Jack Studnicka’s first fight as a pro was not on the list of things I expected to see when I walked into the New England Sports Center in Marlboro on Thursday.
In their second game of the season, the Providence Bruins started strong, but were outplayed over the last 40 minutes by the more physical Hartford Wolf Pack. The final was 4-0 Hartford, with the last two goals scored with Dan Vladar of the P-Bruins on the bench for an extra attacker.
The loss snapped Providence’s 13-game winning streak dating back to the 2019-20 season.
Here are three quick hits from the game:
Playing in his first game since missing time with an upper-body injury sustained while with Boston, Studnicka had a decent showing. He played on the power play and penalty kill in addition to his regular shift. He displayed his ability to enter the offensive zone with speed and was credited with two shots.
Playing right wing with linemates Oskar Steen and Jakub Lauko, Studnicka took exception early in the second period when Hartford’s Patrick Sieloff hit him along the wall in the defensive zone. He went after Sieloff and they both received five-minute penalties.
“First of all, we just want to get him back playing. We accomplished that. We want to make sure he’s comfortable on the wing; obviously he had some opportunity there earlier in Boston,’’ said coach Jay Leach.
“Did not want him fighting someone else, certainly not part of the plan. Things happen. I’m not sure exactly what, I couldn’t see it from my viewpoint,’’ Leach said.
You can debate the wisdom of fighting when coming off an injury, but credit to Studnicka for standing up for himself.
Leach said the second and third periods, when Providence was outshot 19-12, “was vintage Hartford, where they’re in your face and they’re going to make it hard on you coming out of your own end and make it hard on you getting to the net. It will be a good challenge to play them 11 more times,’’ he said.
Division rivals Bridgeport and Hartford are going to be physical against Providence. It will be interesting to see how the P-Bruins respond.
“We’re a young group, especially on the back end right now, four rookies and two second-year guys. We’re youthful, so we have energy, we have legs and I think we have some skill. We’re going to have to push a little bit through some of the physicality we’re going to be up against,’’ said Leach.
“We’re going to have to decide when we’re playing these two teams whether we want to be playing inside or outside. It will be a good lesson for us. That will be a challenge for us. We’ve got a lot of speed and we’ve got some skill. We’re going to have to find a way to play on the tougher areas of the ice for us to be successful against these two teams.’’
When Hartford’s Sieloff flattened Alex-Olivier Voyer with a big hit late in the game, Nick Wolff had seen enough.
He went straight for Sieloff and dropped his gloves.
“We know Wolfie’s a physical player and that’s certainly part of his game,’’ said Leach. “Did a terrific job there at the end. I don’t think he liked some of the liberties that were being taken against some of his teammates and so he stepped up huge for us there.”
Fisticuffs aside, Wolff so far has lived up to his billing.
“Overall, he was solid. He’s looked to to be a defensive defenseman with good positioning and a good stick and be physical and he was all of those. He was relatively clean with the puck in most areas of the ice. It was a good performance,’’ said Leach.