Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend


The Providence Bruins won one and lost one on the road over the weekend. They defeated Binghamton, 4-1, on Friday and lost to Hershey, 3-2, on Saturday.

“That’s been our best game to date,’’ coach Jay Leach said of the win in Binghamton. “We were excellent. It started with the physicality. That set the tone. We did everything right. We talked about that rink. It’s a really challenging place to play. The guys handled it really well.’’

The P-Bruins weren’t as good on Saturday against a Bears team that won only one of its first seven games.

“From the get-go, we weren’t ready to match their urgency. We were still in it and we had flashes. I don’t want to say we were terrible, but we were definitely not as urgent as they were in wanting to get that game. It’s a good lesson for us. We actually talked about it (Monday) morning. We want to be a team that shows up every night and is able to match that intensity. It’s a great learning lesson,’’ Leach said.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly:


*** Austin Czarnik continues to score at a 2-points-per-game pace (4-6-10 in 5 games). He scored twice on the power play on Friday and assisted on both goals on Saturday. Czarnik is shooting more, averaging four shots a game compared to two per game last season. It’s paying off.

*** It was a physical first period in the small Binghamton rink, but the P-Bruins took care of business –particularly Chris Breen and Sena Acolatse. Breen knocked the Devils’ John Quenneville out of the game with a big hit, then made quick work of Ben Thomson in a fight. Acolatse let a couple of the Devils know he was ready to go, but there were no takers.

*** Josh Hennessy, who scored 99 goals in four seasons with Binghamton, potted his first tally of the season in his return to the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena.

*** With an assist on Hennessy’s goal, Jeremy Lauzon recorded his first point as a pro.

*** The Anton Blidh-Colby Cave-Acolatse line was very effective on Friday. Blidh scored his third goal in two games after a clever play by Emil Johansson and Acolatse.

*** Colton Hargrove had a solid weekend, scoring his first two goals of the season on Saturday.

*** Tommy Cross assisted on both of Czarnik’s goals on Friday.

*** The P-Bruins finished the weekend with a .750 winning percentage, tied for first in the Eastern Conference with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Lehigh Valley.


*** Providence was outshot, 12-6, in the first period in Hershey

*** Injured: Peter Cehlarik (lower body) has missed the last three games.


*** Providence gave up 3 power play goals in 6 shorthanded situations in Hershey.

*** After Saturday’s game in Pennsylvania, the P-Bruins’ bus didn’t get back to The Dunk until 4 a.m.

Friars make some hay


PROVIDENCE — Good goaltending, solid defense and timely scoring can take a team a long way, as Providence College showed over the weekend.

The #11/10 Friars notched a 2-1 win over #19 Boston College on Friday, then beat #6 Boston University, 3-0, on Saturday. Expect PC to move up in the polls on Monday.

While there were a number of contributors, Hayden Hawkey and Erik Foley are at the top of the list. In stopping 46 of 47 shots over two nights, Hawkey provided the kind of stout play that Nate Leaman has been looking for. Up front, Foley scored a big-time goal each night.

“We’re a young team learning to win. It’s a good weekend for us but it’s still very early in the year. We’ve got to keep growing and get better,” Leaman said on Saturday night.

Here are some quick hits on the weekend:


After three subpar games, Hawkey took some heat from Leaman in my Friday column in The Providence Journal. The junior netminder responded in the best possible way.

“I thought (Friday) night in the first period (Hawkey) was outstanding for our team because BC had really good push. We were a fragile team in that first period last night and Hayden kind of kept us in there and we got to the locker room only down one and were able to regroup. He was excellent,” Leaman said.


Back after missing a couple of games with an upper-body injury, Foley had his power game going, showing off his blistering wrist shot and beating his World Junior teammates Joseph Woll of BC and Jake Oettinger of BU.

“It’s nice to have him healthy and back in our lineup. He’s a game-changer for us,” said Leaman.

“The goal he scored (Friday) night was a game changer, got our bench going. Obviously, getting that second goal for us tonight, it was a heck of a play, a great shot. He had to beat a big-time goaltender on that goal. He can do it.”


Sophomore defenseman Jacob Bryson has been PC’s best player through seven games. He retrieves pucks, defends and plays the point on the power play. Listed at 5-9 and 177 pounds, the Buffalo fourth-round pick has five assists so far.

“He’s a very smart player. He’s got excellent feet. His breakout decisions are outstanding,” said Leaman.

“The best thing about him is he brings a great level of poise to our bench and to our team. He’s a guy that we’re going to have to put a letter on his jersey because that’s what he means to our team, even though he’s a sophomore.

“He settles our team down. He goes out and makes plays. I would like him to shoot the puck a little bit more, so it was nice that he had six (against BU).”


One of the interesting games within the game on Saturday was the matchup between powerhouse BU winger Jordan Greenway and Friar defenseman Desharnais.

The two very large men — Greenway at 6-5 and Desharnais at 6-6 — went at each other all night, and traded words several times, too.

“Vinnie played a good game. I thought Greenway played a good game. He didn’t come off the ice the first five or six minutes of that third period. Vinnie did a good job against a really good player,” said Leaman.


PC’s senior captain isn’t producing points at his usual rate — he has a goal and three points in seven games — but there’s no cause for concern, according to Leaman.

“They’ll come for him. Same with Scott Conway, (who) hasn’t scored a goal yet. Both of those guys are two of our top three in scoring chances for. Brian has to stay patient. He has to play the game the right way and not cheat the game and he’ll continue to get chances.

“He had a great look (on Saturday) and he missed the empty net on the cross-ice pass from (Jacob) Bryson. He shoots a lot of pucks during the week. It’ll come for Brian,” Leaman said.


PC went 5-2 in October, with four of the seven games against ranked opponents. Not too shabby, especially with three freshman defensemen taking regular shifts. At the same time, some shortcomings came to light that Leaman and his staff can work on.

“Playing Clarkson, playing BU, BC, I’m seeing some areas that when you play at this level, there are things we can improve upon,” said Leaman.

“I thought BU played faster than us in the first period. The second period we played pretty fast hockey. We have to get better at that.

“Our D want to take a stickhandle or they want to stop their feet. There are areas where we can grow. When you play this level of competition, it’s great for us. It shows you the holes you’ve got to fill.”


It was a tough weekend for coach David Quinn’s tremendously talented Terriers, who dropped a heartbreaker to #1 Denver on Friday night. Now it’s about getting ready for Friday night’s rematch with PC at Agganis Arena.

“We’re so young and mentally fragile. We feel sorry for ourselves in a hurry. We’ve got to get over it. Providence didn’t care that we lost last night with 16 seconds to go. Greatest advice I ever got from my father was, ‘Nobody cares,’ ” said Quinn.

“We get to play them again next Friday night. We’ve got a week of practice to prepare for it and hopefully shake this off. … We’ve got to move past this. We can’t let this get in the way of next weekend.”

P-Bruins Gameday — On to Chocolatetown


After a 4-1 win in Binghamton last night, the Providence Bruins are in Hershey for a 7 o’clock game against the Bears tonight.

Jordan Binnington will start in net for Providence, which opens the night in a tie with San Antonio for the top winning percentage in the AHL at .857.

It’s the P-Bruins’ first trip back to the scene of one of their biggest triumphs of the 2016-17 season — a seven-game victory over Hershey in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs in May. Trailing 3 games to 2, the P-Bruins won Games 6 and 7 at the Giant Center.

Wayne Simpson, one of the heroes of Game 7 for the P-Bruins with a goal and two assists, is now playing for the Bears after landing an NHL contract with Washington over the summer.

Hershey, coming off a 3-2 loss at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last night, has started slow, with a 1-5-0-1 record. The Bears’ goaltending is in shambles with an .860 save percentage as Pheonix Copley and Vitek Vanecek recover from injuries. Adam Carlson took the loss last night. Former Boston College star Parker Milner is Hershey’s other goalie.

Providence again will be without Peter Cehlarik (lower body). Rob O’Gara returns to the lineup.

The lines for Providence:





The D:






P-Bruins Game Day — Weekend starts in Binghamton

clean Zane McIntyre starts in goal for the Providence Bruins in Binghamton tonight against the Devils.

The P-Bruins will be without Peter Cehlarik (day to day, lower body).

Brown University alumnus Nick Lappin is tied for the Devils scoring lead with 4-2-6 in 5 games.

The Devils are in second place in the North Division behind Toronto.

Here are the P-Bruins lines:





On defense:



Clifton or Johansson-Grzelcyk

Binnington is the back up

After the game, the P-Bruins move on to Hershey to play the Bears on Saturday.

Szwarz in mix for NHL callup


Jordan Szwarz beats Syracuse’s Mike McKenna during the Eastern Conference Finals in May.

PROVIDENCE — This is Jordan Szwarz’ seventh season in the AHL. He last played in the NHL with Arizona at the tail end of the 2014-15 season.

At age 26 and on his second NHL organization, he’s crossed the line from prospect to depth player. But don’t even think about closing the book on his goal of making it as an NHLer.

With David Krejci out for at least the next two games, Szwarz could be in line for a recall if Boston decides it needs to add a forward. (UPDATE: Boston recalled Danton Heinen on Thursday morning) In a bottom six role, he is more than capable.

Szwarz, who is comfortable at both center and right wing, is coming off a weekend in which he scored five goals plus a shootout game-winner for the Providence Bruins. Boston GM Don Sweeney was in the house for two of those games.

Arizona’s fourth round pick in 2009, Szwarz played 35 NHL games for the Coyotes over two seasons and scored 4 goals.

He started last season with the P-Bruins on a PTO, but earned an AHL contract in short order. He went on to lead the team with 22 goals and 54 points, both career bests. He’s off to a fast start this season with 5-3-8 in 4 games.

Szwarz is achieving something that isn’t seen all that often in players who have put in as much time as he has in the AHL: He’s still getting better.

It’s a tribute to his work ethic and willingness to compete.

“That’s just who he is. He’ll be 38 and he’ll be doing that. That’s his makeup,’’ said Providence coach Jay Leach. “He’s always going to get the most out of what he’s got. He’s an awesome example for our guys.’’

Bruins executive director of player personnel John Ferguson Jr. is on board, too.

“Without question, he continues to improve as a pro. He’s become a top player at this level. Plays all 200 feet of ice. Plays all situations. And he plays hard. You’ve got to give him credit. He continues to work at his craft,” he said.

Szwarz, who played in a couple of NHL preseason games with Boston, is determined to reach the top again.

“I’m going to push myself as far as I can go every day. I want to get back in the NHL. That’s obviously what everyone wants to do down in this league. I’m going to do whatever it takes every day to get back there, doesn’t matter how old I am,” Szwarz said.

Szwarz credentials as a leader are well-established. He wore the ‘C’ with Saginaw of the OHL and with Portland. He wears an ‘A’ with Providence, as he did with Springfield.

Always a good defensive player, until last season Szwarz had never scored more than 12 goals in the AHL.

“I was still at a young stage in my career. I didn’t exactly have the offensive instincts that I have now. Each year that goes by, you learn more and more about the game. I think those offensive instincts are really starting to come out in my game in the last two years now,” he said.

The line of Danton Heinen, Szwarz and Austin Czarnik carried the P-Bruins last weekend. “It’s always easy playing with guys like that, good playmakers. I just want to go in and get them the puck, let them do their thing and good things happen,” said Szwarz.

If and when he gets the call from Boston, he is ready.

“I’ve played games in the NHL before as a fourth-line, energy guy. I know what it takes,” he said.

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend


The first 3-in-3 weekend of the season for the Providence Bruins couldn’t have gone any better. They beat Springfield on the road, 5-2, then returned home to beat Belleville in a shootout, 3-2, and Laval, 4-1.

Coach Jay Leach’s take: “Our game Friday was just OK. We were fortunate on our special teams. (Saturday night) we had a really strong game from start to finish. We were down and we stuck with it and obviously we were rewarded in the end. (Sunday) I think it carried through – and they’ve got some talent on that (Laval) team.”

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.


***The line of Danton Heinen, Jordan Szwarz and Austin Czarnik was on fire, accounting for eight of the P-Bruins’ 11 goals, including all five in Springfield.

*** Szwarz scored five goals and six points in three games, plus the shootout winner against Belleville. He had a total of 12 shots.

*** Czarnik put up two goals and six points, in addition to 13 shots.

*** Heinen scored a goal and seven points, with 8 shots.

***Providence scored two shorthanded goals and a power play goal in Springfield.

*** The P-Bruins started three different goalies on the weekend – Jordan Binnington on Friday, Dan Vladar on Saturday and Zane McIntyre on Sunday. All three earned victories.

*** Vladar stopped a breakaway in overtime and stuffed all three Belleville attempts in the shootout.

*** Down by two goals, Providence scored twice in 3:59 with under eight minutes left on Saturday before winning in the shootout.

***Anton Blidh had a two-goal game on Sunday.

***Providence finished the weekend in a tie for first place in the AHL with a winning percentage of .833.


***One 3-in-3 weekend down, 13 more to go.

*** Slow weekend for Jacob Forsbacka Karlsson: one assist and two shots in three games.

*** Peter Cehlarik was held out of Sunday’s game as a precaution with soreness from an undisclosed injury (not his shoulder). He is expected to practice with the team on Tuesday.


***The P-Bruins allowed a goal just 11 seconds into the second period on Saturday night.

P-Bruins on a roll


Danton Heinen (43) looks for a passing lane during a second-period power play on Sunday.

PROVIDENCE — Lots to like about the Providence Bruins this weekend. They won all three of their games and are now tied for first in the AHL with a 5-1 record and a .833 win percentage. Here are five quick hits:


After being a healthy scratch on Saturday, the 20-year-old rookie ”brought some serious energy” on Sunday, said coach Jay Leach.

“He’s like all these guys. They’ve got to find their way. Sometimes it’s not necessarily a punishment to take you out.

“In Jesse’s case, we sat down and I said, ‘Watch what happens out there (on Saturday). Watch (Jordan Szwarz) and these guys and the way they are responsible defensively and the way they make the right decisions and use their speed and do all those sorts of things.’

“He took that to heart. He came out today and he was very effective and he was doing the right things. I’m glad he took the right approach and he responded great,” Leach said.

Gabrielle nearly scored his first goal as a pro on Sunday, roaring in on a breakaway and firing a shot square off the post.


With Peter Cehlarik out of the lineup as a precaution on Sunday, Senyshyn moved up in the lineup and held his own with three shots, skating alongside Ryan Fitzgerald and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson.

“He’s slowly coming along and understanding it. (In his first five games) he never really hurts us, by any means,” said Leach.

“We’re starting to see a little bit more of the speed and when he plays with Fitz and JFK, they’re able to create offensively and he’ll find himself in those spots and maybe he’ll get a couple of looks. It was good for him to play up there with those guys and I thought he asserted himself well.”


I’ve liked what I’ve seen to this point from the two 20-year-old rookies. They’ve shown signs that they could be good players down the road.

“Usually with young defensemen in this league, you’re going to have your mistakes and they both, I would say, had some on the weekend, but you could argue (that happens with) any D. As far as playing their fifth or sixth game as a professional, they have been consistent,” said Leach, who went on to offer a little glimpse into their personalities.

“They are both really good kids. They’re different kids. One is really energetic and wants to just go everywhere and the other is a little bit more methodical. I like when they hang out together and hope that each one rubs off on the other.

“Lauzy is a little bit more high energy and wants to get in there. Jakub is more methodical and thinks the game. They’ve done a nice job, the two of them. They want to learn and they want to be good and they’re fun to work with.”


The Agostino-JFK-Cehlarik line carried the P-Bruins in the first three games of the season. In the last three, the Heinen-Szwarz-Czarnik trio has been on fire.

On the weekend, they combined for 8-11-19, plus Szwarz’ shootout winner on Saturday.

“They’re all in a good frame of mind. Obviously, (Heinen and Czarnik) came down from Boston after relatively good stints with them. Then Szwarzy came off a little bit of an injury. They are all excited to play with each other and you can tell,” said Leach.

“Like I’ve said about Peter Cehlarik – they look like they are on a mission. They want to make a difference, and they’re certainly doing so.”


How’s this for depth in goal?

Providence started three goalies on the weekend — Jordan Binnington on Friday, Dan Vladar on Saturday and Zane McIntyre on Sunday. All three came away with wins.

“Vladdy was huge for us (on Saturday night) down the stretch when we were pushing, and when you push you give up some chances. He was excellent,” said Leach.

“Binner – I don’t know when his last game was. For him to come in to a tough building (in Springfield) and play really, really well – he looked good. And then Mac coming in from Boston. All three of them did a great job.”

P-Bruins Game Day — Season’s first 3-in-3 starts in Springfield


Goalie Jordan Binnington gets some work in at this morning’s skate at The Dunk.

PROVIDENCE — With Zane McIntyre in Boston, Jordan Binnington gets his first start tonight for the Providence Bruins in Springfield.

“Quick, butterfly kid. This will be our first time getting to see him live,” Mike Dunham, Boston’s goalie development coach, said this morning.

“I think he probably just wants to get out there and play some games and show what he can do. I’m sure he’s excited to play.”

Coach Jay Leach has taken notice of Binnington’s work ethic.

“The other day, Czarnik, Szwarz and Heinen were firing pucks at him and he was all about it. He’s got a nice appetite. Probably something to prove, to be honest.  A little chip on his shoulder,” said Leach.

A third-round draft pick of St. Louis in 2011, Binnington is on loan to the P-Bruins. Dan Vladar will be the backup tonight.

Leach said no decisions have been made on who will play goal on Saturday against Belleville or Sunday against Laval, both home games.

Injury questions in Boston leave tonight’s P-Bruins lineup in flux.

Very tentatively, the lineup could look like this, but it might change depending on what happens up top. Don’t assume that anyone not listed here won’t play tonight.










Power play units could look like this:

Czarnik-Heinen-Hennessy-Szwarz-Cross with Hennessy as bumper

Henny bumper

Grzelcyk-JFK-Fitzgerald-Cehlarik-Cave with Fitzgerald and Cehlarik possibly alternating as bumper

A had-to-have-it win

nucksBOSTON – They simply had to have this one. The Boston Bruins got their best player back at last – Patrice Bergeron —  and got their ship pointed in the right direction with a badly needed 6-3 win over Vancouver.

With Tuukka Rask laid low by a concussion, Anton Khudobin stepped into the breach and stopped 26 shots. The scrambly Russian may not inspire a ton of confidence, but a win is a win is a win. The Bruins are going to need more of the same from Khudobin while Rask is out.

Here are three quick hits from the game.


What can you say about the superstar center that hasn’t been said before in his 900-game NHL career? Without him, the Bruins stumble to a 2-3 start with some losses against eminently beatable opponents. He returns from injury and Boston rolls to a win behind his goal and three assists.

Afterward, coach Bruce Cassidy had a nice take on the value of Bergeron beyond goals and assists: “I think it’s just morale as much as anything, on the bench and in the room. Those intangibles, leadership. First shift of the game, he’s standing up. They had scored a goal and (Bergeron is) kind of settling the troops down, talking about the details of the game. Finishing your routes on the forecheck, reloading all the way to our zone. Stuff that coaches preach a lot, but goes in one ear and out the other sometimes. And when you hear it from the leaders of the group, it means so much more.”


Mick Colageo of The New Bedford Standard Times mentioned this after the first period and he was right on the money. How many times over the years have we seen the Bruins get an early, extended power play, fail to take advantage and then allow that failure to cast a pall over the rest of the game?

Not last night. The Bruins took advantage of a five-minute PP by pouring in three goals in 1:37 and driving starting goalie Anders Nilsson to the bench.

“If you can make a team pay, you’re hoping on a major to get one, maybe two. All of a sudden you get three in there and especially at home, we need a little juice,” said Cassidy. “Great response by the guys, both units.”


Successful teams need guys like Tim Schaller. Whether it’s blocking shots, finishing hits, chipping in offensively or engaging in the occasional fight, he is ready to do whatever needs to be done.

When Eric Gudbranson drove Frank Vatrano’s face into the end boards, Schaller went right after the big Canucks defenseman.

“I’m going to stand up for my teammates so I jumped in,” Schaller said.

“I don’t think they want me to be a flashy guy. I’ve got to do the dirty work. I like to think I sparked the team a little bit tonight. Hopefully, I can, not necessarily fight every night, but just get the energy going for the guys.

He did just on Thursday night.