Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend

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Taking five out of six points over the weekend, the Providence Bruins are starting to generate some traction. Since a 6-3 loss in Springfield on Oct. 14, they’ve put together a solid 4-3-2 stretch. Two of the three regulation-time losses in that span were by one goal and the third was by two, including an empty-netter.

After beating Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 2-1, in overtime at home on Friday, they rallied from two goals down in the third period before losing in OT, 5-4, in Bridgeport on Saturday. They finished with a decisive 5-2 victory over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at home on Sunday afternoon.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.

GOOD

*** Colby Cave continues to be Providence’s best player. He was the No. 1 star in Sunday’s win with assists on the P-Bruins first two goals, a bunch of important faceoff wins and a fight. With 5-10-15 in 13 games, he is up to 13th in the AHL in scoring.

*** Anton Blidh, Cave’s linemate, also had a strong weekend, with a nice goal on Saturday and an assist on Sunday. Coach Jay Leach calls Cave and Blidh “the heartbeat of the team.’’

*** Don’t know how much longer Jan Kovar will be around, but he has been a major contributor and an entertaining player to watch in his 8 games with Providence. Skating is a question mark, but he competes and his stick and offensive instincts are superb.

*** The penalty kill is the best in the AHL at 90.3 percent, including 20 for 20 on home ice.

*** It was a great weekend for the power play. Providence went 6 for 16, with 2 PP goals in each game.

*** Ryan Donato looks more comfortable with each game. He scored once on Saturday and twice on Sunday. “He did a lot of the little things,’’ Leach said after Sunday’s game.

*** Dan Vladar played very well in Friday’s OT win, making 27 saves. He left some rebounds, but battled hard to stop the second and third shots that he faced.

*** Zach Senyshyn had a three-point weekend with an assist on Saturday and 1-1-2 on Sunday.

*** Martin Bakos had goals on Friday and Sunday.

*** Ryan Fitzgerald had 1-1-2 on Friday, including the OT winner.

*** Sunday afternoon’s game drew 8,677 despite going up against the New England Patriots on TV. The P-Bruins are currently fourth in the league at 7,737. Only San Diego, Hershey and Ontario are ahead of Providence in average attendance.

BAD

*** Trent Frederic left Saturday’s game and sat out on Sunday after a hit by Steve Bernier of Bridgeport. Bernier, who was given five minutes for charging and a game misconduct, was suspended for two games by the AHL on Monday.

*** Cameron Hughes might have a root canal or some missing front teeth in his immediate future after Bridgeport’s Kyle Burroughs chopped him in the mouth with his stick on Saturday. The AHL on Monday suspended Burroughs for one game.

*** The game in Bridgeport had a bizarre ending and referee Liam Sewall was front and center. It looked like Zane McIntyre might have covered the puck up in the crease, but eventually it was pushed over the line. By the time it went in, Sewall had draped himself over the back of the net, skates four feet off the ice, signaling goal. Leach tried and failed to get an explanation as to exactly what happened in the goalmouth.

*** McIntyre was called for holding on Sunday afternoon. Watched plenty of games in my time, but I can’t remembering seeing that call on a goalie.

UGLY

*** Injured: Frederic, Jordan Szwarz, Chris Breen, Mark McNeill, David Broll.

Donato goes to work with Providence Bruins

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Ryan Donato celebrates his goal against Buffalo on Oct. 4 (AP photo)

PROVIDENCE — As Toe Blake, Eddie Shore and Dit Clapper might have said (but didn’t, at least not in “Slap Shot”), there’s no sulking in minor league hockey.

True to those words, Ryan Donato was the first player on the ice at Schneider Arena this morning for Providence Bruins practice. He pushed the nets into place, emptied a bucket of pucks and went to work.

Two hours later, with practice long over and every other player gone, Donato got down on hands and knees to gather the pucks and fill up the bucket.

The rookie from Harvard isn’t letting Thursday’s demotion to the AHL after 11 games (1-0-1) in Boston this season deter him from his goal of making it as an impact player in the NHL.

“Obviously, I’m not happy about it, but I think every guy (in Boston) at one point has had their fair share of time down here. The only thing I can do is use the time here to my advantage,’’ Donato said afterward.

In Boston, playing time has been harder to come by lately for Donato. He’ll get all he can handle with the P-Bruins.

“I like playing in the games here. You get a lot of ice time. I’m feeling the puck again, which is nice,’’ said Donato, who recorded an assist and seven shots on goal (including an unsuccessful penalty shot) in two games against Charlotte over the weekend.

As for the message from Boston management, “there’s some stuff internally that they told they wanted me to work on, but just stay positive, it’s a part of every young guy’s career. Come back hungrier when you do come back,” Donato said.

Providence coach Jay Leach and his staff will work with Donato on the finer points of his game.

“Offensively speaking, he can create. I do think that his details need to be worked on. He knows it. He’s fully willing to dive in and talk about the other side of the game – without the puck or even with the puck sometimes, taking care of it,” Leach said.

“Like any young player that has an abundance of talent and has had success really wherever he’s gone, when you are reassigned to the American League, it does take some time. There’s an adjustment period. That’s where he’s at. It’s a tough league to play in, frankly. Mentally and physically, especially for those guys that start their pro careers up (in the NHL) and have that success and then they come down.”

Donato said that one of the things that was stressed by his father, Ted, and the Boston coaching staff is that “(the AHL is) a really good league. Don’t think for a second that anybody’s too good for it, cause they’re not. Take it as a positive and go down there and work as hard as you can, and prove that you should be up.”

He learned a few things in his first taste of the AHL over the weekend.

“A lot of guys are running around. There’s a lot more guys playing kind of an old-school style of hockey where there’s a lot more hitting and it’s more physical, which I tend to like. Hopefully I can learn from that and bring it when I come back up,” Donato said.

So how long does Donato expect to be in Providence?

“It’s really how I play that determines how long I stay down here. I think (management knows) the player that I can be. They told me they know I’m talented and will have, hopefully, a future (in Boston). I’ve got to make time for this and hopefully change some things about my game so I can be useful when I get up there,” he said.

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend

The Providence Bruins came home from their weekend in Charlotte with nothing to show but a pair of one-goal losses to the Checkers, the AHL’s best team.

Providence played hard and was in position to earn at least a point in both games. In the end, though, they lost 4-3 on Friday night and 3-2 on Saturday.

“We’re obviously disappointed in our record and the fact that we’re not winning games. I would also say that we are encouraged by a lot of the things that we’re doing,” said coach Jay Leach.

“Our inability to keep a shot out at a crucial time and our inability to create a shot or a goal for on the power play is what has really hurt us. We have to walk the fine line of urgency but not panic. We need to focus on the things we can correct and build on the things that we’re doing well.”

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.

GOOD

*** Continuing to produce points, Jan Kovar had 1-1-2 on Friday. A couple of weeks into his tryout, he has 3-2-5 in 5 games.

*** Ryan Fitzgerald showed off his good hands by scoring a nifty, between-the-legs goal to bring the P-Bruins within one on Saturday. It was a nice play all around, starting with a strong entry by Anton Blidh, who dished to Colby Cave. Cave muscled his way along the boards and passed to Cody Goloubef, who found Fitzgerald in front.

*** Conor Clifton pancaked Andrew Poturalski with a clean hit in the first minute of the second period on Saturday.

*** Jordan Szwarz scored his first goal of the season on Friday; Peter Cehlarik buried his first on Saturday.

*** Zane McIntyre was credited with his first assist of the year on Cehlarik’s goal.

BAD

*** Referees Mike Dietrich and Peter MacDougall had a wildly inconsistent weekend. After calling 7 minor penalties on Friday, they whistled 18 minors on Saturday – 9 on each team. It was as if they pulled out a different rulebook. Poor Jakub Zboril was called for the three of the weakest hooking, holding and slashing penalties you’re ever going to see.

*** With Providence pressing for the tying goal with 5 minutes left on Saturday, Kovar had plenty of net to shoot at after a smart setup by Ryan Donato, but missed from in close.

*** The P-Bruins gave up an ugly shorthanded goal in both games. The power play is 23rd in the league at 15.9 percent after going 1 for 12 for the weekend and being outscored, 2-1.

*** Six of Providence’s seven losses essentially have been one-goal games (two with empty netters at the end).

UGLY

*** Twenty-six seconds after the P-Bruins grabbed an early lead on Friday, Patrick Brown’s 100-footer bounced past Vladar, tying the score.

*** Injuries: Mark McNeill, Chris Breen (day to day), David Broll.

Hockey night at Holy Cross

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WORCESTER – It was a terrific night for college hockey at Holy Cross on Saturday. The Hart Center on campus was packed and loud for Providence College’s hard-fought 3-0 win over the host Crusaders.

Quick hits from the game:

HAYDEN HAWKEY

Brimming with confidence, PC’s senior goalie continues to be on top of his game for the 5-1-1 Friars. He made 27 saves on Saturday night, including some big ones in the third period, and notched his third shutout of the season and his second in a row. Hawkey hasn’t given up a goal in 137:51 and his save percentage is .955. There’s no better goalie in Hockey East right now.

“He’s outstanding. He’s our rock. He’s going to be our rock for the year. He had another solid performance tonight,’’ said PC coach Nate Leaman.

MIRAGEAS DELIVERS

Another Friar who is really feeling it lately is Islanders draft pick Ben Mirageas. Picking up where he left off at Boston University last week, Mirageas on Saturday scored a third period goal that gave the Friars some breathing room and added an assist.

“I think he came back a little slow to start, like most sophomores that have success as a freshman kind of do. His last two games he’s been really good for us. He’s really good when he has the puck and he gets his feet going. He did a good job of that tonight,’’ said Leaman.

ROAD TEST

Leaman said beforehand that playing in a small rink in front of a lively crowd with calls going against you at times would be good preparation for upcoming road games in Hockey East.

Afterward, he said there was a playoff-like atmosphere in the building and he liked the way his team responded.

“It was a good opportunity for us to grow. We made some mistakes but we fought our way through it. Overall, we end up with a good win,’’ Leaman said.

HARD FEELINGS

The game ended on a sour note when Holy Cross freshman Ryan Leibold took a run at PC’s Jay O’Brien and rammed him into the right wing boards in the PC end after the Friars had gone up by three goals. It was a cheap hit that earned Leibold a major for contact to the head and a game misconduct.

Leaman was understandably angry.

“It’s everything you want to get out of the game. It’s a 3-0 game, there’s a minute to go, we just scored on the empty net. It’s a bad hockey play. I don’t know what to say. You don’t want your guys taking high hits and getting run at in a game that’s over.’’

It’s the second time this season that an opposing player has trucked O’Brien with an illegal hit.

I asked Leaman if teams are targeting O’Brien, a first round draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers in June.

“I don’t think it had anything to do with it being Jay or anybody else,’’ he said.

“The kid ran all the way across the ice and came head high at him with a minute to go in a 3-0 game. It’s a horrible hockey play. It’s the stuff you want to get out of the game.’’

O’Brien had a strong game on Saturday as he returned to the lineup after missing two games because of the high hit against UConn. He was robbed twice by Holy Cross goalie Beau Collins, who was sharp with 35 saves.

O’Brien was visibly angry as he got up off the ice quickly after Saturday night’s hit and went to the PC room. After the game, he was up and about in the dressing room hallway.

Leaman didn’t have an update on his condition.

NEXT UP

Get your popcorn ready. In a matchup of the top two teams in Hockey East to this point, PC visits UMass (6-1) on Thursday, then hosts the Minutemen on Saturday. This is going to be fun.

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend

With several top players missing, the Providence Bruins split their two games over the weekend. They lost 4-2 (with an empty netter) in Springfield on Saturday. Then they finished on a positive note, spanking Bridgeport, 6-1, on Sunday. They’ve earned 5 out of  8 points in their last 4 games.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.

GOOD

*** With 3 goals and an assist against Bridgeport, rookie Cameron Hughes doubled his point total for the season. He completed his hat trick by scoring on a penalty shot. He now has 4-4-8 in 9 games.

*** Zach Senyshyn had a strong game on Sunday, scoring two goals.

*** Tanner Pond handed out punishing hits all over the ice against Bridgeport.

*** The P-Bruins have the AHL’s best penalty kill at 93.9 percent. They’ve killed 18 in a row and have given up only 2 power play goals through 9 games.

*** Colby Cave, recalled by Boston on Monday, has points in 7 straight games.

*** Dan Vladar made 28 saves on Sunday and recorded his first victory of the season.

*** Peter Cehlarik made a pretty pass to Jan Kovar for a power-play goal in Springfield.

BAD

*** The P-Bruins were without 3 of their top 6 forwards on Saturday and 4 of 6 on Sunday. Jordan Szwarz and Mark McNeill are injured. Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson was in Sweden tending to a personal matter. Cehlarik played on Saturday but sat out on Sunday with an upper body injury.

*** Kovar was on the ice for all 4 Springfield goals on Saturday. Peter Cehlarik and Cody Goloubef were on ice for 3 against.

*** They gave up the decisive goal in Springfield with under 5 minutes left in regulation time.

*** Providence has given up 3 shorthanded goals.

*** The P-Bruins have had 32 power play opportunities. That’s 28th in the league.

*** A big test awaits the P-Bruins in Charlotte this weekend. The 8-1 Checkers are second in the AHL with 16 points.

UGLY

*** Zane McIntyre and Vladar have a combined save percentage of .866.

*** Injured: Jordan Szwarz, Mark McNeill, Peter Cehlarik, David Broll.

Solid Sunday at The Dunk

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PROVIDENCE – They aren’t out of the woods by any means, but the Providence Bruins have put together a decent string of solid games.

After a tough loss in Springfield on Saturday night, the depleted P-Bruins bounced back with a resounding 6-1 win against Bridgeport at home on Sunday.

“We played really a pretty good weekend. We didn’t score (Saturday) night and we really weren’t at the net, so we made it a little easy on their goalie. (Sunday) we made sure to get there and stay there and we got rewarded for a couple that went off us or off them. That’s what happens when you go there,’’ said coach Jay Leach, whose team was without four top forwards in captain Jordan Szwarz, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Mark McNeill and Peter Cehlarik.

“I was glad to see that and to see us play with some emotion and continue to do the things we’ve been talking about doing. When you’re 2-5-1 and you come in on a Sunday and you’re playing a team that’s good and you’re depleted a little bit, it can go one of two ways. I thought we went the right way and that was very encouraging to see.’’

Hughes delivers

Cameron Hughes was the star of Sunday’s game with three goals and an assist. He finished off the hat trick in style, beating Sound Tigers goalie Jeremy Smith on a penalty shot.

It was his first hat trick in … quite a while.

“I didn’t get any in college. I don’t think I got any in juniors. It was probably bantam – a long time,’’ said the former Wisconsin captain.

As for penalty shots, “I had one in college and I had one in juniors. I scored in college, I missed in juniors,’’ he said.

It was a satisfying win for a team that played well enough to get a point on Saturday, but didn’t.

“We’re doing a lot of the right things. Just the little things are hurting us. What Leachie’s preaching is that in these times when things haven’t been going your way, you have to take care of the details. We focused on that tonight and obviously it paid off,’’ said Hughes.

Hughes is now second in scoring for the P-Bruins with 4-4-8 in 9 games.

“I can’t think of a game we’ve had this year where he hasn’t been effective in some way – he kills, power play and obviously a hat trick tonight. I’m happy to see him get rewarded because he’s really been all over the scoring chance sheet of most of the games. He’s been very impressive,’’ said Leach.

Senyshyn speeds up

After a quiet stretch, Zach Senyshyn played one of his best games of the season on Sunday and was rewarded with two goals.

He blew past the defense to score a power play goal early in the game and went to the blue paint in the second period and had a puck bounce off him and into the net.

Using his speed and going to go to the net have been two points of emphasis for Senyshyn. When he does it, he’s a better player.

Pond hits hard

Tanner Pond made an impact on Sunday, on the game and on the boards, which he rattled with a half dozen solid body checks.

“For him it’s simple – it’s his skating game and his physicality. When he does that, he’s effective and noticeable. From the first shift on he was skating. When that happens sometimes pucks follow him and he takes care of things and it’s an easy game. He was outstanding,’’ said Leach.

Sherman keeps it simple

A month into his first pro season, Wiley Sherman is making progress as a shutdown defender.

“He had a tough first game of the season and really since then he’s built on being simple and effective – gapping up and doing the things we’re talking about. When he’s simple, inside his dots, he’s effective with that long stick. I’ve been encouraged for sure,’’ said Leach.

Clappers, wristers & rebounds

Odds and ends from here and there:

*** It doesn’t matter that Boston University is off to an 0-3 start under new head coach Albie O’Connell and has fallen out of the Top 20. Sixth-ranked Providence College expects a tough test, as usual, when the Hockey East rivals drop the puck at Agganis Arena on Friday night.

“We’ll get their A game, like we always do. That’s what makes our games with them great. We’ve had great games with them for the past four years,’’ said Friar coach Nate Leaman.

The Friars could be without freshman center Jay O’Brien, who was injured in last Friday’s win over UConn. He was listed as day-to-day by Leaman, but hadn’t skated as of Wednesday.

There were encouraging signs for PC last weekend, even if they let a win slip through their fingers by allowing a late goal to Sacred Heart and settling for a 2-2 tie on Saturday.

Josh Wilkins, who skated at center between Kasper Bjorkqvist and Jack Dugan in practice this week, potted his first two goals of the season. Bjorkqvist, at the top of the list in scoring chances for PC so far, scored his first when a puck bounced in off his pads against UConn. Dugan was impressive with a goal and two assists that night.

Freshman winger Tyce Thompson had three assists against UConn. “We’ve got to find a way to get that kid more ice,’’ Leaman said.

PC’s top four on defense — senior Vinny Desharnais and freshman Mike Callahan and juniors Jacob Bryson and Spenser Young – measure up with any quartet in the country.

*** Brown opens its season with home games against Yale at 7 p.m. on Friday and Vermont on Sunday at 5 p.m.

The Bears beat Princeton and tied Yale in scrimmages last Saturday.

Coach Brendan Whittet said this week that he is “constantly evaluating’’ his three goalies — junior Gavin Nieto, sophomore Luke Kania and freshman Gabe Vinal.

“Long story short? I don’t know who is playing on Friday,’’ Whittet said.

“Nieto played very well in the scrimmage against Princeton. Technically. he was very good. Made some good saves. Inhaled pucks. He looked confident.

“Vinal’s fine. He’s a freshman. We’ve got to keep working with him and help him grow. He’ll push the two guys.

“And then Kania has a lot of ability. He’s ultracompetitive. Technically, we’ve got to make sure he’s on top of it. We’ve got to make sure his competitiveness doesn’t lead to, on the mental side, where he’s taxing himself. Thnking about what happened on the prior play and not thinking about the next shot,’’ Whittet said.

Brown looks to have a smaller but quicker team this season.

“In years past we may have said that we wanted to play fast, but it was just wishful thinking. I think we can this year. We want to play aggressive, hard-nosed, uptempo, fast hockey,’’ Whittet said.

“I think we have the makings of a good hockey team. Where that team goes? I told the guys the other day – I’m here, I’ll help guide you, but it’s your team. What do you want it to be? How do you want to be remembered? Where do you want to go? I’ll help steer the ship, but it’s really in their hands. They’ve been great so far. We’ll know more after this weekend.’’

*** You may have seen pictures of Noel Acciari’s purple suit on Thursday night. I saw it in person and I’m here to tell you it was magnificent.

October is Hockey Fights Cancer month and Acciari had the suit made and wore it in honor of Drew Brown, his best friend and Providence College teammate, who died last November after battling Ewing’s sarcoma.

It’s a heartfelt tribute to a special member of the PC hockey family. “I think about him all the time,’’ Acciari said.

Brown “would be laughing at me right now’’ over the suit, Acciari said. “He’d be like, ‘What are you wearing?’ But, you know, that’s all right.’’

*** The home-and-home series between No. 16 UMass and No. 6 PC is still a couple of weeks away, but I’m already looking forward to it.

The Minutemen last weekend split a road series with Ohio State, the No. 1 team in the country at the time.

Under second-year coach Greg Carvel, UMass is primed to make some noise in Hockey East this season.

Stud defenseman Cale Makar has three goals and eight points in four games and has been Hockey East player of the week for two straight weeks.

Get out to see him while you can because he’ll be gone (to the Colorado Avalanche) after this season.

*** Two of the NHL’s brightest goalie prospects are struggling in the early going in their rookie seasons in the American Hockey League.

Lehigh Valley’s Carter Hart has a .865 save percentage in four games. Hershey’s Ilya Samsonov is at .859 through three games.

“In this league, stuff happens. It’s like the wild, wild west. Breakdowns occur and goalies see some crazy stuff. It’s not as simple as just being able to make the saves as they’ve been able to do in lesser leagues,’’ says P-Bruins coach Jay Leach.

Hart and Samsonov will get squared away, but their early struggles are a reminder that the AHL can do a number on young players.

*** After absorbing a 7-0 thrashing against St. Cloud at home on Thursday, Boston College is 0-4. Incredibly, the Eagles are 0-17-4 in its last 21 non-conference games.

Good, bad & ugly from P-Bruins weekend

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The Providence Bruins split two games on the third weekend of the season. They came away with a point in Friday night’s 4-3 overtime loss in Bridgeport but the outcome left a sour taste as they had a win in their sights before giving up a last-minute goal to send the game to OT. In a rematch with the Sound Tigers on Saturday at home, the P-Bruins bounced back with a thorough and much-needed 5-2 victory.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.

GOOD

*** Colby Cave scored twice on Friday and once on Saturday. He has goals in four straight games and leads the team in scoring with 5-2-7 in 6 games.

*** Jacob Forsbacka Karlsson had a beautiful assist on Cave’s third-period score on Friday.

*** Jeremy Lauzon had 2 assists on Saturday, including a pretty pass that sent Jan Kovar in for a goal. He has 1-3-4 in 6 games after putting up 7 points in 52 games last season.

*** Kovar scored his first goal for the P-Bruins in his first game on Saturday.

*** Cameron Hughes did nice work in helping set up Jakub Zboril’s goal on Friday, then scored his first goal as a pro to give Providence an early lead on Saturday.

*** Trent Frederic had a strong game on Saturday with a fight and two goals.

*** Give Zane McIntyre credit for a quality start with 25 saves in the win on Saturday.

*** Providence’s penalty kill is ranked second in the league at 91.7 percent. They’ve killed 22 of 24 penalties.

*** Jordan Szwarz was named captain on Friday.

BAD

*** The P-Bruins gave up a goal 42 seconds into the third period on Friday night, then allowed the Sound Tigers to tie it with 41 seconds left in regulation time on a goal Dan Vladar might like to have back.

*** The P-Bruins took too many penalties (6) on Friday, but the interference call against  Lauzon early in the third period was very shaky.

UGLY

*** McIntyre and Vladar have a combined save percentage of .857.

*** Jordan Szwarz hit his head on the ice after being slew-footed on Friday. No penalty was called.

*** Injured: Szwarz, Mark McNeill, Chris Breen, Emil Johansson, David Broll.

Notes on Kovar, Cave and a P-Bruins win

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PROVIDENCE – The first game of Jan Kovar’s Bruins tryout went pretty well, all things considered.

The 28-year-old from the Czech Republic, signed to a PTO this week, looked a little rusty at times in Providence’s 5-2 win over Bridgeport on Saturday night, but was more noticeable as the game went on.

Centering Peter Cehlarik and Martin Bakos, Kovar scored a goal 41 seconds into the third period. He took a pretty pass from Jeremy Lauzon and broke in on the Sound Tigers net. Goalie Jeremy Smith turned aside the initial shot, but Kovar backhanded the rebound into the net, giving the P-Bruins a 4-1 lead.

Coach Jay Leach smiled when asked for his impressions of Kovar’s performance.

“He’s an interesting guy. I don’t know if you would call him the fleetest of foot. By the same token, he gets himself right in there. He’s not afraid of confrontation. He’s clearly a heady player, makes some plays. It was nice to see him score a goal,’’ Leach said.

“For a first game, having not really skated in the last couple of weeks, I thought it was a pretty good showing. It will be nice to get him in practice this week for a full week. He can get acclimated to the power play and his line.’’

Cave takes scoring lead

In his fourth season in Providence, Colby Cave is off to a fine start, leading the team in points with seven in six games. After scoring twice on Friday night, Cave netted his fifth goal on Saturday, tipping in a Lauzon shot to give the P-Bruins a 2-0 lead early in the first period.

“He’s really skating, I think, and it does appear he’s got a lot more confidence with the puck. He finds himself in scoring areas more than in the past and he’s been able to bury it. He looks more confident and he’s kind of leading the charge for us. He’s been good,’’ said Leach.

Timely victory

Even though Providence was missing captain Jordan Szwarz, Chris Breen and Emil Johansson due to injuries and illness and Urho Vaakanainen was recalled by Boston, they jumped on Bridgeport early and kept their foot on the gas.

“We needed that. It was a fast start, which was nice, with a couple of goals,’’ Leach said. “For the most part, our team played as a team and did the things we wanted to do and rebounded after a tough loss (on Friday) night.’’

Zane McIntyre stopped 25 shots for Providence.

“He was solid. When we needed a save, he made it, which is all we can ask for. It was nice to give him some support,’’ said Leach.

Strong game for Frederic

Trent Frederic was involved all night on Saturday, fighting pesky Connor Jones of the Sound Tigers just a few shifts into the game and scoring twice.

“He was obviously physical early. We talked a lot to Freddy after (Friday) night’s game. We really wanted him to become physical and also stop and start and get engaged. He was, in fact, doing that early and it was nice to see  him score some goals,’’ Leach said.

Nights off

Jeremy Lauzon was a scratch for last Sunday’s game in Springfield. Leach called it a “mental break.’’

Similarly, Jacob Zboril sat out a game a couple of weekends ago, and Cehlarik was a scratch on Friday.

“We’ve been doing that with some of these guys. We’re trying, A., to take advantage of when we have numbers and, B., if we think a guy needs to work on certain things in his game, that’s what we’re going to do,’’ Leach said on Saturday morning.

“We wanted to take advantage of having healthy bodies. It’s really more of an organizational approach, with the amount of three-in-threes that we have. Last year, I think we got away from it a little bit. It’s a fine line.’’

McNeill injured

Already missing Szwarz, Breen, Johansson and David Broll, the P-Bruins lost Mark McNeill to what looked to be a leg injury in the first period. Leach said McNeill “is probably week to week.”

 

Clappers, wristers, rebounds & tip-ins

Odds and ends from here and there:

— The last time the Providence Bruins went 1-4 to start a season was in 2010-11. At the end of that season, coach Rob Murray was let go after his team, which went through 51 players, missed the playoffs.

To this point in the young AHL season, only the 0-5 Hershey Bears have a worse record, but the P-Bruins have plenty of talent and time to straighten things out.

Providence again has a young team. Four rookies and six second-year players were in their lineup on Sunday.

There is reason to believe that the mistakes that have plagued them early on will start to fade away. And it’s only a matter of time before proven AHL point producers such as Peter Cehlarik and Jordan Szwarz get untracked.

Veteran defenseman Cody Goloubef, who missed the first two games while recovering from an injury, hasn’t hit his stride yet. And Martin Bakos, a big, skilled winger from Slovakia who was injured in Boston’s training camp, could be ready to go this weekend. Expect him to add some offensive punch.

It says here the P-Bruins will figure it out.

— This should be a fun college hockey weekend in Providence.

Fifth-ranked Providence College plays its first Hockey East game of the season against Connecticut on Friday night at Schneider Arena.

On Saturday, Brown will host scrimmages with two Ivy League rivals at Meehan Auditorium.

The schedule: Brown vs. Princeton at 12:30; Princeton vs. Yale at 2:15; Brown vs. Yale at 4.

Parker Ford of Wakefield, R.I., is off to a good start in his second season with Sioux City of the USHL. The 2000-born forward, a Providence College commit, has four goals in his first four games. Ford is an assistant captain with the Musketeers. Friar commit Luke Johnson is the captain.

— Congrats to Rhode Islanders Dennis Cesana (Providence and Michigan State) and Mike Lombardi (Barrington and Quinnipiac), who played their first NCAA games over the weekend. Cesana was credited with an assist on Saturday against Northern Michigan.

— With its top line firing on all cylinders, the Boston Bruins have a chance to make some hay on the road over the next week with games at Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Ottawa. It was good to see Anders Bjork get on the board, albeit in garbage time against the awful Red Wings.

— Kudos to Scott Borek, who earned his first win as Merrimack’s head coach on Friday, a 1-0 victory over Bentley.

The 17 years between head coaching wins for Borek is a record, according to the College Hockey News.

The Warriors were picked for last place in the Hockey East coaches poll. No big deal, says Borek.

At Hockey East media day a couple of weeks ago, he said his message to his team about the poll would be as follows: “Polls are just other people’s expectations. Don’t wear them. If you wear them, that’s your fault.’’

Borek said he is better equipped to be successful than he was when he took his last head coaching job at Lake Superior.

“When I first got to Lake Superior, I thought it was, unfortunately, all about me. ‘Hey, this is what I’ve got to do.’ It’s not all about you.’ It’s about the other people in the coaches’ room and in the locker room. It’s about everybody else,’’ he said.

“My most recent job with Nate (Leaman at Providence College), the turnover they had and the success that they continue to have as he hires the right people, I need to do the same thing.’’

David Berard’s many friends around college hockey were happy to hear last week that his contract as head coach at Holy Cross has been extended through 2022. The Crusaders are always competitive and Berard is one of college hockey’s best ambassadors.