At times it was a rollercoaster ride, and they were a young team with a roster that was never quite stable. Perhaps there was room for improvement in many areas for the 2005-06 Providence Bruins team, but they had a lot of heart, and though the opposition was tough in the end, they didn’t go down without a fight. This was a team that took 18 games into overtime, with a 6-1 record during regular overtime, and a 6-5 record in the shootout. This was also a team that averaged eight or nine rookies on the roster at any given time.
In the Net
Once Tim Thomas landed a full-time job in Boston, the Bruins rolled a number of goaltenders through the pipes in Providence to take some of the burden off of rookie Jordan Sigalet. Sigalet struggled at times, but produced a solid overall rookie season. He stopped 744 of 827 shots, for 2.55 goals against average and .900 save percentage. Sigalet appeared in 37 games, with a total of 1955 minutes of ice time and a 19-11-2 record during the regular season. A tremendous athlete, Sigalet appeared unaffected by his MS when he was on the ice. He had the endurance to complete the majority of his starts, with the exception of a game in January, and a pair in February where he seemed to get rattled and was pulled early in the game.
Despite a few rocky games, however, Sigalet demonstrated an ability to make saves at key times and keep his team in the game. Of the 12 overtime periods Sigalet appeared in during the regular season, the Bruins would win eight. Five of those games would result in a shootout, and Sigalet would complete his rookie season with a 3-2 shootout record. Sigalet posted his first professional shutout versus the Hershey Bears in mid March, when he stopped a total of 34 shots.
Defense was by far the strongest area for the 2005-06 Providence Bruins. They had one of the stingiest defenses in the league, with only one team allowing fewer goals (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins) and they were tied with the Manitoba Moose with only 217 goals allowed.
Rookie Mark Stuart played the majority of the season in Providence before he was promoted to the injury-depleted lineup in Boston during March of 2006. While many thought he would be a lock for the Boston roster out of the B’s training camp in 2005, as it would turn out, Stuart needed time in Providence to adjust to the pro game. Stuart is a tireless worker with a great attitude, and he took full advantage of the playing time he received in Providence. The rookie blueliner improved exponentially from the beginning of the season, when he appeared to find his legs and become the dominant physical force he’d been in college. Stuart’s ability to deliver jarring hits at crucial times made him an important part of the Providence defense, and when Boston made the call towards the end of the season, he was ready. Stuart was +4 on the season, with seven points (4 goals, 3 assists) and 76 penalty minutes in 60 games.
Jonathan Sigalet was one of many pleasant surprises for the Providence Bruins in the 2005-06 season. Sigalet opted out of his final two years of college to turn pro shortly after he was drafted in 2005 and logged a lot of minutes both as a part of Providence’s formidable blue line and as powerplay quarterback. He completed his rookie season with 59 penalty minutes and was the top scoring defenseman on the team with 36 points (9 goals, 27 assists) in 75 games. Of his nine goals, four came on the power play, two were game-winning, and two were first goals. He was also tied with Providence captain Jay Leach with the highest plus/minus for a defenseman on the team at +12. Sigalet still has a way to go before he is NHL ready, but he does so many things well that it’s hard to see anything but a bright future. He does not yet have much of a physical game, and one of the biggest things for Sigalet continues to be his strength, something that he can remedy with continued work.
While offense for the baby B’s was not terrible, it was also not nearly as strong as their defense. They produced an average of 3.17 goals per game, which fell somewhere near the middle of the league. None of Providence’s players cracked the top 20 scorers in the league; however, they did have two of the top 20 rookie scorers with Tyler Redenbach and Pascal Pelletier.
Redenbach was rewarded with a contract after joining the Bruins training camp as a free agent in the fall of 2005. The former Phoenix draft pick (2003) is a skilled forward who can make things happen anytime he’s on the ice. He capped off a successful rookie season with 58 points (26 goals, 32 assists) in 78 games, and had the highest plus/minus in Providence at +19. Redenbach’s timing and hockey sense are part of what makes him such an exciting player to watch, and he was often the difference maker. He had three game winning goals, six first goals, and five insurance goals. Additionally, Redenbach had two short-handed and seven power-play goals. He scored his first professional goal during the second game of the season, and would go on to have four multiple-goal games, including a hat trick in April versus the Springfield Falcons.
The Bruins came up short-handed and took a chance on a young forward from the ECHL (Gwinnett). Pascal Pelletier received a tryout contract during mid-December of 2005, and his performance earned a stay in Providence for the duration of the season. Pelletier is a mix of grit and offensive talent, a player who is as likely to complete a check as he is to score a goal. He only played 53 regular season games with Providence, but he was +8 with 42 penalty minutes and 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists). Pelletier had four power-play goals, four game winners, and of three multiple goal games, he had a hat trick versus the Penguins on February 19th.
Ben Walter attracted enough attention his rookie season to earn a couple brief call-ups in Boston. While little would come of these, Walter displayed the same skill and on-ice vision in Providence that had earned him a Hobey Baker nomination at U-Mass Lowell. Walter is hard-working, focused and an opportunistic player who became a key component on Providence’s power-play unit. He had eight power-play goals, one short-handed and four game-winning goals in 40 total points (16 goals, 23 assists). Walter played 62 regular season games with the Providence Bruins.
Rookie Nate Thompson played a total of 74 regular season games with Providence. The 21-year-old is a versatile and hardworking player who is able to play both center and wing. One of the most impressive things about Thompson is his character — he is a player who will give his all when he’s on the ice. Thompson was relied upon to play more of a checking role than for creating offense, and he finished out the season with 18 points (8 goals, 10 assists) and 58 penalty minutes.
Late additions and postseason
Top draft pick from 2005 Matt Lashoff and 2004 fourth rounder Kris Versteeg both had brief pro debuts at the close of the regular season and into the postseason. Lashoff had a goal and an assist in seven regular season games. Versteeg had two goals and four assists in 13 games. Both players joined the team following the completion of their junior seasons. Center Yan Stastny also rejoined the Bruins in a late season trade with the Edmonton Oilers. After playing the remainder of the regular season in Boston, Stastny joined Providence for the playoffs. He had five assists and 12 penalty minutes in six playoff games.
While the team appeared inconsistent early on, they slowly climbed the standings, and were soon neck and neck with the Manchester Monarchs at the middle of the Atlantic Division. By the end of the season, Providence finished fourth in the Atlantic division with a 43-31-6 record, and clinched a spot in the playoffs.
Their first round opponents would be the division-leading Portland Pirates, who were 8-2-2 versus the B’s during the regular season. Providence dropped the first three games of the series.
On the verge of elimination, the Bruins fought back and took Games 4 and 5 in overtime. The Pirates’ series lead cut to 3-2, but in the end, they would prove too much for the Bruins. The Portland Pirates took Game 6 with a final score of 5-2.
The lone Bruin ECHL’er
After bouncing between numerous teams early in the 2005-06 season, 21-year-old goaltender Mike Brown finally settled in with the Dayton Bombers of the ECHL. The Bombers were a struggling team that finished near the bottom of the league with a 20-46-6 record. Brown played a total of 18 games, and went 4-12-2. He had 3.66 goals against average and .896 save percentage in 1050 minutes.
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