When you’re playing as well as Colby Cave has to start the season, you tend to get some lucky breaks. When you get lucky, you tend to play with a bit more confidence.
Cave’s steady improvements during his Providence tenure — mainly his speed and shot — is making him into an assertive and well-rounded player. His confidence from his previous three seasons has carried over into the first eight games this year as Cave sits first on the team in scoring with 10 points (five goals, five assists).
Providence’s 6-1 win over the Bridgeport Soundtigers on Sunday marked Cave’s third multi-point game of the season. The AHL veteran tallied the secondary assist on Cameron Hughes’ second of three goals and the primary assist on Zach Senyshyn’s sixth of the season off a Jeremy Smith rebound — both of which came in the second period. Those pair of assists bumped Cave into the AHL’s top 20 scoring leaders.
“I don’t know,” Cave said with a laugh after the game on what has been the key to his success to start the year. “I came into the season just thinking ‘go out and play.’ The confidence has been going up and I’ve gotten a few lucky breaks and the pucks have been going in.”
The amount of so-called lucky breaks have increased over the past three years.
Cave’s point per game totals increased from .39 in 2015-16 (29 points in 75 games) in 2015-16 to .46 in the next two seasons (35 points in 76 games in Year 2 and 33 points in 72 games last year). His career-high in goals in a season is 13, both in 15-16 and 16-17, while he has reached 22 assists twice, in 16-17 and a year ago. Cave is on pace to surpass those single-season best totals in all three categories.
Steady improvements aren’t anything new to Cave. The former Swift Current Bronco logged 70-plus points in his final two seasons in the Western Hockey League (33-37-70 in 72 games in 2013-14, 35-40-75 in 72 games in 2014-15) after registering 57 points in his first 143 contests.
“This being my fourth year, I’m just looking to play consistent,” Cave said. “Obviously I’m looking to make the jump to the NHL and I think consistency is a big part of it.”
Cave’s consistency earned him his second career call-up to Boston (on an emergency basis) on Oct. 29. That short-lived promotion ended when GM Don Sweeney assigned him back to Providence the very next day.
His next act in Boston may come sooner rather than later, but the 3-5-1 P-Bruins undoubtedly need Cave’s services. Mark McNeill, Peter Cehlarik and newly-minted captain Jordan Szwarz, all fell victim to the injury bug during last weekend’s slate.
Cave’s leadership is vital to a Providence team looking to find its footing. His experience and growing confidence are good traits for a P-Bruins squad hoping to get out of an early-season rut.
“He’s led us as the more or less senior forward,” head coach Jay Leach said of Cave. “Cave has a lot of experience and he looks to me as if he’s playing with a lot of confidence. He’s skating really well, his play with the puck has been impressive. He looks to be really feeling it out there.”
With Providence littered with young and new faces — namely his 22-year old linemate Cameron Hughes and the recently assigned Ryan Donato — the four-year AHL veteran is embracing his mentorship role.
“We have a great group of guys in the locker room and we have a lot of fun going to the rink every day,” Cave said. “We have a lot of young guys and that spices things up. I’m not saying I’m super-old though.”
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