10 Events to Help Boston Bruins Fans Hold Up Through an NHL Lockout

Al DanielCorrespondent IISeptember 14, 2012

10 Events to Help Boston Bruins Fans Hold Up Through an NHL Lockout

0 of 10

    If he is unable to delve, without delay, into his first season as a Boston Bruin, budding blueliner Dougie Hamilton could return to Team Canada for this year’s World Junior Championship tournament.

    Goaltender Malcolm Subban, the team’s top draft choice this past spring at No. 24 overall, is a candidate for the Canadian crease in the same tournament. He is fresh off of joining Hamilton in the talent-laden Canada-Russia Hockey Challenge.

    That will be one way for Bruins buffs to stay occupied if the impending work stoppage bars their team from normal business for too long. But there is also a buffet of alternatives closer to home.

    Perhaps fittingly, the region that roots for America’s oldest NHL franchise has one of the broadest selections of hockey at other levels, all of which are immune to NHL labor stalemates.

    New England boasts seven minor-pro, 10 junior, more than a dozen men’s and women’s Division I college programs, and a nominally professional women’s team.

    The top 10 leagues, teams, tournaments, and other special events occurring this coming season around the Bruins’ sphere of influence are as follows. If fortune comes through in a timely manner, some of these will overlap with a delayed NHL season, but they will likewise be there even in a worst-case scenario.

The Triple-A Team

1 of 10

    The AHL’s Providence Bruins will have 38 regular-season home games at the Dunkin' Donuts Center plus 29 away games in one of the league’s six other New England cities.

    They will make their usual rounds of anywhere between three and six visits apiece to Bridgeport, Hartford, Manchester, Portland, Springfield and Worcester.

    The franchise’s top prospects of an appropriate age and level of seasoning will easily be AHL fixtures for as long as the NHL is on hiatus. These would include Matt Bartkowski, Chris Bourque, Jared Knight, Torey Krug, Kevan Miller, Max Sauve and Ryan Spooner.

The Eastern Junior League

2 of 10

    The EJHL, which features 10 teams in four New England states, begins its 2012-13 season this weekend. The regular season will conclude Feb. 24, with the playoffs immediately following.

The Boston Blades

3 of 10

    The lone U.S.-based member of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, the nomadic Blades will host 14 home games in various venues throughout the region between Dec. 1 and March 6.

    Boston’s roster currently lists seven past U.S. Olympians, including the legendary Angela Ruggiero and two celestial Boston College alumnae in forward Kelli Stack and goaltender Molly Schaus.

The AHL All-Star Game

4 of 10

    The aforementioned Providence Bruins will host the AHL’s midseason exhibition for the second time in their history over the final weekend of January.

    As it happens, their previous turn was on Jan. 17, 1995, mere days before the NHL finally resumed normalcy after a season-shortening work stoppage.

The Beanpot

5 of 10

    Bruins prospect Alexander Fallstrom will skate over the Spoked-B for his last two times as an amateur on the first two Mondays of February. Fallstrom’s Harvard Crimson will engage Boston College in the second semifinal on Feb. 4 immediately after Boston University and Northeastern wage a civic dogfight.

    The losers and winners will reconvene at TD Garden on Feb. 11 for the consolation and title tilts.

The MIAA Championships

6 of 10

    As has long been the case in past years, a series of Massachusetts state hockey school tournaments will be conducted in various venues with the championship finalists ultimately converging on TD Garden in mid-March.

The Women’s Hockey East Championship

7 of 10

    The WHEA’s final four will converge on Cape Cod March 9-10 with at least two programs hoping to halt a budding Commonwealth Avenue dynasty similar to what has developed in the men’s league.

    Prospective participants in the tournament include such U.S. Olympic hopefuls as Kendall Coyne of Northeastern and Taylor Wasylk of Boston College.

    Both have already seen action in past IIHF World Championship tournaments.

The Men’s Hockey East Championship

8 of 10

    Three-time defending champion Boston College will seek to retain the Lamoriello Trophy while at least two other teams will try to become the first school other than BC or BU to win the HEA playoff title since 2004.

The NCAA Tournament

9 of 10

    Two of the four men’s tournament regional sites will be in New England―Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, N.H. and the Dunkin' Donuts Center.

    By this stage, in the highly likely event of the BC Eagles’ participation, there are two choices for those outside of their fanbase.

    One option is to express one’s love to hate the team that, beginning in 2008, has made a habit of winning the national title every even-numbered year and will be vying for a repeat in 2013.

    The other, if BC is once again the last Hockey East and/or New England program standing, is to get behind them out of conference and/or regional pride.

The AHL Playoffs

10 of 10

    Since the turn of the century, no fewer than three New England-based teams have seen action in the Calder Cup playoffs.

    Although, the region is fairly title-starved at this level as no one in the five represented states has brought home the Cup since the Hartford Wolf Pack (now Connecticut Whale) in 2000.

    There has not been a finalist from the area since the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of 2002.

    Regardless, the AHL’s regular season will extend to April 21 and the odds the eight Eastern Conference playoff entrants being all of the eight teams from Atlantic Canada, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia are safe to scoff at.

    If a worst-case scenario materializes for the Bruins and the NHL, New England puckheads will still have something to follow and root for beyond the first full month of next spring.