Through the first month of the 2021-22 minor league hockey seasons, both Boston Bruins affiliates have seen a mixed bag of results. For AHL Providence, a lack of consistency on the offensive end has plagued the Baby B’s in games they should be winning. Meanwhile, for ECHL Maine, their defensive woes have led to some high-scoring affairs and lopsided results.
Last week was a microcosm of the season so far for both affiliates. Down in Providence, the Bruins gutted out a 2-1 overtime win at the Hartford Wolfpack (NY Rangers) on Friday before dropping a 3-1 contest to on Saturday at home to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
For Maine, a four-game Florida road trip started with two wins at the Jacksonville Icemen (NY Rangers), 3-1 on Tuesday and 2-1 on Wednesday. Maine dropped the series finale in Jacksonville on Friday, 4-3 in overtime, before suffering a 5-4 setback on Saturday at the Orlando Solar Bears (Tampa Bay Lightning).
Among the bright spots for Providence so far this season have been Steven Fogarty and Jesper Froden. The former recorded two assists in Providence’s victory over Hartford on Friday — totaling seven on the season — while the latter netted yet another goal to open the scoring in a 2-1 win over Hartford.
Even still, Providence could not protect their lead and needed an extra frame to secure the win. Oskar Steen tallied his team-leading sixth goal of the season to win it in overtime. Providence was also aided by the brilliant play of Troy Grosenick in goal, stopping 23 of 24 Hartford shots in his first full outing of the year.
The following night, Providence simply couldn’t get it going offensively and fell behind to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 2-0, after two periods. Aaron Ness, who also had two assists in Friday’s victory, set up Jakub Lauko halfway through the third to cut the deficit in half. But Providence couldn’t find the equalizer and fell 3-1.
Kyle Keyser made 30 saves in a losing effort as Providence outshot the visitors, 43-33 on the night including a 17-6 edge in a determined third period.
Player of the Week: Aaron Ness — The 31-year-old defenseman has been just about everywhere over his 11-year pro career and recorded his first three points of the season, assisting on all Providence goals over the weekend. Stick taps to Fogarty and Steen as well for leading the team in assists and goals, respectively.
UP NEXT: Providence hits the road for a trio of games this week. On Wednesday, Providence visits the Hershey Bears (Washington Capitals) at 7:00 p.m. for a pre-Thanksgiving matchup. On Friday, Providence travels to face the Bridgeport Islanders at 7:00 p.m. before a Saturday rematch at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton slated for 6:05 p.m.
A 2-1-1 week in Florida is definitely something to build on for Maine. It began last Tuesday with a 3-1 win powered by a pair of goals from Pascal Laberge, who sits tied for the team lead with 15 points (7-8—15) through 11 games. Laberge tallied an assist the following night as Jeremy Brazeau (6-9—15) and Cameron Askew (5-3—8) each found twine to give the Mariners a come-from-behind victory.
Jeremy Brodeur got the win on Tuesday with a 22-save performance while Zachary Bouthillier stopped 37 shots in the win on Wednesday.
In Friday’s series finale, Maine pulled out to a 3-1 lead early in the second period, with Askew and Laberge firing the Mariners in front. Jacksonville would rally to tie the game in the third before winning it midway through overtime, 4-3.
Down in Orlando on Saturday, the Mariners and the Solar Bears traded goals throughout a raucous second period, leaving the teams tied 2-2 after two. A pair of quick strikes for Orlando early in the third put the hosts ahead for good, though Maine made it interesting late in a 5-4 loss. Brazeau scored twice, including with under a minute to play to cut the deficit to one, while Askew added his third goal in as many games.
Player of the Week: Pascal Laberge — With points in all four games, Laberge has begun to separate himself as a possible candidate for promotion to Providence. Brazeau and Askew had solid weeks as well for the Mariners, so they’ll get some well-deserved stick taps.
UP NEXT: It’s a three-game week for Maine, who hosts the Worcester Railers (NY Islanders) on Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m. On Friday, the Newfoundland Growlers (Toronto Maple Leafs) come to town for a 7:15 p.m. faceoff before the Mariners hit the road for a Saturday showdown against the Adirondack Thunder (New Jersey Devils) at 7:00 p.m.