The American Hockey League suspended operations on March 13 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. They hoped to resume the rest of the 2019-20 campaign in May.
Unfortunately, the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic forced the AHL’s hand as they canceled the rest of the regular season and Calder Cup Playoffs a week ago Monday.
“After a lengthy review process, the American Hockey League has determined that the resumption and completion of the 2019-20 season is not feasible in light of current conditions,” said AHL President and Chief Executive Officer David Andrews, who announced last week that he would be retiring from those roles at the end of the season. “The League’s operational focus has turned toward actively preparing for the 2020-21 season.”
Much like the parent club in Boston, the suspension and ultimate cancellation of the campaign brings a screeching halt to a promising season for the Providence Bruins.
The P-Bruins established a new franchise record winning streak to the tune of 12 games following their win over the Hartford Wolfpack on March 11. This vaulted to the top of the Eastern Conference with 38 wins and 82 points, all the while yielding only 154 goals, fewest in the conference and second-fewest in all of the AHL. They had also collected 17 shorthanded goals this season, second-most in the AHL.
One can now only wonder what the end of a full season and playoffs would have looked like for the Baby B’s.
The season ended a bit too early for several Providence players who were playing their best hockey of the season. Rookie Jack Studnicka will finish as the P-Bruins’s top scorer with 23 goals and 26 assists. His 49 points ranked him third amongst AHL rookies and 13th among all skaters in the elague.
That wasn’t all for the talented 2017 second-round selection. Studnicka led the AHL with seven shorthanded goals, three more than the next leading shorthanded-scorer.
First-year Providence captain Paul Carey finished with 22 goals and 17 assists in his second season with the Baby B’s. Newcomer Brendan Gaunce had a productive first year, collecting 18-19-37 totals while Peter Cehlarik continued his upward development, leading the team with nine power play goals to go along with his 16-21-37 totals.
Alex Petrovic led all P-Bruins defensemen in scoring with 20 points on a two goals and 18 assists. Jakob Zboril (3-16-19), Urho Vaakanainen (5-9-14) and rookie Cooper Zech (2-12-14) all took another step in the right direction, while Josiah Diddier played well in his first year in Rhode Island, collecting 3-12-15 totals while bringing a physical presence collecting 79 penalty minutes.
Though he didn’t receive the bulk of the starts between the pipes, Dan Vladar had a banner year, sporting a 14-7-1 record with three shutouts on the season. He also led all qualified AHL goalies with a 1.79 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage.
Providence’s primary netminder, Max Legace, had a great season in his own right, finishing second in the league in wins (22) and shutouts (6) during his 37 starts. His 2.37 GAA and a .919 save percentage, were both good for the top 10 in the league in their respective categories.
The 2019-20 Providence Bruins campaign had all the makings of a special season. Things were certainly looking up following their franchise-record winning streak setting them up in prime position for home ice throughout the playoffs. The plethora of young players enjoying stellar years set the team up nicely for a run this year and beyond.
For the first time since 1937, the AHL won’t have a team to inscribe on its Calder Cup. The 2019-20 Providence Bruins unfortunately had a chance at history taken away from them.
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