Providence Hosts Lowell Tonight at 7:05 p.m. at the new Dunkin' Donuts Center
Providence, RI - The defending American Hockey League regular season champion Providence Bruins kick off the 2008-09 AHL season tonight at the new Dunkin' Donuts Center by playing host to the Lowell Devils, a club that reloaded in the offseason after a 62-point campaign to finish second-to-last in the league. The P-Bruins begin their pre-game festivities at roughly 6:55 p.m. with a highlight video from last season, full roster and coaching staff introductions and the unveiling of two new banners in the rafters commemorating the 2007-08 Providence squad as regular season and Atlantic Division champions.
Amid an offseason filled with movement for the P-Bruins, last year's 55-win, 117-point team has undergone its most notable change at the top, introducing a new head coach in former assistant Rob Murray with the promotion of Scott Gordon to the National Hockey League's New York Islanders. Murray, the ninth coach in P-Bruins history, served as Gordon's assistant for the last five seasons during which time Providence compiled a 221-141-20-27 (W-L-T-OT/SOL) record while advancing to the playoffs each year. Joining Murray on the bench is new assistant Bruce Cassidy, a long-time head coach in the NHL, AHL, International Hockey League, ECHL and, most recently, the Ontario Hockey League for the Kingston Frontenacs. The former Chicago Blackhawks defenseman brings 11 years of coaching experience to Providence, highlighted by a playoff run with the Washington Capitals and the AHL's prestigious Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as Coach of the Year while with the Grand Rapids Griffins in 2001-02. That same honor was bestowed upon Gordon in 2007-08.
On the ice, top scorers Pascal Pelletier, Jeff Hoggan, Matt Hendricks, Brett Skinner, Chris Collins, Nate Thompson, T.J. Trevelyan and Sean Curry - each with between 38 and 75 points last year - have all gone their separate ways, making room for new and exciting young, veteran and, some, famaliar faces. Joining the 2008-09 roster are NHL-experienced veterans Martin St. Pierre, second in the AHL with 88 points a season ago, Johnny Boychuk on the blue-line, 2006-07 Providence assistant captain Jeremy Reich, who had been with the Boston Bruins for the last season-and-a-half and 13-year forward Peter Schaefer, a proud participant of 556 NHL games.
Regarding the youth movement, the P-Bruins got a taste of their amateur talent late in 2007-08 with several men expected to play big roles as first-year full-time players. Center Zach Hamill, a key contributor down the stretch, teams with newcomers Brad Marchand, Mikko Lehtonen and Matt Marquardt up front, along with defensemen Andrew Bodnarchuk, and Jeff Penner as players born in or since 1987. Also returning is center Vladimir Sobotka, another young and gritty player who spent a considerable portion of last season in Boston before returning to Providence for the club's postseason run.
Behind them all as the last line of defense is goalie Tuukka Rask. The Finnish netminder won 27 games as a rookie last year, adding a 2.33 goals-against-average while being named the PlanetUSA starting goaltender in the AHL All-Star Classic. His fellow backstop is Kevin Regan, a four-year standout for the University of New Hampshire Wildcats and a Boston draft pick. Regan played one game at the pro level a season ago, blanking the Manchester Monarchs in the Granite State.
Among those also returning from last year's team are NHL-caliber defensemen Matt Hunwick and Matt Lashoff as well as Martins Karsums, who finished second on the team in points in 2007-08 with 63, including a team-leading 43 assists in 79 games.
Opening weekend continues Sunday afternoon for a home game at 4:05 p.m. against the Springfield Falcons. The game marks the first of more than 25 Providence Bruins Promotional Nights at the Dunkin' Donuts Center. The P-Bruins will be giving away magnet schedules to the first 2,500 fans, courtesy of Shaw's Supermarkets. After Sunday, the P-Bruins are home at The Dunk Friday, October 17 against the Falcons at 7:05 p.m. The first 2,000 fans in attendance will receive free Providence Bruins t-shirts, courtesy of ServiceMaster Clean, Graftek Systems, Dunkin' Donuts and your New England Dodge Dealers.
To purchase tickets or for more information, call the P-Bruins office at (401) 273-5000 or log on to providencebruins.com. Tickets may be purchased in person by visiting the Dunkin' Donuts Center Box Office or all TicketMaster outlets.