By Eddie Pannone
PROVIDENCE, R.I., – It is safe to say that the Providence Bruins are off to a better start than their parent club in Boston. Despite earning just one win in three games, the P-Bruins have earned a point in every game so far in 2015 and are one of only two teams with double digit goals already.
This hot start offensively is in large part due to rookie forward Frankie Vatrano. Vatrano is on an absolute tear in the first three games, including a four-goal performance Sunday against the Portland Pirates. Signed as free agent from UMass-Amherst, he scored just seven seconds into the game and is leading the AHL in scoring early on. Just how good has his performance been? Vatrano leads in scoring despite not recording an assist. He is doing this based solely on goal scoring, as he has six on the year while no other player has more than three.
Not surprisingly, his fellow line mates are enjoying success as well. Alexander Khokhlachev and rookie Austin Czarnik are both among the league’s leading scorers as they each have five points. Czarnik has a goal and four assists while Khokhlachev has five helpers. This line has a combined +9 rating just three games in and combined for all the scoring in Sunday’s win.
Starting goaltender Malcolm Subban has been sidelined with a lower-body injury and has yet to see any action. In his absence, rookie Zane McIntyre has stepped in and played well. Sunday’s victory was his first as a pro and he has stopped 91 of 101 shots on the season. Both marks are far and away tops in the league while he also leads in minutes played.
Not even a full week into the season and Providence has already seen its roster take a hit, though it is probably one that Tommy Cross is happy about. The P-Bruin captain received his first call-up to Boston and made his NHL debut last night. With the young Bruin defense core struggling early on, Cross has a chance to make an impact if he plays well.
The team is back in action tomorrow as they begin a home-and-home series with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.