NY Rangers prospect watch: Brett Berard and Jaroslav Chmelar

NY Rangers prospects, Brett Berard (2020, 5th Round) and Jaroslav Chmelar (2021, 5th Round) were in action for the Providence College Friars Men’s Ice Hockey team. The exhibition contest took place on Sunday, October 2nd against the #7 Quinnipiac University Bobcats in Hamden, Connecticut where I was in attendance.

For those unfamiliar with the Quinnipiac University campus, the athletics facility is known as the M&T Bank Arena (recently renamed from the People’s United Center). The building is an 185,000 square foot facility consisting of two separate playing areas for basketball and hockey, joined by a common lobby area and university club.

Officially, the hockey side is the Frank Perrotti Jr.Arena. The rink has benches on opposing sides, with both penalty boxes being on the side of the home team. An interesting feature of Quinnipiac Men’s Ice Hockey home games is the presence of the “Ice Cats”, a team combining dance, figure skating, and cheer. The 2022-2023 squad is captained by Tyra Nieuwendyk, daughter of 2011 Hall of Fame inductee Joe Nieuwendyk. Another unique sight in the Student Section are the Teletubbies. 

NY Rangers Prospect Watch: Brett Berard and Jaroslav Chmelar

With my seats next to the visitor’s bench, Jaroslav Chmelar stood out while watching warmups for the Providence College Friars. Listed at 6-4, 216 lbs on the lineup card, (and 6-5 202 lbs on the Providence Friars website) he was one of the tallest players on the ice.

Meanwhile, Brett Berard although not wearing a letter, seemed to provide a veteran poise and leadership as an upperclassman for his fellow teammates.

Chmelar and Berard were both in the starting lineup for the Friars, playing on opposite wings of senior captain Parker Ford.

At 4:37 into the opening period, Brett Berard picked up a loose puck in the slot for a shot on goal which was saved by Quinnipiac goaltender, Yaniv Perets to get things going.

After starting his first shift in the offensive zone, Brady Berard (Brett’s brother) made a nice defensive play to intercept a pass in the slot and break the puck out for the Friars. His tenacity for the puck and feistiness were also on display as he racked up multiple hits. Brady was also at New York Rangers development camp as a free agent invite.

Quinnipiac took the first penalty of the game at 6:42 on an interference call by Charles-Alexis Legault. Brett Berard was featured on the top power play unit, while Chmelar was not. Anthony Cipollone scored the first goal of the game for Quinnipiac at 9:40 at even strength. Chmelar was on the ice for Providence at the time of the goal. With the Friars failing to convert on another power play opportunity, the period ended 1-0 Bobcats. 

Chmelar and Berard were both on the ice for Providence when CJ McGee scored the second goal of the game for Quinnipac at 4:43 of the second period at even strength. Chmelar had two shot attempts blocked at 12:49 and 12:56 resulting in him breaking his stick. Riley Duran got Providence on the board at 13:46 on an even strength goal. The score remained 2-1 Bobcats at the end of the middle frame. 

Third period action began with Quinnipiac on a 5-3 powerplay carrying over from the end of the second. The Bobcats capitalized on the advantage 23 seconds in on the first goal of the afternoon scored by Ethan De Jong, who added another tally with the man advantage at 4:29.

Tensions flared in the 14th minute following a scrum in front of the visiting team’s net with multiple players from both sides being penalized. Providence came away the man-advantage but failed to score again going 0-4 on the day.

Down 4-1, and playing a non-conference exhibition game on the road, Providence did not pull the goaltender in the final minute, but was able to score off a strong individual effort from Jaroslav Chmelar, who skated down the right side, and finished off a five-hole shot while falling to the ice to make the final score 4-2.

Prospect Watch Breakdown

Jaroslav Chmelar goal replay on the Jumbotron (Photo: Alan Sevlaka)

Jaroslav Chmelar: On his first shift, the 19 year-old was bumped off the puck along the boards in the defensive zone. With such a large frame, I hope to see him bulk up more, and become stronger in those situations. The creativity is there, and chemistry will develop as the season moves along with his linemates. Chmelar was able to finish the game strong in the last minute of play, streaking down the right side of the ice and finishing off a five-hole shot while falling. His tally was his only official shot on goal for the game. Hopefully the goal boosts his confidence going into the start of the regular season. 

Brett Berard: It’s apparent that Berard is taking on leadership role this season. Even in warmups, his teammates were often looking towards him for guidance, and he was named to the starting lineup for the visiting Friars while also featuring prominently of the top power play unit. In the early minutes of the first period, Brett made a heads up play to recover a loose puck in the offensive zone which led to a quality scoring chance. Unfortunately, that ended up being his only shot on goal for the game. One thing I did notice was that Berard tended to play high as somewhat of a “cherry picker” both at even strength and especially with the man advantage.

Individual stats for the New York Rangers prospects: 

Brett Berard: 0G-0A-0P, 1 shot, -1. 

Jaroslav Chmelar: 1G-0A-1P, 1 shot, -1. 

Up Next: The Friars open the regular season Friday, October 7th at home against Sacred Heart. Puck drop is slated for 7 PM. 

I personally plan on returning to watch Quinnipiac take on Cornell Big Red Hank Kempf: 2021 7th) on Saturday, November 5th. 

UCONN Huskies play Union Dutchmen at the XL Center in Hartford, CT on Saturday, October 8th. 

Hartford Wolf Pack Opening Night is Saturday, October 22nd.