Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend

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The Providence Bruins on Sunday were less than a minute away from closing out the weekend on a high note with a come-from-behind win in their third game in three nights.

Instead, the Springfield Thunderbirds scored twice in the last minute of regulation time to tie the game, then won on a power-play goal in overtime. It was a defeat that left a sour taste after the P-Bruins showed great resilience by rallying in the third period to take the lead.

Providence came away from the weekend with three out of six points.

They probably deserved a better fate in Friday’s 2-1 home loss to Bridgeport after they outshot the Sound Tigers, 44-26. In a rematch on the road on Saturday, the P-Bruins scored a goal in every period in a 3-1 win.

On Sunday, Providence had a 5-3 lead in the final minute before Springfield’s Owen Tippett (19:19) and Alexei Saarela (19:51) scored to force OT. Saarela’s power play goal with 1:40 left in extra time sent the T-Birds home with a W.

“We have a group over here that’s certainly trying their hardest and (is) perhaps a little fatigued. Then you have a group over there that’s excellent offensively,’’ said Providence coach Jay Leach.

“You’re going to get these games. These two teams always have entertaining games. Some nights they’re fun to be a part of and some nights, like tonight, they’re not.’’

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.

GOOD

— Trent Frederic was a standout all over the ice on Saturday with a goal and two assists.

— Newcomer Brett Ritchie had a strong weekend. He scored twice in Bridgeport and did a good job screening the goalie on Peter Cehlarik’s goal on Sunday.

— Paul Carey and Brendan Gaunce scored two goals each on Sunday.

— With three assists on Sunday, Jack Studnicka snapped a streak of nine straight games without a point.

— Zach Senyshyn had gone 12 games without a point before earning an assist on Sunday.

— Josiah Didier had to be helped to the dressing room after blocking a couple of shots in the second period in Bridgeport, but he returned for the third period.

BAD 

— The P-Bruins outshot Bridgeport, 19-4, but scored only once in the third period of Friday’s loss.

— Late goals were a problem on Sunday. Springfield scored with 1:55 left in the first period, with five seconds left in the second, and then with 41 seconds and with 9 seconds left in the third.

— Providence had 56 seconds of five-on-three in the third period on Friday but couldn’t score. The power play is 22nd in the AHL at 15.7 percent.

UGLY

— With points at a premium in the Atlantic Division, giving up two goals in the last minute of regulation, then losing in overtime, is a tough way to end a weekend.

— Providence is 8-10-1-1 at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. Only Bakersfield and San Jose have worse home records.

—   Injured: Jakub Lauko, Cameron Hughes, Robert Lantosi

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend

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Great photo by Chris Emerson of one of Max Lagace’s great saves on Sunday.  This one on Joel Lowry in the third period might have been his best, as he slid across the crease to glove the shot.

Finally snapping out of their scoring funk, the Providence Bruins won both of their games over the weekend.

The P-Bruins beat the Springfield Thunderbirds, 5-2, on the road on Saturday night, then won in a rematch at home, 5-3, on Sunday afternoon. The wins helped them keep pace in the Atlantic Division playoff race.

“We were ready to play today,’’ coach Jay Leach said after Sunday’s game. “We certainly know the importance of these games. When you play a team 14 times and you’re two points away from each other in the standings, you’re certainly looking at your season and your opportunity to be in the playoffs. We did a good job of recognizing that opportunity.’’

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.

GOOD

— After scoring a total of three goals in their previous four games, Providence put up five goals in two consecutive games.

— The P-Bruins helped themselves with strong starts in both games. They took the lead at 3:13 on Saturday and at 2:52 on Sunday. They are tied for the AHL lead with 17 wins when scoring first.

— Karson Kuhlman scored an empty netter on Saturday for his first goal of the season. He was a standout on Sunday, winning races all over the ice and scoring a goal and an assist.

— Anton Blidh scored a greasy rebound goal from the top of the crease on Saturday, then converted a penalty shot on Sunday for his first two scores of the season.

— Brendan Woods had a good weekend. He earned an assist on Saturday, then scored Providence’s first and last goals on Sunday. He was involved physically in both games. Woods has seven goals, matching his total for last season.

— Trent Frederic has hit a lot of posts and crossbars this season, but he got a very lucky bounce on Saturday when a carom off the boards left him with an empty net for Providence’s first goal. It was Frederic’s first goal in nine games. Frederic had a Gordie Howe hat trick on Saturday.

— Dan Vladar’s save percentage is .935 after he stopped 26 shots on Saturday.

— On his 27th birthday on Sunday, Max Lagace made some of his most spectacular saves of the season, absolutely robbing Jonathan Ang, Henrik Borgstrom and Joel Lowry.

— Brendan Gaunce had a goal and an assist on Saturday and has 1-3-4 in his last three games.

BAD

— The P-Bruins lost Robert Lantosi to an eye injury early in Saturday’s game after he was checked into the boards by Joel Lowry.

— Since returning from injury on Dec. 21, Zach Senyshyn has gone eight games without a point.

— The P-Bruins’ power play is 21st in the league at 16.3 percent.

UGLY

— Injured: Cameron Hughes, Robert Lantosi, Jakub Lauko

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend

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The Providence Bruins are off to a rocky start in the new year. Their struggles at the end of 2019 have carried over into the early days of 2020.

Providence dropped all three games over the weekend, extending their losing streak to four. They are now 1-6 in their last seven.

The weekend started with a tough-luck 3-1 loss to the Hartford Wolf Pack on Friday in a very well-played game. They played poorly in 4-0 loss to the Charlotte Checkers on Saturday and weren’t much better on Sunday, losing 4-1 to the Checkers. All three games were at home.

“We’ve had a tough go with scoring lately,’’ said coach Jay Leach after Sunday’s loss. “We just haven’t been able to score goals for whatever reason.

“I thought Friday night’s game was a good game. We put a lot of energy into trying to get a couple of goals and we just couldn’t do it. We lost in a heartbreaking fashion and then we chased it for the rest of the weekend.’’

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.

GOOD

— Jack Studnicka and Paul Carey were selected to play in the AHL All-Star Classic later this month. Well-deserved.

— Paul Carey scored a brilliant unassisted shorthanded goal in the first period of Friday’s game against Hartford.

— Attendance was better than it’s been recently, with crowds of 7,983, 7,820 and 8,246.

BAD

— After scoring 11 straight goals in wins over Springfield and Scranton / Wilkes-Barre a couple of weeks ago, Providence has scored only seven goals in the last seven games while being shut out three times.

— Providence’s power play is in a 0-for-22 slump.

— The P-Bruins gave up 43 shots in Saturday night’s loss.

— Talk about bad luck, Trent Frederic hit the post or crossbar four times on Saturday, according to Jay Leach.

— Urho Vaakanainen was outmuscled by Boo Nieves on Hartford’s winning goal with 26 seconds left on Friday.

— Jakub Zboril was on the ice for all four of Charlotte’s goals on Saturday.

— Providence has given up empty-net goals in the last three games.

UGLY

— Providence’s nine losses at home is tied for second-worst in the AHL.

— Between Paul Carey’s goal in the first period on Friday and Robert Lantosi’s in the final minute on Sunday, the P-Bruins went 172:13 without scoring.

— Injured: Cameron Hughes, Jakub Lauko

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend

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The Providence Bruins finished the 2019 portion of their schedule by splitting a pair of road games.

They earned a 4-3 win in Springfield on Friday, then fell behind early and lost, 4-1, in Hartford on Saturday.

Providence has struggled with the Wolf Pack and goalie Igor Shesterkin so far, winning only one of six games.

“It wasn’t a very good game for us,’’ coach Jay Leach said after Saturday’s game. “We played a team that is defensively structured, plays inside and boxes out. We didn’t show enough resolve in those areas to get looks at their very good goaltender.”

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.

GOOD

— With his 14th goal in Springfield, Jack Studnicka is tied for the lead in goals among AHL rookies and is third in points with 26. He leads the team in scoring with 14-12-26 in 33 games.

— Joona Koppanen scored Providence’s only goal in Hartford and made a nice play to Pavel Shen for a goal in Springfield. Koppanen has seven goals and 13 points in 25 games after scoring only two goals in 45 games last season.

— Pavel Shen scored what turned out to be the winning goal on Friday and set up a goal on Saturday. He has 2-1-3 in his last four games.

— The P-Bruins took advantage of a two on zero in Springfield as Ryan Fitzgerald and Brendan Gaunce tossed the puck back and forth to each other before Fitzgerald put it in for Providence’s third goal.

— Cooper Zech made a gorgeous pass to Robert Lantosi, who scored on a breakaway in Springfield. Lantosi also had an assist on Studnicka’s goal.

— The Bruins sent Steve Kampfer down on Saturday and then recalled him on Sunday. As a result, Kampfer was credited with serving the first game of his two-game AHL suspension when he did not play on Saturday night.

— Jeremy Lauzon’s plus-16 is tied for third in the AHL.

— Nine of Providence’s 12 games in January are at home.

BAD

— The power play went zero for five on the weekend.

— Providence was outshot, 14-6, and fell behind by two goals in the first period in Hartford.

— The AHL suspended Steve Kampfer for two games for a hit on Hartford’s Patrick Newell on Dec. 21. No issue with the suspension, but how did the referees miss it when it happened?

UGLY

— The P-Bruins will be without Jakub Lauko for an undetermined length of time after the rookie was injured on his first shift while playing for the Czech Republic in the World Junior Championship.

— Other injured players: Urho Vaakanainen, Chris Breen, Cameron Hughes, Anton Blidh

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins week

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The Providence Bruins took one step forward and two steps back on the road last week.

They blew out the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, 6-0, on Wednesday night. Unfortunately for them, they apparently used up their quota of goals for the week in that game.

Providence was blanked in its next two games, a 1-0 loss in the second game of their two-game set against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Friday night and a 3-0 defeat in Hartford on Saturday night.

“It was certainly a frustrating night for us,’’ coach Jay Leach said after Saturday’s game. “We just couldn’t get it past their goaltender.’’

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.

GOOD

— Despite losing two in a two, Providence reached the Christmas break in second place in the Atlantic Division with a .621 point percentage.

— The P-Bruins exploded for four goals on 14 shots against Casey DeSmith in Wednesday’s 6-0 win. Peter Cehlarik and Robert Lantosi had 1-1-2. Tommy Marchin scored twice. Steve Kampfer and Trent Frederic had two assists each.

— Paul Carey is tied for fourth in the AHL in goals with 14.

— Tommy Marchin scored his first AHL goal on Wednesday as Peter Cehlarik set him up with a perfect pass for a one-timer.

— Robert Lantosi has nine points in his last nine games on two goals and seven assists.

— Max Lagace made 38 saves, including 20 in the third period, in recording his fifth shutout on Wednesday night.

— Scott Conway made a good play to set up Pavel Shen for a goal on Wednesday.

— Providence has won 12 games on the road, more than any team in the league.

BAD

— Tough break for Jeremy Lauzon and Dan Vladar on Friday night. The only goal of the game was credited to Anthony Angello of the Penguins after a centering pass from below the goal line bounced off Lauzon and into the net past Vladar.

— Steven Kampfer was suspended for two games by the AHL on Monday for “an interference incident” with 8:57 left in the third period on Saturday night. Hartford’s Patrick Newell was injured on the play. There was no call by referees Andrew Howard and Anthony Tapper. Kampfer will sit out the weekend games against Springfield and Hartford.

— Anthony Angello drove Urho Vaakanainen into the boards late in the second period on Wednesday. No penalty was called on the play, which was surprising as it was a dangerous hit.

— The P-Bruins have been shorthanded 138 times. Only two teams have been shorthanded more often.

UGLY

— Providence hasn’t scored a goal in six-plus periods, 135:43 to be exact.

— Injured: Chris Breen, Anton Blidh, Cameron Hughes

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins week

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After losing their second game in a row last Wednesday, the Providence Bruins got back on track by sweeping the Springfield Thunderbirds over the weekend.

The P-Bruins looked tired in a 4-1 home loss to Syracuse to start the week, beat Springfield in overtime, 5-4, on the road Saturday, and followed that with a 5-0 victory over the Thunderbirds at home on Sunday.

“We addressed some things this week and the guys took it upon themselves to own their game and the way we want to play,” said coach Jay Leach.

“We’re just trying to find our identity. This week we tried to do that. We were cleaner on our breakouts. We want to establish the defensive zone structure that we’ve traditionally had here. We want to exploit what makes us good, which is our speed through the neutral zone, our defensive zone play and our forecheck.

“We did a nice job of that this weekend. Getting points and getting ahead of teams in this division is a luxury. Every night is going to be a battle. We’ll take as many points as we can get,’’ he said.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.

GOOD

— Providence finished the weekend in second place in the Atlantic Division with a .650 win percentage. They are fourth in the Eastern Conference and seventh in the league.

— Jack Studnicka continues to thrive in his first pro season. He scored his AHL-leading fifth shorthanded goal on Saturday and added an assist. He scored a goal on a nice move on Sunday. Studnicka is tied for the team lead in scoring with 12-12-24 in 28 games. He is second in rookie scoring in the league.

— Paul Carey undressed a defender and went bar down for the OT winner on Saturday and scored a power play goal on Sunday.

— Moving Trent Frederic back to center from the wing has revived his offensive game. He has two goals and three assists in his last three games. His linemates had productive weekends, too. Peter Cehlarik had 1-1-2 on Saturday and two assists on Sunday. Robert Lantosi had a goal and an assist in Springfield and made a slick pass to Paul Carey for a goal on Sunday.

— Max Lagace moved across the crease to make a brilliant stop on Tommy Cross 7:15 into the third period on Saturday. He is second in the AHL in wins with 12.

— Jeremy Lauzon scored his first goal of the season on Sunday.

— The P-Bruins fired 50 shots on the Thunderbirds net on Saturday.

— Providence is tied for the AHL lead in goals with 103.

— Dan Vladar made 42 saves in shutting out Springfield on Sunday. He is 3-1 with two shutouts and a .968 save percentage since missing six weeks with a high ankle sprain.

BAD

— Cameron Hughes was injured on a crushing hit by Springfield’s Tommy Cross on Sunday afternoon. Cross was assessed a match penalty for a hit to the head. “Tommy was coming with a full head of steam and Hughsie, unfortunately, didn’t see him,’’ said Jay Leach.

— Springfield’s Aleksi Saarela danced Urho Vaakanainen to score the game-tying goal midway through the third period on Saturday.

— Announced attendance for Wednesday’s 6 p.m. start was 4,768, but there couldn’t have been more than 1,500 fans in the building.

— The P-Bruins are heading into a tough stretch of five straight road games against good opponents. They will face Wilkes-Barre Scranton and Hartford twice and Springfield once before their next home game on Jan. 3.

UGLY

— Injured: Cameron Hughes, Jakub Lauko, Chris Breen, Anton Blidh

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend

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The ending could have been better, but on balance the Providence Bruins had a good weekend, earning four out of six points in three home games.

They blitzed the Binghamton Devils, 6-2, on Friday and edged the Utica Comets, 3-2, in a shootout on Saturday, before losing, 4-1, to the Hartford Wolf Pack on Sunday.

“We’ve had a good run the last couple of weeks,’’ said coach Jay Leach. “I’m not by any means going to get down on it, but (Sunday’s outcome is) certainly a bit of a reset button for us. ‘’

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.

GOOD

— Providence finished the weekend in second place in the Atlantic Division.

— Dan Vladar shut down Reid Boucher, the AHL’s leading goal scorer, in the shootout on Saturday, wrapping up the win.

— It was a strong weekend for Robert Lantosi. He scored the winner in the shootout against Utica and had two assists on both Friday and Saturday.

— It was good to hear that Jakub Lauko was feeling better on Sunday after being knocked out of the game when he apparently ran into the elbow of Utica’s Justin Bailey on Saturday.

— Max Lagace made a terrific save on Ben Street’s bid for a shorthanded goal halfway through the first period against Binghamton. Lagace is tied for second in the league with 11 wins.

— Josiah Didier is plus-16 in 26 games. That’s third in the AHL.

— Peter Cehlarik snapped a streak of 11 games without a goal when he scored on Friday.

— Paul Carey scored twice against Binghamton, then had a goal and an assist the next night against Utica. On his Saturday night goal, he made two very crafty plays. First, he went cross-corner with a long dump-in, knowing Robert Lantosi would beat the Utica defense and negate the icing. Lantosi did just that and fired the puck on the Comets’ net. Carey then caught up to the rebound near the boards on the left wing and, seeing that goalie Richard Bachman hadn’t recovered after the Lantosi shot, Carey quickly fired the puck into the net from a sharp angle for a goal. Later on, Carey had his stick in the passing lane and disrupted Utica’s breakout, leading to a goal by Brendan Gaunce. It’s fun to watch a player with Carey’s smarts.

— The P-Bruins were 3 for 11 on the power play in the three games.

— Joona Koppanen scored twice against Binghamton. With six goals in 17 games, he is much-improved from last season.

— Ryan Fitzgerald did a nice job on the forecheck, setting the stage for Providence’s first goal on Friday.

— The P-Bruins made two good skill plays within a minute against Binghamton, both resulting in goals. First, Jakub Lauko made a nice pass through a seam in front to Peter Ceharlik for a goal, then Jakub Zboril made a nifty one-touch feed to Joona Koppanen for a score.

— After a stretch of games where it looked like his confidence was fading, Cooper Zech has his swagger back. He had a goal and three assists against Binghamton and an assist against Hartford.

BAD

— That was some shoddy refereeing by Mike Dietrich late in regulation time against Utica. First, he made a very soft interference call against Oskar Steen of the P-Bruins for bumping Comets’ goalie Richard Bachman. Then, a minute later, he evened things up, whistling Utica’s Justin Bailey for a phantom hooking call.

— Trent Frederic is on pace for a six-goal season. He’d gone three straight games without a shot before recording two on Sunday.

— A failed clear by Peter Cehlarik led to Utica’s tying goal late in the third period.

— Cooper Zech had a strong weekend overall, as noted, but he had a tough turnover right in front of his own net on Sunday that handed Hartford its fourth goal.

UGLY

— It’s hard to watch a player being wheeled off on a stretcher, as Jakub Lauko was on Saturday.

— Injured: Chris Breen, Anton Blidh, Jakub Lauko

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins week

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The Providence Bruins went on the road last week and won all three of their games.

They started with a scintillating 7-6 shootout victory in Hershey on Wednesday. The P-Bruins trailed, 3-0, 4-2 and 5-3, but kept coming back. They finally pulled out the win on shootout scores by Robert Lantosi and Jakub Lauko.

On Saturday in Charlotte, Providence broke open a one-goal game in the third period and came away with a 4-1 victory. On Sunday, they finished the trip with a 4-0 win in Charlotte.

“The season is really long and it doesn’t necessarily matter if the goalie gets the shutout or not. The most important part is those two points,’’ said Dan Vladar, who pitched a 36-save shutout in his first start after returning from injury. “We got six out of six (points) this week and that’s huge for our group.’’

Here’s the good, bad and ugly (actually, there’s very little bad and ugly).

GOOD

— The P-Bruins finished the weekend in first place in the Atlantic Division and third in points in the league. They’ve won four in a row, their longest win streak of the season.

— The P-Bruins scored three shorthanded goals in Sunday’s win and now lead the AHL in that category with eight. The PK, which was last in the league early in the season, is now seventh at 86.4 percent. They’ve killed the last 10.

— Urho Vaakanainen continues to play his best hockey of the season. He scored twice and now has seven points in his last five games.

— Brendan Woods is on fire with goals in three straight games and has 5-2-7 in his last five games.

— Providence leads the AHL with five shutouts – four by Max Lagace and one by Dan Vladar.

— After playing well in his first two NHL games with Boston, Jack Studnicka returned on Sunday and scored an empty-net goal and an assist. He has goals in six straight games.

— The fourth line had an excellent week. Joona Koppanen had 1-2-3 in three games, Sam Asselin has assists in three straight and Scott Conway scored a goal on Saturday.

— Max Lagace made a 10-bell save on Garrett Pilon in overtime in Hershey, allowing the P-Bruins to get to the shootout.

— Jakub Lauko blew past a Hershey defender to score a big goal on Wednesday, then won the game in the shootout.

— Oskar Steen broke a 14-game dry spell with a goal in Hershey.

— Pavel Shen scored  his first AHL goal on Sunday.

BAD

— Max Lagace allowed goals on four of the first seven shots in the second period in Hershey.

UGLY

— Injured: Chris Breen, Kyle Keyser, Anton Blidh

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend

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It was the best weekend of the season so far for the Providence Bruins as they earned five out of six points with two wins and an overtime loss.

They dominated Bridgeport, 5-0, at home on Friday, came from behind twice to earn a point in a 5-4 overtime road loss in Springfield on Saturday, then played very well in a 6-3 home win over Hershey on Sunday. They finished the weekend in second place in the Atlantic Division, trailing only Hartford.

“It was a good weekend,’’ said coach Jay Leach. “We obviously had a terrific game on Friday night. On Saturday, we had a terrible first period, but we rebounded, showed some character and really did a nice job.

“(On Sunday) I thought our first 35 minutes were really good. They got some life and it sounds ridiculous, but it is tough to play with a four-goal lead for an extended period of time. We knew (Hershey) would push but we did a nice job and it was awesome to see a guy like (Sean) Bonar in net get the win, which is always fun.’’

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.

GOOD

— Jack Studnicka continued his terrific play, taking over the team scoring lead. He scored a shorthanded goal on Friday, then sent Saturday’s game to overtime with a late goal. On Sunday, he scored a pivotal shorthanded goal and added two assists.

“He was our best forward. He was outstanding,’’ Leach said on Sunday. “That’s a big-time play (on his goal). He outmuscles a couple of guys and to finish in tight like that was pretty special.’’

Studnicka has goals in five straight games and is second in scoring among AHL rookies with 9-9-18 in 21 games.

— Studnicka’s linemates, Paul Carey and Ryan Fitzgerald, also had strong games on Sunday. Carey scored once and had two assists. Fitzgerald opened the scoring. He had a goal on Friday, too.

— Playing on the wing, Trent Frederic scored his first goal of the season on Friday, then added another one on Sunday.

— Urho Vaakanainen’s game is much improved in recent weeks. He had a pair of assists on Saturday, then scored twice and added an assist on Sunday.

— Brendan Gaunce scored twice and added an assist on Friday.

— Joona Koppanen scored a goal and set up Scott Conway for another as the P-Bruins erased a two-goal deficit in the second period in Springfield.

— Max Lagace posted his league-leading fourth shutout on Friday. His eight wins are tied for second in the AHL. His .930 save percentage is third.

— Providence’s third goal on Friday was a masterpiece of puck movement. It started with a strong zone entry by Peter Cehlarik, who pulled up and passed to Jakub Zboril. He quickly passed to Robert Lantosi, who put the puck on Brandan Gaunce’s stick for the score. Beautifully done.

— With Kyle Keyser and Dan Vladar injured, Sean Bonar was recalled from Atlanta and made 25 saves on Sunday to earn his first AHL win.

BAD

— Providence came up way short in the first period on Saturday . The P-Bruins took the lead on Robert Lantosi’s goal 19 seconds in, but were outshot, 22-10, and trailed 3-1 after 20 minutes.

— Providence’s next three are on the road, at Hershey followed by two in Charlotte.

UGLY

— Injured: Chris Breen, Anton Blidh, Kyle Keyser, Dan Vladar, Pavel Shen, Brendan Woods

Prospect progress report: Jack Studnicka

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PHOTO by CHRIS EMERSON/RISHOTS.com

A quarter of the way into his first full season as a pro, Jack Studnicka is in a good place.

The 20-year-old center is playing big minutes for the Providence Bruins and his game is trending upward.

With goals in four of the last five games, Studnicka is tied with Paul Carey and Alex Petrovic for the team scoring lead with 13 points (6 goals and 7 assists) in 18 games.

“He’s been good,’’ said coach Jay Leach. “The workload we’re giving him, for a 20-year-old kid, it’s impressive that he’s been able to handle all that. He plays in every situation. Obviously, he’s getting a tough matchup most nights.’’

Making the jump from the Ontario Hockey League requires some adjustment, but Studnicka is feeling more comfortable every day.

“It took a couple of games to get used to the schedule, the speed, the maintenance. I feel like I’m in full swing now and playing to my ability,’’ Studnicka said after practice on Thursday.

“I’ve been trying to come to the rink every game and work as hard as I can and do the details and kind of let the offense take care of itself. It’s nice to see that paying off and hopefully I can continue that going forward.

“I’m really trying to protect the puck down low, create some offensive zone time with the puck on my stick, kind of trying to feel out how teams in this league play in their D zone. Spin off guys, create space and look for an open play, be a playmaker and shoot when I can,’’ he said.

Studnicka is among the team leaders in ice time for forwards, averaging from 18 to 21 minutes per game, according to Leach.

“The No. 1 thing for him is he competes. Loves playing the game. He’s a really smart player. He’s shown that ability to find guys – I don’t know if I want to call it a next-level play — but he does have that ability to really see the ice well and make a play that I can’t say I’ve seen from everyone. That does set him apart,’’ said Leach.

“You can clearly tell he’s 20 years old and just growing into his body. We have to be careful with our expectations with someone like that.’’

Studnicka’s dad, who played for Maine in the 1980s, has visited twice. His mom is scheduled for a visit next month.

“This is kind of my first year living on my own. Me and Cooper Zech are living together, trying to cook, put some recipes together. We’re both in the same boat, trying to put some weight on, some good weight. We’re learning how to cook and, in our down time, watching hockey, watching movies, what any normal kid does,’’ he said.

As he works on his own game in the AHL, Studnicka naturally is paying attention to what’s going on with the parent club.

“I like to watch their games, but it’s tough when we’re playing and they’re playing (at the same time). I don’t go and rewatch or anything like that, but if they are on, I’m watching the game, for sure,’’ he said.

The goal, of course, is to be playing in, not watching, those NHL games, whether it’s later this season or next.

“No rush, in my mind. When called upon, I think I’m going to be ready, mentally and physically,’’ he said.