Providence Bruins

Jun 11, 2018


With so much hype at the start of the season around other rookies who were drafted higher, it was easy to overlook Ryan Fitzgerald and the impact he could bring to the team. After getting his first taste of pro action at the end of the 2016-17 season, Fitzgerald opened up his first full AHL season at left wing on the second line. A 2013 fourth round pick and four-year player at Boston College, Providence was looking for him to provide a solid goal scoring presence while showing he was physical enough to play consistently in the pros.

Through the opening month of the season, his physical play and grit were not in question. He skated hard and with speed and wasn’t afraid in the dirty areas of the ice. Once November hit, the goals started to follow his energetic play. Perhaps no game of his was better and more indicative of his ability than December 1 against Binghamton when he recorded a “Gordie Howe Hat Trick.” Everything was starting to come together for the rookie, until a lower body injury December 3 sidelined him for a month.

It took a couple of weeks after his injury for him to regain his scoring form, but from January 13 on only Austin Czarnik scored more goals than Fitzgerald’s 15. This included two overtime goals and three two-goal games. He became a mainstay on the team’s top line with Czarnik and Jordan Szwarz, a trio that became an offensive machine that was arguably the top line in all of the AHL.

Fitzgerald finished the season with 21 goals and 37 assists, adding a two-goal game in the team’s first playoff matchup against Lehigh Valley. He took home the P-Bruin Rookie of the Year award after leading all of the team’s first-year players in goals and points and all of the team’s rookie forwards in rating. He ended the season on a scoring tear at the Dunk, posting eight goals in his final eight home games.

The talented forward has proven over his time in Providence that he is a versatile player capable of doing whatever the team needs him to do night in and night out. Fitzgerald can move around from line-to-line and play all three forward positions as he showed this season. Goal scoring is always something an NHL team is looking for, but because he displayed he is much more than that with the P-Bruins he has a very good chance at cracking the Boston lineup at some point next season. With four forwards from last year’s Bruins team hitting the free agent market, it could be as early as opening night.

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The Providence Bruins are the American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Boston Bruins, playing their home games at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, RI. Spanning more than 25 years, the Boston/Providence affiliation is one of the longest and most successful player development partnerships in professional hockey history.

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