Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hockey Headlines - September 24

With 29 days to go until the Crimson's first and only exhibition game against McGill University, there are a couple bits of Harvard hockey-related news after the jump.

As posted earlier on the WHRB Sports Twitter feed, last year's co-captain Jimmy Fraser '09 is in the Providence Bruins' camp on a free agent tryout, and the rookie has made a positive impression so far through three days of practices and an exhibition game. Fraser notched an assist while skating with the first line in the Baby B's exhibition win over the Springfield Falcons on Wednesday night.

Mark Divver of the Providence Journal highlights Fraser's history of leadership roles - he served as captain of the USNTDP U-17 and U-18 teams, assistant captain of the U.S. national team at the 2006 World Junior Championships, and co-captain of last year's Crimson squad.

Divver also looks at Fraser's potential role for the P-Bruins. His professional niche would be similar to his gritty, responsible, penalty-killer play for the Crimson and the U.S. national teams in recent years. But it won't be easy for Fraser to earn a deal with Boston's AHL affiliate, because Providence already has at least three centers under contract in 2009-10. The fourth, top center prospect Zach Hamill, may earn significant time with the big club this year, but will most likely start this year's campaign back in Providence.

Fraser's intangibles and work rate will be his ticket to a professional contract at the AHL or ECHL level this season, and the Bruins would be an ideal organization for his style of play. From B's skipper Claude Julien on down, the organization prizes responsible two-way play from their forwards, and the Michigan native fits that mold well. Though Fraser doesn't have the size and physicality of a player like Cornell alum and current Bruin fourth-liner Byron Bitz, he has the skill and smarts to contribute in all three zones and has proven a leader in special teams situations.

If Fraser does earn a minor-league deal, the roster numbers game might send Fraser to the Bruins' ECHL affiliate in Reading, Penn. He would be an ideal fourth-liner if injuries or call-ups shorten the AHL roster.

And on a final Fraser-related note, last weekend we recorded a new episode of the Harvard hockey talk show, "Top Shelf," with Jimmy in the booth for the final time, joined by current co-hosts Alex Biega, Kyle Richter, and myself. That episode will be up by early next week, and as always will be available for free download as a podcast in the iTunes store or online at

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