Providence Bruins goaltender Dan Vladar got the start in back-to-back games for the first time in his career last weekend.
The reason: head coach Jay Leach wanted to see what Vladar’s potential looked like with two starts in as many days against the Hartford Wolfpack.
The results: a 25-save performance in a 3-2 overtime road win on Saturday followed by a 24-save showing in a 4-1 loss at home 24 hours later. A mixed bag to say the least.
“We didn’t play the first period really well, but afterwards we had our chances and just didn’t capitalize,” Vladar said after Sunday’s loss. “But if we play the way we did over the last two periods, we can give ourselves a chance to win.”
The 2015 third round selection made his professional hockey debut during the 2016-17 season. His journey to Providence took some interesting routes after representing his native Czech Republic in U-16, U-17, U-18 and U-20 competitions. Vladar made his North American debut with the USHL’s Chicago Steel during the 2015-16 season, then turned professional the very next year.
Vladar split time between Providence and Atlanta — Boston’s ECHL affiliate — during his first two seasons in North America. He’s now a fixture on the P-Bruins roster.
Through 24 games this season, the 21-year old sports an 8-11-4 record with a 2.73 goals against average, a .902 save percentage and a pair of shutouts. His respectable AHL career numbers to date include a 14-13-6 mark, 2.65 GAA and .909 save percentage.
“We have a good goaltender coach, [former NHLer] Mike Dunham,” Vladar said on how he’s become a full-time AHL netminder. “He’s working with me every day, even when I’m not playing. I’m very thankful for him.”
Vladar’s 6-foot-5 frame gives him a chance to fight through screens and track the puck while taking up plenty of space between the pipes. Those traits come in handy against a team like Hartford, a squad Vladar says like to create a lot traffic in front of the net. He’s not shy moving quickly from post to post either against up-tempo, puck moving teams like Charlotte, either.
He still sits behind Zane McIntyre, someone who, in years past, has been considered one of the better goaltenders in the AHL. But Vladar has already garnered a good amount of knowledge from his fellow goaltending partner.
“He’s a great guy. Whenever I up a bad goal and I skate to the bench he’ll just say ‘hey, that’s hockey,’ so I’m very grateful to be with him,” Vladar said about McIntyre. “He’s one of the best AHL goalies and he works hard.”
As good as McIntyre has been, Vladar himself has earned his way to a full-time roster spot with Providence. No matter the situation — whether it’s starting once over a three-game weekend, playing in back to back games, or coming in relief — the poised Vladar always gives his team a chance to win.
“He’s been good, He’s a young, big-bodied goalie whose really trying to figure out his movements and being efficient and getting stronger,” Leach said of Vladar. “He gives his all and his numbers are right where we thought they’d be, maybe even better.”
“I’m just battling for every puck,” Vladar added. “I just battle for every single puck whether it’s in pregame skate, morning skate or in a game, and I think that’s what has gotten me to where I am now.”
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