Monday, December 21, 2009

Providence Trims Roster

December 21, 2009

Brouillette, Galvin & Stokes Released from PTO Agreements

Providence, RI - The Providence Bruins, in their 18th year in the American Hockey League, announced that they have released defensemen Julien Brouillette, Tom Galvin and Ryan Stokes from their Professional Tryout Agreements. With the moves, the P-Bruins have 24 players on their active roster, including 15 forwards, seven defensemen and two goaltenders.

Brouillette, 23, was signed by the P-Bruins on December 18 and appeared in three games during his first career AHL stint. The blue-liner finished with one assist and a plus-one rating for Providence. Brouillette began the season with the Charlotte Checkers of the ECHL, totaling 15 points (5g, 10a) in 24 games to lead all team defensemen in scoring. The third-year pro has also contributed a plus-nine rating and three multiple-point games.

Galvin, 30, joined Providence on December 10 from the International Hockey League's Muskegon Lumberjacks. He suited up for six P-Bruins games, going scoreless, after appearing in 18 games for Muskegon to start the year, where he totaled 12 points (4g, 8a) and a plus-10 rating. Since the 2006-07 campaign, Galvin has suited up for 203 games at the AHL level, primarily with the Grand Rapids Griffins. In that time, the seventh-year pro has registered 39 points (3g, 36a) in 193 regular season contests and three points (g, 2a) in 10 playoff games.

Stokes, 26, returned to Rhode Island on December 18 after spending the entire 2008-09 campaign with the P-Bruins. The veteran's first year with the P-Bruins was hampered by injuries as he appeared in only 29 games between the regular season and playoffs, registering a goal, an assist and 75 PIM. During this most recent stint, he went scoreless in three games. Stokes began the season with the ECHL's Toledo Walleye, recording 10 points (4g, 6a) and 53 PIM in 27 contests. The sixth-year pro had a Gordie Howe Hat Trick with a goal, two assists and a fight on October 31 at the Kalamazoo Wings.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mikko Lehtonen called Up To Boston

November 4, 2009

The Bruins have promoted Mikko Lehtonen from Providence on an emergency basis. Lehtonen will participate in tomorrow's morning skate and will be available for the game against the Canadiens.

The recall indicates that the Bruins were down to less than 12 healthy forwards following last night's 2-0 loss to Detroit.

The second-year pro has scored three goals and seven assists in 11 games for Providence. The right wing netted a team-leading 28 goals last year as a rookie. The 6-foot-5, 203-pound Lehtonen was the team's third-round pick in 2005. Lehtonen made his NHL debut last season when he played against Buffalo in the second-to-last regular-season game.

Information courtesy of

Providence Rebounds Over Bridgeport

Roster Call-ups Hamper Goal Scoring
by T. Chace Jr.
November 4, 2009

On October 18th after a 7-2 victory over Portland the Providence Bruins had a 4-2 record and had scored 26 goals in just those six games. Things were looking good as the new season was progressing. However, the parent club, the Boston Bruins were about to place forward Milan Lucic on injured reserve. Lucic would join center Marc Savard on the Bruins injury list and with the trade of Chuck Kobasew, there were roster spots that needed to be filled.

After the Portland game, Vladimir Sobotka, Guillaume Lefebvre, and Brad Marchand were called up to the big club. This left a huge offensive problem for the P-Bruins. Marchand at the time had scored 6 goals in six games and Sobotka had recorded 10 points in six games, including 4 goals. Lefebvre was brought up to replace Lucic’s toughness and fierce corner work. Lefebvre was sent back down and replaced by veteran center Trent Whitfield who also had managed 8 points in six games for Providence.

Needless to say the P-Bruins struggled in their next four games, scoring just 3 goals in those four games. On Sunday, November 1st the Bruins beat the Bridgeport Sound Tigers 4-3 in what proved to be a very satisfying win according to Coach Rob Murray. “Very satisfying, we’ve got a depleted line-up, not only with the call ups, but a couple of injuries and a few guys are sick. We’ve had hard time generating any offense the last few games.”

The Bruins are looking for some of their younger players to step up and improve their play. Against Bridgeport, Murray felt several had. “Zach Hamill really picked up his game; Mikko Lehtonen looked good out there, our defense got into the scoring, so it was a good game for us to bounce back.” Regarding the young players and the need for them to respond while the team struggles, Murray says “I can’t be too hard on these guys; they stepped up today but they weren’t able to step up the last couple of games. They’re trying, Zach Hamill had a fantastic game, and he was awesome. We need a few guys to help us find a way to win.”

Jeff Penner was named the number one star; the defenseman notched his first goal of the season and also picked up two assists. Hamill had three assists and Jeff LoVecchio, just getting over being sick grabbed his 4th goal and added an assist as well. Bridgeport outshot Providence 40-28, Dany Sabourin made 37 saves for the victory in front of 4230 fans at The Dunkin Donuts Center.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Latest Providence Roster Moves

Ross and Gordon Return to ECHL's Reading

Providence, RI - The Providence Bruins, in their 18th year in the American Hockey League, announced that they have assigned defenseman Jared Ross to the ECHL's Reading Royals and released forward Ben Gordon from his Professional Tryout Agreement. Gordon will also return to Reading. With the moves, the P-Bruins have 21 players on their roster, including 12 forwards, seven defensemen and two goaltenders.

Ross, 24, was recalled by Providence from Reading on October 10 and appeared in his first professional regular season game that evening on the road against the Portland Pirates. Overall, the undrafted defenseman suited up for six P-Bruins games, going scoreless with a minus-one rating. Ross is a four-year product of the St. Lawrence University Saints, where he recorded 48 points (22g, 26a) in 134 collegiate games. The Stony Island, Nova Scotia, native made his pro debut during the 2009 ECHL playoffs following the conclusion of his senior season, tallying one assist in two playoff games for the Elmira Jackals. Ross signed an AHL contract with Providence on August 11 and participated in the P-Bruins' training camp before being assigned to Reading.

Gordon, 24, signed a PTO with Providence on October 23 and made his AHL debut that night against the Worcester Sharks. The undrafted forward went scoreless in two games with two penalty minutes for the P-Bruins. Gordon began the season with Reading, scoring two goals in the team's first two games. He registered his first multiple-point game of the year with a pair of goals on October 17 versus Elmira. Gordon is in his second professional season after splitting last year between Reading and the Cincinnati Cyclones, where he totaled 57 points (21g, 36a) in 63 games overall. Prior to turning pro, the native of International Falls, Minnesota, played four seasons of college hockey for the University of Minnesota Gophers, starring alongside Boston Bruins forward Blake Wheeler. In his collegiate career, Gordon recorded 98 points (39g, 59a) in 148 games.

Providence returns to action this weekend with three games, the first two on the road on Friday, October 30 against the Manchester Monarchs at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, October 31 versus the Hartford Wolf Pack at 7 p.m. The P-Bruins wrap up the weekend at home on Sunday, November 1 by hosting the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at 4:05 p.m.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Providence Off To Offensive Start

Providence Bruins Score Two Victories
by T. Chace Jr.
October 10, 2009

Last year the Providence Bruins lost to the eventual Calder Cup Champion, the Hershey Bears in the Conference Finals. The Bears were bigger, stronger, faster and had a veteran presence, which combined made them champions. During this past off-season the Bruins made several changes to get bigger, stronger and add some age to go with their plethora of young talent. So far, in just two games it seems to be working just as management had hoped.

Starting the season 2-0, the Bruins have scored 11 goals on 82 shots. They have allowed 5 goals with new netminder, Dany Sabourin, taking over between the pipes for young Tuukka Rask who has made the big club in Boston. Sabourin, 29, has played 57 NHL games in his career and looks to backbone a very good Providence team. Veterans, Trent Whitfield, Andy Wozniewski, Guillaume Lefebvre, and enforcer Brett Clouthier join a young nucleus of Bruins to form a well rounded team.

The team can roll out three solid lines and the fourth line provides great energy when called upon. Left wing Jeff LoVecchio, injured all of last year, was named the first star in the opening game for Providence, a 6-2 victory over Springfield. LoVecchio and Brad Marchand scored two goals apiece; Whitfield and Wozniewski added the others in their debut with Providence. Shots in that game at one point were 37-12 favoring the Bruins. There were also two scuffles in the game in which Lefebvre and Adam McQuaid showed that the team will not be pushed around this season.

On Friday night, in a game against the Hartford Wolfpack, the B's won again by a 5-3 score. They led 4-1 before Hartford made a late third period rally. There were three more fights in this one, as McQuaid and Dane Byers squared off twice. Newcomer Drew Fata, another new defenseman for Providence also scrapped with Brodie Dupont. Sabourin made 34 saves in net for the Bruins in a game head coach Rob Murray referred to as sloppy for both teams. "We played a lot cleaner game last Sunday; tonight both teams were sloppy and just trading chances out there. We had alot of give-a ways which added to the opportunities for them, but Sabourin played very well."

Next up for Providence is their first road game against their arguably biggest rival, the Portland Pirates. Hartford returns to Providence on Sunday to try and split the weekend series. The Bruins look like a real contender this year, with all the pieces in place to make a strong run at the Calder Cup in 2009-10.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Roster Is Official

Providence Announces Roster For 2009-10 Season
by T. Chace Jr.
October 2, 2009

Here is the official Bruins roster for 2009-10

# Player Pos Shoots Height Weight DOB Birthplace
2 Andrew Bodnarchuk D L 5-11 190 Jul 11,1988 Drumheller, AB
6 Jeff Penner D L 5-10 183 Apr 13,1987 Steinbach, MB
7 Andy Wozniewski D L 6-3 195 May 25,1980 Buffalo Grove, IL
8 Mikko Lehtonen RW R 6-3 196 Apr 1,1987 Espoo, Finland
9 Zach Hamill C R 5-11 190 Sep 23,1988 Port Coquitlam, BC
10 Vladimir Sobotka C L 5-11 194 Jul 2, 1987 Trebic, Czech Republic
11 Drew Larman C R 6-3 195 May 15, 1985 Canton, MI
12 Jamie Arniel C R 5-11 183 Nov 16, 1989 Kingston, ON
14 Guillaume Lefebvre LW L 6-1 195 May 7, 1981 Amos, QC
16 Matt Marquardt LW L 6-3 229 Jul 19, 1987 North Bay, ON
17 Brad Marchand RW L 5-9 190 May 11, 1988 Halifax, NS
18 Jeff LoVecchio LW L 6-2 195 Aug 26, 1985 Chesterfield, MO
21 Alain Goulet D R 6-1 186 Sep 22, 1988 Kapuskasing, ON
23 Trent Whitfield C L 5-11 204 Jun 17, 1977 Alameda, SK
25 Jordan Knackstedt RW R 6-2 195 Sep 28, 1988 Saskatoon, SK
27 Adam McQuaid D R 6-3 197 Oct 12, 1986 Charlottetown, PEI
28 Rob Kwiet D L 6-1 218 Aug 2, 1988 Toronto, ON
29 Brett Clouthier LW L 6-5 225 Jun 9, 1981 Ottawa, ON
30 Matt Dalton G R 6-1 189 Jul 4, 1986 Clinton, ON
32 Dany Sabourin G R 6-4 200 Sep 20, 1980 Val d'Or, QC
35 Kevin Regan G R 6-1 190 Jul 25, 1984 South Boston, MA
44 Drew Fata D L 6-1 215 Jul 28, 1983 Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Providence Must Cut Down Roster Soon

P-Bruins Current Roster Has 27 Players
by T. Chace Jr.
October 1, 2009

With opening night just three days away against their rival Srpingfield Falcons, the Bruins still need to finalize their roster. The current roster contains 15 forwards, 8 defensemen and 4 goaltenders for a total of 27 skaters.

Goaltenders still on the roster include Kevin Regan, Adam Courchaine, Matt Dalton, and Dany Sabourin. The Bruins blue line is being manned by returning players Adam McQuaid, Jeff Penner and Andrew Bodnarchuk. They are joined by newcomers Drew Fata, Andy Wozniewski, Rob Kwiet, Alain Goulet and Scott Fletcher. With Vladimir Sobotka being returned yesterday, the Bruins have 15 forwards. Brad Marchand, Matt Marquardt, Jordan Knackstedt, Mikko Lehtonen, Zach Hamill, Jamie Arniel, Kirk MacDonald and Jeff LoVecchio all return this year. New faces include Lane McDeermid, Drew Larmen, Trent Whitfield and Guillaume Lefebvre. I am not sure if one of the other forwards include tough guy Brett Clouthier. An official roster has yet to be published.

The team has both skill and brawn this season and should prove to be very entertaining. The goaltending situation is somewhat in flux with the departure of Tuukka Rask to the parent Boston club backing up newly signed Tim Thomas. It was a pleasant surprise to see Johnny Boychuck stick with the big club as the seventh defenseman, all the best to our former Providence players as they embark on their quest for Lord Stanley's Cup in Boston.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Providence Bruins Rookie Camp

Rookie Camp in Kitchener
August 27, 2009
by T. Chace Jr.

The Bruins yesterday announced their 24-man roster for their upcoming rookie camp in Kitchener, Ontario. The team departs on Saturday, Sept. 5 and returns Thursday, Sept. 10, with three games in between against the Maple Leafs, Senators, and Penguins.

Here's the travel roster by position (note 2009 first-round pick Jordan Caron is absent due to injury). For more details, click "full entry" below.

Goaltenders (3): Adam Courchaine, Matt Dalton, Mike Hutchinson.

Defensemen (7): Ryan Button, Scott Fletcher, Brad Good, Alain Goulet, Mark Isherwood, Rob Kwiet, Marc Zanetti.

Forwards (14): Jamie Arniel, Chris DeSousa, Zach Hamill, Jordan Knackstedt, Jason Lawrence, Lane MacDermid, Taylor MacDougall, Matt Marquardt, Jeff LoVecchio, Levi Nelson, Tyler Randell, Max Sauve, Peter Stevens, Jason Wilson.

Here's more from the press release from the Bruins:

BOSTON -- Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced today the 24-man rookie roster that will participate in the team’s rookie camp in Kitchener, Ontario. The team will depart Boston for Kitchener on Saturday, September 5 and return on Thursday, September 10. The team will play three games total, one each against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins.
The travel roster includes the eighth overall pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Zach Hamill, and three members of the Bruins ’09 NHL Draft Class, as Ryan Button (third round, 86th overall), Lane MacDermid (fourth round, 112th overall) and Tyler Randell (sixth round, 176th overall) will all skate in the camp. The Bruins first round pick in the
’09 draft, Jordan Caron, will not participate due to injury.

Other recent draft selections making the trip are: Max Sauve (2008, second round), Mike Hutchinson (2008, third round), Jamie Arniel (2008, fourth round), Alain Goulet (2007, sixth round), Jordan Knackstedt (2007, seventh round) and Levi Nelson (2006, sixth round).

Rounding out the travel roster are players acquired through trades or free agency Jeff LoVecchio, Matt Marquardt, Rob Kwiet, Scott Fletcher, Matt Dalton and Adam Courchaine and rookie camp invitees Chris DeSousa, Jason Lawrence, Taylor MacDougall, Jason Wilson, Mark Isherwood, Peter Stevens, Marc Zanetti and Brad Good.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Providence Bruins Roster Moves

Spring/Summer Player Movement
August 5, 2009
by T. Chace Jr.

Since the Providence Bruins playoff series ended with Hershey there have been signings and releases of players this past spring and in recent weeks. Statistics of each player are listed after transaction.

- Buyout of the final year of Peter Schaefer's contract.

- Byron Bitz, 24, signed to a new multi-year contract.

- Defenseman, Johnny Boychuk, 25, signed to a one year contract.

- Goaltender, Dany Sabourin, 28, signed to a one year deal.

- D-Man, Drew Fata, 25, signed to a one year deal.

- Center, Trent Whitfield, 32, to a one year deal.

- Center, Drew Larman, 24, to a one year deal.

- Defenseman, Rob Kwiet, 20, to a one year deal.

- Defenseman, Zach McKelvie, 24, to a one year deal.

These transactions are current, as of 8/5/09.
Updates to follow.

Bruins Now Affiliated With Reading Royals

ECHL's Reading Royals will be a Boston Affiliate in 2009-10
August 5, 2009
by T. Chace Jr.

The Providence Bruins have announced that the National Hockey League's Boston Bruins have entered into an affiliation with the Reading Royals of the ECHL. Under the arrangements, the Bruins will be able to designate players within their development system for assignment to Reading,during the 2009-10 season.

The Royals have played in Reading, Pennsylvania, since 2001 and are also the ECHL affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Bruins did not have an ECHL affiliate last season but several players enjoyed time with both Providence and Reading in 2008-09, including Brock Hooton, Ned Lukacevic, Kirk MacDonald, Levi Nelson, Kevin Schaeffer and Dinos Stamoulis. For more information on the Royals, visit

Source Info from

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

AHL Announces Its Schedule Format

Providence Opponents Determined
July 8, 2009
by T. Chace Jr.

The opponents have been determined, but the dates and times have to wait a bit. The American Hockey League has come out with their format schedule for all their teams, as well as some re-alignments and new teams. The Bridgeport Sound Tigers join the Providence Bruins in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference to make an eight team division.

Here is the complete breakdown of the Providence Bruins' opponents and how many times they will face each other, along with the conference and divisional alignments:



Bridgeport Sound Tigers (New York Islanders) - 3 H, 3 A
Hartford Wolf Pack (New York Rangers) - 5 H, 5 A
Lowell Devils (New Jersey) - 5 H, 5 A
Manchester Monarchs (Los Angeles) - 5 H, 5 A
Portland Pirates (Buffalo) - 4 H, 4 A
Springfield Falcons (Edmonton) - 5 H, 5 A
Worcester Sharks (San Jose) - 5 H, 5 A


Adirondack Phantoms (Philadelphia) - 1 H, 1 A
Albany River Rats (Carolina) - 1 H, 1 A
Binghamton Senators (Ottawa) - 1 H, 1 A
Hershey Bears (Washington) - 1 H, 1 A
Norfolk Admirals (Tampa Bay)
Syracuse Crunch (Columbus) - 1 H, 1 A
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh) - 1 H, 1 A



Abbotsford Heat (Calgary) - 2 H, 2 A
Grand Rapid Griffins (Detroit)
Hamilton Bulldogs (Montreal)
Lake Erie Monsters (Colorado)
Manitoba Moose (Vancouver)
Rochester Americans (Florida)
Toronto Marlies (Toronto)

Chicago Wolves (Atlanta)
Houston Aeros (Minnesota)
Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville)
Peoria Rivermen (St. Louis)
Rockford IceHogs (Chicago)
San Antonio Rampage (Phoenix)
Texas Stars (Dallas)

The AHL will continue to feature an Eastern and Western conference. Three new teams join the AHL this upcoming season, including the Texas Stars, Abbotsford Heat, and the Adirondack Phantoms, giving the league a total of 29 clubs vying for the 2010 Calder Cup.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Hershey Bears Eliminate Providence

Hershey Bears: Eastern Conference Champions
May 26, 2009
by T. Chace Jr.

The bigger, stronger, faster, more experienced, more determined Hershey Bears eliminated the young resilient Providence Bruins on Memorial Day afternoon. Hershey never trailed in Monday's game, winning the game 5-2 and the series four games to one. Hershey will now move on to the Calder Cup Finals against the Manitoba Moose. The top team in the East during the regular season meets the top team from the West, the cream of the crop going for the Calder Cup.

The first period was completely dominated by the Hershey Bears and it started on a power play about 2:00 into the game. The puck never left the Bruins zone for what seemed like the rest of the period. Providence netminder, 22 year-old Tuukka Rask, held the Bears off the scoreboard by making thirteen saves in the first period. The Bears had two power play opportunities and outshot the Bruins by a wide 13-3 margin. Providence's best chance occurred with 2:36 left in the period on a Brad Marchand shot that Bears goalie Michael Neuvirth made a nice save on. No score after one period.

In less than a minute of the second period another penalty was called on Providence, an interference call on Martin St.Pierre at the :58 second mark. Rask made a huge save on a blast from Chris Bourque to keep it scoreless. Another call on Providence's captain Jeremy Reich for hooking at 1:23 gave the Bears a five on three advantage. At 2:17, Andrew Gordon scored his 5th goal of the playoffs on the power play with assists to Alexandre Giroux and Bourque to take a 1-0 lead. Providence got their chance on the power play soon after the Bears goal. While on the power play, Bruin's Johnny Boychuk got tangled up with Bears Steve Pinizzotto and was hurt on the play and went to the dressing room. The Bruin's Marchand found the net at 4:45 on the power play with assists to Peter Schaefer and Jeff Penner to tie the score at 1-1. Boychuk later returned to the ice and took his normal shift. Providence outplayed Hershey in the first half of the period but Hershey dominated the latter half. At 16:20, while on the power play again, Giroux scored his team leading 9th goal of the playoffs with helpers given to Bourque and Bryan Helmer. The second period ended with Providence on the power play and the score 2-1 in Hershey's favor. Shots were nearly even at 14-12 in favor of Hershey.

Rookie Mikko Lehtonen scored on a wrist shot over the left shoulder of Neuvirth while on the power play at 1:57 of the third period to tie the score at 2-2. Andrew Bodnarchuk and Reich battled to keep the puck in along the blue line to set up Lehtonen. At 6:46, the Bears scored while shorthanded. Boychuk cheated in along the right boards to try and keep the puck in the Hershey zone but it bounced past St. Pierre at the point and Chris Bourque grabbed the loose puck, skated in, and blasted a slapshot past Rask for an unassisted goal to make it 3-2. Hershey's Darren Reid scored at 10:19 of the third period after forechecking near the Bruin net to make it a 4-2 lead. Hershey played keep away and were satisfied to just clear the puck from their zone for the rest of the period. Quintin Laing, who has been out injured for quite some time, returned to play on Friday night for the Bears, scored an empty netter at 19:03 to seal the victory for the Hershey Bears. The final shot totals were 38-29 in favor of Hershey. Hershey was 2 for 5 on the power play while Providence went 1 for 5 with their opportunities with the extra man. The three stars of the game were Chris Bourque, Alexandre Giroux, and Mikko Lehtonen.

Providence had their chances in this series. They had a 3-0 lead in Game 3 and a 2-0 lead in Game 4, but they witnessed the relentless offensive attack of the Hershey team to overcome and take both games. Nobody scored more goals during the regular season than Hershey, they played true to form and were the more deserving victor. Hats off to Providence and their very young club, they were a resilient bunch all year and first year Head Coach Rob Murray and Assistant Coach "Butch" Cassidy deserve kudos for their efforts this season.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Hershey Comes Back Again

Providence Loses in OT 3-2
May 24, 2009
by T. Chace Jr.

Friday night the Providence Bruins grabbed an early 3-0 lead, only to see it evaporate in the third period when Hershey scored four unanswered goals for a 6-4 victory. Sunday night at The Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence was eerily similiar for the Bruins. Staked with a 2-0 lead in the first period, the Bruins could not score again. The Bears scored once in the second and again in the third to force an overtime. Graham Mink scored his second game winner of the series at 15:10 of the first overtime to give the Bears a 3-2 victory and an opportunity to wrap up the series in Providence tomorrow afternoon.

The Bruins came out flying in the first period and got the crowd into it with their first goal at the 5:32 mark. Peter Schaefer's third playoff goal with assists to Mikko Lehtonen and Adam McQuaid got the Bruins on the board for a 1-0 lead. Less than three minutes later on the power play, red hot scoring rookie defenseman Jeff Penner netted his sixth goal of the playoffs and third in two games. Vladimir Sobotka and Brad Marchand assisted on Penner's goal for a commanding 2-0 lead on home ice. Providence played spirited hockey in the first and held the 2-0 lead as they headed into period two.

Hershey began the second period with several power plays, they did not cash in on the first one but Bryan Helmer made sure the Bears got on the board with their second chance. Chris Bourque set up Helmer for his third playoff goal at 7:31 with McQuaid in the box for hooking. Providence's lead was now cut in half at 2-1. Hershey outshot the Bruins 10-6 in the second period and 20-16 in the game.

The Bruins had defensively shut down league MVP Alexandre Giroux and his linemates to this point in the game, but the Bears continued to extend pressure on the young Bruins in the third period. At 13:12, Keith Aucoin scored his third goal with assists to Giroux and Bruin nemesis Graham Mink. The score was now tied at 2-2 with time running out. No penalties were called in the final period and Hershey outshot Providence by an 11-5 margin. Shots were 31-21 in favor of Hershey after three periods of play. Providence and Hershey were both 1 for 3 on their power play opportunities during regulation.

Entering the overtime, Providence carried the play early and almost scored five minutes into the extra session. But once again, Hershey began to outchance the Bruins and had the better scoring opportunities. At 15:10, Mink knocked the puck past Tuukka Rask, for his fifth playoff goal and a 3-2 victory. His second consecutive game winner was assisted by Giroux and Aucoin. Mink was named the number one star, followed by Penner and Helmer. Hershey outshot the Bruins 43-27 and now has a commanding 3-1 series advantage. Game 5 is at "The Dunk" on Monday, Memorial Day, at 4:00 pm. Hershey can wrap up the series and head to the Calder Cup Finals if they can beat the Bruins one more time. It's clear that no lead is sufficient for Providence or any team when they face the very talented, high scoring Hershey Bears.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Hershey Takes Game 3 From Providence

Hershey Overtakes Providence, Leads Series 2-1
May 22, 2009
by T. Chace Jr.

The Hershey Bears had every reason to believe it was not going to be their night. Down three goals after 23 minutes, it would seem that the Bears had reason to worry. "The Dunk" was rockin' and the Bruins were flying, and then things began to change.

Only 1:56 into period one, Zach Hamill scored his first playoff goal on a steal in the Hershey end. The first period of hockey was one of the best played periods I've seen all year. Tremendous intensity, heavy hitting, and momentum swings throughout the period. At 15:32, Bruin rookie defenseman Jeff Penner, who has steadily improved all year, scored his fourth goal of the playoffs on the power play with assists to Martin St. Pierre and Vladimir Sobotka to make it 2-0. Providence only outshot Hershey 11-9, yet seemed to carry the play for the most part.

Peter Schaefer scored for Providence at the 3:01 mark of the second period on another power play opportunity, while Bears d-man Bryan Helmer sat for roughing. Assists to Penner and Mikko Lehtonen on the 2nd playoff goal for Schaefer, now making it 3-0. Hershey finally responded with their first goal of the night only :25 seconds later, to make the score 3-1. League MVP Alexandre Giroux netted his 7th goal of the playoffs and 2nd against Providence with a helper to former Bruin Keith Aucoin. Hershey answered the bell again at 9:05 with a Chris Bourque tally with assists to Jay Beagle and Patrick McNeill to close the gap to 3-2. The Bears outplayed the Bruins in the second period and now enjoyed an emotional edge heading into the third period.

That edge was short lived, however, when Jeff Penner scored his second goal of the game just :38 seconds into period three on another power play goal with assists to Johnny Boychuk and St. Pierre. That made the score 4-2 for the Bruins and momentum back on the Providence side. About five minutes later though, the whole game turned. Andrew Gordon scored for Hershey at 5:32 to make it 4-3. Giroux netted his second goal of the night at 6:52 to tie the score at 4-4. As the young Bruins held their sticks a little tighter, the scoring continued for Hershey. Graham Mink, who threw his weight around all night, tipped in his 4th playoff goal at 13:58, for a 5-4 lead for Hershey. Helmer got back a power play goal himself at 18:25 to stake the lead to 6-4. That score was the final.

Hershey scored four unanswered goals in the third period and now hold a 2-1 series lead in the best of seven series. Final shots on net favored the Bears 32-28. Providence was three of four on the power play, while Hershey went one for four on their chances. The three stars of the game were Giroux, Penner, and Helmer. Game 4 is on Sunday night in Providence and Game 5 is on Monday afternoon, Memorial Day, at 4:00 PM EST in Providence as well.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Providence Preview

Providence & Hershey Pretty Evenly Matched
May 15, 2009
by T. Chace Jr.

Providence has won 8 of their last 10 games. They are 8-3 in the playoffs, Hershey is 8-3 also and rookie goaltender Michal Neuvirth just had back to back 3-0 shutout victories. Neuvirth, a 21 year-old Czech, faces 22 year-old Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask from Finland. Their stats in the playoffs are nearly identical, 11 games played, Rask has played 663 minutes to 661 for Neuvirth. They have each faced over 320 shots, Rask has allowed just 19 goals to 21 for Neuvirth. Rask's GAA is 1.72 compared to 1.91 for Neuvirth. Rask's save percentage is just a little bit better at .943 to .936. Consider the goaltending a wash as they face off on Saturday night in Hershey.

Providence has several players at the top of the AHL Playoff scoring stats. Three time All-Star Martin St.Pierre leads the Bruins in scoring and is tied for 2nd in the league with 13 points, consisting of 5 goals and 8 assists. Rookie super-pest Brad Marchand has 6 playoff goals, 2nd in the league and 12 points total. Vladimir Sobotka has 10 points and along with high scoring defenseman Johnny Boychuk who has 3 goals and 4 assists helping to lead the team as they head to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The teams faced off during the regular season twice, each winning on home ice. Hershey had the best record in the AHL when they faced the Bruins at "The Dunk" in Providence on January 2nd, 2009. Providence handily beat the Bears from start to finish, winning 7-2. Hershey paid back the Bruins on March 1, 2009 with a 6-4 beating that was not as close as the score would indicate. All things considered, this is match up that appears to be quite evenly matched and should make for some great hockey.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Providence To Tangle With The Hershey Bears

Eastern Conference Finals
May 14, 2009
by T. Chace

The Providence Bruins have advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals and will face the Hershey Bears. The Bears were tied with Bridgeport with 106 points to finish atop the East Division. The Bears and the Providence Bruins have never faced each other in the playoffs. They split their two games played during the regular season, each winning on home ice. Hershey led the league in attendance this year and always has had a great fan base. The series begins on Saturday night May 16th in Hershey, Pennsylvania and continues with Game 2 on Sunday May 17th in Hershey as well. The schedule is as follows:

Eastern Conference Finals – Best-of-7
Hershey Bears vs. Providence Bruins
Game 1 – Sat., May 16 – Providence at Hershey, 7:00
Game 2 – Sun., May 17 – Providence at Hershey, 5:00
Game 3 – Fri., May 22 – Hershey at Providence, 7:05
Game 4 – Sun., May 24 – Hershey at Providence, 7:05
*Game 5 – Mon., May 25 – Hershey at Providence, 4:05
*Game 6 – Wed., May 27 – Providence at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 7 – Thu., May 28 – Providence at Hershey, 7:00

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Providence Eliminates Worcester

Providence Reels In Sharks 5-1
May 13, 2009
by T. Chace Jr.

The Providence Bruins eliminated the Worcester Sharks on their own home ice at the DCU Center in Worcester by a 5-1 score. Providence won the best of seven series 4 games to 2. The Bruins will now face the Hershey Bears for the Eastern Conference crown, and a chance to compete for the Calder Cup.

Providence jumped on Worcester in the opening period after the second Worcester penalty of the period was called on Brett Westgarth for tripping. Super pest Brad Marchand scored his 6th playoff goal, off a pass from Vladimir Sobotka and Martin St.Pierre at 4:59 of the period, on their second power play. Peter Schaefer set up Bruin's Jamie Arniel for his first professional goal at 10:05, giving the Bruins a 2-0 lead. Matt Marquardt also assisted on the Arniel's first goal of the playoffs. Worcester responded with better play in the second half of the period but netminder Tuukka Rask was up to the challenge, keeping the score 2-0 after one period.

In the second period, at the 5:32 mark, Kirk MacDonald tipped in a shot for his 3rd goal of the playoffs, with assists to Jeremy Reich and d-man Adam McQuaid to open up the lead to 3-0. Bruin Jordan Knackstedt continued the scoring with his 2nd playoff goal at 13:29, with helpers from Zach Hamill and Levi Nelson for a 4-0 lead. Five seconds later an altercation led to thirty minutes of penalties called on Worcester's Riley Armstrong. Five minutes for boarding, five minutes for spearing, and two game misconducts for each offense gave the Bruins a ten minute power play. Jeremy Reich also squared off with the Shark's Brad Staubitz and each player received majors for fighting. St.Pierre scored his 5th playoff goal on the extended power play at 14:10 with Sobotka and Marchand getting assists. Providence now held a 5-0 lead, which was erased with a shorthanded goal by Andrew Desjardins at 19:48 on a breakaway to bring it to 5-1 heading into the final period.

It was the final period for the Worcester Sharks. Despite playing desperate early in the period and outshooting the Bruins 11-3 at one point, it was not meant to be as Rask stood tall. The Bruins played keep away with the puck for most of the period and held on for the 5-1 victory. Worcester's Desjardins and McLaren were penalized with 1:00 minute remaining for trying to engage the Bruins bench into an altercation. Both were given the gate, as Providence remained disciplined to the end. Shots favored Worcester by a 35-30 margin. Providence struck twice on the power play, Worcester was scoreless on their chances. The three stars were St.Pierre, Marchand, and Rask, who raised his playoff record to 8-3 this season.

Providence faces the Hershey Bears in Pennsyvania on Saturday May 16th and Sunday May 17th before returning home to The Dunkin Donuts Center on Friday May 22nd. This is the fifth time Providence has made it to the Eastern Conference Finals in the last eleven years.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Bruins Rebound To Take Series Lead

Providence Drowns Sharks 4-3
May 11, 2009
by T. Chace Jr.

The Worcester Sharks were down two games to none in their previous series against Hartford, then won four straight. That scenario won't be repeated in this series against the Providence Bruins. Providence dominated the second period, netting three goals and then held on to win 4-3. That victory enabled Providence to take a 3-2 series lead as the rivals head back to Worcester for a game on Wednesday night, May 13th.

Worcester scored the only goal in the first period. The Bruins found themselves shorthanded three times in the opening stanza. The Sharks connected on their third opportunity as defenseman Patrick Traverse went high over Tuukka Rask's right shoulder for a 1-0 lead with just :38 seconds left in the first period. Dan DaSilva set up Traverse with a second assist credited to Ryan Vesce. The first period ended with a little pushing and shoving resulting in unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and also had opposing coaches having words. Neither team in this series is willing to give an inch.

The second period was dominated by the Bruins, as they scored three goals on netminder Thomas Greiss to take the lead 3-1 after two periods. At 3:07, Martin St.Pierre got his 4th playoff goal on an assist from Johnny Boychuck. Rookie pest Brad Marchand scored his team leading 5th goal of the playoffs at 10:55, with assists given to Jeff Penner and Jordan Knackstedt. Captain Jeremy Reich scored after a nice pass from Wacey Rabbit at 14:08 to make the score 3-1. Defenseman Adam McQuaid also garnered an assist on the play. Providence outshot the Sharks 19-7 in the period.

The third period saw the Bruins having to withstand a Shark attack. Worcester carried the play, even hitting two posts as they swarmed the Providence end of the ice. Finally, Worcester's Jamie McGinn scored his 4th playoff goal in this series against Providence at 10:28 of the third period with an assist to Dan DaSilva. The resilient Bruins countered immediately with a score :14 seconds later by Levi Nelson, who was playing his first game in the series. Nelson scored his 1st goal on a rebound after a shot by Andrew Bodnarchuk. An assist was credited to Bruin Zach Hamill as well, giving Providence a 4-2 lead. Play got rough at the 11:43 mark and actually evolved into a battle between Bruin goaltender Tuukka Rask and Frazer McLaren.

Riley Armstrong, with an assist to Ryan Vesce, scored his 3rd playoff goal with 2:12 remaining. Armstrong scored while Worcester was employing an extra attacker on the power play, pulling Greiss from the net to try and tie the game. The Sharks would not score again. Providence hangs on, winning 4-3 at the Dunkin' Donuts Center.

Providence outshot the Sharks by a 33-32 margin. The three stars of the game were Jeremy Reich, Worcester's Dan DaSilva, and Levi Nelson was the third star. Worcester connected on 3 of 5 chances with the man advantage. Providence was 1 for 4 with their chances. Game 6 is on Wednesday night, May 13th at the DCU Center in Worcester. If a Game 7 is necessary it will be played on Thursday May 14th at "The Dunk" in Providence.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Worcester At It Again

Providence Falls 1-0, Sharks Even Series
May 9, 2009
by T. Chace Jr.

Rhode Island's own Tom Cavanagh, a native a Warwick, RI, scored early in the first period for the Worcester Sharks and that goal held up for 1-0 victory over the Providence Bruins at the DCU Center in Worcester. Worcester has now tied up the best of seven series at two games apiece with their victory on Saturday night. The series heads back to Providence for Game 5 on Monday night.

Cavanagh, a Toll Gate High School graduate fired a shot from the right slot that beat Bruin goaltender Tuukka Rask high to the glove side at 4:41. Patrick Traverse made the pass to Cavanagh and Riley Armstrong also assisted on the play. Cavanagh's shot was the first of the period for the Sharks, who dominated play and outshot the Bruins 14-2 in the period. Providence's Martin St.Pierre hit the post near the halfway point for their best opportunity. Rask was strong in net for the Bruins, holding them to the one goal.

Play was even in the second period and also featured more fisticuffs which occurred in the last two games as well. Bruin Vladimir Sobotka and Shark Jamie McGinn continued their series long feud when they dropped the gloves at the 12:11 mark. Roughing calls were handed out to Bruin Brad Marchand and Shark's Brett Westgarth, and Dan DaSilva. Adam McQuaid and Westgarth were also tagged with misconduct-unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.

The third period was a reverse of the first as Providence outshot the Sharks 13-3. Worcester netminder Thomas Greiss was nothing short of spectacular in holding off the Providence deluge. Greiss now has three shutouts in his last eleven games.

Greiss was aptly named the number one star of the game, Cavanagh the second star, and Rask the third. The shots favored Worcester 27-26, and both teams did not cash in on power play opportunities. Providence was 0 for 5 with the man advantage and Worcester was 0 for 4. The attendance for Game 4 was 3019 at the DCU Center. The two teams will continue their battle back at "The Dunk" in Providence on Monday night May 11th.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Worcester Steps Up With Victory

Worcester Responds With Win Over Providence
May 8, 2009
by T. Chace Jr.

Worcester apparently needs to have their backs against the wall to get on track in their playoff series. In the first round against the favored Hartford Wolf Pack, the Sharks dropped the first two games only to win the next four in a row and the series. Likewise, Providence beat Worcester in both of their games so far in this series only to see the Sharks pull off a victory in their effort to settle the Atlantic Division finals. On Friday night at "The Dunk" in Providence, the Sharks beat the Bruins 5-3, to get their first victory in the series.

Veteran defenseman Patrick Traverse scored a power play goal at 14:10 of the first period to open the scoring in Game 3. Traverse scored his 3rd goal of the playoffs with assists from Derek Joslin and Ryan Vesce while Bruin defenseman Adam McQuaid served a high sticking penalty. With less than a minute left in the period, TJ Fox scored his 3rd goal of the playoffs as well with an assist from Brad Staubitz to take a 2-0 lead at the end of the 1st period.

As soon as they dropped the puck for the 2nd period, Providence got on the board with a nifty tip in goal by Brad Marchand. Defenseman Jeff Penner's shot was tipped by Marchand after Vladimir Sobotka set up Penner to make the score 2-1. Marchand netted his 4th goal and the rookie leads the Bruins in goals as well as agitating the Worcester club. A defensive turnover by the Bruins led to an unassisted goal by Andrew Desjardins at the 4:40 mark to get the Sharks two goal lead back at 3-1. Providence battled back, and with Fox in the box for interference, Penner scored on a beautiful feed from Martin St.Pierre and Sobotka to cut the lead to 3-2. The Sharks were clinging to the 3-2 lead till the end of the period.

Providence carried the play early in the 3rd period yet it was Bruin killer Jamie McGinn who struck again at 11:39 on only their third shot of the period to give the Sharks a 4-2 lead. Assists were credited to Vesce and Lukas Kaspar. That lead held until Bruin netminder Tuukka Rask was pulled after a timeout with 1:35 left. With 1:00 left, a melee similiar to Game 2 took place. Jamie McGinn slashed St.Pierre which resulted in a scuffle which was broken up quickly but fights took place all over the ice. McGinn got a slashing penalty along with a roughing minor, St.Pierre received just a slashing minor. The only fighting majors were given to Bruin Johnny Boychuk (his first major all season) and Shark Mike Moore. Jeremy Reich and Sobotka received roughing and misconduct penalties as did Brett Westgarth and Vesce for Worcester. Five seconds after sorting out the penalties, Mikko Lehtonen scored for Providence on the power play to cut the lead to 4-3 with :55 left in the game, with assists to Marchand and Zach Hamill. It became a moot point at 19:26 when Riley Armstrong scored an empty net goal to seal the deal at 5-3.

Game 4 is Saturday night at the DCU Center in Worcester, followed by Game 5 on Monday night back at the Dunk. The three stars were Desjardins, Penner and Vesce. Providence was 2 for 4 on the power play, while Worcester went 1 for 4. Shots on goal favored Worcester 31-28 and the attendance was 5167 at "The Dunk".

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Providence Defeats Worcester Again

Providence Takes 2-0 Series Lead
May 7, 2009
by T. Chace Jr.

After a long break between games, Providence triumphed again, this time on Worcester ice. Providence won 4-2 on Wednesday night at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass. The Bruins now lead the best of seven series two games to none as they return to Providence for a game on Friday night.

The Bruins took the lead at the end of the first period on a goal by Martin St. Pierre with just 57 seconds left in the period. The period featured high tempo hockey, with alot of intensity and physical play. The assists on St. Pierre's goal went to Vladimir Sobotka and Brad Marchand. It was the third goal of the playoffs for St. Pierre. The Bruins led 1-0 at the end of one period.

The second period saw the Sharks Riley Armstrong score on a bang-bang play in front of Bruin goaltender Tuukka Rask. Rookie Logan Couture sent the puck in front to Armstrong from behind the net and he wristed it home for his first playoff goal. Providence however, regained the lead with just 19 seconds into a 5 on 3 power play. Defenseman Johnny Boychuck blasted a shot past Thomas Greiss for his third goal of the playoffs and giving Providence the lead back at 2-1 at the 7:36 mark. Boychuck's goal came with assists to St. Pierre and rookie Mikko Lehtonen. Providence outshot the Sharks in the second period by a 14-6 margin with Greiss making many big saves.

Providence took a 3-1 lead, about five minutes into the third period on a goal by Kirk MacDonald with assists to Wacey Rabbit and captain Jeremy Reich. The Sharks would not give up though and cut the deficit to one goal on Dan DaSilva's tally at 11:31 of the final period. DaSilva got the puck just under the crossbar with assists to Andrew Desjardins and Frazer McLaren. The Bruins and Rask held the fort for the remainder of the period. Rabbit scored an empty net goal with 40 seconds remaining in the game to finish it off for a 4-2 final. After the goal, Sobotka and Jamie McGinn were assessed misconduct and unsportmanlike conduct penalties. Then with 13 seconds remaining a donnybrook broke out all over the ice with fists flying. Fighting majors were given to MacDonald of Providence and McLaren of Worcester along with misconduct and unsportmanlike conduct penalties to Bruins' St. Pierre and Brendan Buckley. The Sharks' Brett Westgarth and Bruins' Andrew Bodnarchuck received roughing minors along with misconduct and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. All setting the stage for Game 3, a must win for Worcester.

Providence outshot the Sharks 33-24 and was 1 for 3 on the power play. Worcester was 0 for 1 on their lone power play opportunity. St. Pierre was named first star followed by Rask and Greiss. A small crowd of only 1419 attended the game. The series returns to Providence for Game 3 on Friday May 8th.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Providence Wins Game 1 in Overtime

Providence Beats Worcester 3-2 in OT
April 29, 2009
by T.Chace Jr.

In what was an intense, hard hitting affair Tuesday night, the Providence Bruins have taken Game 1 of this best of seven series against the Worcester Sharks in the Atlantic Division Finals. Providence Bruin captain Jeremy Reich did it again, he scored his second game winning goal of the playoffs. Reich snapped a wrist shot over Worcester Sharks goaltender Thomas Greiss's shoulder at 6:19 of overtime to give the B's a 1-0 series lead. The goal was unassisted and came after Providence played perhaps their best hockey of the night.

Head Coach Rob Murray stated "the overtime was probably the best string of minutes we played throughout the game, and it showed." In regards to Reich's offense, he said "his offensive skill is probably underrated, he's got a good shot and the time spent in the NHL helped, you hone your skills playing with better players and he is a much improved player."

The first period never started with a puck drop, as Bruins Jordan Knackstedt and Frazer McLaren were given unsportsmanlike conduct penalties at the start. At the 1:06 mark, during 4 on 4 play, Martin St. Pierre scored his second goal of the playoffs on an assist from Brad Marchand, to give Providence a 1-0 lead. That score held up to end the first period.

The second period's first goal was scored by Marchand on the power play, with assists to St. Pierre and Mikko Lehtonen at 5:55. Providence now led 2-0. Worcester fought back though, as P-Bruin killer Jamie McGinn, just returned from the parent San Jose Sharks, scored his first of two goals in the game at 12:55. Assists on McGinn's first playoff goal went to Dan DaSilva and defenseman Jason Demers. At the end of two periods it was 2-1 Providence.

The third period was dominated by Worcester, as the P-Bruins had trouble getting out of their own end. Solid goaltending by Tuukka Rask held the fort until McGinn scored again with just 5:21 left in regulation. With helpers from Demers and Ryan Vesce, the game was now tied at 2-2. McGinn, a rookie, had scored six goals against Providence during the regular season.

In overtime, it was all Providence. Reich scored his unassisted goal and the small but loud crowd went crazy. Worcester outshot Providence 37-27, and was 1 for 4 on the power play. Providence scored on 1 of 3 power play opportunities. Reich was named first star, followed by McGinn and Marchand.

The series now has a long break as both venues have previously scheduled events. For Providence it's the circus and for the Sharks they have a rodeo coming. Game 2 is next Wednesday May 6th in Worcester.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Providence To Face The Worcester Sharks

Second Round Opponent Sharks Are On Fire
April 26, 2009
by T. Chace

The Worcester Sharks came back from an 0-2 deficit and beat the favored Hartford Wolf Pack in four straight games to advance to the Atlantic Division Finals. It was Worcester's first playoff series victory in team history. The Sharks scored early and often in the last four games, outscoring Hartford 17-6. The series begins on Tuesday night in Providence then takes some strange turns, due to the circus being in town at "The Dunk."

The schedule is as follows:

Atlantic Division Finals – Best-of-7
Providence Bruins vs. Worcester Sharks
Game 1 – Tue., Apr. 28 – Worcester at Providence, 7:05
Game 2 – Wed., May 6 – Providence at Worcester, 7:05
Game 3 – Fri., May 8 – Worcester at Providence, 7:05
Game 4 – Sat., May 9 – Providence at Worcester, 7:05
*Game 5 – Mon., May 11 – Worcester at Providence, 7:05
*Game 6 – Wed., May 13 – Providence at Worcester, 7:05
*Game 7 – Thu., May 14 – Worcester at Providence, 7:05

Friday, April 24, 2009

Providence Knocks Out Portland

Providence Wins 2-1 and Eliminates Portland
April 24, 2009
by T. Chace Jr.

Much like the night before in Portland, the P-Bruins overcame a 1-0 deficit by scoring two goals in the second period and then holding on for a victory. The anemic Portland power play finally cashed in on a goal by Mike Kostka at the 10:25 mark to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead. Colton Fretter and Marc-Andre Gragnani recorded assists on Kostka's first goal in the series. Portland outshot the Bruins 14-12 in the period but netminder Tuukka Rask was up to the challenge and turned away some good opportunities.

The second period was dominated by Providence and a fourth line goal by Jordan Knackstedt beat Jhonas Enroth at 5:46 of the period to tie the game at 1-1. Dan Ryder and Ned Lukacevic assisted on the first goal of the playoffs for Knackstedt. With just 45 seconds left in the second period veteran Peter Schaefer scored what proved to be the game winner with assists given to rookie Mikko Lehtonen and d-man David Kolomatis. The power play goal was scored with the Pirate's Gragnani serving an ill advised slashing penalty, which was called while his team was on a power play.
Providence outshot Portland 17-7 and now led 2-1 after two periods of play. The same scenario took place on Thursday night, two late goals by Providence after Portland took the lead in the first period.

The third period saw Providence take two penalties early but Rask held the Pirate's at bay and the Bruins held on for the victory. Providence Head Coach Rob Murray got his first series victory and was quite pleased with his team's effort. "We've got a good group here, they know there's potential for us to do something good." The Bruins shut down Portland's high powered offense and were able to score enough goals on the Pirate's tremendous goaltender, Jhonas Enroth, who was named a star of the game for the fourth time in five games. As good as Enroth was, Rask was better. Rask was the number one star for the second consecutive game and was named a star in all five contests. Murray stated that Rask is peeking at the right time, "Tuukka is definitely right on his game and Enroth, I've gotta believe that's as good as he's played all season. That was a superb effort by both goaltenders and both goalies should be commended for it."

Schaefer was chosen as the second star tonight and Enroth was the third star. Providence outshot Portland 38-30, and was 1 for 5 on the power play. Portland scored their first power play goal of the series tonight and was 1 for 4 for the game. Providence now awaits the winner of the Hartford/Worcester series.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Providence Wins Again in Portland

Providence Beats Portland 2-1
April 23, 2009
by T. Chace Jr.

In a tight battle, the Providence Bruins beat the Portland Pirates at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, Maine on Thursday night 2-1. The Bruins victory puts them up three games to one as they head to "The Dunk" tomorrow night for game 5, a Providence victory will eliminate their bitter rival.

After squandering their first power play opportunity, Portland scored their only goal of the night at 11:55 of the first period. Mark Mancari scored his first goal of the series with assists to Marek Zagrapan and Tim Kennedy. Portland is now 0 for 14 on the power play in this series. Their two leading regular season goal scorers, Martin Gerbe and Mathieu Darche, have zero points between them. 24 goal scorer, Colton Fretter has also been shut down offensively by the stingy P-Bruins. A penalty shot by Colin Murphy was thwarted at the 17:50 mark, on a big stop by Bruin goaltender Tuukka Rask. Rask was named the number one star of the game.

The second period began with a great save by Rask five minutes into the period. Two consecutive power plays for Providence led to numerous shots, but Pirate netminder, Jhonas Enroth was up to the task and stopped all the Bruin's chances. At the 17:13 mark, the Bruins got a good bounce as Johnny Boychuk's shot was tipped in by Brad Marchand, who netted his second goal of the series. An assist was also credited to Martin St. Pierre. That tied the game at 1-1 and was followed two minutes and thirty seconds later with a top shelf goal by Bruin right winger Kirk MacDonald. His first goal of the series was assisted by captain Jeremy Reich and center Wacey Rabbit. That goal put the Bruins into the dressing room up 2-1 and gave them their first lead of the night. A lead they would not relinquish.

Third period action was filled with very tight checking and solid goaltending on both sides. An ill advised cross checking penalty to Providence's Rabbit with about five minutes remaing made for some anxious moments, but no tying goal. Providence outshot the Pirates for the third game in a row, 37-32. The Bruins were 0 for 3 on the power play and the Pirates were 0 for 2. As mentioned, Rask was the number one star, Enroth number two, and MacDonald was number three. The teams meet in game 5 tomorrow night at "The Dunk" in Providence, a Bruin win eliminates the Pirates.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Providence Smokes Portland 5-1

Bruins Take Series Lead
April 19, 2009
by T. Chace Jr.

The Providence Bruins outscored their rival Portland Pirates on Sunday afternoon 5-1 in Portland at the Cumberland County Civic Center. The Bruins came out in the first period as they have all series with an offensive flurry that resulted in a Martin St. Pierre goal at 13:58, assisted by linemate Brad Marchand. It was St. Pierre's first playoff goal. Providence outshot the Pirates 18-8 in the period and led 1-0.

In the second period, the roles were reversed. Just 59 seconds into the period, the Bruin's St. Pierre set up Marchand for a one timer that beat netminder Jhonas Enroth, for his first goal of the series. Providence then dug a hole for themselves with penalties to Adam McQuaid, for roughing, and Ryan Stokes for delay of game, giving Portland a five on three advantage for nearly two full minutes. A penalty on Portland's Tim Kennedy still left them down one man. The Bruins however, not only killed the penalties but scored a shorthanded goal. At the 3:16 mark, Vladimir Sobotka scored his second post season goal on a pass from Johnny Boychuk, who had stolen the puck along the boards and found Sobotka in the slot. The Bruins were not done. At 7:33, Boychuk scored on a blast from the top of the face-off circle beating Enroth on the glove side while on a power play with assists to Sobotka and St. Pierre. Enroth was replaced with Kellen Briggs after the Bruins opened up a 4-0 lead. A wild melee at the 13:51 mark resulted in 46 penalty minutes being called. Portland's Kenny MacAulay was given a 10 minute misconduct for abuse of officials while Kyle Rank received the 17 minute instigating package.

The third period began with a Pirate penalty leading to another power play goal by Johnny Boychuk, as he scored his second goal of the game on another blast from the point to beat Briggs for a 5-0 lead. Once again, Sobotka was involved in the scoring with another assist along with Jeff Penner. A shutout by Bruin's Tuukka Rask was ruined by a goal by Derek Whitmore on a wrist shot off of his shoulder with 8:03 left in the game. Assists were picked up by MacAuley and Felix Schutz. After the game, Sobotka was named the number one star, Boychuk number two and Rask was the third star. Providence outshot Portland 44-26, that is the most shots Portland has allowed in the 2008-09 season. Providence was 2 for 6 on the power play while Portland went 0 for 6. Game 4 is at Portland on Thursday April 23rd and then back to Providence for Friday April 24th.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Providence Ties Series

Providence Wins 2-1, Ties Series
April 18, 2009
by T. Chace Jr.

The Providence Bruins defeated their nemesis, the Portland Pirates Friday night 2-1 to even their series at a game apiece, before a raucus Dunkin' Donuts Center crowd. Providence was able to crank up the offense and finally beat Pirate goalie Jhonas Enroth when Vladimir Sobotka was able to slip one by the outstanding netminder at 2:01 of period two. A clear in off the boards by defenseman Johnny Boychuk was grabbed by Brad Marchand who found Sobotka in front of the net. That was the P-Bruins first goal of the series and that goal held up until Tyler Bouck scored a shorthanded goal at 3:33 in the third period. Bouck was set up by an assist from Derek Whitmore.

The game featured up and down action with both Enroth and Bruin goaltender Tuukka Rask denying numerous scoring opportunities. At the 10:23 mark of the third period, Providence captain Jeremy Reich scored from outside the faceoff circle on a blast that looked like it beat Enroth over his left shoulder. It was Reich's first playoff goal ever as a Providence Bruin, it proved to be the game winner. His goal came with assists to linemate Wacey Rabbit and d-man Adam McQuaid. Providence was 0 for 5 on the power play and Portland was also scoreless on the power play going 0 for 6. Reich was named the first star, Rask was the second star, and Enroth who faced 40 shots was superb and was named the third star of the game. Game 3 is Sunday night in Portland followed by Game 4 on Thursday April 23rd also in Portland. There will be a Game 5 back at the Dunk on Friday April 24th.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Portland Stymies Providence

Portland Goes Up 1-0 In Series
April 16, 2009
by T. Chace Jr.

Home ice advantage just went down the runway. It's an old rivalry with a twist this year. Providence has usually gotten the early jump on their Maine rivals in season's past, but not this year. These two teams have played four times in the Calder Cup playoffs, Portland has eliminated Providence in both 2004, 2006 and most recently in last years 2008 series, despite spotting them a two game series lead. Providence tends to gain series leads only to have Portland come back and win series.

Last night Portland came away with a 3-0 victory on Providence's home ice at the Dunkin' Donuts Center. Portland weathered an early blitz by Providence, in which the Bruins hit a post and couldn't capitalize on several other opportunities. A Providence goal early in the period might have made for a different outcome. Providence head coach Rob Murray stated as such "I thought with a little bit of luck early on, the game would have been a different scenario. If we capitalized on those early chances, maybe it's a different outcome." Portland's Marek Zagrapan tipped one home for Portland at the 4:23 mark to get the series first goal and a 1-0 lead for the Pirates. A bizarre, unexpected fight occured about a minute later between Providence's Ned Lukacevic and Portland's Kyle Rank. Bizarre and unexpected because Lukacevic had only six penalty minutes all season while Rank totalled a whopping sixteen. It was over as fast as it started and really had no influence on the game. The biggest hit of the period was issued by Bruin rookie Brad Marchand after he came out of the penalty box he clocked an unsuspecting Pirate. Providence outshot Portland 15-11 and was also denied on two power play opportunites in the period.

The second period was a lesson in defensive positional play for Portland, as they limited the Bruins to six shots and little if any sustained offensive pressure. Murray said "we didn't generate much speed through the neutral zone all night, we were almost standing around in the neutral zone. Rushing up ice is a big part of our game and it got worse as the game went on." Providence also failed to capitalize on a hooking call on the Pirate's Paul Baier late in the period. Another huge hit occurred in the second period when Bruin veteran Peter Schaefer blasted a Pirate in the Portland end. Tuukka Rask made several big saves to keep the game at 1-0 through two periods.

The third period was much like the second as Portland trapped and clogged any breakouts for the Bruins. Felix Schultz scored on a fluke goal that Bruin defenseman Johnny Boychuk banked into his own net off his defensive partner Jeff Penner. Portland's Zagrapan netted his second goal of the game later on an empty net goal with :58 left to win Game 1 by the score of 3-0.

Coach Murray did not expect the series to be a four game series and now the Bruins need to win on the road to stay alive. Murray said "nowhere in my mind did I think it's going to be a four game sweep by either team. We're gonna have to win a game on the road here, and that's the bottom line. Throughout the playoffs you're going to have to win road games." So maybe this Providence team is better suited to battle back as opposed to holding off the Pirates. Friday's game will be interesting. How will Providence react to being frustrated in their own building in Game 1. An early Providence goal could turn the series around again.

* Portland goalie Jhonas Enroth was 1st Star of the Game
* Marek Zagrapan - 2nd Star
* Tuukka Rask - 3rd Star
* I sat next to AHL President David Andrews in the press box who stated " this popcorn in Providence is the saltiest in the league." - I agreed

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

PLAYOFFS :Providence Bruins vs. Portland Pirates

Providence vs. Portland - Round 1
April 14, 2009
by T. Chace Jr.

Well, Portland unceremoniously knocked out the Providence Bruins right there in the Dunkin Donuts Center last year, so it seems fitting to pay back the Pirates in this years playoffs. Providence with its second place finish has the home ice advantage, and unlike last year they will not play three in a row at Portland after playing the first two at home. They will alternate games 5-7.

Here's the schedule:
Game 1 - Wednesday April 15 - 7:00 @ Providence
Game 2 - Friday April 17 - 7:00 @ Providence
Game 3 - Sunday April 19 - 7:00 @ Portland
Game 4 - Thursday April 23 - 7:00 @ Portland
Game 5 - Friday April 24 - 7:00 @ Providence (if necessary)
Game 6 - Sunday April 26 - 7:00 @ Portland (if necessary)
Game 7 - Tuesday April 28 - 7:00 @ Providence (if necessary)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Congratulations To Providence's Johnny Boychuck

NEWS From AHL Official Website -
04/03/2009 12:00 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that Johnny Boychuk of the Providence Bruins has been named the winner of the Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s outstanding defenseman for the 2008-09 season, as voted by AHL coaches, players and members of the media in each of the league’s 29 cities.

Boychuk, a fifth-year pro in his first season in the Boston Bruins organization, currently leads all AHL defensemen with 20 goals, 43 assists and 63 points (a Providence franchise record for a blueliner) and has registered a plus-21 rating while playing in 73 of the club’s first 74 games. Boychuk’s five game-winning goals are also tops among AHL rearguards, and he has either scored or assisted on 34 of his team’s 59 power-play goals on the season (57.6 percent). Boychuk has also been credited with 273 shots on goal, already the most by an AHL defenseman since 2002.

A 25-year-old native of Edmonton, Alta., Boychuk was a second-round draft choice by Colorado in 2002 and was acquired by Boston from the Avalanche on June 24, 2008. He began the 2008-09 season with a six-game scoring streak, including a goal in his Providence debut on Oct. 8. Boychuk was voted into the starting lineup for the Canadian team at the 2009 AHL All-Star Classic, was a co-winner of the CCM/AHL Player of the Month award for March, and was named a First Team AHL All-Star earlier this week. Boychuk has totaled 47 goals and 117 assists for 164 points in 367 career AHL games and has also skated in five NHL contests, including one this season with Boston.

This award, which was first presented by the AHL in 1959, honors the late Eddie Shore, a member of the Hockey Hall of Famer and the American Hockey League Hall of Fame widely regarded as one of hockey’s greatest defensemen. Shore won a total of five Calder Cups in his career, including two as the general manager of the Buffalo Bisons and three as the longtime owner of the Springfield Indians. Previous winners include Steve Kraftcheck (1959), Al Arbour (1965), Noel Price (1970, ’72, ’76), Brian Engblom (1977), Terry Murray (1978, ’79), Brad Shaw (1987), Dave Fenyves (1988, ’89), Eric Weinrich (1990), Darren Rumble (1997), John Slaney (2001, ’02), Curtis Murphy (2003, ’04), Niklas Kronwall (2005), Sheldon Brookbank (2007) and Andrew Hutchinson (2008).

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Providence Battling Hartford For Home Ice

March 25, 2009
by T. Chace Jr.

Providence wearily arrived home after a 2-1 win in Rochester on March 8th to end their eight games in thirteen night road trip against some of the AHL’s top teams. They managed to garner seven points despite winning only two games and losing two of their best players in a deadline trade to help their parent club in Boston. Top prospects, Martins Karsums and Matt Lashoff, were given new addresses to finish their seasons. Three shootout losses accounted for the remainder of their points.

With a few days off before their next game, the team concentrated on reinvigorating themselves for what stands to be a battle for home ice in the playoffs in the very tight Atlantic Division. With nearly every remaining game in the season pitting the P-Bruins against division rivals, the fight for home ice should provide for great excitement and a preview of the playoffs. By collecting three straight wins over the weekend of March 13-15 against Portland, Springfield, and Lowell, the P-Bruins remained in first place over the red hot Hartford Wolf Pack. Despite a dismal power play of late, Providence continues to stay in every game with hard work and solid goaltending.

After having success last weekend, Providence lost a hard fought battle to Albany at home 1-0 in a shootout loss on Friday, March 20th. Goaltender Tuukka Rask, incensed that Albany’s first shootout goal in the fifth round should not have counted, completely lost his temper after Albany’s Harrison Reed scored in the sixth round. Rask voiced his displeasure with referee Frederic L’Ecuyer and then tried to storm off the ice only to be frustrated further because the gate to the runway was locked. Upon entering the runway, he threw his stick and a milk crate out on the ice which riled up the already wild crowd and resulted in fans throwing objects onto the ice. Rask watched from the bench on Saturday as backup Kevin Nastiuk played well, but suffered a loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers 3-2, at the Arena at Harbor Yard.

Providence and Rask returned to The Dunk on Sunday to face off with the Hartford Wolf Pack who had jumped ahead of Providence for first place in the standings. Two early goals by the Wolf Pack deflated the large crowd who eagerly hoped for the biggest game of the season. Head Coach Rob Murray stated “it was kind of hard at first, down 2-0 in such an anticipated game, it was like letting the air out of a balloon, and it was not working out like we thought it would.” Fortunately, star defenseman Johnny Boychuk scored halfway through the period to close the gap at 2-1. The Bruins tied the score early in the second period on a goal by Zach Hamill only to lose the lead again on a Brian Fahey goal at 11:40. Once again though, as they have all season, the P-B’s battled back to tie the game with a Kirk MacDonald score with just fifteen seconds left in the period. Providence came out flying in the third period and swarmed the Hartford zone which caused two ill advised penalties that gave the Bruins a two man advantage. Providence wasted little time, as Boychuk scored again on a huge blast from inside the blue line. “It’s the law of averages; Johnny shoots so much, and has such a powerful shot, when he gets it on net, it usually goes in,” Murray said. Wacey Rabbit scored an empty netter to seal the deal.

With Hartford looming again on the schedule for two more games, it should be a wild finish to the regular season. Chances are that both teams will get home ice in the first round, but that won’t satisfy either one of these old rivals as they battle for first place in the Atlantic Division.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Providence Beats Hartford at The Dunk

By T. Chace Jr.

In a game that had the atmosphere of a playoff series, the Providence Bruins defeated the first place Hartford Wolf Pack 5-3 to close within a point of Hartford, with a game in hand. Things did not start off too well for the home team as Hartford scored twice in the first seven minutes. As deflating as that was, the B's were able to get one back before the period ended on a goal by Johnny Boychuck, with assists from Marty St. Pierre and Vladimir Sobotka.

In the second period, Zach Hamill scored his 11th goal unassisted at the 2:43 mark to tie the game at two. The game was chippy and physical all day, referee Nygel Pelletier saw fit to call 15 penalties in all. Hartford scored on a power play a little over halfway though the period to go up 3-2. The resilient Bruins were able to respond however with a Kirk MacDonald goal with only 45 seconds remaining in the period to once again tie the score as the teams headed to the third period in a 3-3 tie.

The Bruins came out flying in the third period and their offensive pressure led to two penalties called on Hartford which created a two man advantage. The Bruins wasted little time in taking the lead for good on another goal by Johnny Boychuck. A huge blast from inside the blue line that beat Hatford goaltender Maxime Daigneault. Wacey Rabbitt followed up with an empty net goal with twenty seconds left in the game. Final score: Providence 5 Hartford 3.

*Hartford chirped, slashed, and shoved Providence players all day trying to goad them into retaliation penalties. The Bruins showed great restraint. Jared Nightingale started a fight with Vladimir Sobotka in a short wrestling match in the third period for the only fisticuffs.

*Brodie Dupont stood in front of the Providence bench for well over 2 minutes during one timeout, while the officials were busy. The Providence bench wished him and his teammates all the best.

*The three stars were Boychuck, Hartford D-Man Brian Fahey and St. Pierre.

* Tuukka Rask gets the win, and no suspension thus far for his temper tantrum against Albany last Friday night.

*All of the Rhode Island High School Hobey Baker Award recipients were introduced after the second period. Congratulations to all our high school boys & girls winners.

* Attendance was 7327. Providence is seventh in the league in attendance, averaging about 6100 fans.

Monday, March 16, 2009

My Interview With Matt Hunwick

Matt Hunwick – Providence Bruins
By Thomas R. Chace Jr.
January 25, 2008

Matt Hunwick was born, and his family still resides in the state of Michigan. At 22 years old, Matt is a graduate of the University of Michigan, having majored in Economics. He is a rookie in the American Hockey League but has already seen substantial ice time with the parent club in Boston. He got his first NHL point in Toronto against the Maple Leafs in December of 2007. He is a lifelong Red Wings fan, citing Steve Yzerman as a boyhood hero. He shares many qualities of his hero; he’s a class act with a bright future.

TRC: You’re 22 now?

MH: Yes.

TRC: How long have you been playing hockey?

MH: I started playing hockey when I was 5. I started skating when I was around 3 years old. My grandmother, a figure skater, and my Dad used to take me skating.

TRC: Who or what was your inspiration to begin playing hockey?

MH: My Dad played hockey so he inspired me and of course living in Michigan and following the Red Wings I developed a passion for the game.

TRC: Who are your heroes or who do you admire most in the game?

MH: Steve Yzerman was a role model for many of us in the area.

TRC: Which NHL player or players do you think your style of game most resembles?
Have you been told you resemble a certain player type?

MH: Being out here in Boston I’m hearing a lot about Don Sweeney and similarities in the way he played. Growing up I tried to look at the best qualities of guys like Lidstrom and Chelios and try to incorporate them into my game.

TRC: What part of your game do you think needs the most improvement to get you to the show?

MH: There are a couple of areas; my shot could definitely get better. I also need to play smarter and make good decisions with the puck.

TRC: What do you like most about playing for Providence and the Bruins organization?

MH: I think the guys are great. There are a lot of college guys. We’re a young team and we really get along great. I think we did a good job before the season started; we had some good practices along with some outings meant for team bonding that was instrumental in our early success. Winning is a habit and we got into good habits.

TRC: What other cities do you enjoy playing in?

MH: When I was up, I played in Montreal on a Saturday night, which was unbelievable. I also got to play in Toronto; it was Hockey Night in Canada for them. (Matt got his first NHL point that night)

TRC: What cities do you least like playing in?

MH: I don’t know if any city wants to know that. I guess any rink that does not get a good crowd and can’t create an exciting atmosphere. It’s fun to play in front of big crowds that are lively.

TRC: Who is the hardest team you have played against, and why?

MH: This year, Springfield plays us well. Worcester has kind of had our number. We had a game in Philadelphia that was real tough, we won but they played us real well. Anybody in our division is always a hard game.

TRC: Who does it give you more pleasure to beat?

MH: Going up to Portland and beating them after a three hour bus ride. They have a really good team and a great environment, so coming out of there with a win is always good, especially when you have another three hour ride home.

TRC: Do you have any pre-game rituals, what do you do to get up for the game?

MH: Not really. I’m not superstitious. I’ve been coming to the rink earlier, riding the bike and playing soccer with my teammates. But nothing really out of the ordinary.

TRC: What do you do to relax?

MH: I like working out. I like watching TV and going to the movies. I’ve started reading a lot this year, reading at least about two hours a day. I’m reading more now than I think I did at Michigan.

TRC: Do you do any volunteer work?

MH: I’ve done some. Back at Michigan we used to go to the children’s hospital on Thursday nights. All the athletes from all the sports would go and sign hats and pictures for the kids. We all looked forward to seeing the kids on Thursday nights. We don’t really have anything set up like that here yet. When I was up in Boston we bought a lot of toys for some kids in area hospitals before Christmas. We were all set to deliver them to the kids but I got sent back to Providence before I could participate.

TRC: If you couldn’t play hockey, what would your next career choice be?

MH: It’s nice that I am playing hockey. I’m able to network and meet new people. Most students get to intern and network while in school but as players you’re constantly working out or playing hockey through the summer and there’s no time to do internships and the like. I would like to use my education and future networking to get into some sort of business career. I would also like to go back to school and get my master’s degree. I’m also into building and using my hands to make or fix things.


MH: Oh Jeez. Probably, deciding to go to Michigan to begin with and as important deciding to go back in my senior year. We had a tough end to my season after my junior year. I was contemplating leaving after my junior year and I’m so glad I stayed. In my senior year I had a blast. It was awesome. Getting my degree was also very important; I would have had to go back if I had left early.

Providence Sentenced To Hard Labor

February 24, 2009
by Thomas Chace Jr.

The Providence Bruins garnered all six points available to them last weekend against Atlantic Division foes, Manchester, Worcester, and Springfield. Those points could prove to be huge as the team hopes to carry that momentum on a very difficult road trip through the East and North Divisions. The Bruins have a five game winning streak on the road, but will face some stiff competition over the next two weeks. The P-Bruins will be facing division leaders in Hershey and Manitoba (twice) as well as Philadelphia, Norfolk, Toronto, and Rochester. Getting points on this trip should be very tough to come by.

Providence has been successful of late despite the absence of a consistent offensive attack due to the many call ups by the parent Boston Bruins. Their leading scorer is once again defenseman Johnny Boychuck. His game winning goal against Springfield on Sunday with 3:16 left capped a three goal weekend for the Edmonton, Alberta native. Head Coach Rob Murray claims, “Boychuck has been bringing it all year. I’m sure he has one of the hardest shots if not the hardest shot in the American Hockey League.” Boychuck leads all AHL defensemen in points, goals and shots; he leads Providence in power play points with 30. The play of rookies Brad Marchand and Mikko Lehtonen has eased the loss of Vladimir Sobotka, Byron Bitz, Petteri Nokelainen, and Martins Karsums to the big club in Boston. Wacey Rabbit has reached a career high in goals with ten, and veterans Jeremy Reich and Peter Schaefer have combined for 50 points.

The goaltending has been consistent with the bulk of the work continuing to be borne by Tuukka Rask. Rask has played the fourth most minutes in the AHL, has the second most wins with 24, and has a 5-1 record in shootouts. In fact, on February 14th against Portland, Rask was brought into the game just for the shootout. Kevin Nastiuk had started for Providence and played through the overtime in a 5-5 tie with division rival Portland, only to be replaced by Rask who stopped four of five breakaways to give Providence a 6-5 victory. Asked why he replaced Nastiuk with Rask in the shootout, Murray stated simply, “we felt Tuukka gave us a better chance in the shootout.” Simple, eh?

Hershey, who leads the East Division, will be looking for payback after getting smoked in Providence 7-2 back on January 2nd. Manitoba who boasts the best record in the AHL has played Providence twice already, losing in a shootout and dominating them in a 4-0 victory nine days later. There were six fights in the two games, and with back to back games scheduled in Manitoba, the atmosphere is sure to be playoff like. The Bruins are taking a slim four point lead on their last long road trip of the season, and although it may not determine how their season will finish, it will surely be used to measure their playoff mettle.

Home Ice Important For Providence

January 31, 2009
by Thomas Chace Jr.

The American Hockey League mandated that all teams take four days off during the All-Star break. For the Providence Bruins that meant time for only one practice, and players were left on their own to work out and mentally prepare for a return to the ice at home versus their division rival, the Portland Pirates. The Atlantic Division has only a five point separation from first to fifth place. Providence has a majority of home games coming up and Head Coach Rob Murray wants to establish Providence as a very difficult place to play. Friday night was not what he is looking for.

As could be expected, both teams were noticeably sluggish at the outset of the game due to the All-Star break. There were no goals scored and only thirteen shots total for both teams in the first period. Providence got on the board early in the second period on goals by Matt Marquardt and Jordan Knackstedt and held a 2-0 advantage, only to see that evaporate with goals 32 seconds apart by Portland’s Aaron Slattengren and Colton Fretter. Halfway through the third period, Fretter beat Providence goaltender Kevin Regan again; that was later followed by an empty net goal by Mike Weber. A Portland win along with a win by Hartford has now tied all three teams atop the Atlantic Division with 53 points apiece. In regards to his satisfaction with his team’s effort after the game, Murray stated that, “No, he was not satisfied, not by a large amount of guys, it wasn’t good enough. It looked like a few guys were still on the four day break. We want to dominate teams at home and right now we’re not doing it. Teams are coming into our building and taking points out of here and we don’t seem to be putting up enough of a fight.”

Earlier in the week, goaltender Tuukka Rask was called up with the big club in Boston and is expected to start against the New York Rangers this weekend. All-Star Martins Karsums was allowed to return home to Latvia to play in a tournament to try and get his Latvian National team qualified for the 2010 Olympics. Despite those obstacles to overcome, Coach Murray expects his team to bring emotion and effort every night, especially on home ice. “It’s important, the standings are so tight, we have six out of eight games at home coming up, there should be a sense of urgency with our home games. We need to play better at home and find a way to not allow teams to come in here and get points from us.” .” Providence is 2-4 in their last six home games, and with division rivals ahead on the schedule and most of those games at “The Dunk”, the P-Bruins are looking to establish Providence as a more difficult place to play for their opponents. Stay tuned.

Providence Excelling With Purpose

December 27, 2008
by Thomas Chace Jr.

The purpose of this franchise is to develop players in a system that will allow them to perform seamlessly when and if the parent club, the Boston Bruins, suffer injuries or need players to fill in voids on their NHL roster. That being said, this Providence team has performed above and beyond what could have been expected of them thus far. The fact that they also lead the Atlantic Division is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the whole Providence organization. The Boston Bruins are the top team in the NHL’s Eastern Conference, and Providence has undoubtedly helped them get there. Start with the call up of defenseman Matt Hunwick, who is now one of Boston’s top four defensemen. Follow that with successive recalls of defenseman Matt Lashoff and Johnny Boychuk, forwards Vladimir Sobotka, Martins Karsums, and most recently Marty St. Pierre. Boychuk and Karsums have since been returned to Providence and are scoring at a feverish pace. The call ups have also had a positive impact on other players who have stepped up their game and are now contributing in the scoring department. Mikko Lehtonen, Wacey Rabbit, and NHL veterans, Jeremy Reich and Peter Schaefer are starting to carry the load. Defensively, rookie Jeff Penner has made huge strides since opening night.

Both Bruins franchises would not be having their success without their greatest asset right now, goaltending. Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez have provided the best goaltending tandem in the NHL. Waiting in the wings is 21 year old Finnish sensation, Tuuka Rask, who is off to a great sophomore season. His GAA is near the top of the AHL, despite playing in at least seven more games than those ahead of him. His three shutouts are already a personal best in the regular season. Asked to take on a leadership role by head coach Rob Murray, he has held up his end of the request with his positive attitude, work ethic, and stellar play.

With the new year approaching and teams on their tail, the Providence Bruins have found success in the standings and more importantly are fulfilling their purpose. This Providence team recognizes that when Boston comes calling, they have the tools and direction to be successful in the show.

Providence Still Finding Their Way

November 18, 2008
by Thomas Chace Jr.

Who are these guys? They lost their top scorer; they lost perhaps the league’s best enforcer. Their head coach headed off to the NHL. What style of hockey are they playing? This Providence team is not like the team from a year ago when losses were few and far between.

On the weekend before last, the Providence Bruins took an unbelievable 141 shots on goal in three games and came away with only one win in three tries. They scored a total of only five goals. In the first game they were beaten by Chicago for the second time this season, in a rematch, on Providence’s home ice, 4-1. That was followed by a wild game in Albany where they were losing 3-1 with less than five minutes remaining. Goals by Brad Marchand, Martins Karsums, and an overtime game winner by Vladimir Sobotka preserved a 4-3 victory. Providence was helped by ten power play opportunities and outshot Albany 59-17. The last game over the weekend saw the Philadelphia Phantoms shut out the Bruins 2-0, as Scott Munroe preserved a Philly victory despite facing 46 shots. Head coach Rob Murray stated, “We did a lot of really good things, we got a lot of shots; the fact that we scored just one goal in our two home games was disappointing, but we’re doing the right things.”

This past weekend went much better from a point gathering perspective. Providence got eight goals on Friday night against division opponent Worcester, and won going away in the third period by an 8-3 margin. Commenting after last weekend’s shotfest, Coach Murray claimed that “you don’t know you’re going to get an eight goal performance, but you know it’s just a matter of time before the puck starts going in. We’re not doing everything right, but the effort is there, there was lot of good things we did last weekend despite the two losses, that you can take the positives out of. One of the positives obviously was that we were outshooting teams by a 3 to 1 or 2 to 1 margin.” A loss on the road to bitter rival Portland on Saturday night was not one of their better games. Providence did not generate enough offense and turnovers created opportunities for the first place Pirates. Portland is a very good team and very quick and Providence’s defense was taken advantage of most of the night. Portland, in first place, with only one loss all season, at the hands of Providence, has won nine games in a row. On Sunday back at home in Providence the Bruins were solid on their power play, scoring on three of seven opportunities. They showed great resiliency time after time throughout the back and forth affair. Ironically, the P-Bruins were outshot in all three games but won two out of three and gathered four of six points. Go figure. Certainly the more shots you take, the more opportunities you have. Spectacular goaltending can thwart those chances though.

Who are these guys? We don’t know yet. This team is still finding their own identity. Right now their leading scorer is a defenseman, Johnny Boychuk. The teams plus/minus is down from last year. They are a team in transition and each game has been a learning experience. One common thread, however, with last year’s team is the effort put forth by everyone in the organization. Effort and hard work usually result in victories as the season progresses.