December 30, 2007
By Thomas Chace Jr.
It’s really a shame. The American Hockey League’s best team is getting no props. They are caught in a New England evolution. The entire region is focused on the New England Patriots perfect season, the new look Celtics who have the best record in the NBA, and the year round love affair with the World Champion Red Sox. Hockey is not a hot topic in discussions among most local sports fans. There is no hockey talk on sports radio, minimal coverage in print, and a general malaise about the sport in general. It’s really a shame.
The Providence Bruins have the best record in the AHL. They have the most points in the league, the most wins, the most goals, a great young rookie goalie, and nobody knows about it. They won the Calder Cup back in 1998-99; fans flocked to the games while the Boston pro teams struggled. Now they are on the other side of that scenario with what may be one of the greatest teams Providence has ever seen. It’s really a shame.
The Super Bowl is on February 3rd. That will end the NFL season, but the Celtics will still be in action. March Madness is fast approaching and both Providence College and the University of Rhode Island should be factors in the NCAA basketball tournament. Spring training for the Red Sox begins in March too. The Bruins have a real battle ahead of them as they look to get some justified attention in these parts. It’s really a shame.
Coaches Scott Gordon and Rob Murray were able to bring most of the current Providence Bruins into a developmental camp before the parent club in Boston held their training camp. During the developmental camp the coaches were able to sell the players on a system of play, both offensively and defensively, that they were hoping would pay dividends as they entered the regular season. The team had to start on the road for the first ten games due to a major renovation of the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. The road trip consisted of bus rides and no hotel stays, but still helped to form camaraderie among the team early in the season. They won eight out of ten of those games, gained confidence in each other, and also saw that the system worked. The team is led in goal by a 20-year-old Finnish born rookie goaltender obtained from the Toronto Maple Leafs in a trade for Boston’s Andrew Raycroft. The 6’2” Tuukka Rask leads the league with a 1.98 goals against average. Pascal Pelletier leads the team and league in goals scored and is fourth overall in scoring. The team has six players in the top ten in the plus/minus category. Steve Macintyre, a 6’6”, 265 lb. enforcer, allows the team to play without fear. This is an unselfish, fast, exciting, tough team that just keeps winning games by playing for a full 60 minutes. They have won 82% of their games. That’s pretty impressive. But nobody knows about them except a loyal group of fans, the team itself, and certainly their opponents. It’s really a shame.