The reality of the situation was clear from the start: signing Mitchell Miller, albeit a huge mistake, would never directly affect Boston in the same way it would Providence. The official AHL transaction log has Miller added and released from the Providence roster as the organization was preparing to insert him into a group of promising young prospects looking to continue growing the already formed team culture once they get the call from Boston.
Providence ignored the noise and stuck together, building off a dramatic midweek shootout win to eek out a pair of one-goal victories over the weekend and finish the week with three road wins. Providence knocked off the Utica Comets (New Jersey Devils), 4-3 in an 11-round shootout, and cruised into the weekend with a 3-2 win over the Springfield Thunderbirds (St. Louis Blues) on Saturday and a 1-0 win over the Bridgeport Islanders on Sunday.
At the ECHL level, the Maine Mariners kicked off a four-game, two-week homestand the wrong way with two losses to the Newfoundland Growlers (Toronto Maple Leafs). Newfoundland took Friday’s contest, 3-1, and completed the sweep with a 5-2 win on Saturday.
8-1-2, 18 points, 1st in Atlantic Division
The Providence Bruins are off to a flying start with talent all over the roster — some of it expected, other have surprised.
In Wednesday’s 4-3 win at Utica, Luke Toporowski opened the scoring late in the second period with his team down 3-0 — his fourth goal of the year — and later converted his chance in the shootout. Vinnie Lettieri tallied in the dying seconds of the middle frame, his sixth of the year, before Joona Koppanen helped set up Chris Wagner’s equalizer with two minutes to play in regulation.
Koppanen ended up sealing the shootout with his eleventh-round goal. In net, Kyle Keyser made 16 saves and added another 10 stops in the shootout before hitting the video game celebration.
Keyser started again on Saturday in a 3-2 win at Springfield, but lasted just 11 minutes before coming off injured. So in stepped Brandon Bussi, recalled earlier in the week, who made 25 saves in the victory.
Again, Providence needed a comeback. Fabian Lysell got Providence on the board first, but two late first-period goals from Springfield gave the Thunderbirds a lead. Toporowski struck for a second straight game on the week to conclude a nine-game point streak, and Joey Abate netted his first of the season late in the second to give Providence the lead for good.
On Sunday, in a 1-0 victory over Bridgeport, defenseman Connor Carrick scored his first of the season with eight minutes left in the third, getting assists from Lettieri and John Beecher. Bussi earned a shutout, making 24 saves in his second straight victory.
Player of the Week: Connor Carrick — The defenseman had points in all three games and contributed to a Sunday shutout. Bussi gets the stick taps for two massive performances in goal, while Lettieri and Toporowski proved Providence can win without production from the likes Fabian Lysell and company.
- Called up to Boston — Keith Kinkaid.
- Called up from Maine — Brandon Bussi, François Brassard.
MILLER: The Bruins did sign prospect Mitchell Miller to a three-year entry-level deal on Friday, only to rescind that contract on Sunday. From a strictly hockey standpoint, the Bruins could absolutely use a defensive prospect with offensive ability, but Miller’s horrific issues off the ice should have immediately given Bruins brass an impetus to look for other options. While this chapter has closed, its ripples will likely reverberate for weeks to come.
UP NEXT: Providence kicks off its longest homestand of the season, playing the first two of five straight at ‘The AMP’. The Charlotte Checkers (Florida Panthers) come to town for games on Friday at 7:05 p.m. and Sunday at 3:05 p.m. The Bruins get Saturday off with the Providence Friars men’s basketball team opening their season this week.
4-4-0, 8 points, 3rd in North Division
With Brandon Bussi called up to Providence, François Brassard earned an opportunity to attract some attention across the organization in net for Maine. Unfortunately for Brassard, a poor defensive showing coupled with some offensive inconsistency led to two losses.
In Friday’s series opener, a 3-1 defeat, Maine struck first with Fedor Gordeev giving the Mariners a lead. Just 77 seconds later, Newfoundland equalized. The Growlers would score twice more in the third period, the latter into an empty net, to take the first game of the weekend.
On a Saturday, a 5-2 loss for Maine, Newfoundland scored four times in the opening period, sandwiched around a Connor Doherty marker for Maine. Tim Doherty scored in the second period for the Mariners, but strong defense by the opposition and a late empty-netter secured a second win for Newfoundland.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Mitchell Fossier — Two assists for the forward made him the Mariners’ top performer of the weekend. No stick taps to hand out this week.
- Called up to Providence — Brandon Bussi, François Brassard.
- Returned from Loan — Tyler Hinam (Belleville Senators).
UP NEXT: It’s a playoff rematch for the Mariners as they host the Reading Royals (Philadelphia Flyers) for two games in Portland. The series starts Friday at 7:15 p.m. and concludes Saturday at 6:00 p.m.