Charter AHL Cities Providence and Springfield to Play First of 10
Providence, RI - The Providence Bruins (0-0-0-0, 0 PTS, T-1st Atlantic) host the Springfield Falcons (0-0-0-0, 0 PTS, T-1st Atlantic) this evening at the Dunkin' Donuts Center for the teams' first of 10 regular season meetings in 2010-11. The clubs will face-off in each of the first three games of the regular season, continuing on Saturday night at the MassMutual Center.
For the third straight season, the P-Bruins are led on the bench by head coach Rob Murray and assistant coach Bruce Cassidy. Over their two seasons together, Providence has compiled a 79-67-11-3 overall record, an average of 86 points per season, and one trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2008-09. The P-Bruins missed the postseason for the first time since the 1997-98 season last year, going 36-38-5-1 for 78 points. The last time, however, that Providence failed to make the postseason, the team went on to win the Calder Cup, raising a banner in 1999.
Murray's roster of 25 features 14 forwards, nine defensemen and two goaltenders, including four veterans, 10 rookies and an average age of 23 years. The team welcomes back 16 on-ice contributors from last year's club, including forwards Jamie Arniel, Joe Colborne, Zach Hamill, Jordan Knackstedt, Jeff LoVecchio, Lane MacDermid, Kirk MacDonald, Levi Nelson, Yannick Riendeau and Max Sauve, defensemen Andrew Bodnarchuk, Alain Goulet, Steve Kampfer, Jeff Penner and Cody Wild, and goaltender Matt Dalton. Veteran captain Jeremy Reich has also enjoyed considerable time in Rhode Island, last suiting up for the P-Bruins during an exciting 2008-09 season.
New faces to the locker room this year include veteran forwards Wyatt Smith and local product Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman, along with rookie Antoine Roussel. Also new to the fold is veteran blue-liner Nathan McIver and first-year defensemen Yury Alexandrov, Matt Bartkowski and Ryan Donald. Bartkowski will join the team after the Boston Bruins return from Prague. Goaltender Michael Hutchinson also enters his first professional season.
The Falcons, meanwhile, begin anew under a first-year pro head coach Rob Riley and with a new National Hockey League affiliation with the Columbus Blue Jackets after most recently serving as a feeder team for the Edmonton Oilers. After spending the last four years as a regional scout for the Blue Jackets, Riley returns to the coaching ranks, having served as the head coach at Army, where he compiled a 257-288-33 record in 578 games from 1986-2004. Riley also worked as an assistant coach at Army in 1985-86 under his father, Jack. The two men are the all-time winningest father-son combination in college hockey history with 848 victories between them.
The new-look Falcons, featuring many players from last year's Syracuse Crunch, went 25-39-12-4 with 66 points a year ago to finish last in the AHL standings, while the Crunch came in sixth in the East Division with a 34-39-4-3 record and 75 points. Among the familiar faces to enter The Dunk tonight will be former P-Bruins Ben Guite (2004-06) and Jonathan Sigalet (2005-08). The team also includes several players who spent time in the NHL in 2009-10, including Steven Goertzen (Carolina Hurricanes), Nate Guenin (Pittsburgh Penguins) and Guite (Nashville Predators), while Michael Blunden, Grant Clitsome, Trevor Frischmon, Chad Kolarik, Maksim Mayorov and Tom Sestito were all members of the Jackets. Among the youth, Matt Calvert, Chris Francis, Tomas Kubalik and Tyler Murovich were all 24+ goal-scorers in juniors last season. In net, Dan LaCosta, Daren Machesney and Dan Taylor each appeared in at least 21 pro games between the pipes a year ago.
Tonight's game between Providence and Springfield marks a celebration of the American Hockey League's 75th season, and the squads will play a home-and-home series this weekend donning throwback Rhode Island Reds and Springfield Indians jerseys as a tribute to the clubs that came before them. The P-Bruins and Falcons join other teams paying tribute to their city's AHL longevity, the Hershey Bears, Lake Erie Monsters, Rochester Americans and Syracuse. Beginning on Monday, the P-Bruins will auction off their Reds jerseys on providencebruins.com, including jerseys for at least 20 players.
Because Providence is a founding city of the AHL, having helped form the league in 1936, there will be an on-ice ceremony prior to faceoff with representatives from the AHL, Bruins, P-Bruins, Reds, Falcons and Indians. The Calder Cup will also be on-hand at The Dunk for pictures with fans from 6 p.m. until the end of the second intermission.
Providence continues the weekend on Saturday in Springfield at the MassMutual Center at 7 p.m. P-Bruins ticket packages and individual game tickets are on sale now for the 2010-11 season. To purchase tickets or for more information, call the P-Bruins ticket office at (401) 273-5000 or log on to providencebruins.com.
For all the latest Providence Bruins news, updates and special offers, become a fan of the P-Bruins on Facebook at facebook.com/providencebruins or follow the club on Twitter at twitter.com/AHLBruins.