By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson
A new week of playoff hockey is upon us and the Providence Bruins are right in the middle of their first-round series with the Charlotte Checkers. After splitting the first two game in Providence, the two teams traveled down to Charlotte, North Carolina to continue the series at the Bojangles’ Coliseum. Game three was a tough game for the Providence hockey club and the Hurricanes’ affiliate took the ever so important 2-1 series lead with game four on Friday, April 26, 2019. The baby B’s hope they can steal game four and push the series to a game five where anything could happen. It’s going to be an exciting finish to the series that you do not want to miss.
First Round Calder Cup Playoffs: Providence Bruins vs. Charlotte Checkers
Despite the slow start, game one was the one that got away for the Providence Bruins. The Checkers started off hot, less than two minutes into the game Morgan Geekie netted a goal that was assisted by Nick Shilkey and Andrew Poturalski. Then, a little more than two minutes later it was like deja vu all over again when Morgan Geekie netted another goal assisted by Andrew Poturalski and Nick Shilkey to make it 2-0 Charlotte less than four minutes into game one. After this, however, the Providence Bruins would come storming back. Captain Jordan Szwarz got the baby B’s on board netting a goal that was assisted by Anton Blidh. A few minutes later, on the power play, Cooper Zech took a feed from Zane McIntyre and tied the game up at two!
The Bruins would pull ahead less than a minute later when Anton Blidh scored on a feed from Trent Frederic and after the first period, it was 3-2 good guys! The second period was one that Providence would probably like back. was one that Providence would probably like back. It started out with Charlotte’s Tomas Jurco tying the game up at three on a goal that was assisted by Martin Necas and Jake Bean. Later in the second period, Julien Gauthier would put the Checkers up 4-3 on goal that was assisted by Nicolas Roy and Dennis Robertson, and that would be the score at the of the second period.
Now, during my preview one of the stats I pointed out was that the Hurricanes’ affiliate was 38-0 when leading after two periods in the regular season, this didn’t bode well for our boys. The Bruins would show signs of life in the third period, and almost seven minutes the Jordan Szwarz would get his second goal of the game assisted by Kyle Cumiskey and the game would be tied at four. However, later in the period, Bobby Sanguinetti would put the Checkers up for good on a goal that was assisted by Nicolas Roy. Checkers win 5-4 and lead the series 1-0. Zane McIntyre had a rough night in net for Providence stopping 22 of the 27 shots fired his way.
Game two was the next day, and the Providence Bruins looked to even the series at one apiece. The Providence hockey club came out hot when Cooper Zech would net his second goal of the series. It was assisted by Jordan Szwarz and Paul Carey and the Boston affiliate took an early 1-0 lead. Then with a little over a minute left in the first period, Jack Studnicka would net his first professional goal on a feed from Lee Stempniak and Ryan Fitzgerald to make the score 2-0 and that would be the score at the end of the first period.
The score remained 2-0 for most of the second period, but with a little over two minutes left Andrew Poturalski would get the Checkers on the board on goal that was assisted by Trevor Carrick and Nicolas Roy. With under a minute to play in the second Charlotte would tie the game up at 2 with a goal from Dan Renouf that assisted by Andrew Poturalski and Morgan Geekie. It would remain 2-2 at the end of the second period. The third period started off slow but ended up being eventful. Almost 10 minutes into the period Peter Cehlarik would put Providence up 3-2 on a goal assisted by Jack Studnicka and Trent Frederic.
It would stay that way until the very end of the game when Chris Breen would add an empty net goal with one second left to make it a 4-2 game. Bruins win and tie the series up at 1-1. Dan Vladar was great in net stopping 25 of the 27 shots he faced. At the end of the game as the empty net goal was being scored a scrum broke out and two Bruins players (Jordan Szwarz and Lee Stempniak) and three Checkers players (Trevor Carrick, Tomas Jurco, and Bobby Sanguinetti) were given game misconducts. This is significant because Bobby Sanguinetti was suspended one game for his role in the scrum and Trevor Carrick has been suspended three games for leaving the bench during an altercation.
Both teams packed up and set sail for Charlotte, North Carolina where the rest of the series will be played at the Bojangles’ Coliseum. The Checkers came out strong in the first period and about halfway through Andrew Poturalski scored his second goal of the series which was assisted by Aleksi Saarela to put them on top 1-0. About four minutes later Charlotte would go up 2-0 when Morgan Geekie scored his third goal of the series which was assisted by Jake Bean and Andrew Poturalski and the period would end with the Hurricanes’ affiliate up 2-0. Both teams would put up a goose egg in the second period and at the end of two, it was still 2-0 Checkers.
Again, going back to game one the Charlotte hockey club including regular season play was now 39-0 when leading after two periods. About a minute into the third period Andrew Poturalski would net an unassisted goal his second of the game and third of the series to put Charlotte on top 3-0 and that would go on to be your final with the Carolina affiliate now up 2-1 in the series. Goalie Zane McIntyre was adequate in net stopping 25 of the 28 shots he faced. Something else of note, Dan Vladar was set to start game three but an injury during the pre-game skate forced Zane McIntyre into the lineup.
Who’s hot and Who’s not for the Bruins this series
Cooper Zech: Cooper Zech has been great for Providence this series. In the three games, he netted two goals and has two total points. He came over to Providence in March signing as an undrafted free agent after his freshman year at Ferris State. While there, he led the team in scoring netting eight goals and dishing out 20 assists for 28 total points in 36 games. That’s a point per game total of 0.77. In 12 regular season games with Providence, the young defenseman didn’t find the back of the net but did dish out four assists for four total points. That’s a 0.33 point per game total in a limited sample. Hopefully, Zech can keep up his hot play and provide both offense and defense for the Bruins the rest of the series.
Jordan Szwarz: The Captain has been great for Providence this series. In the three games, he has netted two goals and dished out one assist for three total points. Szwarz had another great season for Providence in 68 games he netted 23 goals while dishing out 23 assists for 46 total points. That’s a point per game total of 0.67. The OHL product will need to continue to play well if the Bruins hope to take games four and five in Charlotte.
Zane McIntyre: Zane had a pretty good regular season for Providence. He was 25-14-7 with a GAA of 2.59 and a save percentage of 0.898. This series, however, has been bad for the North Dakota alum. In two games the veteran netminder is 0-2 with a GAA of 4.14 and a save percentage of 0.855. With the injury to Vladar before game three, and the severity of it unknown, the Bruins need McIntyre to pick up his play if they hope to move on to the second round of the playoffs.
Zach Senyshyn: Zach Senyshyn had an up and down regular season. The speedster showed some flashes of being elite, and at times looked a little lost. In 66 games with Providence, he netted 14 goals and dished out 10 assists for 24 total points. That’s a point per game total of 0.36. The young winger did get a call up to Boston and in two games netted a goal for his only point. That was something I was hoping would catapult him into a big playoff series, but in three games against Charlotte he has yet to register a point and if the Bruins want to advance to the next round, they need more offense.
Outlook for the rest of the series
A couple of things I said in my preview for the series that were important were overall team defense and would the Bruins get enough offense to win games. Both points seem to be rearing their ugly head as the team defense in game one as well as game three were suspect, and the Bruins just didn’t get enough offense especially in game three. Providence only had 20 shots on net in the game three loss and that just is not going to cut it and if the baby B’s hope to move onto the second round they need to generate more opportunities.
Before Wednesday night’s contest at Bojangles Coliseum, Providence rookie goaltender Dan Vladar went down with a lower body injury which is rumored to be a hamstring issue. With Zane McIntyre spending time with Boston as the “black ace” third goaltender, another rumor floating around the Boston Bruins organization is B’s goaltending prospect Kyle Keyser “could” get his first AHL start in goal in his first Calder Cup Playoff game. The 20-year-old Keyser recently ended his year with the Oshawa Generals a team who was eliminated in the third round of OHL playoffs to the hands of the leagues best Ottawa 67”s.
I think that the boys in black and gold can win two in a row and still take this series. They proved earlier in the year that they could beat Charlotte on the road. Like I stated earlier game four will be Friday, April 26, 2019, and it will be one you do not want to miss. If Providence can come out on top, then the deciding game five would be Saturday, April 27, 2019. Let’s hope they can take game four Friday night! We will catch up with you next week to let you know how the team fared but feel free to send any questions or comments to me on Twitter. I hope everyone enjoys the series and Go, B’s, Go!