NYR Prospect Watch: Brett Berard and Jaroslav Chmelar in action at XL Center

NYR prospects Brett Berard and Jaroslav Chmelar were in action at the XL Center, home to the Hartford Wolf Pack this past Saturday with the Providence College Friars. The ninth ranked squad faced off against the seventh ranked UConn Huskies in a Hockey East matchup.

The two teams played the night before with UConn coming out on top in a shootout by a 2-1 score.

NYR Prospect Watch: Berard and Chmelar

With my seats by the visitor’s tunnel in Section 113, I pointed out Brett Berard (2020, 5th Round) to my son during warm-ups, stating that he would play for the New York Rangers someday.

Providence head coach Nate Leaman, who happened to be standing by the door overheard my comments and quipped back: “Not the way he played last night.”

Berard was named to the starting lineup for the Friars at right wing. He had previously been skating at left wing earlier in the season, so he is capable of playing both sides. 

Chase Bradley of the University of Connecticut was called for interference just 34 seconds into the game. The first power-play unit for Providence featured Jaroslav Chmelar (2021 5th Round), with Brett Berard eventually coming back on to the ice as the first forward to make a change. Though the Friars were unsuccessful with the man advantage, junior Nick Poisson found the back of the net shortly after the penalty expired.

Brett Berard gets on the board

Berard would get some redemption for his play in the last game by making it 2-0 at 5:18 after stealing the puck off an offensive zone draw and using a backhander to register his fourth goal of the year. He almost scored again minutes later but his breakaway was stopped.

Providence continued its strong start when Bennett Schimer brought the score to 3-0 with 5:42 remaining on the clock. UConn would begin their comeback when Ryan Tverberg (2020 TOR, 7th Round) would score his first of the night with under a minute in the first period.

The start of the second period saw Brett Berard on the ice for Providence. UConn took another early penalty 31 seconds in when defenseman Tom Messineo was called for cross-checking. Chmelar started the power play but came off for a change after only 20 seconds. UConn successfully killed the penalty, then had a power-play of their own when Michael Citara was charged for tripping with 12:07 on the scoreboard. Though the Huskies couldn’t convert with the advantage, John Spetz made it a one goal game at 9:57. 

With 7:12 to go in the middle frame, Berard made a nice play to steal the puck in the offensive zone, but was denied by Huskies goalie Arsenii Sergeev (2021 CGY, 7th Round). 

Potential 2023 1st round pick, Matthew Wood tied the game at three apiece when he was able to finish on a breakaway with 5:17 remaining.

The Friars would answer back a minute later when Liam Valente scored his first career goal, and Providence regained the lead. The game would be tied again at 4-4 when Justin Pearson scored off an assist from Spetz.

The celebration for Pearson would be short lived however, as he was given a five minute major and a game misconduct after boarding Max Crozier of Providence, who headed to the locker room visibly bleeding. The second period would see the two teams tied 4-4 with Providence holding a 23 to 17 advantage in shots on goal. 

Jaroslav Chmelar scores

Jaroslav Chmelar
Jaroslav Chmelar warming up (Photo: Alan Selavka)

Citara would score in his first game of the season for Providence 40 seconds into the third period, and Chmelar tipped home his fifth of the season off a point shot from Guillaume Richard to give the Friars a 6-4 lead with 17:04 to play. The freshman from Czechia was charged with roughing on his next shift, though UConn was unable to convert on the ensuing powerplay. 

UConn would pull their goalie, and freshman Samu Saminen (2021 NJD, 3rd Round) brought the UConn #IceBus to within one with 2:16 left.

A buzzer beater from Ryan Tverberg with 4.8 seconds on the clock tied the game again, and the two teams headed for 3 on 3 overtime. Shots on goal at the end of the period were 30-23 in favor of Providence. 

Overtime began with Berard on the ice for Providence. He shot one wide after gaining possession following a turnover. Berard was also stopped on a breakaway in an outstanding extra session.

UConn used their timeout with 5.6 seconds remaining after Chase Bradley tripped Chase Yoder. Sergeev made a diving save to deny Taige Harding on the back post, and preserve the tie to force another shootout. 

Neither side scored in the first two rounds, but Bennett Schimek and Samu Salminen both were successful in round three. Riley Duran and Andrew Lucas each were stopped in round four, while Parker Ford and Harrison Rees were both denied in round five. Liam Valente couldn’t convert in round six, while Jack Percival sent the crowd home happy, and UConn continued to roll. 

In other Hockey East action, Hugo Ollas (2020 NYR 7th Round) stopped all 33 Maine shot attempts on Friday night to earn his fourth win of the season and first shutout. He improved his record to 4-3 with a 1.88 goals against average and a .922 save percentage.

Riley Hughes (2018 NYR, 7th Round) had two assists for the Northeastern University Huskies over the weekend. He now has one goal and three assists for four points in twelve games for the season. 

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