Providence Pregaming: P-Bruins Host A-Devils; Hirschfeld Recalled

Ryan Spooner finished off the month of January on a hot streak and hopefully won’t miss a beat, beginning the month of February as Providence’s leading scorer in the absence of Jamie Tardif.

The Providence Bruins look to extend a 3-game winning streak and continue to close in on the Portland Pirates for 1st place in the Atlantic division tonight at the Dunkin Donut Center as they host the Albany Devils in what may come down to yet another shootout showdown.

Providence is 23-16-0-3 (49 points) in 42 games this season, placing them 2nd in the Atlantic division and 5th in the Eastern conference.

Albany is 17-14-1-8 (43 points) in 40 games, putting them 3rd in their Northeast division and out of the current playoff picture at 11th in the Eastern conference.

Providence is coming off of a shootout victory last night in Bridgeport, which may be fitting because the previous 2 games between Providence and Albany this season have both been decided in the shootout. Providence has won both of those games by a score of 2-1 – once in Providence on November 9th and again in Albany on December 15th.

Last time around, David Warsofsky got the game-winning goal in the 9th round of the shootout in a game that saw Zach Trotman score the only regulation goal for Providence and Michael Hutchinson notch the number 1 star on the night. Niklas Svedberg had won the previous shootout win against the Devils.

Providence has a 12-7-0-3 record on their home turf, while the Albany Devils are 9-6-1-3 on the road. Providence also has a great record against the Northeast division: 11-6-0-0; against the Atlantic, Albany is merely 3-3-0-3 this season. Still, in their last 10, both teams are similar: Providence is 6-3-0-1, and Albany 5-3-0-2. What separates them is shootout victories.

In fact, Albany is 0-8 in shootouts this season, the only team in the East without a shootout win yet and only 1 of 2 teams in the league. Providence is 6-3 in shootouts.

Taking a look at special teams, Providence has a rare advantage in numbers on the power play. Albany is 27th in the league in power play percentage with 12.2%, while Providence is 21st at 15.6%. On the penalty kill, however, Albany has the advantage at 83.9% (14th) to Providence’s 82.4% (18th). Each team has 1 power play goal in the season series.

Providence will have to make do without their leading goal scorer and 2nd leading goal scorer in the entire AHL, Jamie Tardif (21 goals), who was called up to Boston on an emergency basis last night. (Since then, Alden Hirschfeld has been recalled from South Carolina of the ECHL.) That leaves Ryan Spooner as the P-Bruins top scorer at 8 goals, 19 assists and 27 points on the season. Spooner is also an impressive +9 on a team that has an overall goal differential of -5.

The next leading scorers for Providence are Carter Camper (5-20=25), Craig Cunningham (9-9=18), Max Sauve (5-11=16, +4), and Christian Hanson (5-10=15). Torey Krug is next on the list and the top scoring defensemen with 5 goals and 9 assists for 14 points.

The Albany Devils leading scorer, Bobby Butler, has 16 goals and 10 assists for 26 points. Butler has a +11 rating, 5 power play goals, and 1 shorthanded goal. The Massachusetts native has 1 of Albany’s 2 regulation goals against Providence this season (the other was scored by Adam Henrique, who is now with the New Jersey Devils).

Albany’s next leading scorers are Joe Whitney (11-13=24, +14), Steve Zalewski (7-16=23), Harri Pesonen (9-10=19), and Mattias Tedenby (9-8=17). Their leading scorer on the blue line is Eric Gelinas (4-8=12).

Providence continues to be lead in penalty minutes by Bobby Robins, with 211 total PIM. That number also leads the entire AHL. Robins also tops the AHL in majors, with 25. The Albany Devil with the most penalty minutes is Tim Sestito, with 55. In the one fight that took place in the previous 2 games this season, Robins dropped the gloves with Alexander Urbom.

Both goaltenders for each team have played against this opponent this season.

For Providence, starting rookie goaltender Niklas Svedberg, with a record of 19-6-2 in 28 games – including 4 shootout wins – ranks 2nd in the entire AHL in goaltender wins. He has a 2.32 GAA (9th best) and a 0.922 save % (7th). He has recorded 1 shutout. Backup Hutchinson has played in 16 games and has a record for 4-10-1 with a 2.73 GAA and 0.897 GAA.

Albany’s starting goaltender is Keith Kinkaid, who has played in 26 games and posted 2 shutouts. He has a record of 14-8-4. His 14 wins put him in a tie for 11th most in the AHL. His 2.36 GAA is 12th best in the AHL, while his 0.917 save % is 15th. Jeff Frazee, who has played in 14 games, is 3-7-4 with 2.47 GAA (18th in the AHL) and .909 save %. Both goaltenders share an AHL record for most shootouts without a win, as they both have 0 wins in the shootout this year.

The puck drops at 7pm tonight. Make sure to check it out, it should be a good game!

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Pre All-Star Recap; Mink Signed, Hirschfeld Sent to SC, Trotman Skates

Graham Mink is no longer on a PTO. Providence signed him to an AHL contract on Monday. (Photo Credit: Steph Vail/Flickr)

The AHL All-Star break comes to an end tomorrow and the Providence Bruins will get back to work with only a few slight roster tweaks.

Prior to the All-Star break that began Sunday, Providence played on Friday, January 25th and Saturday, January 26th. On Friday, Providence beat the Portland Pirates 6-1. Defenseman Torey Krug had 2 goals. Kyle MacKinnon, Jamie Tardif, Max Sauve, and Carter Camper also scored for the P-Bruins. Niklas Svedberg made 28 saves between the pipes for the win.

On Saturday, Providence got another important divisional win when they beat the Worcester Sharks 4-3 in a shootout. Craig Cunningham, Tardif, and Justin Florek scored in regulation and Cunningham had the deciding goal in the shootout in the 7th round. Svedberg played for the 2nd night in a row and got his 2nd win in a row before appearing in his 1st All-Star Skills Competition on Sunday and All-Star Game on Monday.

Tardif, who joined Svedberg and Captain Trent Whitfield at the All-Star Classic in Providence, scored his 20th goal of the season on Saturday night. He leads the team in goals and points with 29. Carter Camper leads the team in assists with 19, overtaking Ryan Spooner this weekend, who has 18 assists on the season.

Jordan Caron joined the Providence Bruins line-up on Saturday for the 1st time since January 4th, when he suffered an upper body injury. He recorded 2 shots on net and was a -1.

On Monday, the Providence Bruins officially signed Graham Mink, who was on a Professional Tryout contract, to an AHL contract. Today, the P-Bruins also announced that they have sent forward Alden Hirschfeld back down to the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays. He spent 18 games with the P-Bruins this season thus far and recorded 5 points.

Another bit of positive news is that injured defenseman Zach Trotman, who has been out with a concussion for a few weeks, skated informally this morning. Mark Divver of the Providence Journal reports that although  Trotman is not yet cleared to play, he is likely to return next week. Before his injury, he was having a better-than-expected season for Providence, recording 2 goals, 10 assists, and a +5 rating.

Providence returns to action tomorrow night, Thursday, January 31st, at Bridgeport against the Sound Tigers. Providence currently sits 2nd in the Atlantic division with a 22-16-0-3 record (47 points).

Also: Happy 23rd Birthday to Max Sauve and Happy 21st Birthday to Ryan Spooner!

Knight, Trotman Injured, Providence Calls Up 2 and Sign 1

Randell has been recalled from South Carolina of the ECHL despite having a disappointing season (Photo Credit: Denins Pause/Flickr)

In last night’s 5-4 win over Bridgeport, the Providence Bruins lost forward Jared Knight again as he re-injured his hamstring, and also lost defenseman Zach Trotman to an upperbody injury. To fill out these roster spots, Providence has called up forward Tyler Randell from South Carolina of the ECHL as well as defenseman Wes O’Neill from Toledo of the ECHL.

In 37 games with the Toledo Walleye this season, O’Neill has 10 goals and 10 assists for 20 points and 56 PIM. O’Neill was a teammate of Christian Hanson at Notre Dame in 2005-06 and 2006-07. The 26-year-old New York Islanders 4th round draft pick has also played in the ECHL for the Johnstown Chiefs and Kalamazoo Wings and in the AHL for the Lake Erie Monsters and most recently last season for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He has a total of 5 NHL games for the Colorado Avalanche from the 08-09 and 09-10 seasons with no points, 6 PIM, and an overall -1 rating.

Randell, a 6th round draft pick of the Boston Bruins in 2009, played 30 games in Providence last season and only had 2 goals and a -11 rating. He played 1 game with the AHL club this season before being sent down to the ECHL, where he has been under-performing. His lack of production likely meant he was going to stay in the ECHL, but the dire circumstances with the Providence Bruins current roster has warranted calling him up.

Providence has also signed Graham Mink to a professional try out contract. The 33-year-old is a “proven AHL scorer” who has played for the Hershey Bears, Portland Pirates, Worcester Sharks, and Rochester Americans. Says The Providence Journal’s Mark Divver:

At 6’3 and 220 pounds, Graham Mink gives P-Bruins needed size on wing. 243 goals in 686 AHL games for 33-year-old who played at Vermont

The P-Bruins face the Springfield Falcons tonight. Look for a preview coming soon!

6 P-Bruins Invited to Training Camp; Stingrays Recalled to Providence

Lane MacDermid is one of 4 Providence forwards invited to Boston training camp, and the only forward not on the top line to receive an invite. Boston loves his work ethic and general awesomeness. (Photo: Steph Vail/me)

The Providence Bruins recalled forward Jared Knight from the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL. After missing 27 games due to injury, he played 2 games with the Stingrays over the weekend before returning to Providence. He recorded no points and 8 shots in 2 games in the ECHL.

The Bruins also recalled forward and Boston University alum Justin Courtnall from South Carolina. (Justin Courtnall is also the son of former Bruin Geoff Courtnall.) Forward and Northeastern alum Tyler McNeely was signed to a professional tryout contract with the Bruins along with defenseman and Providence College alum Eric Baier. These roster moves were made to fill in roster spots for the players that were invited to the Boston Bruins training camp, which will start Sunday or Monday.

The Providence Bruins players that have been invited to the Boston Bruins training camp are forwards Chris Bourque, Ryan Spooner, Jamie Tardif, and Lane MacDermid along with defensemen David Warsofsky and Matt Bartkowski. Defenseman Dougie Hamilton, currently playing in the OHL, will also be at training camp competing for a roster spot.

While this may leave the P-Bruins in a tight spot, such is the nature of being an AHL farm team. Training camp will last less than 1 week as the NHL season is set to begin January 19th, and only 1 forward and defensemen (perhaps 2, to keep a healthy scratch around) will make the actual team – so after camp is done, the players that don’t make the cut will be sent back down. I still firmly believe Chris Bourque is destined for that 3rd line spot with Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly.

As an OHL player, the NHL and OHL have made adjusted arrangements for the number of games a player can play in at the NHL level before using up a year on an entry-level contract. In a normal season, it is 10 games. This year, it will be 5 games. That means if Hamilton makes the team (which I think he will), the first year of his entry-level contract will be used up by the 6th game he plays for the Bruins.

Details on exactly when camp starts and who will be there have yet to be confirmed as we wait for the NHLPA to ratify the CBA. Only a few hours ago did the NHL owners unanimously vote to ratify the CBA; the NHLPA vote will come on Saturday.

Welcome Back to Providence Jared Knight!

Jared Knight at the Bruins training camp last season (Photo Credit: Lisa Gansky (tysp9/Flickr))

We all knew it was only a matter of time before the Boston and Providence Bruins began making transactions.  With the injury of Jordan Caron and the Bruins needing a third-line forward, it was expected that the P-Bruins would be making some moves.  Today the club announced the return of Jared Knight from the ECHL South Carolina StingRays.

Knight had previously been with the P-Bruins until being sent down to South Carolina on January 2.  He missed 27 consecutive games due to a lower body injury.  In being sent down he has participated in two games with the StingRays and recorded eight shots on goal with a -2 rating.

Prior to becoming part of the Bruins organization Knight was a member of the London Knights in the OHL for four seasons.  He helped the team win the Robertson Cup in 2011, defeating the Niagra Ice Dogs.  Combined he played in 250 games with the Knights and registered 102 goals and 107 assists for a total of 209 points.

Welcome back Jared, we look forward to seeing your progress with the Bruins!

Cross Returns to Providence

After being assigned to the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays on October 11th, defenseman Tommy Cross has been reassigned to Providence. Since being assigned, Cross has skated in 22 games for the Stingrays leading the team in scoring with 17 points (6 goals, 11 assists).

Clearly the defenseman has been nothing short of an asset for the Stingrays so it makes sense that Providence would recall him in hopes of turning their losing record around.

Cross joined Providence at the end of their 2011-2012 season after graduating from Hockey East power house Boston College. He was Boston’s second round draft pick in the 2007 entry draft and was about of a Boston College team that won two NCAA championships.

I have gotten the opportunity to see Cross in action against my school UMass Amherst and I have nothing but compliments for the 23-year-old. Hopefully his addition to the Providence roster will help them gain some victories.

Courtnall Recalled from Sting Rays

Justin Courtnall (Photo Courtesy: circlingthewagon/AHL Blog SIte)

Justin Courtnall has been recalled from the South Carolina Sting Rays of the ECHL by the Providence Bruins.  He traveled with the team to St. John’s for last night and today’s game against the St. John’s IceCaps.  He did not suit up for last night’s game and is still looking to suit up for the first time with the Club.

This season in 5 games with the Sting Rays after being reassigned to them on October 5, has recorded no goals and tallied 20 penalty minutes.  He spent the past three years playing hockey for Boston University and captained the 2011-2012 season recording a collegiate-high 7 points on 4 goals and 3 assists.

Today’s game is at 4:00PM at the Mile One Centre in St. John’s, New Brunswick.  Catch the game on AHL Live, it’s better than nothing!