Minor League hockey is back!
The Providence Bruins opened its AHL season with a pair of games over the weekend, marking the team’s return to Rhode Island and the Dunkin’ Donuts Center with a nail-biting victory on Saturday night over Bridgeport, 2-1.
Boston’s new ECHL affiliate — the Maine Mariners, based in Portland — will begin their 2021-22 season this coming weekend, the first time Boston will have both affiliates in action simultaneously since March 2020.
Providence split its opening weekend, playing a pair of games decided in a shootout against divisional foes Bridgeport and Hartford.
In Saturday’s season opener, Providence and Bridgeport (now dubbed the Islanders) traded goals in the first period, with Tyler Lewington scoring the opener for Providence assisted by Jack Ahcan and Matt Filipe, to leave the teams tied at 1-1 after 20 minutes.
The remaining 45 minutes remained deadlocked between the two sides who met 12 times in the shortened 2021 AHL season. Jack Studnicka and Jesper Froden both scored in the shootout to give Providence the opening-night victory.
The following afternoon, Providence fell, 4-3, at Hartford in yet another shootout. Jack Studnicka and Samuel Asselin each tallied their first goals of the season in the first period, but Providence fell behind 3-2 after two frames. NHL veteran Chris Wagner tied the game early in the third period with his first of the year to force overtime.
In the six-round shootout, no Providence skater was able to score as Chris Gettinger finally beat Providence goalie Kyle Keyser to take two points for Hartford.
Keyser played the final 45 minutes of Saturday’s game, relieving Troy Grosenick who lasted just 20 minutes, as well as the full contest on Sunday. The 22-year-old stopped 41 of 44 shots he faced along with seven of eight shootout attempts.
Player of the Week: Jack Studnicka — Along with tallying a shootout goal on Saturday, Studnicka added a goal and an assist in the loss to Hartford and totaled eight shots for the weekend. Stick taps as well to Jakub Lauko who picked up two assists on Sunday.
UP NEXT: Providence will play three games in three days this weekend, beginning Friday night with a trip to face the Utica Comets (7:00 p.m. ET). The P-Bruins return home for clashes with Laval Rocket on Saturday (7:05 p.m. ET) and the Springfield Falcons on Sunday (3:05 p.m. ET).
The Bruins have come full circle by reuniting with the Maine Mariners, making the Portland club their newest ECHL affiliate. Before the Providence Bruins moved to Rhode Island, they were known as the Maine Mariners and played their games at the new Mariners current home.
The affiliation agreement with the Bruins completes the “trifecta” of Portland-Boston affiliations, with the Portland Sea Dogs and Maine Celtics (formerly Maine Red Claws) having existing agreements with the Boston Red Sox and Boston Celtics, respectively. Boston is less than a two hours drive from Portland, and the Bruins fanbase makes up the majority of the NHL rooting-interest in the state of Maine. - MarinersofMaine.com
Boston’s previous ECHL affiliate, the Atlanta Gladiators, are now connected with the Ottawa Senators.
Players to Watch: There are some notable names on the Maine Mariners roster, starting with Eduards Tralmaks. The former Maine Black Bears standout joined Providence late last season and seemed to transition well to the pro game. He’ll start the year at the ECHL level, but could be up-and-down throughout the season.
Former Michigan standout Alex Kile rejoins the Mariners after a first stint with them in 2019-20. Kile, 27, has put together a pair of 51-point seasons at the ECHL level, playing last season for the Florida Everblades.
Goaltender Callum Booth is another player looking to earn recognition for a move to Providence, having dressed in one game already for the AHL Bruins this season. The 24-year-old, who played in nine games for the Gladiators in 2019-20 and just one game for Providence last season, is looking to get significant minutes between the pipes this year.
Other names to watch include a pair of local collegiate graduates in Lewis Zerter-Gossage, who played four seasons at Harvard, and Michael Kim, a former walk-on turned top pair defenseman under Jerry York at Boston College.
UP NEXT: Maine will open the season with a home-and-home series with regional rival Worcester Railers. The Mariners host Worcester in their season opener on Friday (7:15 p.m. ET) and will make the trip to Central Mass. on Saturday evening (7:35 p.m. ET).