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  • Chris Casto providing depth on P-Bruins blue-line

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    Chris Casto providing depth on P-Bruins blue-line

    Jake Kerin April 15, 2016

    All season long, the Providence Bruins have rode their high-scoring forwards to success. With Frank Vatrano potting goals at a one-per-game pace and Seth Griffith and Alexander Khokhlachev both in the top-4 in the American Hockey League in scoring, it is with little doubt that most of the Bruins’ success is coming from upfront. But lost in the shuffle is the depth of the Providence defensemen. Providing some of that depth is fourth-year veteran Chris Casto.

    Now that Providence is gearing up for the Calder Cup playoffs, the Bruins’ defensive depth will be key if they are to make a deep run.

    “I think D-zone is important, we have a lot of guys who can score goals so if we can hold teams to one or two goals, we can be successful,” Casto said when asked on what his team needs to focus on heading into the postseason.

    Coach Bruce Cassidy certainly felt that same way during Wednesday’s game, a 3-1 win over the Springfield Falcons in the final home game for the Baby B’s. Cassidy decided to dress seven defenseman for the game. Good defense, as well as some great goaltending from Jeremy Smith, provided the win for P-Bruins. Despite that, Casto still feels that his team could have, and must, play better.

    “We were kind of sloppy in the defensive zone,” Casto said after Wednesday’s performance. “There were a lot of chances for them but thankfully Smith came up big for us a bunch of times.”

    A versatile defenseman who plays on the first penalty-kill unit, Casto does have a good offensive skill set. With seven goals, 16 assists for 23 points this season, which are career highs in all three categories, Casto leads all P-Bruins blueliners in goals and trails only Matt Irwin in points by a Providence defenseman.

    The key for Casto’s success offensively so far is pretty simple; shots.

    “I get a lot of shots. I think you can attribute my success to getting more shots on goal,” Casto says. “I get up the ice a lot too, try to find a lane and sometimes they’ve go in for me.”

    Whether or not Casto can finish the play or not, one cannot argue that Casto can create some opportunities. Casto was was a part of a nice rush that led to Providence’s first goal halfway into the game. Fed by Czarnik in the neutral zone, Casto entered the Springfield zone where he dished it off to Seth Griffith. Griffith’s shot was originally blocked, but the puck deflected to Frank Vatrano, who sent it back to recently signed Rob O’Gara. O’Gara fired it past Falcons netminder Adin Hill for his first career AHL goal.

    Casto may not have ended up on the score sheet, but his rush and pass to Griffith certainly helped lead to the first goal. It’s plays like that, as well as winning puck battles, that make Casto hopeful that he can draw attention from the Big Club.

    “As a younger defenseman, it was a big goal of mine to come hard on pucks and to get better at battling,” said Casto. “Guys are older in the NHL, they’re stronger, bigger and I needed to get better at that. I feel like I’ve come a long way and I just have to wait my turn.”

    As Casto stated, the P-Bruins have a strong contingent of forwards that can put the puck in the net. If they are to make a run at the Calder Cup, not only will they need those forwards to do their part, but they need their defense to step up and keep opponents off the board. Hopefully, Chris Casto and rest of the deep crop of defenseman can do just that.

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