Report: Boston Bruins Sign Undrafted NCAA Defenseman Ahcan

( Photo Credit: Dan and Margaret Hickling | uscho.photoshelter.com )

By: Will Montanez | Follow me on Twitter @Willfro3

The Bruins have reportedly come to terms on an entry-level contract with Jack Ahcan. The deal would most likely be for two years, consistent with similar college UFA’s. Ahcan, a five-foot eight-inch, left-shot defenseman, was playing for St. Cloud State University prior to the school’s cessation of on-campus and sports activity due to the spread of SARS-CoV-2. He had led the Huskies as team captain through 33 games during the 2019-2020 season, his senior year.

Ahcan has logged seven goals to compliment 18 assists from the Huskies’ back-end. His point total is good for third on the roster and first among his peers along the blue-line. Through his four years at St. Cloud State, Ahcan accumulated 21 goals, 103 points and a plus 13 rating in 144 games. He became the third defenseman in team history to earn 100 or more points and has set a record for blue-liners with 82 assists. Aside from his offensive production, Ahcan has proven to be a key piece to the Huskies indicated by his reputation in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

 

The Minnesota native has received numerous awards for his efforts in the NCHC including being named Defensive Player of the Week three times and earning a spot on the All-NCHC Second Team in both 2018 and 2019 as well as the 2016-2017 All-NCHC Rookie Team. He was also a part of the United States World Junior Championship Team that won Gold in 2017 as a teammate to current B’s star Charlie McAvoy.  His efforts on the ice and intangibles off of it have not gone unnoticed among NHL teams.

Although undrafted, Ahcan has been invited to several teams’ development camps in order for scouts to gain a closer look at the player and to give him a glimpse of what it takes to be a professional athlete. He participated in camps with the Los Angeles Kings in 2017, Columbus Blue Jackets in 2018 and the Colorado Avalanche in 2019, but was either not offered a deal or elected not to sign in each of those years. His offensive mindset and vision, skating ability and no-quit attitude have frequently been highlighted as his key traits.

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Ahcan’s listed height and weight put him in the category of “diminutive;” a four-letter word in the NHL that helps to explain why teams have passed on him in drafts and have played coy on offering contract opportunities to the collegiate senior. Even in the modern NHL, size is considered a factor and most certainly for the defense as they often are expected to bring an in-your-face, physical element to dissuade some of the most highly skilled players in the world from treading on those dangerous areas inside the house. In spite of his size, Ahcan’s strengths of excellent vision, skating, and leadership qualities are typical of a Bruins college UFA signing.

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Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy has implemented a system of fast neutral- and defensive- zone play that emphases protecting the slot and crease while aggressively pressuring attackers when outside of that zone to regain control of the puck to transition play quickly into the other end of the rink. General Manager Don Sweeney has done his best to acquire players to develop that will fit that mentality in the draft and in free agency. The team has additionally made his character a key consideration for prospective players and those leadership qualities have influenced signing decisions on other players like Karson Kuhlman in 2018 and Nick Wolf earlier in March 2020. Ahcan’s on-ice successes are indicative of his ability to conform to all of those requirements, both in two-way, decisive play and team-building intangibles.

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Regardless of what happens for the rest of the NHL’s regular- and playoff- seasons, Ahcan will have an opportunity to join a defensive-corps that will be in flux on the left flank in the fall of 2020. He will face stiff competition from the B’s current prospects and will most likely see duty in Providence for the Bruins’ AHL affiliate. If the season is restarted when normalcy has returned to the US and the world, he may get an opportunity to join the Providence Bruins on run for the playoffs and the Calder Cup this calendar year. Regardless of when he’s able to don a black and gold sweater for either team, Bruins’ management and fans should be happy they were able to secure a quality prospect for essentially nothing as they hope that he can develop into an impact player at the highest level.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 171 that we recorded below on 3-23-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

How The Trade Deadline Affects The Bruins Offseason Plans

Dallas Stars v Boston Bruins

( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images )

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

It’s been a few days since the trade deadline and I still don’t quite know how to feel about it all. There’s no questioning if the Bruins improved, they did, but many (including myself) am still asking if Don Sweeney and co did enough for this season, but that’s not the point of this article. Regardless of what the Bruins did to affect the team for this year, the trades made certainly helped the team for years to come.

The Trades

To Boston: Nick Ritchie, Ondrej Kase

To Anaheim: Danton Heinen, David Backes ($1.5 mill retained), Axel Andersson, 2020 1st round pick
Nick Ritchie

( Photo Credit: AP Photo/Charles Krupa )

No Rentals

 

Unlike years in the past where we saw the Bruins’ management go after rentals like Marcus Johansson, Rick Nash (oof) and Lee Stepniak (even bigger oof), the Bruins acquired players with term. They saw how well it worked with last year’s acquisition of Charlie Coyle and looked to continue that success of grabbing players that won’t be gone at the season’s end. 

Both Ritchie and Kase have extra years on their contract and even more years of team control due to their RFA status. The duo are both young and have plenty of room to grow on their already solid NHL careers. Nick Ritchie is a hard-nosed player that fits the style of play the Bruins love. The former 10th overall pick is still young at 24 years-old and with his recent play (three goals and three assists in his last four game) has a chance to trump his career-high in goals of 14. 

If healthy, Ondrej Kase has a real chance to be a game-changer for the black and gold. Two seasons ago, the Czech Republic native hit the 20 goal mark in 66 games. The following season was unfortunately cut short due to injury, but Kase was well on his way to hit career highs in both points and goals with 11 goals and 20 points in 30 games. Now playing on a far better Bruins squad, we’d hope to see the improved play on his part.

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Boston Bruins at St. Louis Blues

( Photo Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports )

Offseason Plans

The Bruins have a lot on their plate this offseason. Powerplay QB Torey Krug is an upcoming UFA and will certainly get paid whether he stays or goes. Matt Grzelcyk, Jake Debrusk, Anders Bjork and Karson Kuhlman are among the slew of RFAs that will get a considerable bump in salary. There’s no guarantee if Zdeno Chara will call it quits after this season, but if he doesn’t, that’s another contract to add to the books. Fellow Slovakian and backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak has been huge for the Bruins over the past couple years and it would be a tough loss if the Bs weren’t able to resign him. 

The Bruins had about $17 million in projected cap space for next year before the deals. With the subtraction of Heinen and Backes’ combined $7.3 million and addition of Kase and Ritchie’s and additions of roughly $4.1 million, it gives the Bruins an extra $3.2 million worth of cap space to work with. If we loosely project what the Bruins UFA and RFAs we get contracts that look like this:

Torey Krug – 7.25m

Zdeno Chara – 1.5m

Jaroslav Halak – 3m

Joakim Nordstrom – 1.5m

Kevan Miller – Honestly no idea with all of his injuries, I think he’s a goner regardless. 1m

Jake Debrusk – This one really depends if it’s long-term or a bridge, I’d say 4-5m

Matt Grzelyck – 3m

Anders Bjork – 1.5m

Karson Kuhlman – 1m

Adding all these together gives the Bruins a rough estimate of $24 million worth of contracts to give. With Nordstrom and Miller likely gone, a number of $21.5 million seems doable with the amount of cap space the Bruins are projected to have. with that number likely increasing as the cap continues to grow. With the now over $20 million in space with that number likely increasing as the cap continues to grow, it seems more likely the Bruins will be able to keep most of the gang together. If the Bs fail to win the ultimate prize this season, Don Sweeney has set this Bruins team up for the future.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 168 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Karson Kuhlman’s Position On The Bruins

(Photo Credit: AP Photo / Winslow Townson)

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

When Don Sweeney took over as General Manager of the Boston Bruins, one item on his to-do list was to send his scouts to a relatively untapped market.  Historically, American college hockey took a backseat to leagues like Canada’s Ontario Hockey League, Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League, and Sweden’s Elite Swedish League.  Draft-eligible players found themselves forgoing college hockey and playing in these leagues because that’s where the competition was.  Over the last seven or eight years, though, American college hockey has attracted more stars, and NHL teams have noticed.

Don Sweeney played at Harvard University from 1984-1988.  He is familiar with the talent in the college hockey system, which explains his vested interest.  Some of his recent draft picks have even come from Boston University, University of Denver, and the University of Wisconsin.  Moreover, he’s made sure his scouts are also looking for players who weren’t drafted in June and invite them to training camp.  One player in particular who fits this situation is Karson Kuhlman.

The Esko, Minnesota native played his college hockey 20 minutes northeast of his hometown at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.  Karson was awarded captain his senior year and posted a modest 80 points and an impressive plus-47 rating in 166 games for the Bulldogs.  He and his teammates won the franchise’s second National Championship in 2017-18.  Karson was named MVP of the Frozen Four and scored a goal and an assist in the title game.  Kuhlman’s style of play fits the Bruins style perfectly.  He is a smaller center, with great hands, a lethal shot, and the ability to lead on and off the ice.

Unfortunately, Kuhlman was not drafted during his eligibility year in 2014.  He was invited to two training camps by the Winnipeg Jets and Montreal Canadiens.  Neither team saw enough to sign him.  Thankfully, his hometown roots made him a rememberable name to another Minnesota Native with Bruin ties.  Jamie Langenbrunner, former NHL right-winger, and current Bruins player development coach, knew Kuhlman before the NHL teams caught on.  Langenbrunner has long been impressed by Kuhlman’s “attention to detail. He’s a kid that plays a pro-style game in the way he positions himself, uses his body, gets pucks out on walls.

The Bruins invited Kuhlman to their 2017 development camp to see what Langenbrunner had advocated.  He left the Bruins without a deal, but they kept a keen eye on him.  Following his senior year, the Bruins signed Kuhlman to a 2-year, $1.5M contract, and he reported directly to Providence.  He would only play in three games, notching two assists for the baby Bruins.  The following year, he played through the end of January for the Bruins’ AHL farm team and received the call up to the Boston Bruins when one of their star players injured himself.

David Pastrnak slipped on ice in the Boston streets and injured his thumb.  This created an empty roster spot, which Kuhlman was called to fill.  He joined the Bruins on their west coast road trip and lit the lamp in his second career NHL game.

He would play in nine more regular-season games and made the playoff roster.  He played through game one of the Columbus series and was eventually scratched for the veteran David Backes.  Kuhlman would watch the Bruins from the ninth floor until game six of the Stanley Cup finals.  Similar to his time in Minnesota, Kuhlman shined on the team’s biggest stage.

Both the Stanley Cup goal and the NCAA Championship goal featured Kuhlman’s lethal shot.  He has immense power and accuracy from most areas of the offensive zone, and both goals are evidence of that.  His willingness to shoot the puck in any spot of the offensive zone will pay dividends for his style of play in the long run.

The 24-year old was set to make a lasting impact on the Bruins second line at the beginning of the 2019 regular season.  He formed great chemistry with Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci right off the bat.  The Bruins and its fanbase were hopeful they found the top-six winger they’d been longing for.  He was averaging nearly 13 minutes a game through the first eight games in October until he suffered an unfortunate injury.

It wouldn’t be until January 3, 2020, that Kuhlman would return to the ice.  He was sent to Providence for a conditioning stint to get his legs back and up to game speed.  Once again, Kuhlman didn’t skip a beat and notched three points in four games, one of which was an impressive score.

The Bruins finally called up Kuhlman on January 16, 2020, against the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he set up two Bruin goals.  Karson’s call up is also interesting timing.  The Bruins had just sent down Brett Ritchie and are still looking for the top-six winger that’s plagued them for years.  Kuhlman’s skill is undeniable, but is he the answer for Krejci’s wing?

That is still to be determined.  He has yet to play a full season as a top-six forward.  He certainly fits the mold of what the Bruins search for in players.  He’s versatile, leads by example, and plays on both ends of the ice.  He even throws his body around quite well for a sub-6-foot forward. Karson has already earned the trust of his coaches and the organization, which could yield significant benefits in the future.

Even if he doesn’t answer the Bruins hole on the second line, he would fit nicely with Danton Heinen and Charlie Coyle on the third line.  That line combination would be a high-speed, hard-hitting, skillful third unit to counter the league’s top counterparts.  Karson is a mainstay on this Bruins roster, and time will tell what line is best for him and the franchise.

Check out this weeks Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 163 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!! 

Boston Bruins Place Forward David Backes on Waivers

David Backes

PHOTO CREDITS: (nbcsports.ca)

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

As per numerous reports on social media, including from The Athletic’s Joe McDonald (@JoeyMacHockey on Twitter) and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC on Twitter), the Boston Bruins have placed forward David Backes for assignment to the Providence Bruins.

David Backes, 35, has played in 16 games this season for the Bruins, scoring one goal and two assists for three points and a -2 rating. Backes has not played a game since Boston’s 5-4 win over the Winnipeg Jets on January 9th where he skated for eleven shifts totalling 8:35 of ice-time. He has not scored a point since December 5th against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Boston signed the Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA native to a five-year, $30,000,000 contract ($6 million AAV) on the opening day of free agency back in the 2016 off-season. Prior to the signing, Backes had been the captain of the St. Louis Blues, totalling 727 career regular-season games with the Blues, scoring 206-254-460 numbers in that span. It was a tough move for him to make, but he felt he had a better shot to hoist the Stanley Cup if he signs with the Bruins.

Since the signing, Backes has not turned out to be what Boston expected. In 217 regular-season games for the Black and Gold, Backes scored 29-55-94 numbers along with 12 points in 39 playoff games dating back to the 2016-17 campaign. Backes scored two goals and three assists during Boston’s 2019 Stanley Cup Finals run as well.

The move to send Backes down is an interesting one, considering the move to put Brett Ritchie on waivers earlier in the week (he cleared). With players such as Karson Kuhlman and even Anton Blidh pushing for more consistent spots on the roster, older veterans like Backes simply don’t have the space on the team anymore. Head Coach Bruce Cassidy re-iterated that in a much simpler way.

The likelihood of Backes getting claimed by one of the other 31 NHL franchises is slim, but there is a benefit to him going to the Providence Bruins as well. As Bruins Network (@BruinsNetwork on Twitter) stated, if the 35-year-old clears waivers, the Bruins will free up $1 million in salary. With the trade deadline looming around the corner, every dollar counts and Backes’ $6 million cap hit right now is a lot to continue paying if he continues to be in the press box.

For the latest breaking news, updates, and injury reports, make sure to check back on blackngoldhockey.com and follow on Twitter (@BlackNGoldPod). The Boston Bruins play the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday, January 19th in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Puck drop is scheduled for 12:30pm EST.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 162 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Bruins Post-Game Recap: Boston vs. Pittsburgh: 1/16/20

Image result for bruins penguins td garden

Photo Credit: Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Home: Boston Bruins

Away: Pittsburgh Penguins

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

DeBrusk – Coyle – Bjork

Heinen – Lindholm – Kuhlman

Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner

Defense

Chara – McAvoy

Krug – Carlo

Grzelcyk – Moore

Goalies

Halak

Vladar

Pittsburgh’s Lineup

Forwards

McCann – Crosby – Simon

Kahun – Malkin – Rust

Galchenyuk – Agozzino – Hornqvist

Aston-Reese – Blueger – Tanev

Defense

Johnson – Letang

Pettersson – Marino

Riikola – Ruhwedel

Goalies

Jarry

Murray

Tuukka Rask was honored for playing in his 500th game back in October before things got underway. NESN showed an awesome congratulatory video made for him before the ceremony that took place on the TD Garden ice. Congratulations to Tuukka Rask on this incredible achievement.

First Period

Sidney Crosby made his presence felt with a goal just 24 seconds into the game. A mere 52 seconds later, Zach Aston-Reese went off for roughing in response to Charlie McAvoy’s hit on Brandon Tanev. The Bruins didn’t score on the power play, but the fast pace continued after a cross-check by John Marino on Chris Wagner that wasn’t received well.

Marino sat for two minutes as a result, giving the Bruins their second power play of the game just 3:23 into the game. While Tristan Jarry was kept busy early on, he kept the Bruins off the scoreboard on their first two power plays.

Minutes later, Chris Wagner and Kris Letang exchanged pleasantries, creating a 4-on-4 as a result as both of them went off for roughing. The extra open space on the ice didn’t lead to much, but Sean Kuraly got on the board for the fourth time this season shortly after the 4-on-4 ended. It was 1-1 with 9:57 remaining. Karson Kuhlman had the primary assist, marking his first point of the season. Charlie McAvoy had the secondary assist, his 17th of the season.

Kuhlman made his mark yet again on the scoresheet, sending a shot on net that Par Lindholm tipped past Tristan Jarry to make it 2-1 Bruins for his third goal of the season. Karson Kuhlman was buzzing early on in his first game back with the Bruins since October 19th following his injury recovery and a stint with the Providence Bruins.

Not too long after the goal, Patrice Bergeron went off for tripping, but the Penguins failed to convert on the man advantage and the Bruins held onto their lead. It was a wild first period and after a fast start from the Penguins, the Bruins didn’t shy away. The shots in the period were 12-10 in their favor as they went into the intermission.

Score: 2-1 Boston

Second Period

Wagner went to the box early on for tripping, just 1:39 into the period. Brad Marchand nearly gave the Bruins a two-goal lead in shorthanded fashion. Wagner remained in the mix after leaving the box, laying a huge hit on Tanev that caused some chaos as a result.

Anders Bjork went off for two minutes for slashing just around the halfway point of the period. Joakim Nordstrom blocked a shot Juuso Riikola and went off in some pain, but eventually made his way back and powered through the pain.

Speaking of the halfway point, the Bruins outshot the Penguins 5-1 up until that point in the second period. The Bjork penalty was killed, the third successful penalty kill of the night. Brad Marchand nearly extended the lead to two, but couldn’t bury it.

Things got chippy again late in the period, leading to Torey Krug and Patric Hornqvist having a tussle, with others getting involved. A 4-on-4 ensued thanks to roughing penalties going both ways with 3:52 remaining. No one scored on the 4-on-4, again. Chaos later came as a penalty was called, Bergeron made contact with the puck with his glove, the puck crossed the goal line, but the goal was called off after a review.

Krug and Hornqvist reconvened and dropped the gloves after exiting the penalty box  Marcus Pettersson went off for holding with 1:19 to go. Five minutes for fighting followed. In the final ten seconds, the Penguins found themselves on a 2-on-0 that led to Jaroslav Halak making four saves in rapid succession to preserve the lead. The shots were 12-10 in favor of the Bruins, yet again, bringing the total to 24-20. The craziness of the second period set the stage for fireworks in the third period.

Score: 2-1 Boston

Third Period

Bergeron extended the lead to two 3:19 into the period, marking his 20th goal of the season. He has now hit the 20-goal mark in a season 11 times in his career. David Pastrnak had the lone assist, his 31st of the season. It was a pretty sweet sequence.

The pace calmed down a bit in the third period, but things got interesting again when the Penguins took a too many men on the ice penalty. The Bruins saw a golden opportunity in front of them to extend their lead to three with 8:18 left. Although they didn’t score, they still managed to hold their two-goal. Jarry being pulled for the extra attacker late led to a chaotic bunch of chances out front, but the puck couldn’t make its way past the scrum out front. A review followed the scrum and went in favor of the Bruins, keeping the game at 3-1.

Marchand notched the empty netter for his 21st goal of the season to seal it. Pastrnak’s second assist of the game and 32nd of the season helped set it up. The Penguins held a 10-6 shot advantage, bringing the shot total to 30-30 for the game. They had 10 shots in each period. When it all came down to it, the Bruins powered through in a physical game to come out on top. Next up are the Penguins again at 12:30 PM ET on Sunday at PPG Paints Arena. The Bruins are 28-9-12 and have won four of their last six games.

Final Score: 4-1 Boston

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 162 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 16 Preview

probru3

(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Week 16 of the AHL season has arrived. The Providence Bruins skate into it 22-15-1-2 (47 points) and 4-6 in their last 10 games. This is good for fourth in the Atlantic Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference. The Providence club is coming off a superb week that saw them beat the Springfield Thunderbirds 5-2 and 5-3. This weekend is another big weekend with three games in three days plus a game next Wednesday. Four games in a short period are never easy.

The hockey action begins on Friday, January 17, 2020, when the Bridgeport Sound Tigers travel to Providence, Rhode Island, to take on the Bruins at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. The action continues on Saturday, January 18, 2020, when the Providence Bruins make their way to Bridgeport, Connecticut, to take on the Sound Tigers at the Webster Bank Arena. The three games in three days conclude on Sunday, January 19, 2020, when the Springfield Thunderbirds come back to Providence, Rhode Island, to take on the Bruins at the Dunk. Week 16 comes to an end on Wednesday, January 22, 2020, when the Lehigh Valley Phantoms invade Providence, Rhode Island, to take on the Bruins at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

Friday, January 17, 2020 (HOME) and Saturday, January 18, 2020 (AWAY) Providence Bruins vs. Bridgeport Sound Tigers

The weekend home and home series with mark the fifth and sixth of 12 that these two teams will have this season. The first game saw the Bruins shutout the Sound Tigers 4-0, getting goals from Peter Cehlarik, Cameron Hughes, Robert Lantosi, and Ryan Fitzgerald. Goalie Max Lagace was excellent in net topping all 30 shots fired his way.

In the second meeting, the Providence club would win 4-1, getting goals from Joona Koppanen, Brendan Gaunce, Alex Petrovic, and Jack Studnicka. Netminder Max Lagace was fantastic in net stopping 31 of 32 shots fired his way.

The most third meeting saw the Bruins lose 2-0. Goaltender Max Lagace was up to the task in net stopping 33 of 35 shots fired his way. The most recent battle saw the Bruins win 5-0. Brendan Gaunce (2), Ryan Fitzgerald, Trent Frederic, and Jack Studnicka had goals. Max Lagace stopped all 17 shots fired his way.

The Bridgeport Sound Tigers provide a favorable matchup for the Providence club. The Bridgeport club comes into the weekend 14-22-4-1 (33 points) and 3-6-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for eighth in the Atlantic Division and 16th in the Eastern Conference.  Furthermore, the Bruins are 24-17-6-3 against the Islanders’ affiliate over the past five seasons.

The biggest key to Bruins’ victory in these two games is taking an early lead and keeping it. The Sound Tigers are 1-12-2 when trailing after one and 0-15-2 when trailing after two. To add insult to injury, the Bridgeport club in 41 games has only scored 92 goals while giving up 133. Not only is this a horrendous -41 goal differential, but they’re only scoring 2.24 goals a game while giving up  3.24. They are giving up a full goal more than they are scoring. This isn’t a winning formula.

To compare, the Providence Bruins are 12-0 when leading after one period and 18-0 when leading after two periods. They’ve also scored 126 goals while giving up only 106 in 40 games. That means, not only do they have a +20 goal differential, but they are scoring 3.15 goals a game while only giving up 2.65. These are games that Providence must win. Bridgeport is not a good club at all.

Sunday, January 19, 2020, Providence Bruins vs. Springfield Thunderbirds (HOME)

The Sunday matchup will be the eighth of 14 these two teams will have. In the first meeting, the Bruins would fall 5-2, getting goals from Peter Cehlarik and Anders Bjork. Goalie Dan Vladar was subpar in net stopping 23 of the 28 shots fired his way.

The second game saw the Bruins losing 5-4 in overtime while getting goals from Robert Lantosi, Joona Koppanen, Scott Conway, and Jack Studnicka. Netminder Max Lagace stopped 30 of the 35 shots fired his way. The third meeting saw the Providence club come out on top 5-4 in overtime. They would get goals from Jack Studnicka, Trent Frederic, Robert Lantosi, Peter Cehlarik, and Paul Carey (OT). Veteran netminder Max Lagace stopped 24 of the 28 shots he faced.

The fourth battle saw the Bruins come out on top 5-0. Jeremy Lauzon, Jakub Zboril, Jack Studnicka, Paul Carey, and Oskar Steen had the goals for Providence. Dan Vladar was out of this world in net stopping all 42 shots fired his way. The fifth game saw the Bruins come out on top 4-3. Robert Lantosi, Jack Studnicka, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Pavel Shen were the Bruins goal scorers. Dan Vladar was on his game, making 31 stops out of 34 shots.

The sixth battle would prove to be a good one. The Bruins won 5-2. Trent Frederic, Brendan Gaunce, Ryan Fitzgerald, Anton Blidh, and Karson Kuhlman would score goals. Dan Vladar stopped 26 of the 28 shots he faced in net. The most recent matchup would also be a good one. The Bruins would win 5-3. Brendan Woods (2), Peter Cehlarik, Karson Kuhlman, and Anton Blidh would net goals. Max Lagace would go on to stop 21 of the 24 shots he faced in net.

The Springfield Thunderbirds come into the game 21-18-2 (44 points) and 5-4-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for fourth in the Atlantic Division and ninth in the Eastern Conference. Despite this, this is still a favorable matchup for the Providence Bruins. Over the past five seasons, the Bruins are 28-15-4 against the Panthers’ affiliate, including 14-8-1 at home.

The Thunderbirds have been winning with excellent defense. They’ve only given up 117 goals in 41 games while scoring 125. This is a plus-eight goal differential. This also means they are only giving up 2.85 goals a game while scoring 3.04. The Springfield club is 5-2 when leading after the first period. They are also 14-2 when leading after two periods. On the flip side, they are 4-8 when trailing after one period. They are also 1-13-1 when trailing after two periods.

To give some perspective to those numbers, The Bruins have given up 106 goals in 40 games while scoring 126. That is a +20 goal differential. That means they are only giving up 2.65 goals a game while scoring 3.15. The Providence club is 12-0 when leading after one period and 19-0 when leading after two. However, they are 2-9-1-1 when trailing after the first period and 1-11-0-1 when trailing after two. These two teams are evenly matched and getting and sustaining an early lead, are imperative to winning.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020, Providence Bruins vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms (HOME)

The Wednesday meeting will mark the second of six the two teams will have this season. In the first meeting, the Bruins would go on to win 3-0. The now in Boston Anders Bjork, Brendan Gaunce, and Paul Carey would score goals. Max Lagace would stop all 28 shots he faced in what would be his first game as a Bruin.

Historically, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms have given the Providence Bruins fits. Over the past five seasons, the Providence club is 10-13-2. This includes 5-6-1 at home. This game, however, should not reflect that. The Philadelphia affiliate skates into the matchup 16-19-1-4 (37 points) and 4-6 in their last 10 games. This is good for seventh in the Atlantic Division and 15th in Eastern Conference.

The only real positive thing that you can say about the Lehigh Valley club is that their defense is not horrible. They’ve given up 114 goals in 40 games. This means they are only giving up 2.85 goals a game. The problem with that is they’ve only scored 93 goals this season. This means they have a -21 goal differential, while also only scoring 2.32 goals a game. Scoring less than you give up is not how you consistently win hockey games.

Some other stats of note for the Phantoms, they are 8-4-0-1 when leading after the first period. 9-0-0-1 when leading after the second period. They are 3-10-0-1 when trailing after the first period. The Lehigh Valley club is 3-15-0-3 when down after the second period. This is another game that you would expect the Providence Bruins to come out victorious.

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not

Hot

Karson Kuhlman: Karson Kuhlman had a rough start to his year. While up in Boston, he suffered an injury eight games into his season. The former University of Minnesota-Duluth Captain has been excellent in the four games since he came back. In those games, he’s netted two goals and dished out an assist for three total points. On top of that, he’s looked great on the ice. He’s skating with purpose and attacking the puck whenever he’s on the ice.

Brendan Gaunce: Brendan Gaunce is in his first season with the Providence Bruins. He’s had a good season overall. In 30 games, he’s netted eight goals and dished out 11 assists for 19 total points. This includes netting a goal and dished out three assists for four total points over his last three games. The former Utica Comets forward has provided a spark offensively that the team has needed.

Not

Oskar Steen: Oskar Steen is in his first professional season in North America. The Sweden native has had a rough time adjusting to the North American ice. In 38 games, he’s netted four goals and dished out seven assists for 11 total points. He also has not registered a point over his last eight games played. Steen is still young. I expect him to adjust to the smaller ice and start producing soon.

Alex Petrovic: Alex Petrovic is someone who started out on fire in his first season with the Providence Bruins. In 35 games, he’s netted two goals while dishing out 17 assists for 19 total points. However, he hasn’t registered a point over his last six games. Hopefully, the former Edmonton Oiler and Florida Panther defenseman can pick up his offensive play soon.

My Players To Watch This Weekend

Up Front

Jack Studnicka: Jack Studnicka is one of the Bruins’ top prospects. He’s also having an excellent season. In 38 games, he’s netted 14 goals and dished out 12 assists for 26 total points. He also earned himself a spot on the AHL All-Star team. Despite not registering a point in his last six games, the young forward still looks good in all zones. Look for him to break his pointless streak this weekend.

On The Blue Line

Urho Vaakanainen: Urho Vaakanainen is having an excellent season with the Providence Bruins. Not only is he playing well defensively, but he is playing well offensively as well. In 34 games, he’s netted four goals and dished out seven assists for 11 total points. Look for him to have a big weekend at both ends of the ice.

In Net

Max Lagace: Max Lagace has had an excellent first season in Providence. He is 14-6-2 with a 2.49 GAA and a .915 save percentage. He’s also registered a league-high five shutouts this year. With Tuukka Rask being injured, it looks like Vladar could be called up to Boston on an emergency basis. This means Lagace is going to have to have a stellar weekend for the Providence club.

The Providence Bruins bounced back in a big way this past weekend after their worst one of the season. The next four games on the schedule are a good chance for the Providence club to build upon that and continue the momentum. Every game this weekend is a game that they should win. It would be nice to bank some points and get a little bit of a cushion in the standings heading into the Calder Cup playoffs. Feel free to send me any questions or comments on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

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Bruins Announce Transactions

 

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Photo Courtesy Of NESN.com

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney announced this morning that the team has placed goaltender Tuukka Rask on injured reserve and recalled goaltender Dan Vladar from Providence on an emergency basis. Check out Mark Allred’s piece on the recall of Vladar right here. The Bruins have also recalled forward Karson Kuhlman from Providence. Rask suffered an upper body injury during Tuesday nights loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. He has posted a 17-4-6 record this season with a 2.27 goals against average and a .925 save percentage in 28 games.

Kuhlman has skated in eight games this season for Boston, going scoreless. He has also skated in four games for Providence this season, posting two goals and an assist. Kuhlman suffered a leg injury in October and has just recently become healthy enough to play. He appeared in 11 games for Boston last season, recording three goals and two assists and played in eight playoff games, scoring a goal and adding two assists.

The recall of Kuhlman shouldn’t surprise anyone as he had earned a varsity spot in training camp and simply just caught a bad break on a blocked shot. He should inject some life into the Bruins lineup and probably could play as soon as tonight when the B’s take on the Pittsburgh Penguins. As for Vladar, he’ll now become the backup behind Jaroslav Halak and he could see his first NHL action as early as this week.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 162 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Providence Bruins Post-Game Recap Vs. Springfield 1/12/20

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By Carrie Young | Follow me on Twitter @carrieyoung512

 

The Providence Bruins faced off against the Springfield Thunderbirds at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on Sunday. The game was the second of a home-and-home series, with the Bruins defeating the Thunderbirds 5-2 in Springfield on Saturday night. The Bruins entered Sunday’s game ranked third in the Atlantic division with a record of 21-15-1-2.

Starting Lineups

Providence Bruins:

Gaunce – Frederic – Cehlarik

Breen – Zech

Lagace

Springfield Thunderbirds:

Hunt – Saarela – Tippett

Cross – Keeper

Desrosiers

Game Recap

First Period

29 seconds into the game, Chris Breen was sent to the box for roughing. Providence was able to kill the penalty and used the momentum to their favor. Just 23 seconds after the penalty expired, Karson Kuhlman beat multiple defenders and set up Brendan Woods, who scored his sixth goal of the season.

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At 11:57 of the first period, Springfield’s Ryan Haggerty was called for interference. The Bruins were unable to convert on their first power play. A few minutes later, Anton Blidh and Matt Mangene got matching roughing minors. Ten seconds into the four-on-four, Brady Keeper was whistled for high-sticking.

Peter Cehlarik beat Desrosiers for his tenth goal of the season on the 4-on-3 power play. The Bruins extended their lead to 2-0.

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Before the puck was dropped to re-start play after Cehlarik’s goal, Springfield’s Keeper received a minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct and 10-minute misconduct for abuse of officials. Providence had a brief power play before Jack Studnicka was called for slashing.

The period ended with the Bruins leading 2-0 in goals and 16-3 in shots.

Second Period

Max Lagace made some strong saves in the second period. Though Providence continued to greatly outshoot Springfield, the score could have been much closer without Lagace’s excellent play.

The Bruins went to the penalty kill with 5:44 left in the period, with Didier being sent to the box. Springfield’s Owen Tippett scored on the power play to cut the lead to 2-1.

Just a few minutes later, Kuhlman scored his second goal of the season to extend the Providence lead to 3-1. The team carried the lead into the second intermission and led 32-14 in shots.

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Third Period

1:24 into the third, Providence went back on the penalty kill with Paul Carey sent off for hooking. Anton Blidh was hooked on a partial shorthanded breakaway and was awarded a penalty shot. His shot made it through Desrosiers and increased the lead to 4-1.

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Springfield was able to convert later on in the power play. Ryan Haggerty was credited with the goal.

The Thunderbirds were given another power play when Woods and Desrosiers got into a tussle in the crease. Woods was hit with a double-minor for spearing as well as a minor for roughing. Two Springfield players were also given roughing minors. The Bruins were able to kill off the two-minute penalty.

Despite an incredible glove save from Lagace as well as plenty of chances for the Bruins, Springfield later cut the lead to 4-3 with Haggerty’s second goal of the game.

29 seconds after Haggerty’s goal, Woods countered with his second of the day.

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The Bruins showed great resilience to be able to extend the lead multiple times with Springfield making a push to tie it up. Despite the wide margin in shots, Lagace had to make some big saves to secure the win.

Despite pulling Desrosiers, Springfield couldn’t get the puck past Lagace. Providence won 5-3 and finished with a 43-24 lead in shots. Lagace, who turned 27 on Sunday, was credited with his 13th win of the season. This broke a streak of three straight losses for the goaltender, who last made 39 saves in a loss against the Charlotte Checkers on January 4th.

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“Last night was a [hard]-fought win,” forward Karson Kuhlman said after the game. “It says a lot about our team to come out here and respond and play a good game on a Sunday afternoon. I thought that yesterday we did a good job of sticking up for one another and we didn’t let them push us around. We wanted to come out here and do a lot of the same this afternoon.”

“There are some confrontational players on both [teams],” commented coach Jay Leach. “When that happens, you’re gonna get those scuffles, whether it’s a fight, a punch after the whistle, or a hit. We certainly want to play the right way, and when we do that, we’re a better team.”

When asked about the close score despite the wide margin in shots, Leach emphasized eliminating mistakes. “When we make a mistake, [like] taking a penalty or losing coverage, something we can control, I think there’s some frustration with that. Those are parts of the learning process. As a group that’s learning how to win, you just have to take steps in the right direction to remedy those.”

The Bruins host the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Friday for Military Appreciation Weekend.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 162 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 15 Preview

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(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Week 15 of the AHL season has arrived. The Providence Bruins skate into it 20-15-1-2 (43 points) and 4-6 in their last 10 games. This is good for third in the Atlantic Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference. The Providence club is coming off the roughest week of the season, which saw them lose to the Hartford Wolf Pack 3-1 before getting beat by the Charlotte Checkers 4-0 and 4-1. The Bruins must bounce back this weekend and get all four points.

The hockey action kicks off on Saturday, January 11, 2020, when the Providence Bruins invade Springfield, Massachusetts, to take on the Springfield Thunderbirds at the MassMutual Center. The action wraps up on Sunday, January 12, 2020, when the Springfield Thunderbirds return the favor and take on the Providence Bruins at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island.

Saturday, January 11, 2020 (AWAY) and Sunday, January 12, 2020 (HOME) Providence Bruins vs. Springfield Thunderbirds

The weekend home and home series will be the sixth and seventh meetings of 14 these two teams will have. In the first meeting, the Bruins would fall 5-2, getting goals from Peter Cehlarik and Anders Bjork. Goalie Dan Vladar was subpar in net stopping 23 of the 28 shots fired his way.

The second game saw the Bruins losing 5-4 in overtime while getting goals from Robert Lantosi, Joona Koppanen, Scott Conway, and Jack Studnicka. Netminder Max Lagace stopped 30 of the 35 shots fired his way. The third meeting saw the Providence club come out on top 5-4 in overtime. They would get goals from Jack Studnicka, Trent Frederic, Robert Lantosi, Peter Cehlarik, and Paul Carey (OT). Veteran netminder Max Lagace stopped 24 of the 28 shots he faced.

The fourth battle saw the Bruins come out on top 5-0. Jeremy Lauzon, Jakub Zboril, Jack Studnicka, Paul Carey, and Oskar Steen had the goals for Providence. Dan Vladar was out of this world in net stopping all 42 shots fired his way. The most recent game saw the Bruins come out on top 4-3. Robert Lantosi, Jack Studnicka, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Pavel Shen were the Bruins goal scorers. Dan Vladar was on his game, making 31 stops out of 34 shots.

The Springfield Thunderbirds come into the game 20-16-2 (42 points) and 5-3-2 in their last 10 games. This is good for fourth in the Atlantic Division and ninth in the Eastern Conference. Despite this, this is still a favorable matchup for the Providence Bruins. Over the past five seasons, the Bruins are 26-15-4 against the Panthers’ affiliate, including 13-7-3 in Springfield.

The Thunderbirds have been winning with excellent defense. They’ve only given up 107 goals in 38 games while scoring 116. This is a plus-nine goal differential. This also means they are only giving up 2.81 goals a game while scoring 3.05. The Springfield club is 4-2 when leading after the first period. They are also 13-2 when leading after two periods. On the flip side, they are 4-6 when trailing after one period. They are also 1-11-1 when trailing after two periods.

To give some perspective to those numbers, The Bruins have given up 101 goals in 33 games while scoring 116. That is a +15 goal differential. That means they are only giving up 2.65 goals a game while scoring 3.05. The Providence club is 10-0 when leading after one period and 16-0 when leading after two. However, they are 2-9-1-1 when trailing after the first period and 1-11-0-1 when trailing after two. These two teams are evenly matched and getting and sustaining an early lead, are imperative to winning.

These are two games the Providence Bruins need to win. They’ve gone on a mini losing streak when the two teams ahead and behind them in the standings have gone on winning streaks. The Providence club needs to start banking some points, and with the Thunderbirds only one point behind them in the standings, these are must-win games.

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not

Hot

Robert Lantosi: Robert Lantosi is in his first season with the Providence Bruins. He signed an AHL deal with after spending last season with HK Nitra of the Slovakian League. In 34 games this season, he’s found the back of the net 10 times and dished out 14 assists for 24 total points. This includes netting four goals and dishing out four assists for eight total points in his last 10 games. The young forward remains one of the hottest players on the team over the past few weeks despite the struggle.

Jack Studnicka: Jack Studnicka is another player that’s in his first season with the Providence Bruins. Coming into the year, he was one of the team’s top prospects, and he’s lived up to expectations and then some. In 36 games this season, he’s netted 14 goals and dished out 12 assists for 26 total points. This includes netting four goals and dishing out one assist for five total points in his last 10 games. The young forward has remained one of the hotter players all year, and his play was rewarded with being named to the AHL All-Star team.

Not

Paul Carey: Paul Carey has had a great year overall in his first year as the Providence Bruins’ Captain. In 37 games this season, he’s netted 15 goals and dished out 11 assists for 26 total points. This includes only registering one point, a goal in his last seven games. The former Boston College Eagle and NCAA Champion will hopefully turn things around this weekend. His overall good season also landed him a spot on the AHL All-Star team.

Oskar Steen: Oskar Steen has had an up and down first season in Providence. The young forward came to Providence after spending last season with Farjestad BK of the Swedish Hockey League. In 36 games this season, he’s netted four goals and dished out seven assists for 11 total points. This includes only registering one point, a goal in his last 13 games. One noteworthy thing is this year is Steen’s first full season on North American ice. It can take time for a young player to get used to that style of play.

My Players To Watch This Weekend

Up Front

Karson Kuhlman: Karson Kuhlman is a guy who burst onto the scene last year with Providence. He played so well that he got called up to Boston and got significant playing time with Boston in the regular season and playoffs. Eight games into his season this year, the former University of Minnesota-Duluth Captain was injured. This past weekend he played in two games with Providence for a conditioning stint. He’s still with the Providence club, so look for him this weekend.

On The Blue Line

Alex Petrovic: Alex Petrovic has had an excellent first season in Providence. The veteran defenseman came to Providence after spending last season with the Florida Panthers and the Edmonton Oilers. In 35 games this season, he’s netted two goals and dished out 17 assists for 19 total points. The WHL product has been an integral part of the defensive success as well. Look for him this weekend!

In Net

Dan Vladar: Dan Vladar has an excellent season with Providence thus far. He came into the season as one of the better goalie prospects in the Boston system. So far on the year, he’s 5-5 with a 1.83 GAA and a save percentage of .936%. He also has recorded two shutouts this season. Look for him to have another good weekend.

The Providence Bruins have had an excellent season despite the recent four-game losing streak. The one unfortunate thing about the losing streak is that the two teams ahead of them and behind them in the Atlantic Division standings are one winning streaks of four or more games. The Providence club needs to start winning games and banking points if they want to make the playoffs. This is a perfect weekend to start doing that. Feel free to send me any questions or comments on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

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Report: Bruins Interested In University Of Minnesota-Duluth Defenseman

( Photo Credit: UMD Athletics / umdbulldogs.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Per Anthony Kwetkowski of @BruinsNetwork on Twitter and host of the Bruins Network Podcast Show is reporting that the Boston Bruins are interested in the University of Minnesota-Duluth defenseman Nick Wolff. The Eagan, Minnesota native is a 6′-5″ 230-pound blueliner and is currently in his senior year with his Bulldogs club. A big rugged blueliner like himself is certainly going to garner serious attention in the spring of 2020 from many NHL General Managers that will be circling above like vultures as soon as NCAA commitments are through. In Mr. Kwetkowski’s tweet below it sounds like Bruins GM Don Sweeney is getting ahead of the game.

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As mentioned above, Sweeney took part in a scouting mission to Merrimack College as the Bulldogs club was at Lawler Arena in North Andover, Massachusetts for non-conference games against the Warriors yesterday and today. The Bruins GM was already there to look at Bulldogs left-winger Quinn Olsen who was selected in the third round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft is having an up and down year in his freshman year in the state with 10,000 lakes learning the rigors of the collegiate playing lifestyle. With three points (1-2-3) in 14 games in his first season, the 18-year-old Calgary, Canada native looks to get back to the offensive production ways that saw him post 34-85-119 numbers in two seasons in the AJHL with the Okotoks Oilers.

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Now back to the article topic at hand talking about Nick Wolff. This isn’t the first time the Bruins were close enough to scout the 23-year-old defenseman as Wolff’s been in Boston as a development camp invite during the previous two beginning of summer events held at the Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton, Massachusetts. This season with the Bulldogs thus far, Wolff has contributed four assists in 16 games and has 14-33-47 numbers in 139 career NCAA Division I games. Nick is a left shooting defenseman the Bruins depth doesn’t necessarily need with a plethora of available blueliners shooting from the same side but his size and aggressiveness as a shutdown defender on the backend always seem to find a way to the B’s organization.

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Wolff’s leadership is an attractive attribute that Sweeney and scouting staff might navigate to above other areas of his game that need to continue to develop at this time. He’s a two time back-to-back NCAA National Champion with the Bulldogs and even shared the same ice recently in raising the ultimate collegiate award with Bruins prospect Karson Kuhlman who was captain of the Bulldogs when they were the nation’s best during the 2017-18 campaign. Kuhlman was born in Esko, Minnesota north of where Wolff grew up which borders Duluth close to Lake Superior.

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This certainly bears watching as the NCAA Men’s Division I hockey season is in the middle of it’s regular season but ideas like these have worked in the past when Sweeney and staff are out looking to sign undrafted talent with high rewards and minimal risk. Some previous players that have seen this route taken from the Bruins organization are names such as, forwards Noel Acciari, Austin Czarnik, Frank Vatrano, and most recently defenseman Cooper Zech.

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Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 160 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!