P-Bruins GameDay – Preseason ends tonight


The Providence Bruins had an optional skate this morning at the Dunkin Donuts Center.

PROVIDENCE — The biggest news of the day for the Providence Bruins is that Kenny Agostino went unclaimed after Boston placed him on waivers.

He hasn’t been assigned to the P-Bruins at this point, but they should get a big lift from the reigning AHL scoring champion and MVP if and when he does arrive.

Tonight, Zane McIntyre gets the start in net when the P-Bruins play their second and last preseason game at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

The opponent — as it was last night and will be on opening night of the regular season on Oct. 7 — will be the Springfield Thunderbirds. Tonight is Fanfest at The Dunk; doors open at 5:30 p.m.

The T-Birds beat the P-Bruins last night in Springfield, 2-1. Phil Lane scored the only goal for Providence and Mac Carruth went the distance in net.

Tommy Cross, Chris Breen, Jakub Zboril, Jordan Szwarz and Connor Clifton won’t be available tonight. They are traveling to Chicago with Boston for the parent club’s final NHL preseason game.

2015 first rounder Zach Senyshyn will skate with veterans Josh Hennessy and Chris Porter tonight after playing alongside Alex Gacek and Chase Witala on Friday.

Coach Jay Leach on Senyshyn:

“He’s got a lot of ability in regards to his skill, his speed. He’s got assets that a lot of guys don’t have. It’s going to be our job to give him some guidelines in order for him to take advantage of those things.

“(Hennessy) obviously been around and is a smart, two-way player. Porter is a guy with a lot of veteran experience, as well, and a lot of pace to his game. So, hopefully, Senny can read off the two of them and get into that mindset.

“Senny’s a first-round pick, so obviously there’s going to be expectations. He’s here, he’s going to play and when it’s time, it’s time. There’s no real timetable with that stuff, there really isn’t. There is no protocol on how guys make it.”

Clifton is expected to skate in Boston’s warmup in Chicago tonight. It remains to be decided whether he is in the lineup.

Leach on Clifton’s play on Friday night:

“Clifty was active, I’ll give him that. He’s like a lot of young defensemen – very eager to grab the puck and go. We showed him some stuff this morning on getting him to simply, being OK with just moving the puck and joining (the rush). Stuff that has probably been said to young defensemen forever.”

Tonight’s lines:

Chris Porter-Josh Hennessy-Zach Senyshyn

Colton Hargrove-Colby Cave-Adam Payerl

Jesse Gabrielle-Alex Gacek-Justin Hickman

Anton Blidh-Lindsay Sparks-Sena Acolatse

Defense pairs:

Ben Marshall-Taylor Doherty

Jeremy Lauzon-Dylan Blujas

Dom Malatesta-Nick Luukko


Zane McIntyre

Mac Carruth

Not playing: Witala, Lane, Ryan Fitzgerald, Ryan Penny


P-Bruins Game Day — preseason edition


At the Dunkin’ Donuts Center this morning, coach Jay Leach talks to the players who will make the trip to Springfield for Friday night’s preseason opener.

PROVIDENCE — Mac Carruth will start in net for the Providence Bruins when they hit the road to play the first of two preseason games against the Springfield Thunderbirds tonight at the MassMutual Center.

Two groups of players skated at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center this morning. The first group will play tonight. Most but not all the players in the second group will be in the lineup on Saturday night when the P-Bruins and T-Birds play again at The Dunk.

Boston is expected to take a handful of Providence players to Chicago for their final game of the NHL preseason on Saturday night.

Zane McIntyre will start in goal for Providence on Saturday night.

Some cuts are expected to be made on Sunday.

Here are Providence’s lines tonight:

Lindsay Sparks-Josh Hennessy-Adam Payerl

Anton Blidh-Ryan Fitzgerald-Justin Hickman

Chase Witala-Alex Gacek-Zach Senyshyn

Colton Hargrove-Ryan Penny-Phil Lane

D pairs:

Ben Marshall-Dylan Blujus

Dom Malatesta-Taylor Doherty

Connor Clifton-Nick Luukko


Mac Carruth

Brendan Leahy

Report from P-Bruins camp


Alex Gacek looks for a rebound in front of goalie Mac Carruth on Wednesday.

PROVIDENCE — Training camp is underway for the Providence Bruins and that means things are in a state of flux.

It is expected to remain that way at least until next week. Boston has assigned some players to Providence and there is a healthy contingent of tryout players. Who will still be here on opening night on Oct. 7 remains to be decided.

Boston wraps up its preseason schedule with games in Philadelphia on Thursday and in Chicago on Saturday. Final NHL cuts aren’t expected for several more days.

That leaves “a lot of question marks” for the P-Bruins, according to first-year head coach Jay Leach.

“We’ve got some guys here that we’d like to see play and take a look at, which we will. The lineups (for Providence’s preseason games), though, will be TBD,” he said after Wednesday’s workout at The Dunkin Donuts Center.

The P-Bruins’ two preseason tilts will be Friday at Springfield and Saturday vs. Springfield at The Dunk. Start time both nights is 7 o’clock.

“The first day of the NHL season is probably when things will start to settle down. There’s obviously guys fighting for jobs up there. (Boston) might not know until the end. We’ll see,” Leach said.

He is satisfied with the first two days of camp.

“Both skates have been pretty intense. They’ve had some jump for sure, which is nice to see. We have a nice blend of guys that have been here, and they’re really kind of setting the tone, which is nice.

“And then there’s some tryout guys that really are borderline American Hockey League players. I don’t know if we’ve had as much depth in the past as we do this year,” he said.

Fitzgerald on the rise

Since the start of rookie camp early this month, no Bruins forward prospect has done more to raise his stock than Ryan Fitzgerald.

He played well at the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo, then followed up with a strong camp with Boston before being sent to Providence on Tuesday.

“He’s smart. He gets inside people. From the hashmarks in, he’s light’s out. And he’s got his dad’s balls,” said Leach.

The 22-year-old — a fourth-round pick in 2013 — is a player to watch with the P-Bruins.

Loose pucks

Skilled center/left wing Chase Witala is in camp on a tryout. He was Jesse Gabrielle’s teammate in Prince George of the WHL. He has an ECHL deal with Atlanta. … Another camp tryout is 6-foot-2 winger Phil Lane. He’s played four seasons in the AHL — three with Portland and one with Springfield. …The line of Fitzgerald, Jordan Szwarz and Adam Payerl looked good on Wednesday. … Tryout Josh Hennessey, who played in Sweden for the last two-plus seasons, looked good, too. Hennessey scored 19 goals and 41 points in 69 games with Providence in 2011-12. The 32-year-old is a handy player to have around. “He can play on your first line or your fourth line,” said Leach.

Notes from Hockey East Media Day

BOSTON — Year after year, Hockey East churns out stars who leave early to sign NHL contracts. It’s one of the reasons why the league is so competitive and entertaining.

It’s easy to choose the 2017 All-Early Departure team:

G – Colin Delia (Merrimack and Chicago)

D – Charlie McAvoy (Boston University and Bruins)

D – Jake Walman (Providence College and St. Louis)

F – Clayton Keller (BU and Arizona)

F – Anders Bjork (Notre Dame and Bruins)

F – Tage Thompson (Connecticut and St. Louis)

Not a bad squad, eh?

After watching Bjork fit in nicely with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand in Boston’s preseason win over Chicago on Monday night, I had early signees on my mind as I arrived at Tuesday’s Hockey East Media Day at the TD Garden. I talked with a couple of coaches and a player who figures to leave school early in a year or two.

“The league overall, I think, has gotten younger, and it’s because of (underclassmen leaving). As coaches now, you go into it and know that when you get a good player and he develops the right way, he’s probably not going to be there for all four years,” said PC coach Nate Leaman.

“We’re one of the programs that every year we’ve had one or two guys that signed early. You think back, it would have been nice to have Noel Acciari and Jon Gillies the year after we won the national championship. Those two guys would have helped us win another one. That’s the game now – and the NHL is younger,” Leaman said.

“A couple of years ago, I think Carolina had two defensemen that jumped straight from our league to the NHL in (Brett) Pesce and (Noah) Hanifin. Defense is a hard position to (make that) jump, but when you can show the guys, you know what, if you play in Hockey East, you can make that jump to the NHL. I think that’s very attractive.

BU’s David Quinn recruits first round draft picks year in and year out. A stud like Jack Eichel is one and done.

“You’ve got to bring them in and there’s a little bit of a thought process when you’re recruiting them, guys you know aren’t going to be there for the four years. You can’t have too many of those guys, because you need seniors to win, you do.

“It speaks to the competitiveness of our league. I’m sitting in the Hockey East coaches meeting and I’m looking around and thinking, ‘God, there’s a lot of good coaches.’ The competition is fierce, not only on the ice but in the recruiting world. That’s why our league has had so much success,” he said.

UMass freshman Cale Makar was selected fourth by Colorado last June. He’ll give the Minutemen a big shot of energy this season and maybe next, but don’t expect him to spend more than a couple of winters in Amherst.

“One of the big reasons why I committed to UMass was Hockey East. I knew it was such a competitive conference and they’re able to bring in some of the best talent. To know that you get to play against those guys and have the ability to get better, that was the way that I looked at it during the recruiting process,” he said.

In freshman Brady Tkachuk, Quinn and the Terriers have a player who could be picked in the top five next June.

You never know. Maybe Makar and Tkachuk will headline the 2018 Early Departure team.

Poll position for PC

The Friars, who open the season at Miami on Oct. 6, were picked third in the Hockey East Coaches’ Poll behind BU and Lowell.

They were ranked 11th in the season-opening USCHO.com poll and fifth in the USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine poll.

The Friars will be tested right out of the gate, with two at Miami, a home game against Boston College, a trip to St. Lawrence and Clarkson, followed by home tilts vs. BC and Boston University.

“We’ll find out where we are a month into the season,” said Leaman.

The Friars are healthy to start the year. “We’ve got everyone out of red jerseys now. We don’t have any health concerns as of right now,” he said.

I’ll have more on PC next week.

Bright NHL future for Bjork

Leaman and the Friars saw plenty of Bjork last season.

“We played Notre Dame four times down the stretch. When I went back and watched the film, he’s involved in almost every one of their scoring chances. Over four games, we really didn’t have a way to stop him. (Jake Evans) is a very good player, also, and they worked off each other.

“With his speed and his skill, Bjork was impossible to stop. They might have 15 scoring chances and he’d be involved in 12 of them. You’d go, wow, he was that good and that good consistently,” he said.

Doherty debut upcoming

Rhode Islander Timmy Doherty put up a lot of points with the ’95 Providence Capitals, St. George’s School and the Junior Bruins. Now that he’s finally eligible to play at Maine, maybe he can give the Black Bears’ offense a boost.

“Timmy’s a competitive kid, a real thoughtful kid. He fits in the locker room real well because he understands the dynamics of human relationships, so even though he hasn’t played a game for us, we’ve already seen some leadership ability,” said coach Red Gendron.

“As a hockey player, Timmy’s competitive but he’s also very smart. One of his biggest assets is his hockey sense, on both sides of the puck. We’re hoping he can be a big contributor right away.”

Monday night takeaways

gardenFrom a Bruins point of view, there was plenty to like about Monday night’s 4-2 win over Chicago at the TD Garden. Here are thoughts on five players:


Subban played a good game, making 24 saves. The highlight came in the third period when he made three dazzling stops in a scramble around his net. The athleticism he displayed in that sequence is what continues to make Subban, 23, an intriguing prospect, even after four years in the AHL.

Subban has had some tough outings at the Garden, so it was nice to see him get a little love from the crowd. “I’m not gonna lie. It felt pretty good,’’ he said with a smile after the game. “I just tried to stay focused and dialed in … and finish strong.’’

If the Bruins send Subban to Providence, as appears likely as long as Anton Khudobin doesn’t fall on his face in the final week of camp, he will have to pass through waivers. He is playing well right now, which makes you wonder if there is a team out there that might be willing to take a shot.


Paired with Charlie McAvoy, O’Gara led all Bruins in ice time with 22:28 and recorded two hits and blocked two shots.

The former Yale defenseman played with a lot of confidence. “That’s the biggest thing for me. I’m able to play my game when I’m most comfortable, most involved. Getting involved early on helped me play with confidence the rest of the game,’’ he said.

O’Gara, according to coach Bruce Cassidy, is “really closing well, defending hard. He’s working on making that good first pass. I liked his game. I’ve liked his whole camp.” Me, too.


It was another positive night for Bjork, who had a nice finish on a pass by Patrice Bergeron. Pencil him in at right wing with Brad Marchand and Bergeron on opening night and get your popcorn ready.

“He’s got skill, speed, and courage. He gets to the dirty areas. He’s hard to play against, second effort on pucks. It’s not one-and-done with him. And for a young kid, that’s special, to be able to hang in and there and battle for those turnovers,” said Cassidy.

The rookie promises to be productive and lots of fun to watch.


I liked his game a lot. He got off to a good start when he threw a hit on a Chicago player and it led to David Pastrnak’s early goal.

Cassidy summed up what he expects from Spooner. “I don’t know if physicality is the proper term. What I want to see is compete. We’ve talked about that. I don’t expect Ryan Spooner to lead our team in hits. But he has to win his share of pucks. How you do that, hard on your stick, sometimes it is body position, sometimes it is knocking a guy off the puck. It was good to see, and it led directly to – we come back up the ice, he makes a play, [Matt] Beleskey passes it and we score a goal,” he said.

“Then the third period, specifically, put him out for a D-zone faceoff and he won one, he won maybe both. Just some situations that he knows he has to be harder in, I think the rest of his game will take care of itself. But I thought he was good in that area of the game tonight.’’


Chicago’s rookie winger is a handful at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds. He played with bite on Monday, firing a rocket under the bar for a goal on one of his game-high four shots and getting under the skin of more than one Bruin.

O’Gara broke into a smile when asked about his former Yale teammate. “He plays with so much intensity, it’s awesome. He had a nice goal, too. It’s fun to see (fellow Bulldog Kenny Agostino) at our camp and (Hayden) having some good success with Chicago. It’s awesome to see them come up through the ranks and succeed,’’ O’Gara said.

College hockey is right around the corner

Princeton men's hockey vs. Brown

Tommy Davis played 97 games for Princeton before graduating last spring. He will be playing at Providence College this season as a graduate student. [Photo by BEVERLY SCHAEFER / Princeton University Athletics]

College hockey is just a couple of week away. My Providence College coverage in The Providence Journal this season kicks off with a story about defenseman Tommy Davis. You can read it here:



Another strong game for the kids

The preseason is getting more interesting by the day for the Boston Bruins. They beat the Detroit Red Wings, 4-2, on Tuesday night and for the second straight night some of their young players had impressive games.

While I couldn’t make it to the Garden, I did watch the game on the stream provided by the team.

Here are takeaways on five players:


Czarnik was a standout, winning races all over the ice. As coach Bruce Cassidy alluded to after the game, the newcomers have gotten a lot of attention leading up to training camp and in the first few days, perhaps overshadowing some of the returnees. With a penalty-shot goal and pretty setup on Teddy Purcell’s score, Czarnik served notice that he is not going to be overlooked.


The Czech defenseman has a lot of tools, but he’s had trouble at times keeping his toolbox organized. He showed off his offensive game by making a beautiful play to set up a Ryan Fitzgerald goal, and he had a couple of missteps, too. At the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo,  I was impressed by the fact that he owned up to playing poorly in the opening game and then rebounded with a strong game. I expect him to be an interesting player to watch in Providence this season.


No points to show for it, but I thought DeBrusk played well with linemates David Krejci and David Pastrnak on Tuesday. As he showed in Providence last season, he’s a 200-foot player who can make plays as well as finish.


O’Gara was very good, logging a team-high ice time of 24:44 (partly out of necessity after Torey Krug took a puck in the mouth and the Bruins were left with five defensemen).  He moved the puck with confidence and was physical when he needed to be.


He scored a goal and was hard on the puck. Not the fastest or the biggest player, but he’s smart and he competes. Another player to watch in Providence.

Not-so-deep thoughts on preseason opener


A pair of Providence College grads, Tim Schaller (59) and Noel Acciari (55), celebrate Schaller’s shorthanded goal in the second period in Quebec City on Monday night. (Canadian Press Photo)

While working at the Projo on Monday night, I was able to watch a healthy chunk of the Boston-Montreal preseason opener from Quebec City on the French-language RDS feed (stick tap to my friend Jeff Scharver for the head’s up).

It was a solid game for youngsters and veterans alike as, after falling behind 0-2, the Bruins ralled for a 3-2 win. Tim Schaller’s nifty shorthanded snipe was the winner.

Here are takeaways on five players:

ANDERS BJORK: The former Notre Dame winger continued to impress, scoring a power play goal and being selected as the No. 1 star. With each of the three games he’s played, starting with the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo, he has looked more comfortable. His offensive instincts jump out at you.

RYAN SPOONER: This is a big year for Spooner and last night he got off to a good start, centering a line with Bjork and Matt Beleskey. Playing against his former coach, Claude Julien, Spooner flashed his speed and puck-handling ability, particularly on the power play. He’s going to need to keep it up.

COLBY CAVE: I’m a fan of the smart, two-way center, who is heading into his third season as a pro, and I believe he will play games in the NHL at some point this season. Last night he was around the puck a lot. He and linemates Schaller and Zach Senyshyn had some good possession shifts in the Montreal end.

MALCOLM SUBBAN: He let in the only two goals from point-blank range – the second bounced in off a shin pad —  but I can’t blame him for either of them. I like the way he kept his cool in spite of a tough break.

JESSE GABRIELLE: Coming off a strong showing in Buffalo, he went to the front of the net and scored Boston’s first goal off a perfect Riley Nash pass. I’m getting the feeling that he’s going to make it very hard for management to send him to Providence.

NAHL Generals off to solid start


The Northeast Generals and Johnstown Tomahawks opened the North American Hockey League season with three games at the New England Sports Village.

ATTLEBORO — After winning only four games in 2016-17, the Northeast Generals are determined to make sure this year is much different.

So far, so good.

The Generals opened their season by winning their first two games against the Johnstown Tomahawks, 4-2 on Wednesday and 5-1 on Thursday, before dropping a 3-2 decision on Friday.

The message to their North American Hockey League opponents should be clear.

“It’s not going to be a walk in the park for the other teams if they come in thinking they can blow right by us. We’re going to make teams work hard to beat us this year,” said coach Joe Lovell.

“We added some nice pieces to the puzzle.  Some young guys have stepped in right away and contributed, defensively and offensively. I’m very happy with our start,” he said.

Against Johnstown, the Generals generated chances, outshooting the Tomahawks in all three games. They played solid defense and received good goaltending from David Fessenden and Marko Sturma.

All in all, it was a welcome change for a team that went 4-53-3 in its inaugural season.

“The kids have bought in pretty well. We have a lot to go over and still there’s room for a lot of growth. That’s the best part about the team right now. We haven’t really hit our stride yet. We’ve got some nice chemistry and we’ll just run with it as we go,” said Lovell.

The Generals, with a mix of returnees and newcomers, received goals from 10 different players in the first three games. Captain Colin Bilek, a ’97 from Michigan, and ’98 Louis Boudon, a rookie from France, are the leading scorers with a goal and four points each.

Bilek, the team’s top scorer a year ago, is helping point his teammates in the right direction.

“He has been a great leader, helping the new kids adjust to the level and the pace (of the NAHL). He’s been great in the locker room for us,” Lovell said.

The Generals have two protected players in camp with Cedar Rapids of the USHL, Lowell commit Brian Chambers and Northeastern commit Matt Demelis.

“We’re hoping they stick. It’s great for us to show that we can push guys on to the USHL,” Lovell said.

Next stop is the NAHL Showcase. On Monday, the Generals fly to Blaine, Minn., where they will play games against Coulee Region, Austin, Kenai River and Amarillo at the Schwan Super Rink.

Lovell believes they can keep up the momentum they built in their first three games.

“The kids on our team have a lot of heart. The work ethic, the effort, the desire is there,” he said.

5 takeaways from the Prospects Challenge


The Bruins pummeled the Devils, 9-3, on Monday. Boston finished with a 2-1 record.

Five takeaways from the Prospects Challenge:


The impressive performance of many of the Bruins youngsters in Buffalo underscores the opinion that Boston has quite a stable of up-and-comers. A couple of NHL scouts in attendance agreed with me that the Bruins brought the strongest group of young players.  It’s going to be fun to watch these guys as they reach for the next level.


Anders Bjork provided a glimpse of the offensive talents that have made him a highly touted prospect, scoring a goal in each of the two games he played in. “He made some really nice plays in tight. You can really see his willingness to get in there,’’ said Jay Leach. “He’s not timid. He’s not on the outside; he’s on the inside. He’s got that compete we’re looking for and the skill and speed.’’ Bjork is a lock to be on the opening night roster.


It sure looks like the Bruins have found themselves a player in center Jack Studnicka, drafted in the second round, 53rd overall, in June. The 18-year-old, who will be the captain in Oshawa this season, was a pleasant surprise. “Very impressive. He made some high-end plays. He’s in the right slots. He does a lot of nice things,’’ said Leach.


Jesse Gabrielle played well in Buffalo. He wears his heart on his sleeve. Gabrielle has a lot to say on the ice, often accompanied by a smirk, and he gets on the nerves of opponents. Off the ice, he usually has a smile on his face. Here’s hoping that if he makes it – and I think he will, at some point – he continues to let his personality shine through.


As far as the Devils, Sabres and Penguins were concerned, New Jersey’s Will Butcher was the most NHL-ready prospect, in my opinion. Buffalo has a fine prospect in defenseman Brendon Guhle,  and Justin Bailey, Nick Baptiste and Hudson Fasching looked good. While Zach Aston-Reese didn’t do much in the two Pens games that I saw, I have no doubt he will have a good rookie season.