Steen leads my development camp all-star team

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Compared to past years, the 2019 Boston Bruins development camp was short on snap, crackle and pop.

There were some excellent players, but no Tyler Seguins, Charlie McAvoys or David Pastrnaks. Or even Dougie Hamiltons.

And three of Boston’s better prospects – Jack Studnicka, Kyle Keyser and Jakub Lauko – didn’t go on the ice. They finished their seasons just a few weeks ago and didn’t need the work.

The lack of star power may be the reason crowds were a bit sparse, especially compared to bygone days when Ristuccia Arena was packed with enthusiastic fans.

Jamie Langenbrunner of the Bruins cautioned against “overvaluing” development camp performance, to which I say: Amen.

Anyway, without further ado, here is my development camp all-star team.

F OSKAR STEEN – For my money, Steen was the best player here. He’s played at a higher level than the rest – the top pro league in Sweden — and it showed. He has an explosive first step and plays with pace all over the ice. Steen made some nice plays around the net while also showing the ability to finish.

He’s going to need time to adjust to the smaller North American rinks, so I believe starting the season in Providence would be good for his development, though I’d bet on him playing NHL games next season at some point.

A top line of Paul Carey-Studnicka-Steen could do some damage for the P-Bruins.  Just sayin’.

F JACK BEECHER – Don Sweeney’s description of Beecher’s skating as effortless was right on the money. He’s a runaway train when he gets going. We’ll get a better idea about his hockey sense and puck skills when he gets to Michigan.

F PAVEL SHEN – The Russian, who was good in the World Juniors, didn’t bring me out of my seat with dazzling dangles in camp, but he showed a knack for protecting the puck and making some plays. Hopefully he’ll be in Providence this season.

D COOPER ZECH – I said going in that he’d be one of the top players and he delivered. The sequence early in Friday’s scrimmage when he made two or three subtle moves to elude a forechecking Steen was vintage Zech. He looked to make a play every time he touched the puck. As a member of the Boston staff put it, he plays with conviction.

D NICK WOLFF — Twenty years ago, a rugged customer like Wolff would probably be a lock to play in the NHL just for his physical presence. Times have changed as the game gets faster, but Wolff has a chance if he continues to improve his footwork and his stick skills. It looks to me as if the Bruins have the inside track on signing him – either to an AHL or an NHL deal – once he finishes his senior season at Duluth.

G JEREMY SWAYMAN – Maine’s best player is getting better all the time and was easily the best of the three goalies who played in Friday’s scrimmage. (Dan Vladar, who already has three pro seasons under his belt, didn’t play in the scrimmage.)

Player to watch in Bruins development camp: Cooper Zech

Just like a certain undersized offensive defenseman for the Boston Bruins, Cooper Zech hails from Michigan and is at his best with the puck on his stick.

“I was a Detroit fan as a kid, but I always looked up to Torey Krug,’’ Zech says.

The 20-year-old doesn’t have any draft pedigree or the hype that comes with it, but then neither did Krug when he signed with the Bruins as a free agent out of Michigan State in 2012.

Zech will be an intriguing prospect to watch when he takes the ice for his first Boston Bruins development camp starting on Wednesday. I’m betting he will be one of the standouts of the three-day event.

Obviously, Zech has miles and miles to travel before he comes anywhere close to Krug’s starry level, but there’s reason for optimism about his future given his promising play in the AHL at the end of last season.

He had an outstanding freshman year at Ferris State, where he was rookie of the year in the WCHA with 28 points in 36 games. When his college season ended, he signed a two-year AHL contract with Providence (AHL deals with Toronto, St. Louis and Washington were also on the table).

Displaying plenty of poise, Zech played well in 12 regular season games and 4 playoff games for the P-Bruins.

“From the day he got here to the day he left, he was a really impressive player for a 20-year-old kid who weighs 160 pounds. He ended up being our best defenseman overall in the playoffs,’’ said Providence coach Jay Leach.

The 5-foot-9 Zech can use his excellent skating ability to carry the puck out of his zone or he can pass it out. He is an excellent passer. His escapability under a heavy forecheck is impressive. He finds seams in transition. He makes smart plays from the point on the power play.

And he’s got swagger.

“I love how he wants to play the game and compete – he’s more or less fearless out there, with a slight frame. He wants the puck,’’ said Leach.

Zech handles questions about his stature as comfortably as he dodges forecheckers.

“It is what it is. We all have disadvantages. I grew up a lot smaller than this, so it was nice to finally have a growth spurt. I was catching up a foot back then. Now it’s four or five inches. It’s made me the player that I am,’’ he said.

This will be Zech’s second NHL development camp. He attended Washington’s camp a year ago and played well. “There was talk of signing a contract, but nothing came of it. I went to college and it all worked out for me, getting to Providence,’’ he said.

Of his decision to leave Ferris State after only one season, he said, “I wasn’t a big school guy. I’ve always wanted to make hockey a full-time thing, revolve my life around it. I figured that was the best way to do it and not have to deal with going to class. It just wasn’t my style. Pro hockey was what I wanted to do.’’

At the start in Providence, Zech was given the green light to find his way.

“The first couple of games (the coaches) let me play my game and do what I do best and after that they made some adjustments. First game, they just said have fun and show them what I could do,’’ he said.

The signature moment of Zech’s late-season stint came in the playoffs against Charlotte. On the power play, he lugged the puck end to end to score a highlight-reel goal.

“It was crunch time, obviously, and that’s when I play my best hockey,’’ he said of his first goal as a pro. “That puck’s hanging up in my dad’s office right now.’’

Since Providence’s season ended, Zech has been back home in Michigan, helping his family with a move into a new house, “doing a ton of working out, fishing and just enjoying it.’’

He is an avid fisherman, for sure. He dropped a hook into Narragansett Bay on the day he arrived in Rhode Island in March. Charlie Moore’s going to be a fan of this kid.

Development camp will be the first time the Boston coaching staff and some in the front office will get a look at Zech in person. I expect they are going to like what they see.

Can he follow a similar development track as Connor Clifton, who signed an AHL deal as a college free agent and in time leapfrogged more highly touted defensemen on his way up to Boston? We’ll see.

“Obviously, he’s got to put some weight on. Some of that is just growing up,’’ said Leach. “His size will always be a question mark. But if there’s a guy who could find a way, it’s probably him.’’

Jayden Struble used NTDP snub as motivation

In 2017, Jayden Struble was widely regarded as one of the best 2001-born players in New England.

So a few eyebrows were raised around the region’s rinks that March when he was not one of the 16 defensemen from all over the country to be invited to USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program Evaluation Camp.

You certainly can’t argue with the squad that USA Hockey picked, led by Jack Hughes, that turned out to be arguably the best in the star-spangled history of the NTDP. While Struble may not have made the team, I believed at the time and still do that he was worthy of a look in camp.

Struble readily acknowledges that he was surprised by the snub. And to his credit, he did not let it get in his way. Not one bit. Instead, he used it as motivation.

“You want to prove that you are one of the best players. When you don’t get picked, you’re just thinking, ‘I have to work harder now.’ Then see where you’re at in the future compared to those guys (who did get invited),’’ Struble said this week.

“Time will tell. All you can do is work hard and keep your head on straight and the rest will play itself out.’’

As the NHL Draft unfolds in Vancouver this weekend, look for Struble to be picked ahead of several of the D-men who attended that NTDP camp while he sat at home in Cumberland, R.I.  I’m expecting that a team looking for a good skating defender with offensive skills who plays with an edge (wow, does he ever!) will take him no later than the third round. [UPDATE: Struble was picked by Montreal with the 46th pick in the second round on Saturday.]

[UPDATE: On Thursday, Struble was named to the initial U.S. roster for the 2019 World Junior Summer Showcase this summer.]

The 6-foot, 195 pounder helped himself with a light’s-out performance at the NHL Combine a few weeks ago, finishing first in 5 of the 18 tests — bench press, mean power output, standing long jump, right hand grip and left hand grip.

He credited trainer Korey Higgins of Brian McDonough’s Edge Performance Systems in Foxboro with helping him prepare.

It will be the first trip to British Columbia for Struble, but maybe not the last. After playing for St. Sebastian’s for the last two seasons, he is expected to move on to Victoria of the BCHL this year before enrolling at Northeastern in 2020.

“I’m excited to go with my family. Just hearing my name get called and then knowing what team I’m going to is going to be exciting,’’ he said.

Struble said his maternal grandfather, Paul Struble, has been the biggest influence in his hockey life through the years.

“He taught me how to play, coached me growing up, drove me to all the practices. My love of hockey is directly impacted by the amount of work that he put into me, coaching wise, advice wise, all that stuff,’’ he said.

The crowd will be big and spotlight bright at the draft. That won’t be a new experience for Struble, who played in two of the biggest events in youth sports, the Quebec Pee Wee Tournament and the Little League World Series (as a slugging first baseman for Dave Belisle’s Cumberland American team in 2014).

“Just being that young and playing in front of that many people, it’s crazy,’’ he said of his LLWS experience.

“It’s definitely helped me. Calmed my nerves a little bit. If I can do that when I’m 12 years old, I can do it now.’’

Struble interviewed with 24 teams (including Boston) at the combine and is ready for whatever happens at the draft.

“At the end of the day, I don’t really pay attention to the rankings. The teams tell you one thing, the rankings tell you another. Draft day, wherever you go, you go. I’ll be happy with whatever team picks me. Wherever it is, it’s going to be a good experience,’’ he said.

Butch Cassidy: Profile in perseverance

On a December day in 1996, Bruce “Butch” Cassidy walked into the Jacksonville Lizard Kings dressing room to meet with his players for the first time. The previous coach had been fired and Cassidy was taking over.

Thirty-one years old at the time, Cassidy had no coaching experience.

He’d started the season by playing 10 games on defense for the Indianapolis Ice of the International Hockey League, but after battling knee injuries for years he’d retired as a player. Ice owner Horn Chen also owned the Lizard Kings of the East Coast Hockey League and he handed the reins to Cassidy.

“I really remember one thing distinctly,’’ said Rick Bennett,  a player/assistant coach for the Lizard Kings.

“Butch said, ‘Guys, I’m a players’ coach. I’m really not sure what that means.’ It broke the room up a little bit. And off we went  without a hitch,’’ said Bennett, an All-American at Providence College who coached Union College to the NCAA championship in 2014.

“Our record didn’t show it, but with some of the characters on that team, Butch did a great job. He had a lot of respect from the players. He held guys accountable. He was direct. You always knew where you stood. It was a lot of fun playing for him.’’

Cassidy was on his way. He climbed the ladder in a hurry.

During his playing days, Cassidy was smart and had superb offensive skills, which is why he was drafted in the first round by the Chicago Black Hawks in 1983. His mind for the game stood out when he went behind the bench.

“His feel for the game was really high. He just thinks the game on a different level. You could tell he was going to be a guy who worked his way up pretty quick. He’s by far one of the smartest hockey guys I’ve been around,’’ said Northeastern associate head coach Jerry Keefe, who played for Cassidy with the Trenton Titans of the ECHL in 2000.

Cassidy had his first notable success as a coach in Grand Rapids, leading the Griffins to the IHL’s best record in 2000-01. Not everyone who played for him there remembers it fondly.

During Chris Kelly’s time in Boston several years ago, I asked him what it was like to play for Cassidy back then as a first-year pro. “He was a (expletive),’’ Kelly answered. “But I was a better player by the end of it.’’

The American Hockey League Coach of the Year in 2002, Cassidy was named head coach of the Washington Capitals at age 37. But after making the playoffs in his first season,  he was fired 25 games into his second year in 2004.

Cassidy’s shortcomings in Washington have been well-chronicled.

“I’m a lot more comfortable in my own skin now than I was then. I was young,’’ Cassidy told the media the other day. “I had really no NHL experience – I was up in Chicago (as a player) for bits and pieces. So you walk into an NHL locker room, there was still a little bit of awe – there’s (Jaromir) Jagr, (Sergei) Gonchar, these guys that had been around.’’

After Washington, Cassidy was an NHL assistant coach in Chicago and then was head coach with Kingston of the Ontario Hockey League before being fired early in his second season.

Out of a job in the summer of 2008, he called Boston GM Peter Chiarelli about a job with the Providence Bruins as an assistant under head coach Rob Murray.  Considering Cassidy already had been an NHL head coach and a Coach of the Year in the AHL, it couldn’t have been easy to pick up the phone for an AHL assistant job, but he swallowed his pride.

“I just wanted to get back to work,’’ Cassidy told me a few years back.

Providence is where his climb back to an NHL head coaching job gained traction. His career path since then is a profile in perseverance and belief in himself.

As Murray’s assistant for three seasons and then as head coach for five seasons, Cassidy helped the P-Bruins live up to Boston management’s mantra of player development in a winning environment. Players such as Johnny Boychuk and Torey Krug and others moved up to Boston and thrived. Cassidy had some good teams and some average teams, but they always were well prepared and played hard.

Cassidy also found a nice work/life balance in Rhode Island, living on Providence’s East Side, with wife Julie, daughter Shannon and son Cole. He’s said that having children has helped make him a more patient person and coach.

His hard work at the rink paid off. In 2016, Cassidy moved on to bigger things, joining the Boston Bruins as an assistant coach on Claude Julien’s staff. With the team floundering in February 2017, he was promoted to head coach. Since then, the Bruins have put up a glittering 117-52-22 record.

Former Boston College captain David Hymovitz has been a friend of Cassidy since playing with him in Indianapolis and for him in Grand Rapids. He is impressed with the way Cassidy handles his team.

“Twenty years ago he was blunt (with his players). He was young, trying to find his way. ‘What kind of coach am I going to be? How am I going to handle my players? How are they going to view me?’ Now he’s matured as a coach,’’ said Hymovitz, the director of hockey operations for the Boston Junior Eagles.

“When I watch him with the media, he never throws his players under the bus. There’s times when he may call somebody out, but he’s very respectful of his own players and in turn I think the players respect him for that.’’

“When I played for him, he was definitely blunt, but you always knew where you stood. Whether he’s very vocal or it’s your playing time, there was never a question of where you stood with him. I assume it’s the same now.

“Talk about where you stood, he had a guy get undressed after the first period one game, a rookie.’’

That player, Hymovitz said, recently took to Facebook to write that Cassidy was the best coach he’d ever played for.

It’s been a winding and at times bumpy road from that first meeting in Jacksonville 23 years ago, but here Cassidy is, four wins away from the Stanley Cup.

“It’s a testament to his character. He paid his dues and now, hopefully, he’s on top of the world in two weeks,’’ said Hymovitz.

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins final week

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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.

GOOD

*** 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.

BAD

*** 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.

UGLY

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

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend

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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.

GOOD

*** 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.

BAD

*** 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.

UGLY

***Injured: Gemel Smith, Anders Bjork.

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend

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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.

GOOD

*** 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.

BAD

*** 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.

UGLY

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

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend

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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.

GOOD

*** 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.

BAD

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

UGLY

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

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins week

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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.

GOOD

*** 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.

BAD

*** 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.

UGLY

*** 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.

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins week

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It was a very productive week for the Providence Bruins. They reaped five of six points from a three-game stretch that included a bus ride to Canada and back followed by two home games.

After making the 750-mile round trip to Laval for just one game, the P-Bruins earned a point in a 3-2 shootout loss against the Rocket on Wednesday. Back home, they shut down a good Belleville team, 2-0, on Friday and beat Binghamton, 3-1, on Saturday.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.

GOOD

*** As of Monday morning, Providence is tied in points with Hershey with 79. With nine games left, the P-Bruins and Bears are five points ahead of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the race for the last Atlantic Division playoff slot.

*** On Saturday night, the P-Bruins made two spectacular passing plays for goals.  Paul Carey to Kyle Cumiskey, then Gemel Smith to Trent Frederic to Jordan Szwarz. Beautiful.

*** The line of Carey, Szwarz and Smith was dominant against Binghamton.

*** Carey was in on all three goals against the Devils with two goals and an assist. He leads the team in scoring with 21-29-50 in 52 games.

*** Szwarz reached the 20-goal mark for the third straight season on Friday, then added his 21st on Saturday.

*** Zane McIntyre played very well with 28 saves in the loss in Laval and then recorded his second shutout of the year and the 11th of his P-Bruins career on Friday. He is tied with Tim Thomas and Hannu Toivonen for the franchise record.

*** The P-Bruins put the clamps on the Senators on Friday, allowing only 14 shots, including just 1 in the third period.

*** It was a good week for special teams. Providence scored a power play goal in all three games and killed all 11 penalties against them.

*** Stuart Percy scored his first Providence goal in Laval. And Cooper Zech earned his first assist as a pro.

BAD

*** Three very challenging road games await Providence this week: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Wednesday; Syracuse on Friday; and Hershey on Saturday.

*** It had been a few weeks between delay of game calls for shooting the puck into the stands, but Providence picked one up in Laval.

*** Department of Shaky Officiating: The holding call against Jeremy Lauzon in the third period on Saturday was not one of referee Jason Williams’ best moments.  Anton Blidh was whistled for slashing late in Friday’s game. Even Belleville’s play-by-play guy called it a “very cheesy’’ penalty.

UGLY

*** You don’t often see a cross-check to the head as bad as Darren Archibald’s on Trent Frederic on Friday night. Archibald received a five-minute major and a game misconduct. Looked suspension-worthy to me.

*** Injured: Anton Blidh, Urho Vaakanainen, Cameron Hughes, Anders Bjork.