The Providence Bruins have announced the team’s 2018-19 regular season home opener, which will be played Saturday, October 6 at 7:05pm against the Laval Rocket at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. In the 26-year history of the franchise, Providence is 14-9-2-1 in their home opener. For the first time since the 2013-14 season, this will not serve as their regular season opener as the team begins the year October 5 on the road.
When Boston sent defenseman Dougie Hamilton to the Calgary Flames, the final piece of the trade was the 52nd overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. With that selection, the Bruins took Jeremy Lauzon out of the QMJHL who began his professional career with Providence in 2017. Lauzon was captain for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies before joining the P-Bruins for their 2017 Calder Cup Playoff run. He never skated during the postseason due to injury however and made his pro debut during the 2017-18 season.
Coming off a season in which he was named P-Bruins Rookie of the Year, Peter Cehlarik returned to Providence for 2017-18 looking to build on a promising campaign. A shoulder injury that required offseason surgery ended last year prematurely for the winger as he missed the final 15 games of the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs. A hard-worker who is always one of the first guys at the rink, Cehlarik rehabbed well from the injury and was ready for the start of his second professional season.
It is not hard to notice Anton Blidh when he is on the ice as the third year forward is always throwing his body around. A sixth round pick out of Sweden in 2013, the 25-year old has been a nice find for the organization as a physical third line left wing. He made his NHL debut last season as a bottom-six forward for the Bruins but spent most of the season with Providence. This season all but one of his games came at the AHL level as he brought his energetic style to the rink every night en route to a career year.
When Chris Breen signed with Providence in 2014, he immediately provided a veteran presence on the team’s blueline. A traditional stay-at-home no nonsense defenseman, Breen’s game is all about using his size and strength to keep opponents away from the net and stop their offensive chances. Breen doesn’t put up a ton of points but offense is secondary to his defensive efforts. That was on display in his first two years as despite averaging just 11 points he had a rating of +17 over those seasons.
Expectations are always sky-high for any first round pick, but those expectations are magnified when that pick is made by the Boston Bruins. Add in the fact that the first round pick was acquired as the centerpiece of the Dougie Hamilton trade, and Bruin fans expect the player to be a superstar immediately. Of course, that is not fair to ask of someone who wasn’t even 20 years old, but that is the situation Zach Senyshyn found himself in. Boston drafted him 15th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft while he was with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL and he was one of the team’s three straight first round picks that season (Jakub Zboril and Jake DeBrusk)
Josh Hennessy was no stranger to Providence Bruins fans when he signed a professional try-out agreement with the team at the start of training camp. The veteran forward played 69 games for the P-Bruins and three games for the Boston Bruins during the 2011-12 season, posting 41 points in the AHL while serving as an alternate captain. At the conclusion of that year he signed in Europe where he spent the next five seasons playing professionally. A New England native who makes his home in Rhode Island, Hennessy wanted another chance to prove himself in the AHL and no opportunity better suited him than a return to Providence.
Line combinations in the AHL are always fluctuating as players are promoted and the roster is shaken up, so finding consistency with a team’s top lines is a challenge. That is true of the P-Bruins, who had plenty of good players but ones who were always on the move between Boston and Providence. The team still had success without a firm top line, but towards the end of January one began to emerge when three natural centers joined forces.
Tommy Cross has always brought leadership to the Providence Bruins over his six full AHL seasons and entered his third year as P-Bruins captain in 2017-18. His offense really spiked a season ago in what was, at the time, a career season for Cross on the Providence blueline and after re-signing with the club looked to prove that was no fluke. That is just what the 28-year old did, surpassing his point total from last season while taking on more responsibility throughout the year