Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins week

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The Providence Bruins earned three out of six points during their three-game road trip to Laval and Belleville.

They started the trip by falling behind by four goals in the first period on Wednesday in Laval. They came all the way back to tie the game with 18 seconds left before losing in the shootout, 5-4. On Friday, they trailed, 2-0, in the first period against the Rocket, came back to tie the game, then gave up a goal midway through the third period and lost, 3-2. On Saturday, Providence jumped out to a two-goal lead, allowed Belleville to tie it, then scored four straight on the way to a 7-4 victory.

“We started well and responded to (Friday night’s) poor play,’’ coach Jay Leach said after Saturday’s win. “We got pucks behind them, got in on the foreheck and got bodies to the net. That really kind of fueled our game from the start.’’

The P-Bruins ended the weekend tied for second place in the Atlantic Division, two points behind Hartford. Only five teams in the AHL have more points than Providence.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly from the week’s games.

GOOD

— The P-Bruins mounted a tremendous comeback from four goals down in the first game in Laval. Peter Cehlarik, who had his face mashed into the boards in the first period, put on a cage and came back to score twice. Paul Carey and Brendan Gaunce had 1-1-2.

— Stick tap for Chris Breen for fighting Michael McCarron, who boarded Cehlarik.

— Providence outshot Laval, 19-8, in the second period on Wednesday.

— Anders Bjork continued his strong play. He leads Providence in scoring with 3-5-8 in 7 games.

— Kyle Keyser earned his first win as a pro in Belleville.

— After going pointless in his first five games, Trent Frederic assisted on two goals in each of the last two games.

— Ryan Fitzgerald and Alex Petrovic had a goal and an assist each on Friday.

— Wiley Sherman contributed two assists in his first game of the season against the Sens.

— Jack Studnicka, Cameron Hughes and Robert Lantosi scored their first goals of the season in Belleville.

BAD

— Providence started very slowly in both games in Laval. They gave up four goals in 5:53 in the first period on Wednesday, then they fell behind by two goals in the first period on Friday.

— A bad call by referee Dan Kelly in Belleville wiped out a spectacular passing play off the rush between Jakub Zboril, Trent Frederic and Jakub Lauko that ended with Lauko firing the puck into the net for what should have been a goal. But Kelly washed out the goal and sent Lauko to the box for slashing, apparently believing that Lauko broke the stick of Sens defenseman Hubert Labrie. What actually happened was that Labrie snapped his own stick when he slashed Lauko’s stick.

— All six Providence shooters failed to score in the shootout in Laval.

— The P-Bruins drove some 470 miles through the night to get home from Belleville at 7:15 a.m. on Sunday.

UGLY

— The unpenalized hit on Friday by Laval’s Michael McCarron that knocked out Brendan Gaunce was scary. It’s mind-boggling that referees Jim Curtin and Cory Syvret didn’t hand McCarron a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct. It will be just as mind-boggling if the AHL doesn’t suspend McCarron for multiple games.

— The penalty kill is struggling in a big way. Providence allowed Belleville to convert four out of five opportunities on Saturday. That continued a slump that has seen the PK give up nine goals in the last 18 kills. The PK is last in the league at 70 percent.

— Injured: Brendan Gaunce, Zach Senyshyn, Dan Vladar, Anton Blidh.

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend

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It was one up and one down for the Providence Bruins over the weekend.

They scored a goal in the final minute to beat a very good Rochester Americans team on Saturday night, then dropped a 5-2 decision to the Springfield Thunderbirds on Sunday. Both games were at home.

“I really liked our first period. I thought it was actually probably our best first period of the season as far as playing the game that we want to play,’’ coach Jay Leach said of Sunday’s loss.

But things didn’t go as well in the second and third periods.

“We have some work to do. We’re a young group and we’ll have to learn from games like this, where even if you play well, you don’t get what you want coming out of a period. You’ve got to readjust. You’ve got to be OK with that and just keep pushing through. I thought as it went along we got frustrated.’’

The P-Bruins finished the weekend in second place in the Atlantic Division with six points, one point behind the Hartford Wolf Pack.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.

GOOD

— Anders Bjork had a good weekend, playing two more excellent three-zone games. He scored a goal against Rochester and a goal and an assist against Springfield. As of Sunday night he led the P-Bruins and was among the league leaders in points with 3-2-5 in four games.

— Max Lagace made 30 saves in the win against Rochester. He is 2-0 with a .967 save percentage.

— Oskar Steen didn’t get much done for the first 59 minutes on Saturday, but then he buried the game-winning goal in the final minute after a smart setup by Ryan Fitzgerald.

— Back from an injury, Peter Cehlarik scored a goal in his first game of the season on Sunday.

— Jakub Lauko and Steen scored their first AHL goals and their teammates made sure that they got the puck as a keepsake.

— Jeremy Lauzon had a good weekend, carrying the puck and defending with conviction.

— The home opener on Saturday drew 9,722 fans, the biggest crowd in the AHL on a night when there were 14 games.

BAD

— The P-Bruins went 1 for 7 on the power play on Sunday, including four straight fruitless power plays in the third period.

— They’ve been shorthanded 18 times in four games. Only five teams have been shorthanded more often.

— Providence was outshot, 16-8, in the second period against the Thunderbirds.

— The penalty kill gave up three goals in six shorthanded situations in the two games.

— Zach Senyshyn and Trent Frederic are off to a less-than-ideal start with 0-0-0 in four games.

— There were two fights on the weekend and Providence didn’t win either one.

— Providence’s next four games are on the road, with two in Laval, then Belleville and Bridgeport.

UGLY

— OK, this isn’t from the weekend, but the bus for Laval on Tuesday leaves at 6 a.m.

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend

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Perfect in Pennsylvania is a great way to start the season.

The Providence Bruins came home from season-opening road games against Lehigh Valley and Hershey with four out of four points.

They beat the Phantoms, 3-0, on Saturday and bested the Bears in overtime, 2-1, on Sunday.

“It was a gutsy road win,” said coach Jay Leach after Sunday’s victory. “We love these, especially early on. They’re great team builders. Those are two buildings (PPL Center & Giant Center) that are tough to play in and we were able to come out with four points. It was a heck of a weekend so we’re excited.’’

Here’s the good, bad and ugly from the first two games of the season.

GOOD

— Providence’s penalty kill was flawless, killing all seven penalties on Saturday and five more on Sunday.

— The goaltending was first-rate in both games. Max Lagace pitched a 28-save shutout at Lehigh Valley and Dan Vladar made 21 saves and gave up just one goal in Hershey. Both netminders made a number of terrific saves.

— Brendan Gaunce had a fine weekend. He scored a goal on Saturday, assisted on Ryan Fitzgerald’s goal and scored the winner in overtime on Sunday.

— Alex Petrovic made a smart play to make Gaunce’s OT goal happen.

— Anders Bjork had a goal and an assist in the win against Lehigh Valley.

— Oskar Steen made a perfect pass to Paul Carey for an insurance goal against the Phantoms.

— Jeremy Lauzon decisioned Garrett Pilon in the first bout of the season.

— Both of Providence’s games next weekend are at home, Saturday against Rochester and Sunday vs. Springfield.

BAD

— Providence has been shorthanded 12 times, tied with Stockton for the most in the AHL.

— The P-Bruins took three stick penalties late in the game in Hershey.

— Trent Frederic didn’t have a shot on goal in either game.

UGLY

— There are turnovers and then there are turnovers. The Jakub Zboril giveway that gifted Hershey its only goal on Sunday was hideous.

— Injured: Peter Cehlarik.

Three quick hits from PC-Maine

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There are a lot of new faces in the Providence College lineup this season, but the result on Saturday looked familiar. Even with seven freshmen dressing, the Friars jumped on Maine with two goals in the first 4:35 and rolled to a 7-0 win.

Here are three thoughts on opening night:

— WHO’S IN NET?

I’d been pestering Nate Leaman for a couple weeks about who his starting goalie was going to be in Game 1. Of course, I kept waiting for him to say Michael Lackey. You know, the guy with four years at Harvard under his belt. But Leaman insisted repeatedly that he and his staff were evaluating each day’s practice and hadn’t decided.

In the end, he did go with Lackey, who was rock-solid in stopping all 29 Maine shots.

“He had an unbelievable practice Tuesday. It was the first time I walked off the ice and said, ‘We have a starter,’’’ Leaman said on Saturday night.

Lackey’s strong debut is “an unbelievable sign for us,’’ he said, pointing to two excellent saves in the second period when the Friars got sloppy and Maine showed signs of gaining some traction. “The team gets up at home and it’s point night,’’ he said.

“The thing is, your team can’t get arrogant in front of him. I thought that’s what we did when he made some of those saves,’’ Leaman said.

“He played a good game, let’s see if he can come back with another one. You can’t get arrogant off your first game, that’s what I told (the team) after the game.’’

— WHO’S GOING TO SCORE?

The Friars said goodbye to four of their top five scorers in the offseason – Josh Wilkins, Brandon Duhaime, Scott Conway and Kasper Bjorkqvist. That quartet totaled 63 goals last season.

Who is going to pick up the slack?

Start with the top line and Jack Dugan (39 points in 41 games last season) and Greg Printz (11 goals). They delivered on Saturday as Printz scored four goals and an assist and Dugan chipped in with a goal and three assists. Their center, freshman Parker Ford, recorded two assists. The line combined for 17 of PC’s 59 shots.

As for the second line, Tyce Thompson had a goal and two helpers and freshman Patrick Moynihan had two assists.

It wasn’t all good. Dugan went to the box alone for roughing after a scrum in the first period and was called for unsportsmanlike conduct and a misconduct in the third after he deposited the puck in the Maine net after an offside whistle.

“I was a little disappointed in a couple of the penalties, but outside of that our top line was pretty good. They had a good night tonight, but it’s a long season,’’ Leaman said.

— THREE FRESHMEN D?

The newcomers on defense – Max Crozier, Cam McDonald and Luke Johnson — got through their first game unscathed.

Crozier, playing with Mike Callahan in what could develop into a go-to pairing, had an assist and four shots.

“Crozier played a great game. He was really good with the puck. We kind of rode (captains Callahan and Spenser Young) a lot in that first period – our veterans guys – just because we wanted to acclimate those other guys a little bit,’’ said Leaman.

“In a league game, first game as a freshman, that’s not the easiest thing to worry about. They got a good taste of it. Fortunately, we were able to pull away a little bit, so they were able to get a lot of ice in the third. At the end of the day, those three have got to be a big part of us. We think all three have a real high ceiling.’’

It sounds like there were some butterflies before the game, understandably so.

“It was quiet in the locker room beforehand. With the new guys, as a coach you really don’t know what to expect because you don’t know how to read guys yet, whether they’re ready or they’re not.’’

On this night, at least, they were ready.

“It’s a process. On to Holy Cross,’’ Leaman said.

P-Bruins preview: Prospects are promising

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For the Providence Bruins, winning and developing players to move up to Boston have gone hand in hand in recent years.

They’ve made the playoffs for seven straight years. Last season, 16 players who skated in Providence also played in Boston, including Connor Clifton and Karson Kuhlman, both of whom contributed during Boston’s run to the Stanley Cup Final.

This season the P-Bruins are expected to be good again. They’ll start the season with a young but deep roster layered with good prospects and established AHL players.

“Stacked’’ is a word I’ve heard a lot from fans this week, so this is a good time to note that the American Hockey League regular season is a six-and-a-half-month battle of attrition. The roster you start with is often not what you finish with, courtesy of callups, injuries, trades. Veterans aren’t a lock to play as well as in previous seasons. Prospects that are expected to thrive as they arrive from college or junior hockey or Europe don’t always do so.

This is a roundabout way of saying that while optimism is all well and good, don’t schedule the Calder Cup parade just yet.

“I’ve said this before: There’s no hardware in October or November or December,’’ says John Ferguson Jr., Providence GM and Boston’s executive director of player personnel. “The division we’re in never stands still. There’s always teams making pushes in the summer to add players and contributors. It’s a real dynamic division.’’

The schedule will be a challenge right off the bat, with 10 of the first 14 games on the road. The P-Bruins open this weekend with games in Pennsylvania against two of their toughest competitors in the Atlantic Division, Lehigh Valley on Saturday and Hershey on Sunday.

Here’s a closer look at the team.

FORWARDS

The P-Bruins are young up front, starting with their top two centers, second-year pro Trent Frederic, 21, and rookie Jack Studnicka, 20. Fourth-line center Pavel Shen just turned 20. Third-line pivot Brendan Gaunce is the veteran at 25.

On the wings, veteran Paul Carey was one of the best players in the AHL in the second half of last season. Anders Bjork starts the season in Providence, but probably won’t be here long if he builds on his strong training camp performance with Boston.

Fourth-year pro Peter Cehlarik has NHL talent, but hasn’t been able to stick in Boston. He’s been a good offensive player in the AHL.

Promising rookie Oskar Steen, 21, put up points in a breakthrough season in Sweden last season and showed off a good scoring touch in training camp.

After scoring 12 goals as a rookie and 14 last year, Zach Senyshyn looks to hit the 20-goal plateau. He made two pretty passes to set up goals in Providence’s preseason win on Saturday.

After battling injuries last season, Ryan Fitzgerald looks like he is primed for a strong season in his third year.

Underrated second-year pro Cameron Hughes can play wing or center and can play up and down in the lineup.

It remains to be determined what the best lineup fit is for dynamic 19-year-old Jakub Lauko, who has emerged as a top prospect. He’s an exciting player to watch.

Robert Lantosi, a speedy winger who played for Slovakia in the World Championships, burly Brendan Woods and Joona Koppanen round out the forward group.

Providence will miss Anton Blidh’s relentlessness on the forecheck, but he could return by February after shoulder surgery.

“It’s a great mix. We obviously have some guys on all four lines that make plays. Is there a classic fourth line or third line look? I don’t know if there is right now. We’re going to have to figure that out. We want to compete on pucks and make plays. Whether that’s the first line or the fourth line, that’s not going to change,’’ said third-year coach Jay Leach.

DEFENSE

The D corps looks to be the strength of the team.

It’s a group that offers “a blend of youth and experience and size and mobility,’’ Leach says.

Second-year pro Urho Vaakanainen, 20, is Boston’s best defense prospect. He and 21-year-old rookie Cooper Zech can skate and move the puck.

Jeremy Lauzon, who played 15 NHL games last season, and Jakub Zboril have made solid progress in their first two pro seasons and are expected to continue to develop.

Veteran Chris Breen is invaluable on the penalty kill and is a physical presence. Josiah Didier is coming off a Calder Cup title with Charlotte. NHL veteran Alex Petrovic brings size and experience. Second-year pro Wiley Sherman provides depth.

With players like Breen, Lauzon and Didier on the back end, Providence will be difficult to play against.

GOALIE

Max Lagace, 26, has an established AHL pedigree. Dan Vladar is entering his fourth season as a pro even though he’s only 22. Lagace and Vladar will compete for the net at the start.

Twenty-year-old Kyle Keyser had an impressive training camp, but will start his first pro season in Atlanta. The plan is for him to get all the work he can handle in the ECHL. If he plays well, don’t be surprised if he is summoned back to Providence.

PREDICTION

The Bruins’ organization’s emphasis on player development in a winning environment has served them well. This has the potential to be an entertaining year as Studnicka, Vaakanainen, Lauko, Steen and the rest try to work their way up the ladder. Ninety points is a realistic goal for the P-Bruins, which would land them in the thick of the playoff race with Lehigh Valley, Hershey, Bridgeport and Scranton Wilkes-Barre in the ultra-competitive Atlantic Division.