Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 19 Preview


(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Week 19 of the AHL season has arrived. The Providence Bruins skate into it 26-17-2-3 (57 points)  and 6-2-1-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for third in the Atlantic Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference. The Providence club is coming off a week that saw them lose to Binghamton 3-1 before beating Syracuse 6-2. This weekend the Bruins have two exciting games that you will not want to miss.

The hockey action starts on Saturday, February 8, 2020, when the Providence Bruins travel to Bridgeport, Connecticut, to take on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at Webster Bank Arena. The weekend wraps up on Sunday, February 9, 2020, when the Bridgeport Sound Tigers invade Providence, Rhode Island, to take on the Bruins at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

Saturday, February 8, 2020 (AWAY) and Sunday, February 9, 2020 (HOME), Providence Bruins vs. Bridgeport Sound Tigers

The weekend home and home series with mark the seven and eighth 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 fourth 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 fifth meeting saw the Bruins fall 2-1. Pavel Shen scored the Bruins lone goal. Dan Vladar would stop 24 of 26 shots he faced. The most recent battle saw the Bruins win 3-1. Brett Ritchie (2), and Trent Frederic had goals. Max Lagace stopped 26 of the 27 shots he faced.

The Bridgeport Sound Tigers provide a favorable matchup for the Providence club. The Bridgeport club comes into the weekend 16-27-4-1 (37 points) and 3-7 in their last 10 games. This is good for eighth in the Atlantic Division and 16th in the Eastern Conference.  Furthermore, the Bruins are 25-18-6-3 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 2-14-2 when trailing after one and 1-19-2 when trailing after two. To add insult to injury, the Bridgeport club in 48 games has only scored 104 goals while giving up 156. Not only is this a horrendous -52 goal differential, but they’re only scoring 2.16 goals a game while giving up 3.25. They are giving up a full goal more than they are scoring. This isn’t a winning formula.

To compare, the Providence Bruins are 14-0 when leading after one period and 21-0 when leading after two periods. They’ve also scored 151 goals while giving up only 128 in 48 games. That means, not only do they have a +23 goal differential, but they are scoring 3.14 goals a game while only giving up 2.66. These are games that Providence must win. Bridgeport is not a good club at all.

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not


Jack Studnicka: If it seems like I’ve written a lot about Studnicka this season, it’s because I have. How good he has been cannot be stated enough. This is the young forward’s first full season in Providence. In 46 games this season, he’s netted 17 goals and dished out 18 assists for 35 total points. This includes netting three goals and dishing out six assists for nine total points in his last six games.

Trent Frederic: Trent Frederic is another guy that has had an excellent season for the Providence Bruins. In 45 games the season, he’s netted seven goals while dishing out 19 assists for 26 total points. This includes netting two goals and dishing out four assists for six total points in his last seven games. The 26 points are a new career-high for the former University of Wisconsin Badger.


Ryan Fitzgerald: Ryan Fitzgerald has had an up and down season for the Providence Bruins. In 47 games, he’s netted 10 goals and dished out 12 assists for 22 total points. This includes netting two goals and dishing out two assists for four total points in his last 13 games. The former Boston College Eagle has had trouble finding his offensive game recently. Let’s hope he finds his game soon.

Brendan Gaunce: Brendan Gaunce is in his first season with Providence. The veteran forward spent the beginning of his career in the Vancouver system. In 38 games this year, he’s netted 11 goals while dishing out 12 assists for 23 total points. This includes netting one goal and dishing one assist for two total points in his last five games. I hope the veteran forward can find his offensive game soon.

My Players To Watch This Weekend

Up Front

Jack Studnicka: I know that I sound like a broken record, but Studnicka is that good. The young forward had a stellar showing at All-Star weekend. He’s taken the confidence from that and run with it. In the two games since the All-Star break, he’s netted three goals while dishing out two assists for five total points. Studnicka also has two goals and an assist for three total points against Bridgeport this season. Look for him to continue his hot play.

On The Blue Line

Alex Petrovic: Alex Petrovic is in his first season in Providence. He spent last season with both the Florida Panthers and the Edmonton Oilers. In 41 games this year, he’s netted two goals and dished out 17 assists for 19 total points. However, the veteran forward hasn’t registered a point since December 18, 2019. The good news is that in four games against Bridgeport, he’s netted one goal and dished out four assists for five total points. Let’s hope this weekend jumpstarts his game.

In Net

Max Lagace: Max Lagace has had an excellent first season in Providence. The Veteran goalie is 17-6-3 with a 2.39 GAA and a .919 save percentage. He also has a league-leading five shutouts. Lagace is also 4-1 with a 0.81 GAA and a .972 save percentage against Bridgeport this season.

The Providence Bruins are currently sitting comfortably in a playoff position. The two games this weekend should help add some padding to their point lead. The Bridgeport club has had a rough season. This means it should be an easy four-point weekend for our boys in black and gold. It should be exciting hockey that you will not want to miss. Feel free to send me any questions or comments on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

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AHL Bruins Sign Goaltender For Remainder Of The 2019-20 Season

( Photo Credit: ECHL / Utah Grizzlies )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Earlier this week I dropped the news of the Boston Bruins recall of goaltender Dan Vladar and the club’s top minor-pro affiliate the Providence Bruins signing of a new addition in the crease. That article I posted late on Wednesday night January 15th, 2020, can be seen HERE. The official news from the Boston organization pertaining to this transaction can be seen HERE from the team’s official website. Both can also be viewed via official tweets below.

The second part of the article I got from the same source of the Vladar recall was correct even though I mentioned it was a loan in the article when it was, in fact, the signing of a new goaltender. With the injury news of Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (Upper-Body) and his unknown timeframe of return, the organization was on full alert creating space and making additions to accommodate the multi-levels that get affected when situations like these happen at the highest level of professional hockey. A signing like this was also important due to the injury status of B’s prospect goaltender Kyle Keyser who I talked about later in this article.

The Providence club signed veteran netminder Martin Ouellette for the remainder of the 2019-20 American Hockey League regular season. The 28-year-old Ouellette has spent time already this season appearing in ten games for the Bruins affiliate the Atlanta Gladiators this season but was involved in a December 2019, trade shortly after to the Beehive State (Utah) where his game certainly garnered interest from the Providence Bruins and General Manager John Fergerson Jr. Ouellette a former Columbus Blue Jackets seventh-round draft pick in 2010 has spent a majority of his minor-pro career with the Philadelphia Flyers organization covering the crease in both the AHL and lower ECHL levels. Lately, Martin has been a bit of a journeyman and an attractive risk to take when finding suitable talent to keep any team’s minor-pro developmental system competitive.

The 6′-1′ 161-pound netminder from Quebec, Canada has New England ties as his alma mata the University of Maine Black Bears is nearby in the six-state Northeastern area. Ouellette played in 82 games in his four year NCAA hockey career in the Hockey East Men’s Division 1 Conference posting a record of 28-33-14 with a 2.82 goals-against-average and .893 save percentage. This season with the Utah Grizzlies team before coming to the Ocean State (Rhode Island), he appeared in 14 games posting an 11-1-2 record, a GAA of 2.11 and .924 Save%. This short time period with his former Utah club has been his best timeframe in the ECHL since he was with the Florida Everblades in the 2017-18 campaign when he posted a 33-5-3 record, a 2.02 GAA, and .921 Save% in 42 games played that particular season.

As soon as Boston Bruins 2020 All-Star nominated Tuukka Rask returns to the ice for the Boston club the trickle-down effect will commence having either Vladar or Max Lagace in Providence full time. Newly acquired Ouellette will most likely report back to the ECHL this time with the Atlanta club he’s already had familiar experiences with previous games as mentioned this season.

Kyle Keyser Update And What The Ouellette Addition To The Bruins Minor-Pro System Means To Him

( Photo Credit: Atlanta Gladiators )

Per founder/writer Mark Divver’s tweet below, the undrafted Keyser has been suffering concussion symptoms which have caused many to speculate about his injury status which I thought was shoulder related dating back to when he was with the Providence Bruins earlier this season. In six games with Providence, the 20-year-old Keyser had a 1-4-1 record with his last game before his injury in November of 2019. He only appeared in one game for the Atlanta “AA” team when we all thought he was returning from the first injury but after his ECHL debut on December 13th, 2019, where he gave up four goals in a loss to the Jacksonville IceMen news about him vanished.

So for the time being Ouellette will serve a valuable service in the AHL with Providence until things return to normal. With Keyser being out now and possibly for the foreseeable future, Martin will be a solid addition to the Gladiators team and used as a “break glass” in case of emergency scenarios if injuries happen to arise again in the Bruins organization. When Keyser returns to the Gladiators club after his head injuries it would add to the depth of the ECHL organization and not create the three-headed goaltending monster at the AHL level.

In my opinion, just by the way Ouellette has rejuvenated his minor-pro career in his short tenure with the Utah franchise. He comes to the Bruins system with determination to stay in the game at multiple professional levels and even though he might fly under the radar of the higher Boston Bruins franchise, at the lower level he seems like the perfect candidate and hard worker that can contribute whenever called upon. With Providence going with Dan Vladar in last night’s 2-1 loss to the visiting Bridgeport Sound Tigers and Max Lagace being returned to the AHL minor-pro affiliate today with the official news that can be seen HERE,  I’d be surprised if Oullette gets the call tonight on the road against the Sound Tigers. With the NHL Boston club playing the Pittsburgh Penguins tomorrow afternoon and who knows who gets the netminding recall, I could see Ouellette getting into his first action with Providence with a game Sunday afternoon at home against the Springfield Thunderbirds as the Bruins AHL team has three games this weekend.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Prospects Podcast episode 11 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.

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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


Springfield Thunderbirds:

Hunt – Saarela – Tippett

Cross – Keeper


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

“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 Weekend Recap (Week 14)

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The American Hockey Leagues Providence Bruins played their second three-game series of the 2019-20 regular season at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island over the weekend earning (Add Total Weekend Points Here). Heading into the weekend’s action the top minor-pro affiliate of the National Hockey Leagues Boston Bruins sat in the second position in the Atlantic Division with a 20-12-1-2 record with 43 points in 35 games played only trailing division-leading Hartford Wolf Pack by two points.

Looking at the big picture in the AHL’s Eastern Conference the Providence club was in the fourth spot with a .614 winning percentage and 5-5-0 in their last ten games. Although the B’s are in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference Calder Cup Playoff picture, the Ocean State team has struggled at home with a record of 7-6-0-1 while having a record away from the Dunk of 13-6-1-1. Leading the club in points so far this season leading into the weekend’s action has rookie and 2017 second-round pick Jack Studnicka leading the team with 14-12-26 numbers in 33 games. Veteran forward and Weymouth, Massachusetts native Paul Carey is second on the club with 14-11-25 totals in 34 games and rounding off the top-three is AHL rookie Robert Lantosi who’s contributed 9-14-23 numbers in 31 games.

Goaltending for the Providence team has been one of the key factors in the AHL clubs’ success with the addition of veteran netminder Max Lagace who signed a one-year, two-way free-agent contract over the 2019 offseason. Lagace has a record of 13-5-2 with a 2.44 goals-against-average, a .916 save percentage and leading the AHL in shutouts with five. Dan Vladar who struggled to get off on the right foot to start the 2019-20 campaign suffered a high ankle sprain early in the year returned to the crease on December 1st, 2019, and has been outstanding in his return thus far leading into the new 2020 calendar year. Vladar has a season record of 5-3-0 with a 1.67 GAA, a Save% of .940, and two shutouts on the season. Now let’s get you updated on the weekend games and how the Providence team did in the three straight contests at the dunk. Enjoy!

Friday, January 3rd, 2020, Hartford Wolf Pack vs. The Providence Bruins (Home)

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

Trailing the visiting Hartford Wolf Pack by a mere two points for the top position in the Atlantic Division this was a huge game against an opponent that the Providence club has certainly had a tough time against all season. Leading up to the action on Friday night the visiting Wolf Pack club has outscored the B’s 21-9 in six previous matchups in the 2019-20 regular season and it was important the home team came out on the right foot against a Packs netminder that has absolutely had their number for a majority of those games.

In the first period, the Bruins got off to a good start against a Wolf Pack team that they’ve been jockeying back-and-forth all season for the Division Lead. Captain Paul Carey got the first Bruins goal of the game scoring a shorthanded goal, his 15th of the year which was unassisted at 6:51 of the opening period. Hartford would only need three minutes after the Carey goal to tie things up at one on a goal from Tim Gettinger who scored his 8th of the year. Shots on goal to end the opening frame had the home Bruins team at an 11-7 advantage leading into the second period which was a tight battle in the middle of the game without either team putting the puck past the games netminders.

Jumping to the third period the scoring would all go to the visiting Wolf Pack. Pack leading goal scorer Vinni Lettieri would add his 12th of the year at the 19:34 mark of the final frame and to seal the deal for the visitors, winger Gettinger would get his second goal of the game with an empty netter at the 19:55 mark to end the game. Shots on goal in this game had the Wolf Pack with a 31-28 shot advantage

Bruins goaltender Dan Vladar got the start in goal on this night stopping 28 of 30 shots on goal and was a major reason the Wolf Pack club didn’t add several goals to make things worse. Regardless of this loss, the Bruins third-round selection in 2015 continues to play well since his return to the B’s lineup and will most likely get the call on Sunday against the Charlotte Checkers with the way Providence Head Coach Jay Leach has the rotation going. The Bruins have lost their last two games and look to snap out of this funk against a hot Checkers club that’s won their last three games before heading to the state of Rhode Island.

Saturday, January 4th, 2020, Charlotte Checkers vs. The Providence Bruins (Home)

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

The Bruins looked to change their recent misfortunes against an AHL team they’ve had recent success earlier this season. Providence has outscored the Checkers club 8-1 in the previous two games with one of the contests being a 36 save shutout in a 4-0 victory in Vladar’s return from injury. This night in game two of three on the weekend at the Dunk the end result would be very different.

After the Providence club commanded close to four minutes of the opening frame but that excitement was quickly deflated at the 3:59 mark when Checkers forward David Gust got the first goal of the game. Although there were times when the Bruins looked like they were getting back into the game the visiting Charlotte club just added more pressure holding the lead. At the 3:45 mark of the second period, the Checkers scored their second goal of the game on Steven Lorentz 9th of the season making things more difficult for the home Providence team.

The third period was a chippy affair as the Bruins started to show frustrations in being down on the scoreboard and were penalized four times putting themselves in a difficult situation. The Checkers club would score two goals in the final frame one from Julien Gauthier who scored his 15th of the season at the 1:54 mark of the third and sealing the deal on the night was an empty netter from Spencer Smallman who notched his third of the season at 16:48. The final tally on the shots on goal from both combatants had the visiting Checkers team finishing with a 43-25 advantage.

As mentioned above about the goaltending rotation, Providence Head Coach Leach did, in fact, go with Max Lagace in the second night of the weekend’s action. Lagace who’s been one of the best netminders in the AHL has had a recent run of bad luck giving up nine goals in his last three games and is on a three-game losing streak. Max stopped 39 of 42 Checkers shots on this night and did the best he could but ultimately the support in front of him didn’t do enough on the scoresheet to help out. Lagace suffered his sixth regulation loss of the year and will most likely have to wait until next Saturday, January 11th to try and snap his season-long losing streak.

Sunday, January 5th, 2020, Charlotte Checkers vs. The Providence Bruins (Home)

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

The final game of the Bruins weekend at the Dunkin Donuts Center came to a screeching halt with another loss in front of the Providence crowd. The Checkers club was again just too much to handle for the B’s outscoring the home team 8-1 in two of the three games in this weekend set and are now on a four-game losing streak.

The Checkers owned all-three periods leading up to a 4-0 lead with their fourth goal on a Brian Gibbons empty-netter at the 17:26 mark of the third. Providence broke the shutout bid for Anton Forsberg on a goal from B’s rookie Robert Lantosi who scored his 10th of the season at the 19:04 of the final frame. Shots advantage in this game went to the visiting team for the third straight contest in the weekend’s action this time giving the Checker a 33-27 total at the end of 60 minutes.

The AHL Bruins get back to work on Saturday, January 11th, 2020, in Springfield, Massachusetts with a tilt against a hot Springfield Thunderbirds team. The Thunderbirds are currently on a four-game winning streak and only one point behind the Providence club to tie for third place in the Atlantic Division. Springfield is 11-7-1-0 at the MassMutual Center and 53-3-2 in their last ten games. The Bruins wrap up the week’s action on Sunday against the same Thunderbirds team to finish up a home-and-home on Sunday, January 12th, 2020, at the Dunk in Providence Rhode Island.

The AHL’s Atlantic Division is very tight as rivals are starting to play better gearing up fro Calder Cup Playoff runs. In this said “tight” division the Providence team has an 8-8 record since December 1st, 2019 and is slowly going in the wrong direction as they started the year as one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. With almost a full week of practice B’s Head Coach, Leach and assistants behind the bench should have an interesting week of work addressing key areas that opposing teams have exposed in their game. Still, a lot of season left and keep in mind that this Providence team has gotten hot in previous years around this time of year and made the postseason debuts so I’m not giving up on this club just yet.

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!!

Providence Bruins Lagace Has Persevered In First Season With AHL Club

( Photo Credit: Michael Kuszay @TMGKuzKuz10 )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

In a recent article, I wrote which can be seen HERE, I mentioned how well Providence Bruins goaltender Dan Vladar was doing in his return to the crease after a lengthy lower-body injury. In this article, I’d like to stay with the goaltending depth with the Boston Bruins top minor-pro affiliate and talk about the effort thus far of netminder Max Lagace who’s having a successful first year with the B’s organization and is worthy of honorable mention in my opinion.

The Man, The Myth, The Lagace

Since joining the Providence club as an undrafted free agent, the 26-year-old veteran netminder was signed to a one-year, two-way contract over the 2019 summer offseason and has made an immediate impact to the top-minor pro affiliate of the NHL’s Boston Bruins.  The journeyman netminder is having a career year which has him ranked with some of the AHL’s best in categories such as shutouts (Ranked #1), Wins (Ranked #2), games played (Ranked #5), goals-against-average (Ranked 9th), and save percentage (Ranked #10).

This was a sneaky good signing from Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney because it addressed several different needs for the Boston organization. His addition to the B’s minor-pro depth in the crease covers the veteran leadership left from departing Zane McIntyre but also covers areas of concern at the NHL level with what’s to become of current backup netminder Jaroslav Halak. With the uncertainty of Halak staying or going, Lagace being in the mix may be the insurance policy or back up plan for each scenario. Although limited Max does have NHL experience which he gathered as a member of the Vegas Golden Knights before signing with the Boston club. In 17 career games at the highest level of hockey in the world the Longueuil, QC native has a record of 6-8-1 with a goals-against-average of 3.92 and .868 save percentage.

Lagace and his Dominance in the city of Providence

So far in Providence this season the game plan is to seemingly give the workload to the veteran Lagace playing two of every three contests to keep him sharp and ready at a moment’s notice if services are needed at the NHL level. The AHL predominately operates on a weekend schedule with the occasional Wednesday night game but Providence players are very active with daily practice times and a travel schedule that’s close to the Rhode Island operations to allow the appropriate ice time. To me even though one netminder sees a little more time in the crease than another developing goaltender, the AHL level I see it as a “1A” and “1B” tandem scenario with games sometimes three in a row on a Friday to Sunday weekly schedule.

( Photo Credit:  Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images )

This season as the workhorse on the backend with injuries to aforementioned Vladar and his replacement from the “AA” minor-pro affiliated with the Atlanta Gladiators Kyle Keyser, Lagace has appeared in 20 of the 34 games played in the 2019-20 regular season. In that timeframe, Max has a 13-4-2 with a 2.36 goals-against-average, and .919 save percentage. Although mentioned previously, Lagace’s league-leading five shutouts have been nothing but amazing to watch, to be honest. Max has also been a benefactor of the knowledge and wisdom of former NHL goaltenders and now Boston Bruins goaltending coaching tandem of Bob Essensa and assistant Mike Dunham as previously mentioned in my Vladar piece seen HERE.

The Providence Bruins club is in first place of the Atlantic Division with a 20-11-1-2 record and 43 points, two points ahead of second-place Hartford Wolf Pack who the AHL Bruins team is set tom play in the final game of this current five-game road trip. With Vladar getting the start last night in a 4-3 victory on the over the cross-state rival Springfield Thunderbirds, it’s hard not to imagine with the way things have been scheduled that Providence Head Coach Jay Leach will look to Lagace to start in the crease tonight. If in fact, Max gets the nod in goal he’ll be going against one of the AHL’s top-ranked teams, and a 14th victory tonight will only bring him closer to his career-high of 15 and with this being game 35 of 76 of the 2019-20 regular season, there’s a strong chance he’ll surpass all career AHL numbers from the past and do it with a class organization, to say the least.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 159 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!! 

AHL Bruins Goaltender Vladar Has Been Stellar Since Return To Providence

( Photo Credit: )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The 2019-20 American Hockey League regular season didn’t exactly get off on the right foot for Providence Bruins goaltender Dan Vladar in his second full season with the top minor-pro affiliate of the National Hockey Leagues Boston Bruins. After starting the campaign with a 1-1-0 record, a 2.99 goals-against-average, and .888 save percentage things would progressively get worse in his third appearance of the year.

On October 16th, 2019, the Providence club was in Laval, Quebec to play in game one of a four-game road trip against the host Laval Rocket the minor-pro affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens. Veteran netminder Max Lagace got the start this night giving up four goals in the first period. To start the second frame, Providence Head Coach Jay Leach opted to take the struggling Lagace out of the game in favor of the fresh Vladar on the bench in hopes of an offensive spark. Netminder Vladar would go onto make eight saves in the second period but to end the middle frame the former 2015 third-round selection would need relief himself. Vladar went down with a lower-body injury and would need help off the ice from fellow teammates and Providence trainer prompting the AHL Bruins to back to Lagace to finish the game.

Further medical evaluations concluded that Vladar suffered a high ankle sprain and was listed as week-to-week. Dan would spend a better part of six weeks on the shelf recovering from his injury but used the downtime to his advantage working with training staff along with longtime Boston Bruins goaltending Coach Bob Essensa and assistant Mike Dunham who’s entering his third season with the B’s franchise.

( Photo Credit: Alan Sullivan Photography )

The Athletic Bruins beat writer Joe McDonald spent a day in Providence on December 15th, 2019, and unveiled some interesting information when he had the chance to interview Vladar. In the article from McDonald, aforementioned goalie coaches Essensa and Dunham spent a great deal of time with the 22-year-old as he recovered watching countless hours of video fine-tuning the netminders game ultimately finding that the Czech Republic native was too active in the crease and needed to minimize his movements to be better prepared. All quotes below from McDonald’s December 16th “Down On Th Farm” article can be found HERE or click the hyperlinked quotes below to direct you to the originator.

“I don’t think I had the greatest camp, so it was something I needed to work on,” Vladar said. “I felt good physically, but the pucks weren’t hitting me and I wasn’t playing the way I wanted. (Spending time with Dunham) helped and so far it’s working really well. A lot of pucks can hit me and that’s what I’m trying to do more and more, and I feel comfortable every single game.”

On November 27th, 2019, The Boston Bruins sent Vladar to the organization’s “AA” minor-pro affiliate the Atlanta Gladiators for a conditioning stint to test his return to professional hockey from an injury that commonly takes a while especially when it comes to goaltenders. Dan got the victory over the visiting Norfolk Admirals giving up two goals in a 4-2 Atlanta win. That was apparently enough for the Providence Bruins staff to see as the AHL club recalled Vladar to join them on the road in Charlotte, North Carolina to finish up a short three-game road trip against the Charlotte Checkers.

Dan was spectacular in his return stopping all 36 Checkers shots for his first shutout of the season and a game that would start a tremendous return with all accolades gravitating back to the tutelage and wisdom of Essensa and Dunham. Vladar would need just three more games to earn his second shutout of the season when he blanked cross border and Atlantic Division rival Springfield Thunderbirds in a 5-0 victory stopping all 42 shots he faced. Although the 6′-5″ 185-pound netminder looks to be completely healthy, he had this to say to McDonald after the game at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island below.

“I felt great,” Vladar said. “It’s always easier for a goalie when you face that many shots. I felt really good. It was one of those nights where I saw the puck really well and felt like everything was hitting me. It’s a long season though, it’s nice, but I’m not getting too high from it.”

“To be honest, I can still feel it a little bit,” Vladar said of his ankle. “I’m doing treatment every day and (trainers) are keeping an eye on it.”

Since Vladar’s return from injury at the beginning of December, the second-highest ranked goaltender in his draft year (European Netminders Only) of 2015, has posted a record of 3-2-0 and compiled impressive 0.99 GAA, and .954 Save% numbers in that timeframe. His overall record for this season is still a respectable 4-3-1 record with a 1.49 GAA and .945 Save%. Dan’s AHL career numbers of 23-18-6, a 2.48 GAA, a .911 Save% along with five career No-No tells me he’s certainly stepped up a level in maturity as he continues to develop and from this small sample size since his return from the said high ankle sprain, I’d expect him to have a stellar season in the remaining games working alongside Max Lagace.

( Photo Credit: Gregory Vasil / Getty Images )

Lagace who’s contributed his own stellar play in his first season with the Boston Bruins organization since signing a one-year, two-way free-agent contract in the early month of July 2019, has been a solid mentor for the younger members of the crease with of course Vladar being around along with appearances from Kyle Keyser and Sean Bonar who was up from Atlanta lightening the workload with so many injuries. While the Boston Bruins don’t exactly look like gangbusters when talking about ranking the NHL’s best goaltending depths, its good to know that the organization will be in good hands with Essensa and Dunham at the helm to offer advice with the proper tools for the continued development of future netminders.

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