Notes from Day 1 in Buffalo

Sam Asselin will center Jakub Lauko and Fabian Lysell against the Sabres on Saturday.

BUFFALO — Sam Asselin is writing a nice feel-good story for himself with the Bruins.

In 2019-20, as an undrafted center/left wing out of the QMJHL, Asselin honed his game in the ECHL, scoring 52 points in 53 games.

He moved up to Providence last season and continued to improve, posting a line of 8-8-16 in 25 games while playing on the power play and the penalty kill as well as in five-on-five.

Boston rewarded him over the summer with a two-year, two-way NHL contract and the 23-year-old from Montreal is raring to go.

“Start with training camp, start with rookie camp here and try to make the most out of it,’’ Asselin said after Friday’s practice at the HarborCenter.

“I just want to go step by step. There’s a lot of depth here in this organization. There’s a lot of players that can do what I want to do, so honestly I just want to have a really good camp. I hope I can get a game in up there in exhibition and show what I can do.’’

When the Bruins prospects face off against the Buffalo Sabres youngsters on Saturday afternoon, Asselin will center the top line with Jakub Lauko and Fabian Lysell on his wings.

He smiled as he talked about playing with the two flashy Euros.

“Lauks looks really, really good. It’s his third year. I know Lauks from junior. Never liked the guy in junior. He was fast, he was good, strong. He’s really strong for his height and his weight.

“I’m pretty pumped to play with him. We never had the chance to play together last year so it’s going to be a good combination tomorrow.

“Lysell is a little tiny, but you can see the skills and the hands that he has. It’s pretty nice to see that at 18 years old. I don’t remember myself doing all he does at 18.’’

Asselin is undersized at 5-9 and 180 pounds, but his stature hasn’t held him back.

He points to Eric Veilleux, who coached Asselin with the Halifax Mooseheads in his last year in junior and is now an assistant coach with the Syracuse Crunch, as playing a key role in his development.

“Honestly, he just showed me the right way. He gave me the green light to explode, I would say that. I was coming into Halifax after a great Memorial Cup in Bathurst. I was supposed to be the third center, just more of a defensive role, maybe, second power play, PK, good on faceoffs.

“Eric saw in me something else. He gave me the green light. I started scoring goals, which I never did before. He would do video with me, show me the right way to play,’’ said Asselin, who finished 10th in Q scoring that year with 48-38-86 in 69 games.

“Sometimes I was off in practice and I was 20 years old, a little older (than teammates). If I was off in practice he’d come to me and say, ‘You’re a leader, you can’t be off.’ He’s been a big part,’’ said Asselin.

Players like last year’s Providence captain, Paul Carey, also played an important role.

“P.C. last year, just how he is, the way he is, the way he acted. You looked at him and you want to be this guy. Players like that helped me a lot.’’

Asselin has a big supporter in Providence head coach Ryan Mougenel.

“I’m a guy that really roots for Sammy. The process that he’s gone through, he’s a guy that’s put his time in. I had a lot of conversations with him when he was playing in the ECHL,’’ he said.

“The one thing that’s always been very clear with Sammy is he wants to play in the NHL. He’s done everything he can to scratch and claw and get there. As a coach and somebody that is a part of it with him, you get goosebumps when he has success,’’ said Mougenel.

“These two games (in Buffalo) are big for Sammy in that he can start revving his engine and get ready for main camp. He obviously wants to start those conversations with the big club, that he can go and contribute.’’

Kyle Keyser spent most of last season in the ECHL before joining Providence when Jeremy Swayman was recalled.

Big opportunity for Keyser

Kyle Keyser was a free agent when he earned his ELC with the Bruins based in large part on his performance at the Prospect Challenge in 2017.

This is an important year for Keyser, who figures to be the starter on Saturday, after an injury-shortened rookie year and then the pandemic limiting him to 27 games last season.

“He’s going to have a great opportunity in front of him to earn his teammates’ trust. I think that’s a big thing with Kyle. He’s a teammate-first guy. He’s definitely putting in the work and he’s going to have to show up, that’s a big part of it,’’ said Mougenel.

“He’s another guy that’s full of life. Guys want to play hard in front of him. He’s got that part down, now we’ve just got to get him making that first save. I know he’s capable.’’

Wolff trims down

Second-year defenseman Nick Wolff looks thinner than last season, when he was listed at 229 pounds.

“The one thing with Wolfie is his body has slimmed down, which he needed to do. I think he was carrying a little bit of weight last year just because of how he plays. He’s another guy that has to keep getting better every day,’’ said Mougenel.

Developing his puck handling and decisions with the puck are things he needs to work on.

“He’s been celebrated for being hard. That’s obviously a huge part of his game, but to play for the Bruins and to play for the Providence Bruins, you have to have certain intangibles of skill. I think he’s embraced that.

“He has a lot of great qualities as a defenseman that we like. Last year was a great thing for him. There’s things in his game that are strong, like he became a very good penalty killer for us. He values a 200-foot clear. If you really watch and break down his game, he does a lot of really good things.

“On the offensive blue is something he has to get better at. It’s something that we talked about in development camp for our D. Listen, it might not be in your DNA, but you better start putting it in your DNA.

“You’ve got guys that are working extremely hard in the offensive end and if the puck comes up to you on the point, Butch Cassidy expects you to make that play and so does Brad (Marchand) and Bergy (Patrice Bergeron) and Pasta (David Pastrnak). If it’s not in your bag, you’d better put it in your bag.’’

The lineup

Here’s how the lineup is expected to look on Saturday.











Quote of the day

Ryan Mougenel on tough guy Ian McKinnon:

“I want him to be in a place where I can put him on the ice and he feels comfortable and I feel comfortable. It was said best to me that toughness should be in the fact that he doesn’t have to fight all the time. That’s a part of the game that I want him to understand. I value him as a player first and fighting’s a tool in his toolbox.’’

Draft snub motivates Brady Lyle

Defenseman Brady Lyle played two seasons at Shattuck-St. Mary’s before he was drafted by North Bay of the OHL. (Photo courtesy of Providence Bruins)

There’s a long list of athletes who have used a snub – real or imagined – as incentive to ramp up their effort to reach a goal.

So far, that mindset is working for 22-year-old Boston Bruins prospect Brady Lyle.

When Lyle was not selected in the 2017 NHL Draft, it left a mark. He was ranked No. 48 among North American skaters that year by NHL Central Scouting and made the trip to Chicago with his family in anticipation of being picked.

When it was over, he was not one of the 217 players selected.

“I would say that disappointed would be a bit of an understatement. I felt like I should have been drafted,’’ he said.

“It obviously sucked, but I think it’s going to end up being a good thing for me because it’s something that I still think about all the time and something that still motivates me.’’

A free agent after five years in the Ontario Hockey League, Lyle signed an AHL contract with the Providence Bruins in April 2020.

His determination to prove the doubters wrong shone through during his rookie year last winter.

He was so impressive that Boston tore up his contract halfway through the season and signed him to a three-year entry level NHL deal amid rumblings that other teams also were interested.

Lyle will attend his first Bruins development camp this week.

He is a right-handed defenseman with a big shot. He has good size at 6-3 and 213 pounds. While the offensive part of his game is further ahead than his defense, he is a solid defender, though not someone who’d be labeled as a shutdown guy.

Lyle, who is ticketed for a full season in Providence in 2021-22, knew the Bruins had eyes on him while playing as an overager for Owen Sound.

He recalled John Ferguson Jr., executive director of player personnel and P-Bruins general manager, attending back-to-back games in Flint and Windsor in 2020.

“I knew he was there watching the games. I knew they were interested in me, but I wasn’t really sure to what extent and what was going to come from it,’’ said Lyle, who finished with 22 goals and 65 points in 62 games.

The Bruins offered him a contract not long after the pandemic shut down the OHL season and Lyle jumped on it.

With the AHL season in jeopardy last fall, Lyle signed with HC Detva in Slovakia and spent just over three weeks there and played in three games before heading to Providence. He very much enjoyed the experience.

“I got to see a different culture and what hockey is like over there. I was given lots of resources. I was able to go out on the ice whenever I wanted. I could use the gym whenever I wanted. It was a really cool experience, something that I’m grateful for. It was really fun,’’ he said.

Lyle, who is from North Bay, Ont., was immersed in hockey as a youngster.

 “I was lucky enough to grow up on a lake, so I would be out on the ice in my backyard before school, after school, all the time, shooting pucks and having fun out there.

“When the ice melted, I was in my driveway all the time. I remember when I was really young going out and shooting for 40-45 minutes while waiting for the school bus,’’ he said.

At 14, Lyle enrolled at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, the renowned Minnesota prep school. The previous year, his friend from summer hockey in Toronto, Logan Hutsko, the Boston College star who signed with the Florida Panthers earlier this year, had invited Lyle for a visit.

“I knew a little bit about (Shattuck) because of some of the big names that have been there. I went and visited the school and seeing Logan there, I kind of fell in love with it, to be honest,’’ he said.

“Just imagine being 14 years old and being able to skate whenever I wanted while getting a really good education. It was kind of a no-brainer once I was admitted to the school and the hockey team told me they wanted me to be a part of their program. It would be hard for any kid to say no.’’

He had two strong seasons at Shattuck with 17-44-61 in 60 games for the 14U team and 16-28-44 in 55 games for the 15U team

Though he ultimately chose the major junior route, Lyle did consider playing college hockey.

“I was open to both. Going to Shattuck, I wanted to expose myself more to college, because I didn’t really know much about it, being from a small town in northern Ontario. I didn’t know what the facilities were like, what the games were like, all that kind of stuff.’’

While at Shattuck he saw what college hockey had to offer, but then his hometown North Bay Battalion drafted him in the first round of the 2015 OHL draft (three slots ahead of Jack Studnicka).

“I remember being a little kid and going to OHL games in North Bay,’’ he said. “I was thinking about going to college for sure, but then when I got drafted by North Bay, it was too hard for me to pass up, having those memories and getting to go back home to play. I couldn’t really turn that down.’’

After three seasons in North Bay, Lyle was traded to Owen Sound and that’s where he played his last two OHL years.

Once Lyle returned from Slovakia and plunged into the AHL season in February, he was noticeable from the opening game. He was one of the top rookie defensemen in the AHL, finishing with 7-7-14 in 25 games.

“I didn’t really feel any pressure. I was confident that if given the opportunity I could earn an NHL contract. I wasn’t going to let that opportunity go to waste. I knew that I needed to make the most of my chances,’’ he said.

“I realized that (an NHL deal) was attainable. I buckled down and did what I needed to do in order to take that next step. It set up a bunch of new opportunities that I have to keep working for in order to take advantage when the time comes.’’

Lyle and the Providence coaching staff – Jay Leach (who has since moved on to Seattle), and assistant coaches Ryan Mougenel and Trent Whitfield — established an excellent rapport.

“It’s something that I really value, and I don’t want to say it’s a bond that I haven’t had before, but they are being honest with me and wanting me to have success. It’s been really fun building that relationship, specifically with Mouge, but also with Whitter,’’ said Lyle.

“Being comfortable with them and being able to ask them questions, they’ve been really supportive the whole time. They’ve been helping me out with what I can do in the summer, stuff away from the rink – my Social Security number, looking for apartments, that stuff outside of hockey.’’

Lyle has spent the summer training at Edge Performance Systems in Foxboro. He’s been on the ice recently at Warrior Arena with Kim Brandvold, the skating instructor for the Bruins, in a group of players that has included the likes of Brad Marchand, Charlie McAvoy and Jack Eichel.

His goals for the summer include “cleaning up some of my skating – being a more efficient skater. Being able to close in my own end a little better. And sometimes my decision-making can be a half-second too late,’’ he said.

As he prepares for the upcoming season, Lyle will continue to use the snub at the draft four years ago as fuel to propel him forward.

“As long as I keep that passion and that drive, I’m going to keep going back to it and using it,’’ he said.

Good, bad and ugly from Providence Bruins week

Just when it looked like first place in the Atlantic Division was going to slip from their grasp, the Providence Bruins came to life.

They rallied from two goals down to beat the Hartford Wolf Pack, 6-3, on Thursday and take home the Atlantic Division championship for the second straight season.

Earlier last week, Providence had a chance to wrap up the title but lost in a shootout at Bridgeport, 4-3.

“In a year where we were not really sure which way is up, the one thing we did know was (Thursday) at 1 o’clock we had an opportunity to either win or lose a division title. Those opportunities don’t come around too often and our guys certainly took full advantage of it,” said coach Jay Leach.

For the final time this season, here’s the good, bad and ugly.


— Full credit to players, coaches and support staff for getting through the season without a positive COVID test. Providence finished with a record of 15-6-2-2 and a points percentage of .680.

— Ian McKinnon put the P-Bruins on the board with a goal against the Wolf Pack that sparked his team’s comeback.

— Cameron Hughes got a lucky break in Bridgeport. A pass by a Sound Tigers defenseman hit the skate of one of the referees and bounced onto the stick of Hughes in front of the net. He promptly fired it in the net. Hughes finished as Providence’s leading scorer with 5-16-21 in 25 games.

— Zach Senyshyn had a strong game against the Wolf Pack with 1-1-2 and five shots. Oskar Steen and Sammy Asselin finished with 1-1-2. Jack Studnicka and Pavel Shen both had two assists.

— Curtis Hall scored his first goal as a pro against Hartford.

— Urho Vaakanainen picked a timely moment to score his first goal of the season. His shorthanded tally against the Wolf Pack gave the P-Bruins the lead in the second period.

— Brady Lyle scored his seventh goal against Hartford. He leads all AHL rookie defensemen.

— Dan Vladar made 32 saves against the Wolf Pack and finished the year with a .923 save percentage.

— Robert Lantosi scored a nice end-to-end goal against the Sound Tigers to send the game to overtime. He finished as Providence’s goal leader with nine.

— Sammy Asselin had a strong rookie season, finishing with 8-8-16 in 25 games.

— As of Sunday, the P-Bruins had the AHL’s second-best penalty kill at 84.8 percent.


— The P-Bruins mustered only 11 shots through two periods against the Sound Tigers. “We were as close to terrible as I’ve seen us play this year (for) the first two periods,’’ said Leach. “We held our goalie out to dry for 40 minutes”

— Oskar Steen’s stick snapped on his shootout attempt in Bridgeport.

— The P-Bruins gave up a goal just 91 seconds into the game against the Sound Tigers.


— Injured: Paul Carey, Josiah Didier, Matt Filipe, Brendan Woods

Quick hits on Studnicka, Vaakanainen & Vladar as Providence finishes strong

All’s well that ends well.

The Providence Bruins were in an 0-2 hole and in danger of losing first place in the Atlantic Division to the Hartford Wolf Pack on Thursday afternoon in Marlboro, but they turned it on in the final 30 minutes and rolled to a 6-3 win in the last game of the season.

It’s the second year in a row Providence has won the Atlantic Division. They finished with a 15-6-2-2 record and a .680 points percentage.

“In a year where we were not really sure which way is up, the one thing we did know was today at 1 o’clock we had an opportunity to either win or lose a division title. Those opportunities don’t come around too often and our guys certainly took full advantage of it,” said coach Jay Leach.

Zach Senyshyn, Oskar Steen and Sammy Asselin finished with 1-1-2 for the P-Bruins. Jack Studnicka and Pavel Shen both had two assists.

Down by two goals halfway through the game, Providence received a jumpstart in the form of a goal from an unexpected source as Ian McKinnon fired home a wrist shot for his first goal of the season.

“I don’t know if there’s a more popular guy in the room than Mac, so that certainly does give us a boost,’’ said Leach. “At that moment, there really was not a lot going on for us. Really not much cooking. Then Mac buries it, yeah, there was a lift, absolutely. The guy’s been fighting for us since he got here. He certainly got us going.’’

With the victory, the season ended on a very positive note for three of Boston’s better prospects – Studnicka, Urho Vaakanainen and Dan Vladar — all of whom had strong games on Thursday.

Here are three quick hits.


Studnicka had his ups and downs in the AHL this season, but finished strong. He was never better than on Thursday, when the swagger that he displayed during his rookie season a year ago was back.

“Jack’s all in. He’s been very invested in improving himself and he’s got a lot of expectation for where he wants to be as a player and he’s putting the time in right now and will continue to, I can guarantee you that,’’ said Leach.

“I was happy to see him buzzing, really, from the get-go, and putting everything in on both sides of the rink the way that we know Jack can do it. I certainly was impressed. That was probably his best game down here for us.’’


Boston’s first-round pick in 2017 had a hop in his step on Thursday. He defended strongly and, with Providence shorthanded, he joined the rush and fired home his first goal of the season to tie the game at two late in the second period.

“Our back end was a little timid to start, a little tentative, but once we got skating, which is obviously the key to Vaaks’ game, we were off and running. He’s been very good on the kill recently, especially in zone, defending with his feet, making sure he’s in lanes. It was fitting for him to score a shorty like that because he’s really been doing a nice job for us on the kill,’’ said Leach.


Vladar kicked out 32 of 34 shots and finished the season with a save percentage of .923, fifth in the AHL as of today. However, his record is only 3-4-3, mainly because he didn’t get much run support in his starts.

He played very well on Thursday, making a number of timely saves.

“For lack of a better term, I think he was big in the net today. It looked like he was on the top of his crease. He had a couple off-the-rush shots against – and they were trying to pick him high – and he stood tall in there. He was stout, in position, using his body to his advantage,’’ said Leach.

“He certainly dug in. When we were down 2-0, he didn’t let them go up by three, which would have been a tough hill to climb. He was great for us.’’

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins week

The Providence Bruins earned a point in both of their last two games, but failed to come away with a win.

Providence lost to Bridgeport, 2-1, in an eight-round shootout at Marlboro on Thursday, then were beaten in overtime in Hartford, 3-2, on Saturday.

“We obviously would have like to get the win and hold onto that game, but, at the very least, we put up our best effort and hopefully we get rewarded the next time around,’’ said coach Jay Leach after Saturday’s game.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.


— Saturday’s bout between Providence’s Ian McKinnon and Hartford’s Mason Geertsen, two of the toughest fighters in the AHL, was the highlight of the game, maybe the week.

— Dan Vladar’s 2.10 goals-against average and .925 save percentage are both fifth in the AHL. He stopped 59 out of 63 shots in the last two games.

— Special teams were good in the last two games. The penalty kill was perfect at 9 for 9. The power play chipped in with a goal in each game.

— Cameron Hughes earned an assist in both games. He leads the team in scoring with 4-15-19 in 23 games.

— Jakub Lauko’s strong forecheck led to Alex-Olivier Voyer’s goal on Saturday. Lauko’s plus-10 is the best on the team.


— Providence led by a goal with under six minutes left in Hartford, but couldn’t hang on.

— The P-Bruins scored just three goals in the last two games and only five in their last four games.

— Providence hit the post or crossbar three times during their shootout loss to Bridgeport.

— They are 19th in the league in power play opportunities with 97.


— Injured: Josiah Didier, Paul Carey, Matt Filipe, Brendan Woods

Quick hits from Marlboro on Hughes, Studnicka & Tralmaks

The Providence Bruins picked up a point to move closer to clinching first-place in the Atlantic Division, but dropped a 2-1 shootout decision to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Thursday.

The shootout went eight rounds and Providence shooters couldn’t catch a break, hitting the post or crossbar three times before Bode Wilde scored on Dan Vladar and Oskar Steen was stopped by Ken Appleby in the Bridgeport net on the final shot.

Here are three quick hits from Marlboro.


Like Jordan Szwarz and Colby Cave before him, Hughes continues to be a dependable, all-situations center for Providence.

Hughes, who leads the team in scoring with 4-14-18 in 22 games, had another strong all-around game on Thursday. He won an offensive draw on the power play and earned an assist on Paul Carey’s goal, and put three shots on the Bridgeport net. As usual, he did a lot of the dirty work in all three zones.

Coach Jay Leach said when he sends Hughes over the boards, he knows that the fourth-year pro will try to do the right thing.

“Really he’s done that since he’s been here. As you said, those two former players – Szwarzy and Caver – were very similar, playing significant minutes in important roles throughout the game. Hughesy does that equally as well.

“Those guys are the glue guys. They keep everything together. When things go awry, like they always do in a game, they’re the first guy you look for. He’s been outstanding.’’


Studnicka’s in a dry spell when it comes to points – he has no goals and three assists in eight games with the P-Bruins – but he showed some signs of life against Bridgeport.

“I thought today he was very good. He’ll be the first to say it, he’s been in and out with the way he wants to play the game. I think the last couple of games he’s been a little frustrated, but today as the game went along especially, it was Jack Studnicka wanting to make a difference every time he’s over the boards,’’ Leach said.

“He took pucks to the net. Great net-front, had a couple of tips that almost went in. They’re going to come if he plays like that. He was really, really good today. That’s really the only thing I’m watching is the last game. We’ve talked a lot before, with these younger players, going up and down (to Boston) and all that, it’s a difficult time. He’s battling through it and I thought today was a good performance for him, one to build off of.’’


Moving up in the lineup to play on a line with Hughes and Zach Senyshyn, the rookie free agent from Maine had his feet moving and was hard on pucks all day.

“He plays that straight-line game. He’s got powerful strides to get to things and win pucks. He plays inside and certainly is willing to shoot pucks, dog them and get them back. I thought he complemented that line well,’’ said Leach.

“It was a good opportunity for him to play up in the lineup and play with some pretty good players. I thought he was just fine. We’re excited to have him in the mix for the next year, as well. I thought he did a nice job.’’

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins week

The Providence Bruins lost two games in a row last week for the first time in this short season.

After falling to Bridgeport, 4-1, in Connecticut on Tuesday, the P-Bruins were beaten by Hartford, 3-1, in Marlboro on Thursday.

Despite the two losses, Providence’s magic number to clinch first place in the Atlantic Division is down to three points with four games left.

“The way I look at these last two losses, it’s very much a challenge for us to raise our game up. We’re certainly not playing as well as we were playing during the earlier part of the season and we’ve got a week here to figure out how to get back to where we were,’’ said coach Jay Leach.

“We need to look ourselves in the mirror and say this is not where we want to be. It’s not any mystery that we’re playing two teams that have improved.’’

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.


— Alex-Olivier Voyer gave Providence a momentum boost by getting the better of Parker Wotherspoon in a fight late in the second period against Bridgeport. Less than two minutes later, the P-Bruins scored their first (and only) goal of the game.

— Ian McKinnon livened up the game against Hartford. He made his presence felt with a handful of hard hits and he decisioned Wolf Pack heavyweight Mason Geertsen in a fight, landing a monster right hand after the two combatants traded blows. McKinnon is tied for the AHL lead in penalty minutes with 72 in six games.

— With a goal against Hartford, Paul Carey has scored twice in the last three games.

— Boston signed Brady Lyle to a two-year entry-level contract. With six goals, Lyle is tied for the AHL lead in goals by rookie defenseman.

— Jakub Lauko appeared to be injured after he had to be helped off the ice late in the game in Bridgeport, but he was good to go for Thursday’s game.


— The P-Bruins gave up two goals in 2:31 before the game was four minutes old in Bridgeport.

— Providence was outshot, 15-5, in the second period against the Sound Tigers.

— Fifteen straight games without a goal for Joona Koppanen.

— Joel Messner was hit with a rarely seen playing with a broken stick penalty against Bridgeport.


— Injured: Josiah Didier, Matt Filipe, Brendan Woods

Quick hits from Marlboro on Lauko, Vaakanainen, Ahcan

After a lackluster loss in Hartford on April 10, the Providence Bruins rebounded with an impressive 6-2 victory over the Utica Comets on Friday afternoon at Marlboro.

Providence fell behind by a pair of goals in the first period, then scored six in a row. Robert Lantosi (2), Brady Lyle, Zach Senyshyn, Eddie Tralmaks and Paul Carey were the goal-scorers for the P-Bruins. Kyle Keyser made 25 saves in improving his record to 3-1.

“As a coach, what I liked about it was that their team made us play the right way,’’ said coach Jay Leach. “Early on, they were in our face, as advertised. They were on the forecheck, as advertised, and playing fast. I think we had to catch up.

“I loved our response to that. Going down 2-0, we looked like we were a little sleepy, let’s be honest, and they took it to us a bit.

“Once we started to advance pucks and play with some speed and get after it and get pucks to the net, we started to open things up. I thought it was a good last two periods, for sure.’’

Here are three quick hits from the game.


Every time the 21-year-old winger has a good game, I get questions.

Is he ready? When is he going to get called up? What is management waiting for?

Well, all I can say in response is, he’s going to be worth the wait.

I expect he’ll take a run at an NHL job in training camp next season. Maybe he makes it or maybe he needs more time in the AHL, but when he does get to Boston for good he is going to be an entertaining, exciting player.

He has tremendous straight-line speed, a wicked shot and a willingness to scrap that is going to endear him to Bruins fans.

On Friday, he was originally credited with assists on Providence’s first three goals. Upon further review, one of the helpers was taken down, but his two points leaves him in a tie for the team scoring lead with 5-12-17 in 17 games.

In the third period, Lauko took issue with a Utica hit on Jack Ahcan and engaged in a spirited bout with Will Lockwood. He is now tied with Ian McKinnon for the team lead in fighting majors with three.

“Lauks is, not a funny player, but an intriguing player. He’s very young and he’s still finding his way,’’ said Leach.

“He’s shown, now on multiple occasions, his willingness to defend teammates with fights. We talk about not wanting him to (fight) — my only fear is injury. But to be honest, he’s handled himself just fine in all of them. If that’s going to be a part of his game, I’m not going to discourage that.

“I think his teammates in our organization value that. We’re not going to push him over the boards to go fight a bunch of guys, but by the same token, when he came back to that bench, I guarantee you all 20 guys were appreciative of his efforts and very impressed by the young man, for sure.’’

I’ll say it again: Lauko’s going to be worth the wait.


Vaakanainen had a strong game, assisting on two goals for his first points of the season.

The second helper was an eye-opener as he lugged the puck into the offensive zone and then fired a backhand pass right on the tape of Tralmaks for a tap-in goal.

“He was skating well, harder on pucks. He closed well in his own end. He had some buzz offensively when he came over that blueline. It was a great play to finish there at the end of the third for that goal,’’ said Leach.

“I thought he was active and wanted to make a difference, which was great to see. We’ve certainly encouraged that out of him and we’ve seen it in the past. Hopefully it continues.’’


Ahcan was a late add from Boston after spending the last 10 days or so on the NHL taxi squad.

He picked up right where he left off in the AHL, both handling the puck and defending with authority. He earned the primary assist on Lyle’s power play goal.

“It’s a real challenge to come down from the NHL, especially this year. Usually, a player coming down from the NHL, he’s still practicing with the team, he’s still playing games, but with the extended roster, you don’t what these kids are doing on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes they’re in warmups, sometimes they’re skating, you don’t know. These guys are up against it,’’ said Leach.

“For him to come down and perform like that right out of the gate, was really impressive. I thought Senyshyn was the same thing. It’s a tough thing to do.

“Jack was excellent, both ends of the rink. He broke out pucks well, he defended well. And then obviously was very active on the offensive blueline, creating havoc for the other team. He certainly was a guy that stood out.’’

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins week

The Providence Bruins split two games last week as their season hits the home stretch.

The P-Bruins scored late to beat Bridgeport, 2-1, on April 5, then were soundly beaten, 6-1, in Hartford on Saturday.

Coach Jay Leach wasn’t happy after his team’s most lopsided loss of the season.

“The second and third (periods) were a real concern. Not a lot of juice there for us — partly, I’m sure, because of the way that Hartford was playing, but also really because our willingness to play inside, block some shots and win a couple of battles was simply nonexistent for the last two periods,’’ he said.

“It was clearly a case of two teams that were playing polar opposites of one another. One was all-in and our group was not.’’

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.


— Kyle Keyser was sharp in making 26 saves in the win over the Sound Tigers.

— Rookie Eduards Tralmaks scored his first goal as a pro against Bridgeport. After winning a puck battle on the boards, he went to the front of the net and shoveled a rebound over the goal line.

— Sammy Asselin’s plus-10 leads the team. Tommy Cross, who scored the P-Bruins’ only goal in Hartford, is second with plus-9.

— Brady Lyle scored his second game-winner against Bridgeport. He is tied for second among rookie defensemen with five goals.

— Providence finally faces a team other than Bridgeport and Hartford when the Utica Comets travel to Marlboro on Friday.


— Cameron Hughes got hit in the mouth by a clearing pass by Hartford goalie Adam Huska in the first minute of the second period. He left the game but later returned wearing a fishbowl. He spent some time in the dentist’s chair on Monday. He has had terrible luck since arriving in Providence when it come to getting hit in the face.

— Keyser was beaten by a bad-angle shot by Anthony Greco of the Wolf Pack on Saturday.

— It was a tough day for the defense pair of Nick Wolff and Joel Messner on Saturday. Both were on the ice for three goals against.


— Providence’s penalty kill struggled on Saturday, giving up three goals on Hartford’s five power plays.

— Injured: Josiah Didier, Brendan Woods

Quick hits from Marlboro on Studnicka, Keyser, Tralmaks

The Providence Bruins continued their dominance of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers with a 2-1 win on Monday.

It was Providence’s seventh victory in eight games against Bridgeport.

After Sound Tigers’ captain Seth Helgesen took a roughing penalty on Oskar Steen, Brady Lyle scored the winner with three minutes left.

Here are three quick hits from Marlboro:


Boston’s prize center prospect hasn’t seen a lot of NHL playing time lately, but Providence coach Jay Leach gave him all he could handle on Monday.

While Studnicka didn’t produce much in the way of numbers (no points, one shot on goal), I thought he had a decent game. In particular, his speed carrying the puck through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone was noticeable.

Unfortunately for him, he overskated the puck in front of goalie Kyle Keyser 12 seconds into the second period, handing Bridgeport a gift goal. It was nothing more than a bad break as the puck stopped in a puddle on the fresh sheet of ice. Could have happened to anyone.

“It’s always challenging – we’ve talked about this at length, about coming down (from the NHL). Especially for a guy like Jack, who wants to be a difference maker,’’ said Leach.

“By all means, I thought he was out there trying to make a difference, skating, and he certainly had some opportunities that didn’t go in for him. At the same time, those things (losing the puck in a puddle) happen. To be honest, there was a lot of water out there and it just happens. I’m sure he’s frustrated with it. It’s just one of those things in hockey that can occur from time to time.

“The biggest thing for me is getting Jack skating and on pucks and doing what he does. I thought he was physical, wanted to play inside. Good signs. It’s probably the first time he’s played that many minutes in a long time. So it was good for him to get out there and be exposed to that and I’m sure he’ll be looking for more next time.’’


With Dan Vladar and Jeremy Swayman up with Boston, Keyser was very sharp in making 26 saves and earning his second win in two starts. He’s stopped 55 of 57 shots for a save percentage of .964.

“He was really good. That was probably the best I’ve seen him play. He was able to pretty much locate everything. There were a couple of chances off the rush that he made look easy, in my opinion. He was out at the top of his crease,’’ said Leach.

“It was very impressive. Even his touches, they’ve certainly improved over the last two years, they were good for the most part. He certainly earned that victory.’’


The rookie free agent from Maine made his debut a memorable one as he scored his first pro goal in the second period.

Tralmaks outworked a Bridgeport player on the wall and went to the front, where he shoveled a rebound into the net from close range.

“I thought he was good right from the get-go. He was on pucks, skating in straight lines. He was under people, made a couple of plays off the wall, good defensively and then, obviously, he could have had two (goals), really. (He was) around the net, looking to shoot pucks. He was impressive,’’ said Leach.