Coming out of the holiday break, hockey in North America is back in full swing after a brief pause in play for the NHL and several team-specific shutdowns in the minor leagues.
For Bruins affiliates Providence and Maine, enduring cancellations and last-minute schedule changes has become commonplace, unfortunately, as both the AHL and ECHL look to forge on through a global surge in COVID cases.
Providence saw three more of its games postponed due to opposing teams being unable to play — this after the Bruins affiliate spent two weeks idle for the same reason. Maine also had two cancellations with a pair of matchups against Worcester after Christmas being shifted to later dates.
The teams each got three games in during the post-Christmas week, with both offenses finally breaking out in grand fashion.
Providence suffered a 5-3 setback last Wednesday at the Rochester Americans (Buffalo Sabres), but rebounded with a 4-0 win at the Hartford Wolfpack (NY Rangers) on Friday and a 7-1 thrashing of the Springfield Thunderbirds (St. Louis Blues) in their homecoming on Sunday.
Maine swept their three contests all at home, knocking off the Worcester Railers (NY Islanders) in a 9-7 thriller last Wednesday to kickstart the week. The Mariners picked up consecutive victories on the weekend, knocking off the Trois-Rivieres Lions (Montreal Canadians), 5-3, on Friday before picking up a 3-2 win over the Adirondack Thunder (NJ Devils) in overtime.
13-8-4, 30 points, 4th in Atlantic Division
With an uneven schedule in the AHL, points are at a premium for Providence in a jam-packed Atlantic Division.
While the past week started off on the wrong foot with a 5-3 loss at Rochester, it was something to build off for Providence. Down 1-0 after a period, Samuel Asselin tied the game briefly before a three-goal outburst to close the middle frame for the hosts. Providence played a strong third period, with Oskar Steen and Chris Wagner tallying goals, but an empty-netter from Michael Mersch, his fourth point, sealed it for the Americans.
On Friday in Hartford, Providence’s offense awoke with two goals in each of the first two periods. Oskar Steen had a three-point night with a goal and two assists while Cameron Hughes, Jesper Froden, and Steven Fogarty each had a goal and an assist. Troy Grosenick stopped all 17 shots he faced in the shutout.
To close the week on Sunday, Providence downed Springfield, 7-1, in their first game at home since December 12. Joona Koppanen led the way with two goals and an assist while Alex-Olivier Voyer tallied a goal and two assists in the win. Cameron Hughes found twine twice, with assists from Nick Wolff on both occasions, while Eduards Tralmaks rounded out the multi-point scorers with a goal and an assist.
#AHLBruins pic.twitter.com/3c9XH01D3I— Providence Bruins (@AHLBruins) January 2, 2022
Player of the Week: Troy Grosenick — It would be easy to choose a player who lit up the scoresheet, but Grosenick enjoyed his best stretch of games yet, stopping 47 of 48 shots in just over seven periods of hockey. Let’s give stick taps to Oskar Steen, who looks ready for the NHL, and Cameron Hughes, who isn’t far behind.
- Called up to Boston — Oskar Steen and John Moore.
- Called up from Maine — J.D. Greenway.
- Sent Down to Maine — Ian McKinnon.
UP NEXT: Some much-anticipated home cooking for Providence this arrives this week after a long road swing. But first, a short trip to face the Bridgeport Islanders on Wednesday night (7:00 p.m.) kicks off the week. Providence will then host the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Philadelphia Flyers) on Friday at 7:05 p.m. and Sunday at 3:05 p.m.
11-11-4, 26 points, 4th in North Division
If your a fan of the Mariners, or of ECHL hockey in general, you probably prefer a high-scoring affair to a tight, defensive battle. Maine had one of the wildest games of the season across any level of hockey last Wednesday against Worcester, claiming a 9-7 comeback victory.
Maine trailed, 2-1, after a period and managed to tie the game at 5-5 after two. But in a five-goal third period, the Mariners roared back scoring four times to seal a win. Alex Kile, making his season debut, scored four goals and was a plus-5 in the victory. Mathew Santos and newly-signed Metis Roelens each tallied three assists in the contest while Marc-Olivier Duquette and Pascal Laberge chipped in with multi-point efforts as well.
Two of Roelens’ three helpers came in the third period to tie the game and take the lead. In net, Jeremy Brodeur made 44 saves and even tallied an assist in the game.
On Friday, Maine again found themselves behind, 3-2, after 40 minutes before putting together yet another third period comeback. The Mariners scored the final four goals of the night, with Kile, Santos, and Keltie Jeri-Leon each adding goals in the third period. Roelens and fellow newcomer Zach Malatesta each had crucial assists in the third period.
GOAL!!! Metis Roelens scores his first professional goal! The Mariners trail 3-2 with 1:25 left in the second period!@FloHockey | https://t.co/1drEF6qQpB— Maine Mariners (@MarinersOfMaine) December 31, 2021
In a victory over Adirondack on Sunday, Maine never trailed, instead surrendering a pair of one-goal leads. Kile provided assists on all three goals. Laberge tallied twice, including a go-ahead goal with six seconds to play in the middle frame and the overtime winner which was also assisted by Malatesta.
OVERTIME WINNER! @Pascallaberge needed just 20 seconds in OT to win it! #SomethingsBruin pic.twitter.com/R7sIV80jD5— Maine Mariners (@MarinersOfMaine) January 2, 2022
Player of the Week: Alex Kile — The former Michigan standout added to his Mariners’ legacy with an eight-point week (five goals, three assists) that also included 12 shots and a plus-7 rating. Stick taps go out to Metis Roelens, who registered a point in his first three games with the club, and Pascal Laberge, who tallied two points in each of Maine’s three wins.
- Called up to Providence — J.D. Greenway.
- Sent Down from Providence — Ian McKinnon
- Signed — Metis Roelens and Steven Mundinger.
- Loaned — Mathew Santos (Springfield Thunderbirds)
There were two trades over the past week involving the Mariners. Maine acquired defenseman Zach Malatesta from the Indy Fuel in exchange for Brycen Martin. Maine also sent forward Devon Paliani to Worcester earlier in the week.
UP NEXT: Maine will continue its series against Adirondack with an extended home-and-home this weekend. The Mariners will travel to upstate New York on Friday night for a 7:00 p.m. puck drop before returning home for games on Saturday (6:00 p.m.) and Sunday (3:00 p.m.) with the Thunder.