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Affiliate Report: Familiar face in Providence, Maine finds form

A major reunion is in the offing for the Bruins while the ECHL Mariners are heating up.

Simon Ferguson of Portland shoots the puck wide of the goal after beating Providence’s Adam McQuaid ...
Tuukka Rask (right) with Providence in 2008.
Photo by Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Last weekend, the stage was set for the Bruins organization to celebrate the return of a familiar face.

Yes, goaltender Tuukka Rask signed a PTO contract with the Providence Bruins in a much-anticipated move that could send a ripple effect throughout the organization at a position where consistency has been hard to come by this season.

But in line with much of this season, COVID again impacted the schedule with opposing Lehigh Valley (Philadelphia) unable to play their two scheduled games in Providence. The AHL Bruins did get one game in over the past week, however, dropping a 4-3 heartbreaker on the road to the Bridgeport Islanders.

Up in Maine, the Bruins’ ECHL affiliate has continued its strong start to the 2022 calendar year, taking two out of three over the weekend from the Adirondack Thunder (NJ Devils). Maine won on the road Friday, 3-2, and at home on Sunday, 4-1, sandwiched around a 5-2 loss on Saturday in Portland.

Providence Bruins

13-9-4, 30 points, 4th in Atlantic Division

What was supposed to be a week of four games turned into just one for the Providence Bruins. While a 4-3 loss at Bridgeport took a back seat to the news of Tuukka Rask’s return to the Bruins on a PTO deal with Providence, it was another missed opportunity for the AHL outfit.

Providence opened up a two-goal lead after a period thanks to goals Samuel Asselin and Jesper Froden, an advantage that evaporated after two periods with a pair of Bridgeport tallies in the middle frame.

Cameron Hughes put Providence back in front early in the third, a lead that held for more than 10 minutes until Bridgeport’s Collin Adams leveled the game again. Richard Panik put the hosts ahead for the first time with under two minutes to play, and Providence couldn’t claw back.

Player of the Week: Steven Fogarty — Another two assists for Fogarty in his lone game this week, bringing his season total to a team-best 13 and earning a promotion to the NHL Taxi Squad. Cameron Hughes gets stick taps this week for another multi-point game.

Roster Moves

  • Called up to Boston — Urho Vaakanainen, Troy Grosenick*, and Steven Fogarty*.
  • Signed — Tuukka Rask.

* — NHL Taxi Squad

UP NEXT: Three games in three days, all against New England opponents. Providence will host the Hartford Wolfpack (NY Rangers) on Friday night at 7:05 p.m. before hitting the road to play the Springfield Thunderbirds (St. Louis Blues) on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. Providence closes the weekend at home against Bridgeport on Sunday at 3:05 p.m.

As for the two games postponed over the weekend against Lehigh Valley, those will be made up in mid-April:

  • Friday, January 7 — Rescheduled for Monday, April 11 at 7:05 p.m.
  • Sunday, January 9 — Rescheduled for Tuesday, April 19 at 7:05 p.m.

Maine Mariners

13-12-4, 30 points, 2nd in North Division

Maine has been streaking since the holiday break in December, winning five of their first six games to start the new year. That includes two out of three against Adirondack over the weekend, including a gutsy road win on Friday night.

In that weekend opener, Maine twice trailed by a goal in the opening period. In the middle 20 minutes, Kelti Jeri-Leon set up a pair of goals from Nick Master and Mathew Santos to give the Mariners a lead for good. In net, Jeremy Brodeur stopped 33 of 35 shots, including 23 in the final 40 minutes, to preserve the 3-2 win.

Maine got off to a strong start on Saturday, leading 2-0 early in the second period with goals from Santos and Nate Kallen. But Adirondack would rattle off five unanswered goals, including four to close the second period, in a 5-2 victory.

In the series finale, Maine would prevail, 4-1, leading from start to finish. Pascal Laberge struck 2:39 into the contest and again midway through the second to double the lead. The teams traded goals 21 seconds apart midway through the third, but an empty-netter from Master ended any chance of a comeback. Brodeur collected 36 saves in another dazzling performance.

Player of the Week: Nick Master — Five points in three games — now that’s consistency. Two goals and three assists from Master helped Maine to a series win. Stick taps to Jeremy Brodeur who again shined in goal with a pair of wins.

Roster Moves

  • Signed — Josh Couturier.
  • Loaned — Kelti Jeri-Leon (Abbotsford Heat).
  • Released — Garrett Clarke.

UP NEXT: Maine plays just once this week — a Wednesday night contest at rivals Worcester Railers (NY Islanders) at 7:05 p.m. in the Mariners’ final road game ahead of six-game homestand.