A week after the Providence Bruins opened their season, the Boston Bruins’ ECHL affiliate Maine Mariners followed suit this past weekend.
The Mariners took on division rival Trois-Rivieres Lions (Montreal Canadiens) for three games, taking the season-opening series. Maine won on the road Friday, 4-3 in overtime, before splitting the two matchups in Portland. Trois-Rivieres stole a 3-2 victory on Saturday, but Maine notched a 5-2 win to close the weekend on Sunday.
Down in Providence, the AHL Bruins opened up a four-game homestand in tough fashion, dropping a 5-4 result in overtime to the Bridgeport Islanders on Friday in a playoff rematch. On Saturday, Providence defeated the Utica Comets (New Jersey Devils), 2-1, in a tight contest before falling to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, 2-1, on Sunday.
3-1-1, 7 points, T-3rd in Atlantic Division
In last year’s Calder Cup Playoffs, Providence’s season came to a crashing end with a first-round sweep at the hands of Bridgeport. With a chance for a little retribution, Providence welcomed the Islanders back to the Ocean State on Friday night, though experienced similar results.
Yet another overtime defeat to Bridgeport, 5-4, dampened the weekend. Promising young forward Georgii Merkulov scored twice, while Kai Wissman and Fabian Lysell each notched a pair of assists. Luke Toporowski netted the equalizer late in the third, but an overtime winner by William Dufour, assisted by Bridgeport netminder Cory Schneider, ruined the comeback bid.
In need of a rebound, Providence took down Utica, 2-1, the following night thanks to second period tallies by Vinnie Lettieri and Samuel Asselin. Merkulov got on the scoresheet again with an assist and Toporowski notched his first helper. In net, Kyle Keyser, who has been a bright spot at that position for Providence early, stopped 23 of 24 shots in the win.
The offense fell flat on Sunday, however, as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton roared ahead to a 2-0 lead midway through the third period. Joona Koppanen pulled one back late, with Toporowski again assisting, but the equalizer never came in a 2-1 loss. Keith Kinkaid suffered his second defeat in net, but made 27 saves on the day.
One glaring observation from the opening two weeks has been the absence of John Beecher’s scoring production. After a strong preseason for the former first round pick, Beecher hasn’t exactly found his footing at the pro level yet. Through five games, Beecher has no points and is a minus-3.
Player of the Week: Luke Toporowski — The rookie had a goal and two assists over the weekend, stretching his point-streak to four games. Georgii Merkulov gets stick taps as he continues his strong rookie season, as does Joona Koppanen for a three-point weekend.
- Sent Down from Boston — Dan Renouf.
- Sent Down to Maine — Jacob Wilson.
UP NEXT: Providence closes the four-game homestand on Friday at 7:00 p.m. against the Charlotte Checkers (Florida Panthers) before closing the weekend with a home-and-home series against the Springfield Thunderbirds (St. Louis Blues). Providence heads to Springfield on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. before returning home for a 3:00 p.m. puck drop on Sunday.
2-1-0, 4 points, T-2nd in North Division
After impressing late last season to earn a playoff spot, the Maine Mariners are searching for that second gear again this season. In a series-opening victory over the Trois-Rivieres Lions, Maine showcased its offensive strength with 11 goals over the weekend.
In the season opener on Friday, a 4-3 overtime win, Maine got a three-point night from Nick Master as well as a goal and assist from Grant Gabriele. It was Nick Jermain, however, providing the heroics with an overtime winner after the Lions tied the game midway through the third. More impressive, Brandon Bussi turned aside 37 shots in net for his Mariners debut.
On Saturday — the home opener for Maine — Trois-Rivieres skated ahead to a 2-0 lead after a period. Maine chipped into a pair of two-goal leads thanks to tallies from Cameron Askew and Mathew Santos. Francois Brassard made 22 saves and kept Maine afloat late, but ultimately fell in his season debut.
To close the series on Sunday, Maine used a pair of goals in a 27-second span late in the third period to blow the game open in a 5-2 win. Askew and Jermain scored to give Maine a 2-0 lead midway through the contest. The Lions cut the lead in half with a last-second tally to close the middle frame. With the game winding down, Jermain and Patrick Shea found twine and got an empty-netter from Fedor Gordeev to ice it late. Bussi made 38 saves in another winning effort.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Nick Master — The second-year player had a five-point opening weekend with a goal and four assists. Stick taps to Askew (2g, 2a), Santos (2g, 1a), Jermain (3g), and Bussi (2-0-0, 75 saves).
- Sent Down to Maine — Jacob Wilson.
UP NEXT: Maine heads south to Virginia for three games at the Norfolk Admirals (Carolina Hurricanes). The series begins Friday at 7:00 p.m., followed by games on Saturday (6:00 p.m.) and Sunday (3:00 p.m.).