A track meet at Meehan


PROVIDENCE — Brown and Clarkson played a sloppy but entertaining game before a sparse crowd at frosty Meehan Auditorium on Friday night, with the nationally ranked Golden Knights coming away with a 5-3 win.

A defensive struggle it was not.

“It was up and down – a track meet,” said Brown coach Brendan Whittet.

In the end, it came down to goaltending and special teams, as it so often does.

The Golden Knights went 3 for 7 with the man advantage, while Brown went 2 for 7. Jake Kielly stopped 32 of 35 in the Clarkson net, while Gavin Nieto made 23 saves on 27 shots. The last goal was an empty-netter.

“We’ve got to find a way to make sure we’re a little better in those aspects,” Whittet said.

Here are five quick hits on the game:


Surprisingly, Brown had the puck more than Clarkson did.

The Bears outshot the Golden Knights over the final two periods, 23-13. And the Bears ended up with 65-43 edge in shot attempts.

“They’re probably the best team in our league, quite honestly, and they’re a possession-driven team. They’re a team that plays fast, so for us to be able to have the puck as much as we did, to out-attempt them after that first period, we did a lot of good things. We have to find a way to build on that,” said Whittet.


Through five games, Brown’s best players have not been their best players.

Sam Lafferty, with only one goal this season, had five shots but no points on Friday.

“He’s getting better. When it’s early (in the season), sometimes you’re not as crisp in terms of the tenacity you have to play with, the strength you have to play with. He’s got great speed and he’s got to use it, but he also has to realize we’re playing a gritty team,” said Whittet.

“That goes for him, (Charlie) Corcoran, (Max) Willman – our offensive players. One of the biggest things you have to have is playing with tenacity and grit, strong on sticks. I thought they did a better job tonight, but they’ve got to keep growing in that aspect.”


Clarkson’s trio of Devin Brousseau, Nico Sturm and Brendan Rempal may be the best in the ECAC.

“That top line is legit,” Whittet said.

With a dozen NHL scouts watching, the trio totaled seven shots, but Brown kept them off the scoreboard.


Friday night was my first look at Brown freshman Alec Mehr, who has been a pleasant surprise in the early going. The night before his 20th birthday, Mehr scored a goal and added an assist. He’s now second on the team in scoring with 2-2-4 in 5 games.

At 6 feet and 195 pounds, Mehr gets his nose dirty.

“He plays the game hard. North-South game. He’ll go to the net-front. He’s really good at possessing pucks and he’s pretty responsible. He’s a fearless kid and he plays with a lot of energy, jam and jump. He’s been excellent from the get-go,” said Whittet.


There is nothing complicated about Saturday night. Brown simply has to beat St. Lawrence, which is 1-9-1 after being blitzed by Yale, 6-1, on Friday night.

“We have to find a way to get two points tomorrow,” said Whittet.

A loss would leave the Bears with a 1-5 record heading into next weekend’s trip to Quinnipiac and Princeton.

And that would be a hole that would be very hard to climb out of.

Keeping their heads above water


BOSTON — Despite a brutal run of injuries, the Boston Bruins have earned 11 points in their last 8 games. With a lineup laden with rookies and callups from Providence, they are managing to keep their heads above water while waiting for the likes of Brad Marchand, David Krejci, David Backes, Adam McQuaid, Noel Acciari, Ryan Spooner and Anton Khudobin to get healthy.

Here are three quick hits from Monday night’s 5-3 win over the Minnesota Wild:


The stat sheet showed a game-high three giveaways for David Pastrnak on Monday night. His turnover on Minnesota’s third goal was particularly egregious.

Coach Bruce Cassidy had an insightful answer when Mick Colageo of The New Bedford Standard Times asked him about the challenge of trying to get Pastrnak to be more responsible without stifling his superb offensive instincts.

“It’s a tough job right there. It’s a good question. Sometimes you’re going to give him some rope. Hopefully he doesn’t hang himself with it. Other times you are going to pull back. That’s just a feel – sometimes it matters how the rest of the group is going. Who else is in the lineup? Are you putting a better player out there in that position?” Cassidy said.

“Sometimes you just send a hard message. . . . Hey, enough is enough. There’s different ways to do it in game. Tomorrow, there’s conversations. Hey, do you want to be a leader? You’re getting into that phase of your career. Is that how leaders play? Kind of see what he thinks of the whole situation. He might have a different answer, so those are the challenges that coaches face trying to grow his game without shutting him right off. So that’s what we’ll do tomorrow.”

Interesting. I don’t suppose there will be a camera from “Behind the B” in the room when Cassidy and Pastrnak talk things over, will there?


Jordan Szwarz is a feel-good story in the making.

A year ago this week, Providence Bruins general manager John Ferguson Jr. tore up Szwarz’ tryout contract and signed him to an AHL deal.

He went on to lead the P-Bruins in scoring and earn an NHL contract for 2017-18.

Recalled from Providence three games ago, Szwarz on Monday had his best game to date. He played a solid 200-foot game, assisted on two goals and was plus-three.

And, after playing 14 minutes at center between Frank Vatrano and Jake DeBrusk, he earned an atta-boy from Cassidy.

“He competes hard. He’s on the right side of battles. He does a lot of little things well,” said Cassidy.

“I’ve liked his game. He’s had young guys on his wing and he’s doing a good job with them.”

For his part, Szwarz is feeling good about his play. “Each game that goes by I feel more and more confident,” he said.

It remains to be seen whether Szwarz can do enough to stick around after Boston’s injured players get healthy, but he is off to a good start.


He still doesn’t have any points this season, but Matt Beleskey did his part on Monday. In 11:16, he had three shots and two hits, as well as a fight with Luke Kunin just eight seconds after Vatrano had given the Bruins a 2-1 lead in the second period.

“I thought that Matt did a good job today all around the ice. He was really solid defensively, you know, he’s getting pucks behind their defenseman, and he’s another guy that had missed some games so he wants to prove that he belongs in there every night and that’s a great attitude for those guys instead of worrying about other stuff, they just went out when their number was called and played and played hard,” said Cassidy.

“So good job for Matt and that’s something that he can do for us. He has that ability, when the abrasive play starts he can answer the bell.”

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend


With a number of their better players on recall in Boston, the Providence Bruins went 1-2 over the weekend. They lost 1-0 at home to Bridgeport on Friday; defeated Hartford 5-0 on the road on Saturday; and absorbed a 6-0 beating at the hands of Bridgeport at The Dunk on Sunday.

Here’s how coach Jay Leach summed it up: “It allows us to kind of see where we’re at. We’ve lost some bodies. We’ve got guys that we’re looking at to play significant minutes. We can assess where they are and move on from there. In that regard, I think it’s a weekend that we should build upon. Obviously there are some things we need to work on.’’

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.


*** Jordan Binnington pitched a tidy 33-save shutout in Hartford. He has a .943 save percentage in three starts.

*** Dan Vladar played very well on Friday night, making 31 saves in a tough-luck loss. His save percentage in two starts is .949.

*** Providence’s power play bounced back with 2-for-3 on Saturday after going 0-for-4 on Friday.

*** After going without a point in four straight games, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson scored a goal and set up another in Hartford.

*** The puck’s not going in for Colby Cave, but he continues to play a strong 200-foot game.

*** Colton Hargrove has four points (3-1-4) in his last four games.

*** Sena Acolatse provided a physical presence with three fights and some hard hits.

*** It’s been a while since there were four fights in a game at The Dunk. Acolatse (2), Tommy Cross and Adam Payerl all answered the bell on Sunday.


*** Terry Koharski slapped Acolatse with a double minor for attempted butt-ending late in Friday’s game. Questionable, at best. Same goes for the faceoff violation called by linesman Libor Suchanek on Sunday.

*** Tough one for Zane McIntyre on Sunday. Just back from Boston and making his first start in 10 days, he gave up 6 goals on 37 shots.

*** The P-Bruins didn’t record their first shot on net until 9:14 into Friday’s game.

*** Jesse Gabrielle had a team-high 5 shots on Saturday, but couldn’t beat either of Hartford’s goalies. He’s still looking for his first goal.

*** Five of Providence next seven games are on the road.


*** Peter Cehlarik (lower body) has missed six straight games.

*** Connor Clifton was minus-four on Sunday.

A lost cause at The Dunk

bridgePROVIDENCE — How to sum up the 6-0 loss that the Providence Bruins suffered at the hands of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Sunday afternoon?

I’m going with “stink bomb.’’

It’s been many a moon since the P-Bruins have been beaten like that on home ice, and thank God for that.

Here are five quick hits on the game, which was the finale of a three-games-in-three days weekend:


Providence was outshot badly in the first 10 minutes and then gave up a pair of goals within 1:35 just after the midpoint of the period. They never recovered.

“(The Sound Tigers) clearly were ready to go and we were not. In three-in-threes, that is the cardinal sin. You get behind the eight ball early and it’s really, really hard to come back. That team over there played a real good, solid, hard game. We were not ready to match that,’’ said P-Bruins coach Jay Leach.


As long as former P-Bruins captain Brent Thompson is behind the bench, Bridgeport will make things difficult on opponents.

“The biggest takeaway (from Sunday) is being ready and able to confront a hard team like Bridgeport. That’s the hardest team we’ve played. They clearly are able to be hard on the walls, hard on pucks, well-structured. We’ve had a hard time with them, frankly, both nights. They beat us 1-0 on Friday and it wasn’t a great game for us. We clearly have something there that we’re going to need to improve upon if we want to compete against a team like that,’’ Leach said.

Providence visits Bridgeport on Dec. 3.


I can’t remember the last time there were four fights in a game at The Dunk. Home fans didn’t have much to cheer about on Sunday, but at least there were some decent bouts.

Sena Acolatse (2), Tommy Cross and Adam Payerl all answered the bell for the home team.

“I give all those guys a huge amount of credit to step up like that, really, in a nothing game on a Sunday. They were willing to show that as a team we’re not going to just take it. Kudos to all of them for doing that because it’s a tough thing to do,’’ said Leach.


Leach didn’t have any problem with the Sound Tigers using their top power play unit right up to the end, even with a big lead.

“I never really look into that stuff. As a coach, if things are clicking, you want to keep them clicking. It’s 6-0. They deserve to be up 6-0. They want to put out their (first) power play, it doesn’t bother me one way or the other,’’ said Leach.

“We put ourselves in that situation. It’s hockey and you want to score goals, that’s what you do. I have no problems with that. (Brent Thompson) is a former teammate of mine and by no means do I think he’s anything but honest and just wants his team to succeed.’’


Looking on the bright side, while Sunday was bad, Providence got some good work out of a number of players over the weekend.

“Colby Cave played really well. Up and down the lineup (in Saturday’s 5-0 win at Hartford) everyone played well. Chris Porter played terrific all weekend, great energy. Chris Breen was terrific through all three games. Tommy Cross was good,’’ Leach said.

“Zach Senyshyn was good. His last three to five games, he’s doing a lot of little things that we’ve been talking about and he’s looked good. We’ve worked with him, trying to find that inside ice and use that speed in the right way. He’s coming along.’’

P-Bruins Game Day — Hartford’s next


Veteran referee Terry Koharski in the middle of the action last night at The Dunk.

PROVIDENCE — Jordan Binnington will be in net tonight when the Providence Bruins make their first trip of the season to Hartford.

Jeremy Lauzon returns after sitting out last night with a lower-body injury. Peter Cehlarik (lower body) remains out.

The P-Bruins were sloppy early but picked it up as the game went on in last night’s 1-0 home loss to Bridgeport. The P-Bruins went 0-for-4 on the power play.

“Our power play struggled. That really hurt us, momentum wise. We had opportunities at key times in the game where you’d want a power play, and we were poor on it,” coach Jay Leach said this morning.

“And (Bridgeport is) hard. They’re a hard team. There were a few guys that weren’t really used to that hardness. They got rid of pucks quick, were a little timid. As it went on, we got a bit better, which is encouraging, but obviously it wasn’t enough.”

Providence’s lineup is depleted by callups, which gives other players a chance to shine.

“This is just what happens. We’re in that process right now where we’ve got to get these players to step up and take a bigger role than what they have been doing. This will be a learning experience for all of us, myself included. We’ve got to embrace that. The lineup is, for the most part, trying to develop some chemistry and roles for our guys because this is our group now. We’ve got to rise above,” Leach said.

Last night was another quiet one for Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, who has gone four straight games without a point, with four shots.

“He’s young and is playing at a higher level (than last season at Boston University). He’s going to be looked at as someone who’s taking charge, hard on pucks, especially as a two-way centerman, which is what he wants to be. So he’s in that process right now —  a rookie and being looked at to take charge,” said Leach.

“That’s a challenging thing to do. People expect a lot very quickly. I think he’s right where he needs to be. He’ll figure it out. This is a great opportunity for him to take a step.”

Providence lines tonight:





Defense pairs:




Vladar backs up Binnington

Out: Cehlarik (lower body), Clifton, Hickman, Johansson

Providence hosts Bridgeport again on Sunday afternoon.

P-Bruins Game Day — 3 in 3 starts with Bridgeport

cleanPROVIDENCE — Dan Vladar starts in net for the Providence Bruins tonight against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Recalled from Atlanta after Boston summoned Zane McIntyre this week, Vladar has a 2-1 record and .897 save percentage in the ECHL. In his last start with the Gladiators, he stopped 36 shots in a 4-2 win at Orlando.

The 20-year-old from Prague was terrific for Providence on Oct. 21, kicking out 25 shots in a 2-1 shootout victory over Belleville.

Among the missing tonight, both with lower-body injuries, will be Peter Cehlarik and Jeremy Lauzon. Lauzon is expected to play at some point this weekend, but Cehlarik most likely won’t, though that could change.

It’s the first meeting of the season between the P-Bruins and Sound Tigers, who are coached by former P-Bruins defensemen and teammates Jay Leach and Brent Thompson.

There was more of a rock-’em-sock-’em flavor to the AHL back when Leach and Thompson patrolled the Providence blue line in 2004-05, an NHL lockout year.

The P-Bruins had four players with over 200 penalty minutes that season: Brendan Walsh (284), Colton Orr (279), Thompson (256) and Jay Henderson (235).

Providence lines tonight:





Defense pairs




Binnington backs up Vladar

Out: Lauzon (lower body), Cehlarik (lower body), Clifton, Hickman

Providence plays at Hartford on Saturday night, then hosts Bridgeport again on Sunday afternoon.