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P-Bruins blow two-goal lead in third, fall to Laval in home opener

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A late goal from Brett Kulak spoiled Providence’s home opener.

Heather Rose - Smoke & Honey Photography

Although the Providence Bruins led for most of Saturday’s game against the Laval Rocket, they were quickly reminded that hockey is a sixty-minute affair. The Rocket used a big third period to erase a two-goal deficit and scored a late goal to take down the P-Bruins on Saturday. Providence played well for a little over forty minutes, but it wasn’t enough to hold off Laval.

“I thought we had spurts of strong play, but I also think [Laval] took it to us as well,” said Head Coach Jay Leach. “We had some spurts where we weren’t as sounds as we would have liked to be and they caught up to us.”

It took a while for both teams to find their groove in the first period, but the P-Bruins were able to strike first at 14:22 when Mark McNeill tipped in his second goal of the season off a Cameron Hughes wrist shot from the point. The rookie Hughes carried the puck up the right wing boards and found some space at the center of the blue line before firing the shot toward Rocket netminder Charlie Lindgren.

Despite maintaining their 1-0 lead throughout the second period, the P-Bruins were heavily outplayed by Laval in the middle frame. Goaltender Dan Vladar had to make several big stops on odd-man rushes, including an athletic right pad stop with under a minute to go to keep Providence ahead.

The P-Bruins scored 21 seconds into the third off Jeremy Lauzon’s first goal of the season, but the Rocket battled back to tie the game with goals from Michael Chaput and Byron Froese. Laval outplayed Providence for the rest of the third quarter, and its effort paid off when Brett Kulak scored with 35 seconds left to give the Rocket the 3-2 win.

Despite leading for most of the game, the P-Bruins were outshot 34-20 and probably would have been chasing the score heading into the third if not for Vladar, who was a busy man last night. Vladar admitted that Laval picked up momentum after its first goal, making it difficult for the P-Bruins to close out the victory, but also knows there is work to be done to get back on track.

“I thought we played really well for those first forty-one, forty-two minutes,” Vladar said. “I don’t know what happened [after that] but I think we kind of lost our concentration. We got to learn how to win, because we have a pretty young group here. We have to be better. I have to be better.”

The P-Bruins play again in Hartford on Friday, and heading into their first three-game weekend of the season, the team knows they have a lot to work on this week.

“We’re going to have to work on a lot,” Leach said. “We are going to have to work on puck management. We are going to work on being a team that is able to sustain sixty minutes of the way we want to play. You name it. We’re 0-2 and it’s obviously a telling sign that we are not where we want to be.”

Other notes from tonight’s game:

  • The P-Bruins scratches were: David Broll, Tanner Pond, Jesse Gabrielle, Cody Goloubef, Jakub Zboril, and Joona Koppanen.
  • Dan Vladar made 31 saves on 34 shots and was a big reason why Providence was in the lead for most of the evening.
  • Cameron Hughes led the P-Bruins with 2 points on the night, and showed his eagerness to create plays in the offensive zone.
  • Connor Clifton continues to impress, as the second-year pro did not hesitate to jump in on the rush and pinch down the boards in the offensive zone.
  • Urho Vaakanainen looked composed in his second game, his passes were on point, and he was not afraid to jump in on offense if need be. He was paired with Jeremy Lauzon on Providence’s top defensive pair.

Saturday’s lineup was:

Forwards:

Ryan Fitzgerald - Jordan Szwarz - Peter Cehlarik

Cameron Hughes - Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson - Mark McNeill

Karson Kuhlman - Trent Frederic - Zach Senyshyn

Anton Blidh - Colby Cave - Austin Fyten

Defense Pairings:

Jeremy Lauzon - Urho Vaakanainen

Chris Breen - Emil Johansson

Wiley Sherman - Connor Clifton

Goaltenders:

Dan Vladar

Zane McIntyre