Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend

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The Providence Bruins wrapped up the regular season by winning two out of three. They dropped a 5-3 decision at home to Charlotte on Friday; routed Springfield, 5-0, on the road on Saturday; and beat the Thunderbirds, 4-2, at home on Sunday. After finishing fourth in the Atlantic Division, they will face first-place Lehigh Valley in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs, starting with home games on Friday and Saturday.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.

GOOD

*** The P-Bruins finished seventh overall in the AHL. Four of the top seven teams in the league in the regular season were in the Atlantic Division.

*** Austin Czarnik was credited with the P-Bruins’ final regular season goal on Sunday, capping a great year for the third-year pro. He finished third in scoring in the AHL with 25-44-69 in 64 games. “He’s really raised his level to a place that’s very elite in this league,’’ said coach Jay Leach. A Group 6 free agent, Czarnik could walk as of July 1.

*** Using his speed to his advantage, Zach Senyshyn had a strong weekend, with goals on Friday and Sunday and an assist on Saturday.

*** Ryan Fitzgerald hit the 20-goal mark on Friday and added his 21st on Sunday. He had a strong rookie year with 21-16-37 in 65 games.

*** Zane McIntyre pitched a 24-save shutout on Saturday. It was his seventh of the season, the most in the AHL. He was credited with his second assist of the year on Sunday.

*** In his second game back after missing 18 with a concussion, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson scored twice and set up another on Saturday night.

*** Adam Payerl made a beautiful pass to JFK for a shorthanded goal and sniped a nice power play goal, both on Saturday.

*** Kenny Agostino had 1-3-4 in two games.

*** Jack Studnicka scored his first goal as a pro on  Saturday and Karson Kuhlman had his first assist on Sunday.

*** With crowds of 7,828 on Friday and 9,900 on Sunday, the P-Bruins finished fourth in the league with an average of 8,357, an increase of 94 over last season.

BAD

*** In Friday’s loss to Charlotte, the P-Bruins failed to score on some glorious chances early and took penalties that gave the Checkers’ very skilled forwards the opportunity to take advantage on the power play.

*** With the loss, Providence dropped from third to fourth place in the Atlantic Division.

UGLY

*** Injured: Peter Cehlarik and Josh Hennessy, upper body.

P-Bruins Gameday — JFK’s back & there’s lots on the line vs. Checkers

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PROVIDENCE – The Providence Bruins will close out the regular season with their 14th and final three-in-three, starting with a home game against the Charlotte Checkers Friday night at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

It’s an important game in terms of playoff positioning, with the P-Bruins starting the night in third place in the Atlantic Division with a points percentage of .623 and the Checkers in fourth at .622. The P-Bruins have played one fewer game.

The P-Bruins will get back Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Kenny Agostino and Jordan Szwarz tonight. JFK missed 18 games with a concussion, Agostino sat out four with an upper body injury and Szwarz missed two with an unknown injury.

So, with a lot on the line, is coach Jay Leach using his ‘A’ lineup tonight?

“I’m not going to say that,’’ he said this morning.

“We have 29 skaters and I can legitimately say that all 29 can play. The group that’s in tonight is the group that for the most part has been here all year, other than Freddy (Trent Frederic). We’ve had a good year and we’re going to start tonight with the majority of guys that were here and we’ll work off that.

“There are other men here who can do the job as well. We’re going to take the weekend to try to fine tune our game, see what pieces fit. Everyone’s got to be ready. Organizationally, we’re busy right now. We’ll have two series going and it’s all hands on deck. That’s our approach to it.’’

Jordan Binnington starts in goal tonight for the P-Bruins. Zane McIntyre was in Boston last night as the Bruins’ third goalie. He’ll most likely get the start on Saturday in Springfield, Leach said.

Look for former P-Bruin Jeremy Smith to get the start for the Checkers.

Valentin Zykov, tied for first in the AHL with 32 goals, was shaken up when he took a bad fall into the boards during Charlotte’s morning skate. That will be something to keep an eye on.

PROVIDENCE LINEUP

Fitzgerald-Szwarz-Czarnik

Agostino-JFK-Hargrove

Blidh-Cave-Senyshyn

Porter-Frederic-Payerl

Cross-Clifton

Breen-Zboril

Lauzon-Postma

Binnington

After visiting Springfield on Saturday, the P-Bruins close out the regular season against the Thunderbirds on Sunday afternoon. Playoffs are likely to start next Friday.

PROVIDENCE SCRATCHES: Cehlarik (upper body), Hennessy (upper body), Studnicka, Johansson, Hickman, Acolatse, Sherman, Koppanen, Hughes, Keyser, Kuhlman

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins week

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The Providence Bruins took care of business last week, going 2-2 to wrap up their sixth straight berth in the Calder Cup playoffs. The P-Bruins lost, 3-2, at Bridgeport on Tuesday; beat Hartford, 6-3, at home on Friday; beat Bridgeport, 4-2, on the road on Saturday; and lost at home to Lehigh Valley, 6-3, on Sunday.

“Playoff experience cannot be replicated anywhere else. The opportunity that we have to be in the playoffs and take a stab at the (Calder) Cup is awesome. It’s something you battle all year for. We are very excited for that,’’ said coach Jay Leach.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.

GOOD

*** After another good week, Austin Czarnik is third in scoring in the AHL with 23-43-66 in 62 games. He earned a well-deserved slot on the AHL’s Second All-Star team.

*** Colton Hargrove had a strong week with 2-4-6 in four games.

*** Jeremy Lauzon scored his first goal as a pro on Saturday night.

*** Ryan Fitzgerald scored twice and added a helper on Friday night.

*** Jack Studnicka played well in his first three games as a pro, with four assists.

*** Trent Frederic has points (2-3-5) in the last five games. He had his first fight as a pro on Sunday.

*** The P-Bruins trailed by four goals going into the third period against the Phantoms on Sunday, but made a game of it, outshooting Lehigh Valley, 23-5, and closing to within two goals before giving up a late empty-netter.

*** Back after missing a couple of games because of injury, Zach Senyshyn scored his 10th goal of the season after taking the puck strong to the net in the first minute of the third period on Sunday.

BAD

*** The boarding major called on Sena Acolatse by referee Terry Koharski in Bridgeport on Tuesday was weak. It’s no coincidence that the call came after Jay Leach had given Koho an earful about some blatant interference by the Sound Tigers that went uncalled.

*** The P-Bruins gave up six power play goals in 17 shorthanded situations in their four games.

*** Zane McIntyre gave up eight goals in a 29:59 stretch from the third period on Friday to the second period on Sunday. His numbers took a beating, but there were extenuating circumstances. The three goals on Friday were in garbage time as the P-Bruins finished off a rout and on Sunday a number of mistakes were made by his teammates in front of him.

UGLY

*** Providence was outshot, 20-8, in the first period against Lehigh Valley on Sunday.

*** Injured: Kenny Agostino, Peter Cehlarik, Josh Hennessy (upper body), Justin Hickman (knee).

Studnicka makes good impression in Providence debut

PROVIDENCE — Jack Studnicka said he felt “more excitement than nerves” at the start of his first game as a pro.

The 19-year-old turned in a solid all-around performance, earning a pair of assists in Friday night’s 6-3 win by the Providence Bruins over the Hartford Wolf Pack.

“The boys made me feel real comfortable. Obviously they were on their game tonight so I just tried to jump on board. The older guys led the way. It’s a fast pace so it took a little adjustment. I think I adjusted to the best of my ability,” he said.

Providence coach Jay Leach was pleased with Studnicka’s work. “I liked his first shift. He just got in there and went to work. Had some polish with the puck. Clearly can make some plays,” Leach said.

Boston drafted Studnicka in the second round, 53rd overall, last June. Building on a strong rookie camp and training camp with Boston in September, the righty centerman scored 22 goals and 72 points in 66 games as captain of the Oshawa Generals this season.

Playing between Anton Blidh and Cam Hughes, Studnicka registered his first point as a pro 7:59 into the game with a secondary assist on Blidh’s goal.

“He really got up the ice well to create the two on one on Blidh’s goal. Really kept the defender off of Blidh. If he doesn’t slash up the middle, it doesn’t create the play,” said John Ferguson Jr., Boston’s executive director of player personnel.

His second helper came in the third period, when he got the puck up the ice to Austin Czarnik, who scored his 22nd goal of the season.

“He’s trying to make plays. He’s going to learn, just like anyone else, where not to try certain things. That’s part of the reason why he’s here. He’s a good young prospect for us in the middle, just getting started,” said Ferguson.

“He made good strides this year. He’s learning both ends of the ice. That’s never been an issue for him. Skates very well. Gets his head up. Makes plays. Has got some finish. Has some flair. Has some real nice attributes.”

Boston coach Bruce Cassidy liked what he saw of Studnicka in camp.

“I thought Jack had a lot of composure, yet attacked every night he played. He wasn’t bothered by, as a young guy, looking around,” Cassidy said on Thursday in Florida.

“He just played and I thought he made some really good plays. I liked his game, especially his offensive things around the top of the circles—he could dish, he could get to the net. It looked like he had something offensively. Big enough guy, played tall, straight up. I thought in the middle of the ice he was a good player and would be a good prospect going forward.”

Studnicka isn’t eligible to move up to Providence full time next season. Unless he makes the NHL club out of training camp in the fall, he’ll be headed back to Oshawa, where he’d be one of the top players in the OHL, as well as a candidate to play for Canada in the World Junior Championship.

Looking down the road, what kind of a player could Studnicka develop into?

“I don’t know if it’s comparable, but there are players that have come through the O that have had similar characteristics, some similar attributes — a two-way game with some offense,”’ said Ferguson.

“Is it a Vince Trocheck (of Florida), who is a really, really good NHL player right now and came through the OHL and got better as a pro?”

We’ll see how it plays out. Boston’s done a great job finding good young players over the last few years and Studnicka looks to be another one.

(Stick tap to Kevin Paul Dupont for the Cassidy quote from Florida.)

P-Bruins Gameday — Pro debut for Jack Studnicka

PROVIDENCE — With six games left in the regular season, a win for the Providence Bruins tonight at home against Hartford coupled with a loss in regulation time by Bridgeport at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton will clinch a playoff spot for the P-Bruins for the sixth straight season.

Tonight will be the pro debut for Jack Studnicka, Boston’s second-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.

Studnicka was impressive during rookie camp and training camp in September. He put up 22-50-72 numbers in 66 games for the Oshawa Generals.

“Heady player. Makes plays. Willing to go to the dirty areas. Another player that we are excited about,” said Jay Leach.

Providence will be without Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson (concussion); Zach Senyshyn (foot); Peter Cehlarik, Josh Hennessey and Kenny Agostino (upper body); and Justin Hickman (knee).

Colby Cave was returned by Providence by Boston today but won’t play tonight.

P-BRUINS LINEUP:

Fitzgerald-Szwarz-Czarnik

Hargrove-Frederic-Payerl
Blidh-Studnicka-Hughes
Pond-Koppanen-Porter
Cross-Clifton
Breen-Zboril
Lauzon-Postma
McIntyre
Binnington is the backup.
INJURED:
Forsbacka Karlsson (concussion); Senyshyn (foot); Cehlarik, Hennessey and Agostino (upper body); Hickman (knee).
The P-Bruins play at Bridgeport on Saturday and at home against Lehigh Valley on Sunday afternoon.

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins week

Facing two of the top teams in the AHL, the Providence Bruins lost two out of three games, but finished the weekend with a big win. With 10 rookies in the lineup, they lost 5-2 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Wednesday; dropped a 2-0 decision at Lehigh Valley on Friday; then bounced back with a very solid 3-1 victory at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Saturday.

“(Lehigh Valley was) really good (Friday) night and we were very average. They caught us not at our best. Probably the way that we caught them the weekend before,’’ said coach Jay Leach.

“Saturday was a good game for us. We were up against it, looking at a tough road trip, and everybody responded really well. That’s a huge win for us.’’

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.

GOOD

*** The penalty kill was perfect in 10 shorthanded situations, and is up to sixth in the league at 84.3 percent.

*** With a goal and an assist, Adam Payerl played a terrific game in Saturday’s win.

*** The power play is 20th in the league, but came through big time on Saturday with two goals.

*** The P-Bruins went 9-5 in March. They went 3-2 in their last five in a brutal stretch against Lehigh Valley and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

*** Jordan Szwarz hit the 20-goal mark for the second straight season on Saturday. A day earlier, Boston signed him to a well-deserved contract extension.

*** Providence’s third goal on Saturday was beautiful as the puck went from Tommy Cross to Austin Czarnik to Ryan Fitzgerald to Szwarz for the score.

*** Jakub Zboril played a good all-around game on Wednesday. He scored a goal and an assist as well as defending and moving the puck well.

*** Jordan Binnington kept the P-Bruins in the game with 32 saves on Friday and was rock-solid with 34 stops on Saturday. He allowed only one goal in each game. His save on Danick Martel in the second period on Friday was a beaut.

*** Anton Blidh had a pretty snipe on Wednesday.

*** Providence has 10 players with 10 or more goals.

*** The P-Bruins have given up only 166 goals, third-fewest in the league.

*** Five of Providence’s last seven games are against teams that won’t make the playoffs.

BAD

*** The P-Bruins gave up three goals in 4:09 early in the second period in Wednesday’s loss. It started with a bad angle goal by Daniel Sprong on Zane McIntyre.

*** Tough couple of minutes for Zboril late in the first period on Saturday. He turned the puck over on the Penguins’ first goal, then took a slashing penalty.

*** Peter Cehlarik was injured on a hit by Andrey Pedan of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Wednesday. Pedan received two minutes for interference and was later suspended for two games by the AHL. It’s the second time this season that Pedan has injured a Providence player. He received a three-game suspension in November for a hit on Zboril.

*** The bus from the hotel to the rink for Tuesday’s 10:30 a.m. game in Bridgeport leaves at 7:45.

UGLY

*** Providence was outshot 19-1 in the second period of Friday’s loss at Lehigh Valley.

*** Injured: Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Kenny Agostino, Josh Hennessey, Cehlarik (all upper body), Justin Hickman (lower body).