The Providence Bruins extended their winning streak to four with a pair of victories last week as they continue to run away from Hartford and Bridgeport in the Atlantic Division.
The P-Bruins beat the Sound Tigers in Marlboro, 5-2, on Monday, then defeated the Wolf Pack in Hartford, 6-1, on Saturday.
After 14 games, Providence is 11-2-1 and is 16 points up on second-place Hartford in the division. Going into Sunday’s games, they are second in the AHL with a points percentage of .821. Only the Henderson Silver Knights (.857) are ahead of them.
Here’s the good, bad and ugly.
— Jakub Lauko scored a goal and set one up against the Wolf Pack. He has 5-8-13 and is a team-high plus-10 in 13 games.
— Paul Carey scored his first goal of the season on Saturday and it was a beauty.
— With a pair of assists on Saturday, Cameron Hughes has a five-game point streak and nine points in his last five games. Hughes leads the team in scoring with 4-11-15 in 14 games.
— Brady Lyle recorded a Gordie Howe hat trick and was plus-three against Bridgeport.
— The P-Bruins had only 16 skaters – 10 forwards and 6 defensemen — on Monday instead of 18 because of injuries and callups, but they won anyway.
— Providence continues to get top-notch goaltending. With Dan Vladar and Jeremy Swayman on recall to Boston, Callum Booth stepped in and stopped 36 of 38 shots in the win against Bridgeport, then Kyle Keyser kicked out 27 of 28 to beat Hartford.
— Matt Filipe had a good game on Saturday and made one of the nicest plays of the season to set up Alex-Olivier Voyer for a goal.
— Go to the net and good things happen, they say. Voyer did that and potted two goals against the Wolf Pack.
— Joel Messner scored a goal and was plus-four in Hartford.
— Tommy Cross scored twice in Monday’s game. Before that, his last goal for the P-Bruins was on Feb. 11, 2018.
— Ian McKinnon continued to make his presence known with an assist in each game and a fight against Bridgeport.
— Robert Lantosi had 1-1-2 against Bridgeport.
— Cooper Zech returned to the lineup after missing a few games with an injury and was plus-three in Hartford.
— Pavel Shen scored his first goal of the season against the Sound Tigers and it turned out to be the game-winner.
— The P-Bruins went 2 for 6 on the power play in the two games. They are fifth in the AHL in PP opportunities with 61.
— Let’s be real. There really isn’t anything that falls into the “bad’’ category.
The Providence Bruins rolled to a 6-1 victory over the Hartford Wolf Pack on the road on Saturday.
Kyle Keyser made 27 saves in his first start of the season in the AHL.
Alex-Olivier Voyer scored twice. Paul Carey, Sammy Asselin, Jakub Lauko and Joel Messner had the other goals.
It was Providence’s fourth win in a row. They now lead the second-place Wolf Pack by 16 points in the Atlantic Division.
Here are three quick hits from the game:
The last time the 22-year-old goalie started for Providence was in a 5-2 loss in Hartford in November 2019.
His return to the XL Center on Saturday had a much happier ending.
Keyser was beaten only once, in the third period, and the P-Bruins had the game well in hand by that point.
“He was very good, and he had to be. They came at us hard and he made a couple of really nice saves in the slot early. We knew they’d come with a lot of shots. We gave up a couple of high Grade A’s in the slot there that he kicked away nicely and was good throughout, he really was,’’ said coach Jay Leach.
“It’s nice to see. This was the last game he played for us, like a year and a half ago, in this building, so I’m sure it was good for him to get the win and to play the way he did.’’
Pucks hadn’t been going in the net for Providence’s captain before Saturday, when his wrister beat Tyler Wall with 1:15 left in the first period. It was Carey’s first goal of the season – he has 10 assists and is third on the team in scoring with 11 points – and it gave Providence a 1-0 lead.
“Goal-scorers – and I can’t relate cause I never was one – but I’m sure it’s something that really does weigh on them when they don’t (score). I mean the guy had 22 in 30 (games) for us that year he came here and he had 22 last year, I think, as well, or close to that,’’ said Leach.
“He was battling something early. He won’t say that, he’ll probably get mad at me for saying that. But, regardless, he never changed. He came to work every day.’’
His goal on Saturday was “a high-end play. Usually those goals that snap a streak, a lot of them are off a skate or off a guy’s back or whatever it might be. He goes through a triangle, top shelf, on a partial breakaway, the way Paul Carey can. It was really nice to see.
“The boys were happy. I’m sure he was happy. I’m sure his play will be the same but he doesn’t have that big bagel next to his name. He’s going to sleep a little bit better tonight, I’m sure.’’
Curtis Hall played a few shifts in the first period of the season opener in early February and then left with a lower-body injury.
He was back on Saturday and played a solid, up-and-down game at right wing with Pavel Shen and Joona Koppanen.
“I liked him. I thought that line was pretty effective. Him and Pavs and Koppie was real strong. Hallsy was good, I mean that’s his second professional game and probably his second game since lord knows when, combined with the rehab,’’ said Leach.
For the record, Hall’s last game with Yale was on March 8, 2020 against Union.
“That all being said, I thought he was good. He was up and down the walls, made a couple of plays off the walls, had some O-zone time and was solid defensively. Got a little penalty kill there as well. He was good,’’ said Leach.
Despite a depleted lineup because of callups by Boston, the Providence Bruins rolled to a 5-2 victory over Bridgeport on Monday in Marlboro.
Providence dressed 16 players – six defensemen and 10 forwards – two under the limit of 18. With goalies Dan Vladar and Jeremy Swayman with the NHL club, the P-Bruins turned to Callum Booth and the former Salisbury School netminder kicked out 36 shots to earn his first win in his first start of the season.
Tommy Cross scored twice and Brady Lyle, Robert Lantosi and Pavel Shen added single goals.
Since losing in overtime to Bridgeport on Feb. 9, 2020, Providence is 22-2-1. They are 15 points ahead of second-place Hartford in the Atlantic Division.
Here are three quick hits:
The rookie defenseman from the Ontario Hockey League continues to play well, recording his first Gordie Howe hat trick as a pro.
His wicked wrister staked Providence to an early lead and he assisted on two goals by Cross, his D partner.
In the third period, Lyle took issue with a hard hit on Jakub Lauko and fought Jeff Kubiak of the Sound Tigers.
“To be honest with you, I didn’t know a whole lot about the player. We obviously signed him out of (Owen Sound). I never really saw him,’’ said coach Jay Leach. “We obviously didn’t have the opportunity to see him in rookie camp like we usually would. He came in, really, with a blank canvas with our staff, but he’s been great, he’s been solid.
“One thing I really like about Brady is he’s really hard on the puck. Obviously he has a hard shot, which you saw today, but every pass is hard – it’s a pro pass. In battles, he’s able to win pucks.
“He’s certainly working on certain aspects of his game to transition to professional hockey, but it’s been a terrific start. We’re able to play him in most situations, which is a lot to say for a young, rookie defenseman coming out of junior.’’
Lyle, who signed a two-year AHL contract with Providence last summer, has 4-4-8 in 12 games and is tied for the team lead with plus-9.
Up from Jacksonville of the ECHL, Ian McKinnon is carving out a niche for himself as a banging winger who won’t hesitate to drop the gloves against the toughest players on the opposing team.
McKinnon earned his first point in the AHL on Monday and took on rock-hard Seth Helgeson in a bout late in the game.
“We knew he was a physical presence. We’ve had players playing in Jacksonville, so we developed a bit of a relationship with their coach – (John Ferguson Jr.) did. He was highly recommended from (Jacksonville coach) Jason Christie,’’ said Leach.
“He brings an element of physicality. He’s able to get to hits, which is a big thing. Usually these physical players, you’ve got to make sure they can skate to get in on these hits, and he does. He makes you pay.
“He forces the turnover in the second when the puck comes over the glass there. And to be honest with you, he’s making some plays. Made a nice play to (Pavel Shen) on that goal. Along with all that comes some physicality and obviously he gets into a fight today toward the end against a tough, tough customer (Seth Helgeson) in this league and does a great job.
“We knew he was a physical player and didn’t know a whole lot about his up and down play. He’s another one that’s been able to come in and fill a role for us and play regular minutes.’’
Callum Booth has spent most of the season on Boston’s taxi squad. After going months without playing in a game, he stepped in on Monday and helped the shorthanded P-Bruins to another win.
“Boother comes in today – I think he played one game in the East Coast League and I think it was in November, maybe, or it might have been December, but doesn’t play a game until March 15 and goes out there and gets a nice win. In all honesty, it was close to a shutout. He did a nice job,’’ said Leach.
Indeed he did. Booth made a handful of 10-bell saves before the Sound Tigers broke his shutout with a pair of late goals. By then, Providence had wrapped up the victory.
It was a busy week for the Providence Bruins as they played three games in five days, won two of them and increased their lead in the Atlantic Division.
After a 3-2 overtime loss to Hartford in Marlboro on Monday, they beat Bridgeport, 3-0, on the road and Hartford at home, 5-2, on Friday.
Here’s the good, bad and ugly.
— With a 9-2-1 record and a points percentage of .792, Providence finished the weekend with a 13-point lead on second-place Hartford in the Atlantic Division.
— Jeremy Swayman recorded his first pro shutout in Bridgeport and improved his record to 7-0 with Friday’s win. His goals-against average is 1.57 and his save percentage is .942.
— With a goal and two assists in Friday’s win, Cameron Hughes capped a six-point week. He leads the team in scoring with 4-8-12 in 12 games.
— Zach Senyshyn scored his team-high fifth goal in Bridgeport and earned himself a well-deserved recall to Boston.
— Newcomer Ian McKinnon had one of the best fights I’ve seen in the AHL in recent years against Hartford heavyweight Mason Geertsen on Monday.
— Jakub Lauko had his speed and scoring touch going in Friday’s win, burying two goals.
— Matt Filipe scored his first goal as a pro in Bridgeport.
— Tommy Cross was on the ice for all three Providence goals in the shutout against the Sound Tigers and Josiah Didier was on for two. Leach complimented them after the win: “The way they go about their games with the younger players has really been the key for us. They’re not independent contractors. They’re all in with regards to what we’re trying to do here in development and trying to win.”
— The power play delivered on Friday, going 2 for 5, after going 1 for 13 in the previous two games. On the first PP goal on Friday, the puck movement – Paul Carey to Hughes to Anton Blidh for the finish – was perfect.
— Greg McKegg recorded two assists in his first game with Providence on Friday.
— The P-Bruins gave up a shorthanded goal in Friday’s game. They’ve now allowed four shorties, the most in the AHL.
— Hartford’s Will Cuylle threw a heavy, late hit on Cooper Zech on Monday. Cuylle was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for interference. Zech didn’t play in the next two games.
— Injured: Anton Blidh, Curtis Hall, Cooper Zech, Brendan Woods
The Providence Bruins beat the Hartford Wolf Pack, 5-2, in Marlboro on Friday afternoon in a game spiced by hard feelings.
Some of the P-Bruins – Sammy Asselin, Oskar Steen and Anton Blidh, in particular – really irritated the Wolf Pack, who were playing Providence for the sixth time, with six still to come. If the score hadn’t been close until the end, the lid might have blown off.
Cameron Hughes led the way for Providence with a goal and two assists and six shots. He is first on the team in scoring with 4-8-12 in 12 games.
Here are three quick hits:
DOWN GOES LAUKO
Jakub Lauko is often the last Bruin to come out for pregame warmup. When he stepped on the ice on Friday, he went down like a squirt who forgot to remove his skate guards.
In fact, that’s pretty much what happened.
Don’t know if maybe one of his teammates set him up with the old clear-tape-on-the-skate-blade trick or what, but the pratfall brought a smile to the face of everyone who saw it.
Then the high-spirited Lauko got up, dusted himself off, and went out and scored a pair of goals once the game started.
His offensive talent is there for all to see. But what about the rest of his game? I asked coach Jay Leach about Lauko’s play without the puck.
“There’s times where I think it’s good, and there’s times when it needs some work. I think we have to remember he’s 20. He’s a young, young professional. He certainly has offense. He certainly has speed, some physicality – you saw that in the first (period) as well,’’ said Leach.
“And then there are definitely times, we talk regularly on it, where he’s able to do the good things in the D zone and other times where we have to look at it and work on it. It’s a work in progress but at the same time, by no means is it something that can’t be corrected.’’
STEENSNAPS (HIS STICK)
Steen’s competitiveness, his refusal to give in, is part of what makes him such a good player.
While battling along the boards with Hartford veteran Paul Thompson early in the third period, Steen cross-checked Thompson in the back, snapping his stick in two.
As you might expect, Thompson immediate cornered Steen and started firing punches.
Steen didn’t suffer any damage and somehow went unpenalized, while Thompson received a minor, a major and a game misconduct. Providence scored on the power play, with Steen earning an assist on the goal.
“He’s feisty as it gets,’’ Leach said of Steen. “It starts in the faceoff circle. He wants to win every single one of those faceoffs. That can lead to some jabs and some pushes and shoves and it begins from there.
“He’s just a competitive guy by nature. He’s always been that way, ever since we saw him a couple of years ago. And he’s very effective with his speed and his inside game. It’s tough to play against guys like that.’’
Greg McKegg was a welcome addition to the lineup. After being sent down by Boston, he played at center between Asselin and Karson Kuhlman, recording a pair of assists.
“He adds a lot (to the lineup). He was pretty good. Really hard on the puck. He’s got speed. He’s smart. Plays in all situations. Terrific in the faceoff circle. I thought that line was excellent.
“I remember him, obviously, when he was with Charlotte and watching him play with New York last year. Just a terrific hockey player at this level.’’
The Providence Bruins lost to the Hartford Wolf Pack in overtime, 3-2, with Morgan Barron potting the GWG on Monday in Marlboro.
The P-Bruins had eight power plays and piled up 40 shots on Tyler Wall in the Wolf Pack net, but scored only once with the man advantage.
“I thought it was a fair result, to be honest with you,’’ said Providence coach Jay Leach. “I thought we were a little loose around our net from time to time. I thought we were a little light on pucks from time to time. I’ll give Hartford credit for that because they were coming at us and were very physical. They made it hard on our defensemen to make clean plays.’’
Here are three quick hits from the game:
The fourth-year right winger continues to play well.
He made a good play that led to Providence’s first goal, with his curl-and-drag move allowing him to get a shot past a defender and through to the net, where Cameron Hughes cashed in the rebound.
“I thought he was really good — again. Skating. He generated, especially with his speed,’’ said Leach. “He’s been very much a shot-first guy. That’s not to say he’s not setting up guys, but at the same time I like his mentality. He was good in pretty much all areas. Has consistently been that way really from the start of the season.’’
Now in his third full season in Providence, Hughes never seems to get the recognition he deserves.
He had a goal and an assist on Monday and played his usual solid all-around game.
“We anticipated Hughsy always being that guy that plays the full 200-foot game in all situations. I think he was snakebit a bit last year, production-wise, but it wasn’t for a lack of chances. Now you’re seeing things going in for him a little bit more, which makes his numbers look better,’’ said Leach, who deploys Hughes at center between Senyshyn and Jakub Lauko.
“I do think he’s picked up a step and his shot has actually improved, as well. Little increments here and there and then obviously just being the steady player that he is, he’s turned into a very effective player in the American League.’’
THE FIGHT OF THE SEASON
Honestly, the highlight of the game happened just 70 seconds in when Providence’s Ian McKinnon and Hartford’s Mason Geertsen dropped the gloves off a faceoff and engaged in one of the best AHL tilts I’ve seen in several years.
The two had talked a couple of times when the Bruins and Wolf Pack played last week, but nothing came of it. With Nick Wolff sitting out on Monday with an upper-body injury, McKinnon was in the lineup to provide exactly the kind of muscle that he displayed against a very tough opponent in Geertsen.
Both players connected with solid punches, with McKinnon landing a vicious uppercut just before the linesmen stepped in.
“That was a big-boy fight. That should be No. 1 on hockeyfights.com. (McKinnon) stood right in there against a real tough customer,’’ said Leach.
“Both of those guys probably came away with respect for one another. I haven’t seen many like that since I’ve been coaching. That was 20-years-ago-type stuff. Kudos to both of them. I hope they’re both OK. One heck of a fight.’’
Defenseman Jack Ahcan, a standout for the Providence Bruins through nine games, is one of Boston’s top prospects. An All-American at St. Cloud State, he doesn’t have prototypical NHL size, but his skating, hockey IQ and bulldog mentality make up for it. As an NHL scout told me recently, “He doesn’t know he’s 5-8.’’
Ahcan, 23, is from Savage, Minn. He is the oldest of three hockey-playing sons of Tim and Michelle Ahcan. Roman, 21, is a junior at Wisconsin. Grant, 18, plays for Bismarck of the NAHL and is committed to St. Cloud.
I talked to Jack over the phone on Saturday. Some answers have been edited for clarity.
Q: Did you have a backyard rink when you were a kid and did you spend a lot of time playing outdoors in Minnesota?
A. “When I was really young, like just learning how to skate, my dad flooded the rink in the backyard. Then growing up, where I lived, there was a rink a 30-second walk away, so once we got old enough to be comfortable enough to walk to the rink by ourselves, we would just hop over there, but when we were 3 or 4, learning how to skate, we had a rink in our backyard.
“My dad would always build up the snowbank in our backyard when we were skating and we’d try to hit each other out of it, especially with my middle brother (Roman), when he was learning to skate he always wanted to be goalie. I’d put him in the net. Somehow it would always end up in a fight. … We definitely had our good battles out on the outdoor rink.”
Q. Minnesota is famous for its high school hockey. What was your high school experience like?
A. “We had a really good and deep team pretty much, growing up, all the way through. When I got to (Burnsville) high school, my sophomore year we had a great team. We ended up losing to Edina, who would always win the (sectional) championship (and advance to the state tournament). We had a tough time getting past those guys, Edina. Every year, I think, they beat us to win it. If we were in a different section, or something like that, we might have been able to make a big run at the state tournament, but, never got to play in it, which was tough because it always looked like a blast.”
Q. Who has been the biggest influence on your hockey career, the person who helped you the most to reach the point where you’re one step away from the NHL?
A. “The obvious answer would be my parents, helping me through every bit of my life, but I really look back at how lucky I got with my coaches, even going back to Squirt A, my first year playing organized hockey.
“I got super lucky with good coaches, creative minds, all the way up. In Cedar Rapids (of the USHL), with coach (Mark) Carlson, then with both Bob Motzko and Brett Larson at St. Cloud. It’s something not everyone gets. I was very happy with the coaching staffs that I had, and their creativity and their mindset.”
Q. What’s the biggest adjustment you’ve had to make in going from college hockey to the AHL?
A. “It’s just being a pro. On the ice, let’s say we’re up 1-0 going into the third period, it’s either time to shut ‘er down and play some defense, play smart or kind of feel out the game and stay on the attack. That’s something that might feel different for me on the back end. Maybe I can’t make a different play in the neutral zone or in the offensive zone. It’s adjusting to little things like that. It’s a lot different. Especially last year in college, you can get away with a lot more. That’s something that sticks out to me right now.”
Q. Have you had a “welcome to pro hockey” moment?
A. “There’s been a few times where, you know, I’m a pretty physical guy, trying to hit somebody and it’s like, ‘Oh, that guy usually falls down or moves a little bit more.’ There’s a lot of little things. When I got to score my first goal, too, it was like, OK, it was nice to get that one out of the way. Little bits and pieces of adjusting to the pro life, getting that pro hockey feel.”
Q. How would you describe your style of play and who do you try to model your game after?
A. “I’ve been really watching, especially lately, more offensive defensemen like Torey Krug and even different players like Quinn Hughes, and trying to pick what they do best and try to work on those little things. For my own game, I think I really use my hockey IQ and my mind, especially defensively, being a shorter guy, I’ve got to make those plays a little bit quicker than some bigger guys with a reach. So my hockey IQ and my skating I take pride in, whether that’s getting up in the play or leading the rush, that’s something that I really try to use to my advantage. Just staying low and body position goes into that with my skating, too.”
Q. Do players on the other team ever chirp you about your size?
A. “I actually haven’t really heard it much lately, at least. When I was younger you hear, like, ‘You shrimp’ or whatever, like that. I haven’t really heard it much, especially this year. I think if somebody were ever to say something, I’d be like, ‘You know, I’ve never heard that one before. You can probably come up with something better than that.’
“If somebody were to say something, you don’t let it get to you. It’s nothing, it’s all in the fun of the game, but obviously it would (give me) some more motivation.”
Q. What do you like to do when you’re away from the rink?
A. “I actually just bought a fly-fishing rod the other day. So I’m going to go and try to scope out some rivers around here. I love fishing in the summer. That’s a big thing for me, I’ve got a cabin up in northern Minnesota. I love fishing and then also I’m a big baseball guy, too, whether that’s watching or playing softball in the summer with a bunch of my buddies. That’s another thing that I really love to do.”
Q. What did you do with your signing bonus?
A. “I’m not a cheap guy, but I don’t really need to buy all the fancy clothes and stuff. My first purchase was actually a fishing rod – a Baitcaster. So I had that this summer. Then when I got out here, I bought a car (a Mazda CX-5 SUV). Those are my two purchases that really stick out. Those are the only things I really bought. I know I’ll have that fishing rod for the rest of my life, that’s for sure.”
Q. Your St. Cloud team went toe to toe with Nick Wolff’s Minnesota Duluth team for the last four seasons in the NCHC. What’s it like to have him on your team now?
A. “We’ve actually talked about it. I actually grew up playing every single level against Nick. We were talking about how our paths have crossed so much but we never really got to play with each other until we got here. He’s an awesome kid. He’s just a big, lovable guy, always a smile on his face. It’s always awesome, you have your own perception of a guy playing against him all these years and then you get to meet him. He’s become one of my good friends, him being from Minnesota, and (I’ll be) getting to know him even more in the summers or after the season. It’s been awesome. All these guys on the team are great, but he’s definitely one that sticks out. We’re going to become even better friends here in the future.”
The Providence Bruins continued their strong play last week, extending their winning streak to three with a pair of victories.
They came from behind to beat Hartford, 4-2, on the road last Tuesday, then led from start to finish in a 4-1 win against Bridgeport in Marlboro on Thursday.
“I thought it was a sharp performance,’’ coach Jay Leach said after the victory over the Sound Tigers. “We dealt with some penalties, both early and late, that we had to really kind of dig in on.’’
Here’s the good, bad and ugly.
— With a 7-2 record and 14 points in 9 games, Providence is second in the AHL with a points percentage of .778 as of Sunday evening. The P-Bruins lead Hartford and Bridgeport in the Atlantic Division by 10 points.
— Rookie Sammy Asselin scored a hat trick in Hartford and added an assist against Bridgeport.
— Providence’s goaltending has been second to none from the start. Dan Vladar played well in Hartford and Jeremy Swayman extended his record to 5-0 with the win over Bridgeport. Swayman (.935) and Vladar (.934) are in the top 10 in the AHL in save percentage.
— After setting up a pair of goals against the Wolf Pack, Oskar Steen scored twice against Bridgeport.
— Anton Blidh assisted on both of Steen’s goals. On the first, he pressured Bridgeport goalie C.J. Motte into fumbling the puck, which Steen put in the net. On the second, he fed a perfect pass from behind the goal to Steen, who buried it.
— Robert Lantosi scored a goal and an assist against the Sound Tigers for his first multi-point game of the season.
— Brady Lyle continued to display his hard shot. He fired the puck past Hartford goalie Dylan Garand for his third goal of the season.
— The power play snapped out of a dry spell, going 2 for 5 in Hartford.
— The penalty killers did a nice job against Bridgeport, killing off four third period penalties.
— After being sent down from Boston, Karson Kuhlman scored his first goal of the season against Bridgeport.
— Jakub Lauko scored a decision over Parker Wotherspoon of Bridgeport when they dropped the gloves on Thursday.
— Providence was outshot, 17-5, in the third period against the Wolf Pack.
— The P-Bruins took four penalties and were shorthanded for eight minutes in the third period against Bridgeport.
— Injured: Curtis Hall (week to week, but back on the ice as he recovers from leg injury), Brendan Woods
The Providence Bruins turned in a sharp performance in beating Bridgeport, 4-1, at Marlboro on Thursday.
They grabbed the lead just 68 seconds in and didn’t look back. Oskar Steen scored twice and Robert Lantosi and Karson Kuhlman added single goals. Jeremy Swayman made 25 saves.
With a 7-2 record and a .778 points percentage, Providence is running away from Hartford and Bridgeport in the North Division.
Here are three quick hits:
Coach Jay Leach was impressed by the line of Anton Blidh, Steen and Paul Carey, which combined on some nifty plays.
“They won pucks and got it inside, protected it well and were able to attack the net. Very, very tenacious on the puck would be what I’d call that line’s game tonight,’’ he said.
After assisting on two goals in Hartford on Monday, Steen potted an early goal after a strong forecheck by Blidh, then scored from a sharp angle in the second period after a pretty setup by Blidh.
“He’s been going all season, it’s been consistent, game in and game out,’’ Leach said of Steen. “His skating game is certainly there. He’s playing in all situations, starting to really learn the faceoff circle. He’s been a consistent positive performer really throughout the season.’’
Leach had a lot of positive things to say about Blidh.
“Coaches aren’t supposed to have favorites, but it’s hard for me not to have a favorite in that guy. He’s consistently hard. Always skating. Always on the puck. Always in front of the net and then obviously a terrific penalty killer.
“Has added an offensive part to his game where he’s able to set guys up like you saw on Steener’s second goal. It was a beautiful play by Blider from behind the net.
“He’s become a leader for us. He’s matured. I’ve known him for five years now and it’s been really fun to watch his maturity and the man he’s grown into. His teammates love him. It’s been a lot of fun to watch.’’
Carey didn’t get on the scoresheet on Thursday, but he leads the team in scoring with 9 points in 9 games.
SWAYMAN STRONG AGAIN
Providence’s rookie goalie turned in another strong performance. He’s won all five of his starts and his save percentage is up to .935.
He held the fort in the first period when Bridgeport had some good chances and he was good in the third when the P-Bruins were shorthanded for nearly half the period.
“This rink, there’s some odd bounces, things happen really fast here. If you’re not ready early, you’re going to get exposed. I thought we got exposed a couple of times and he was square to every puck, he was in the right spot, found a couple that were screaming in from the point with some screens. He was great,’’ said Leach.
“Obviously, we had to rely on him again in the third with the four penalty kills we had. Again, square to the shooters. I actually missed the goal. I think it was some sort of a tip in front, if I’m not mistaken. He was good all night and he’s been that way every game we’ve seen.’’
LAUKO PACKS PUNCH
Jakub Lauko has displayed his speed, tenacity and scoring touch from the first game of the season.
On Thursday, he dropped his gloves and showed that he can handle himself in a fight.
Despite giving up a couple of inches and about 20 pounds to Parker Wotherspoon of the Sound Tigers, Lauko pounded out a clear decision.
“I just didn’t see it coming. I guess maybe they had some run-ins before that actually occurred,’’ said Leach.
“I knew that he fought a little bit in junior, but he certainly knew what he was doing. It was a great fight. I just was hoping he didn’t get hurt. You never know with those things, especially with guys that don’t fight much.
“It was impressive, and I actually thought he had a pretty good game. He was up and down and skating well. He’s had a really nice start to the season.’’