the 2018-19 season.

Marcel Noebels (F)

Marcel Noebels has been in the Bruins media for numerous months now, as a possible signing between him and either the Providence Bruins or the Boston Bruins was suggested earlier in the off-season. However, nothing came about and it seemed like the signing would not happen. With that said, the Bruins and Noebels would recently agree on a PTO contract, allowing Noebels to play in the upcoming Boston training camp.

The 26-year-old center is coming off of a 30-point season with the Eisbären Berlin in the DEL. Noebels also added 14 points in 18 playoff games for the club. The 6-foot-2 German also played in the 2018 World Championships, scoring one point in seven games.

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PHOTO CREDIT: (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Noebels has previously had experience in the American Hockey League, playing 95 games over the course of four seasons bouncing back-and-forth between the AHL and Germany. In the 95 games played with the Adirondack Phantoms, Marcel scored 16 goals and 18 assists for 34 points.

Noebels also took home a silver medal in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games with Team Germany, as they lost to the Olympic Athletes from Russia. The former fourth-round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft signed a PTO with the Bruins back on the Sept. 5.

Daniel Winnik (F)

The Boston Bruins have also handed out three PTOs to veteran NHL players and Daniel Winnik is one of them. Selected in ninth round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft by the Phoenix Coyotes, Winnik has since played 798 career NHL contests, scoring 82 goals and 169 assists for 251 points, along with a career plus/minus rating of +52.

Winnik’s near-800 games played is an impressive stat considering he was the 265th player drafted in the ’04 Draft. However, the time he has spent in the National Hockey League has not been with one team, but rather eight teams. Winnik has not spent more than three whole seasons with a single franchise, hitting the three-year mark back in Phoenix from 2007-08 to 2009-10.

Daniel’s most productive year was back in the 2014-15 regular season, which was split between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Pittsburgh Penguins. In his most recent campaign as an NHLer, Winnik played 81 games with the Minnesota Wild, scoring a total of 23 points. He has also been involved in four different trades, coming in 2010, 2012, 2015, and 2016.

Winnik signed a professional tryout contract with the Bruins on Sept. 10, 2018.

Lee Stempniak (F)

This name should look a bit familiar to Bruins fans, even the new ones. Lee Stempniak was drafted in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, 148th overall by the St. Louis Blues. As of this current time in his career, he has played the majority of his 909-game NHL career with the Blues, playing for four straight seasons.

After stints with the Maple Leafs, Coyotes, Flames, Penguins, Rangers, Jets, and Devils, Stempniak would be sent to Boston on Feb. 29, 2016 via a trade deadline deal. Lee would only play 19 games with the B’s, producing 3-7-10 totals with the club. When the 2015-16 season concluded, he would not re-sign with Boston during the offseason, instead signing with the Carolina Hurricanes on a two-year contract worth $2.5 million per season.

Lee would find early success with the Hurricanes, adding 40 points in a full, 82-game season. Although, in the recent 2017-18 year, Stempniak would only score nine points in 37 games. He has signed a PTO with the Boston Bruins on the same day as Daniel Winnik — September 10th, 2018.

Mark Fayne (D)

The last player on this list, Mark Fayne, has been on the Bruins roster on a PTO for a few days now and I recently wrote an article about the signing when the news was released. While I won’t go as in-depth about Fayne in this particular article, you can read more about the former Oiler in my article below.

Mark Fayne has only played in seven NHL seasons, four with the New Jersey Devils and three with the Edmonton Oilers. Although, Fayne was only with Edmonton for four games during the 2016-17 regular season and did not play a single National Hockey League game for the entirety of the ’17/’18 campaign.

Mark’s career year was his second season, in 2011-12, when he scored four goals and 17 points but was a -4 rating. Ever since he agreed to a four-year contract with the Oilers, his production has dropped off significantly, scoring a combined 17 points in 147 games. His value dropped so much that he played 39 games with the Springfield Thunderbirds of the AHL, scoring only 2-3-5 totals.

Fayne will one of 14 defensemen taking part in the Boston Bruins training camp for players not headed to China.

The Boston Bruins training camp begins tomorrow for all players expected to head to China to play the two preseason games there against the Calgary Flames. For the remaining players, their training camp is currently scheduled to begin on Thursday, Sept.13.

Once again, all of the current dates for the Boston Bruins NHL training camp is courtesy of the official Boston Bruins website.