Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins final week


A pair of road losses to the Charlotte Checkers closed the book on the 2018-19 Calder Cup playoffs and the season for the Providence Bruins.

The P-Bruins tested the favored Checkers in earning a split in the first two games in Providence, but they were overpowered by Charlotte’s deep, skilled lineup in the final two games.

The P-Bruins were beaten in Game Three, 3-0, and in Game Four, 4-1, as Charlotte took the series, three games to one.

“We didn’t play our best. Unfortunate circumstances. (Dan Vladar) goes down in warmups (before Game Three), which is never the way you draw it up,’’ said coach Jay Leach. “(Charlotte was) good. They were all on the same page. They were really tough. They didn’t give us much room out there.

“They found a higher gear. I can’t say that we as a team, collectively, were able to match that gear. When (Charlotte) pushed, I don’t think everyone was able to get up to that level.’’

Summing up the season, Leach said the good outweighed the bad.

“It was a positive year in that we obviously had to scratch and claw to get in (the playoffs). We had a crazy amount of turnover, with callups and injuries. We had to learn how to make it work with a lot of different combinations, so it was a good year in that regard. We had a lot of players play in a lot of situations that we might not have forecast happening. It was great experience. Overall, it was a positive year and I hope we can build off it,’’ he said.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.


*** In his first start as a pro, 20-year-old Kyle Keyser played well in Game 4, making 26 saves.

*** Jeremy Lauzon, who hadn’t scored an AHL goal since the second game of the regular season in October, netted Providence’s only goal in Charlotte.

*** Jakub Zboril played two strong games in Charlotte. Cooper Zech continued to play well.

*** Jordan Szwarz led the P-Bruins in scoring in the playoffs with 2-2-4 in 4 games.

*** With their season on the line and trailing by two goals, Providence pushed hard in the third period of Game 4. It didn’t pay off, but they deserve credit for the effort, which was there all season.


*** Dan Vladar was scheduled to start Game 3, but was injured in warmups.

*** The power play went 0 for 10 in Charlotte.

*** Zane McIntyre’s save percentage in his two playoff starts was .855.

*** Providence’s forwards scored only five goals in the four-game series.

*** The P-Bruins were outscored in Charlotte, 7-1.


*** Injured: Gemel Smith, Dan Vladar, Anders Bjork.

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend


Jack Studnicka (16) beats Charlotte Checkers goalie Alex Nedeljkovic for Providence’s second goal on Sunday. [The Providence Journal / Kris Craig]

If the underdog Providence Bruins are going to upset the AHL-best Charlotte Checkers in their best-of-five Calder Cup series, they will have to win twice on the road.

The P-Bruins split their first two games at home. Providence fell behind early in Game 1, then rallied to take the lead before Charlotte earned a 5-4 win. In Game 2, the P-Bruins let a two-goal lead get away, but pulled it together in the third period to come away with a critical 4-2 win.

“We’re playing a team that is potent, so they are going to get those blitzes,’’ said coach Jay Leach after Sunday’s game. “We had a great response in the third. We put that behind us and we were able to get one by (Charlotte goalie Alex Nedeljkovic) midway through.

“We were able to park what happened (at the end of the second). Against the best team in the league, it’s going to happen and we’re going to have to be resilient. Our response was exactly what we were looking for.’’

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.


*** The P-Bruins look to Chris Breen, Anton Blidh and Jordan Szwarz for leadership and all three delivered in a big way in Game 1 after Charlotte jumped out to an early 2-0 lead. Breen pummeled Dan Renouf in front of the Checkers bench at the end of the first period. Blidh and Szwarz scored a goal and an assist each.

*** Cooper Zech scored  goals in both games. His solo, end-to-end dash in Game 1 was a beauty.

*** Jack Studnicka was a standout in Game 2, scoring a nice goal off a Lee Stempniak feed and then making a gorgeous pass to Peter Cehlarik for the game-winning goal. He had a game-high 6 shots.

*** With his goal, Cehlarik snapped a 10-game goal-less streak.

*** Dan Vladar was rock-solid with 25 saves in winning Game 2.


*** Giving up goals in bunches was a problem for the P-Bruins. They allowed two goals in 2:23 before Game 1 was four minutes old, then allowed the Checkers to score twice in 1:19 in the second period of Game 2.

*** Just 16 seconds after tying Game 1 on Paul Carey’s goal, Providence gave up Bobby Sanguinetti’s game-winner in the third period. Both goals appeared to deflect in off a defenseman’s skate at the net front.

*** Sanguinetti drove Gemel Smith’s head into the glass midway through the first period of Game 2, knocking Smith out of the game. There was no call on the play. Curious to see if the AHL opts to suspend Sanguinetti.

*** The next three games are in Charlotte, where the Checkers were 26-7-5-0 in the regular season.


***Injured: Gemel Smith, Anders Bjork.

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend


The Providence Bruins got the job done. They needed just one point to clinch a spot in the playoffs going into the last three-in-three weekend of the season. After losing to Lehigh Valley, 4-3, at home on Friday, the P-Bruins beat Springfield, 5-3, on the road on Saturday, ensuring that they’ll be in the playoffs for the seventh straight season. A meaningless home loss to Springfield, 6-1, on Sunday closed out the regular season schedule. They’ll open the playoffs at home against Charlotte on Saturday night.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.


*** Providence finished fourth in the Atlantic Division with a record of 38-27-8-3. They started slowly but turned it around while dealing with numerous injuries and callups. Full credit to players and coaches.

*** Paul Carey led the team in scoring with 27-33-60 in 59 games. He scored six goals in his last four games and 22 goals in 30 games after being acquired from Belleville in January.

*** After scoring once in 17 games, Trent Frederic broke out with a hat trick in the second period in Springfield.

*** Tanner Pond’s spin-around pass to Frederic for a goal on Saturday was a beauty.

*** Lee Stempniak had 1-1-2 on Saturday. Ryan Fitzgerald and Peter Cehlarik had two assists each.

*** Jordan Szwarz – who finished the season with a career-high 23 goals — and Gemel Smith had a goal and an assist each in Friday’s win.

*** Sunday’s final regular season home game drew 10,096 fans. Providence finished with an average attendance of 8,045, fifth in the AHL.

*** Home fans got their money’s worth as the P-Bruins went 24-9-4-1 at The Dunk, fifth-best in the league.

*** The P-Bruins finished with the fourth-best penalty kill in the AHL at 85 percent.


*** Providence gave up shorthanded goals on Friday and Sunday. They finished the regular season with 15 shorthanded goals against, third-worst in the league.

*** Playing with a depleted lineup because of injuries and illness, the P-Bruins fell behind by four goals against Lehigh Valley.

*** The P-Bruins were whistled for two too-many-men penalties on Saturday night in Springfield.

*** Providence gave up four power-play goals in 13 chances on the weekend.

*** While the P-Bruins were shorthanded seven times on Saturday, they had only three power plays.


*** Injured: Chris Breen, Cameron Hughes, Anders Bjork

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend


No doubt about it, the Providence Bruins had a good weekend. They won two of three games and moved to the brink of clinching a place in the playoffs for the seventh straight season.

With a lineup depleted by injuries and callups, Providence outscored Bridgeport, 8-5, at home on Friday. With an even more depleted lineup on Saturday, the P-Bruins hung in before losing, 4-3, at Bridgeport. On Sunday, Providence got four players back from Boston and earned a 3-1 victory over Utica at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

The P-Bruins finished the weekend with a magic number of one to make the playoffs.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.


*** Paul Carey was brilliant all weekend. He scored twice on both Friday and Saturday and had 5-3-8 for the weekend. He’s scored 21 goals in 29 games since being acquired from Belleville, including 13 goals in the last 13 games.

*** Providence finished the weekend five points ahead of fifth-place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with three games left in the regular season.

*** The power play was 3 for 4 on Friday and 4 for 11 for the weekend.

*** Cooper Zech had an assist in all three games.

*** Zane McIntyre was excellent on Sunday, making some key saves in the third period to protect the lead.

*** Tanner Pond walked a Bridgeport defenseman and set up Mark McNeill for a goal with a pretty pass on Friday night.

*** Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson scored in all three games and has four goals in his last five games.

*** In his first game with Providence, Victor Berglund scored his first AHL goal.

*** Jordan Szwarz had 1-3-4 for the weekend.

*** Providence scored a season-high eight goals on Friday.


*** The penalty kill allowed three goals on nine penalties in the two games against Bridgeport.


*** Injured: Chris Breen, Kyle Cumiskey, Cameron Hughes, Anders Bjork

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins week


The Providence Bruins won just one of three road games last week, but the win was a beauty. After losing, 2-0, at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Wednesday, they outshot the North Division-leading Crunch, 33-20, in a 3-2 win on Friday, then lost at Hershey, 2-1, on Saturday.

With six games left, Providence is fourth in the Atlantic Division and holds the last playoff slot. As of Monday, they are five points ahead of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and six points up on Lehigh Valley. The magic number to clinch a playoff spot is 10.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.


*** Providence rebounded nicely in the win in Syracuse as Jacob Forsbacka Karlsson scored the go-ahead goal just 15 seconds after the Crunch tied the game in the third period. Then the P-Bruins added a goal by Gemel Smith 2:18 later.

*** Peter Cehlarik made a nifty backhand pass on Lee Stempniak’s goal in Hershey. The Bears gave Stempniak time and space and he took advantage.

*** Stempniak was in on every goal on the weekend with 2-2-4. He put on a show in Syracuse, scoring after taking a beautiful pass from Jordan Szwarz, then handing out perfect passes to JFK and Gemel Smith for goals.

*** Cooper Zech wiped out Hershey’s Shane Gersich with an old-fashioned hip check on Saturday.

*** Jeremy Lauzon gave Syracuse’s Gabriel Dumont a sound thrashing in a fight on Friday.

*** Four of Providence’s final six games will be at home, where they are 22-7-4-1.


*** The P-Bruins scored just four goals in three games.

*** No one likes giving up a goal in the first minute of a period. Hershey got one 17 seconds into the third period to tie the game.

*** Providence’s power play went 1 for 15, including 0 for 7 in Hershey.

***  The P-Bruins were whistled for yet another penalty for shooting the puck over the glass in Hershey. The Bears scored the game-winner on the ensuing power play.


*** After three road games in four nights, the bus home from Hershey pulled into Providence at 4:15 a.m. on Sunday.

***Injured: Urho Vaakanainen, Chris Breen, Gemel Smith, Jakub Zboril, Cameron Hughes, Anders Bjork.