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Affiliate Report: Impressive sweep for Maine, Providence splits

The Mariners might be playing their best hockey of the season, just in time for a stretch run while Providence has been trending the opposite way.

Boston Bruins v New York Islanders
Jesper Froden.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

We’re well into the second half of the minor league hockey season. While development and experience are still priorities, we’ve reached the business part of the season where teams are beginning to gauge how productive their top-end prospects can truly be.

Over the past few seasons, Providence has found a way to heat up towards the end of the season. But so far in the second half, they’ve taken a few steps back. Sure, some of this can be attributed to the constant need for player movement up in Boston. But it also may signify that Boston’s organizational depth is weakening.

Providence managed a split over the weekend, dropping a 5-1 affair on Friday at the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Philadelphia Flyers) before salvaging the trip to Pennsylvania with a 2-1 win over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Saturday in overtime.

As for Maine, the Mariners have dug deep and are rounding into form at the right time. Maine swept all three games from Trois-Rivieres Lions (Montreal Canadians) over the weekend, all by a one goal margin including the last two games in overtime.

Providence Bruins

18-12-6, 42 points, 4th in Atlantic Division

The weekend trip to Pennsylvania didn’t start off strong for Providence, but they may have left the Keystone State feeling a little bit better about themselves.

In Friday’s opener against Lehigh Valley, a 5-1 defeat for Providence, the hosts hit for three in the opening period and tallied two more in the third to seal the game. Jesper Froden, in between stints on the NHL Taxi Squad, scored his ninth goal of the season in the second period to prevent the shutout.

Providence’s offense struggled to find its shooting sticks again on Saturday, trailing 1-0 after 40 minutes and only registering 17 shots. But Zach Senyshyn tied the game early in the third before providing an assist on Froden’s overtime winner in a 2-1 victory. It was a strong effort on the back end from Jeremy Swayman, who made 26 saves to earn the victory.

Player of the Week: Jesper Froden — After accounting for most of the team’s scoring, it’s hard to not recognize Froden’s efforts over the weekend. Stick taps to Senyshyn (goal and assist) and Jack Studnicka (two assists) for their play as well.

Roster Moves

  • Called up to Boston — Jesper Froden, Troy Grosenick, and Ty Lewington.
  • Sent Down from Boston — Urho Vaakanainen, Jeremy Swayman, Oskar Steen, and Steven Fogarty.

UP NEXT: Providence finally returns home to host the Rochester Americans (Buffalo Sabres) on Friday at 7:05 p.m. before hitting the road for the short drive to Springfield and a battle with the Thunderbirds (St. Louis Blues) on Saturday at 7:05 p.m.

Maine Mariners

19-15-5, 43 points, 4th in North Division

Already clicking on all cylinders, Maine got some much-needed reinforcements over the past week with forwards Keltie Jeri-Leon and Lewis Zerter-Gossage returning from extended loan stints. The duo helped propel Maine to a three-game sweep over the weekend in Trois-Rivieres.

On Wednesday, Maine skated to a 3-2 victory to open the series with the Lions. Jeri-Leon and Brendan Robbins both scored for the Mariners in the second period, but the Lions equalized both times to keep the game knotted after 40 minutes. In the third period, Cameron Askew put Maine in front while Jeremy Brodeur slammed the door on his 35-save performance.

Thursday night’s contest was a true stalemate, with the Mariners triumphing 2-1 in overtime. Trois-Rivieres struck early, but Maine tied things up through Nick Master in the second period. In overtime, Zach Malatesta found twine to clinch the win. But the real story was Callum Booth, who stopped 47 of the 48 shots he faced, including 38 over the final 40 minutes and overtime.

In Saturday’s 5-4 overtime win for Maine, the Mariners led 3-0 midway through the game, and 4-1 with just nine minutes to play. But a fervent comeback effort from the Lions sent the game to an extra frame. And for a second straight contest, it was Malatesta providing heroics in OT. Also for a second game in a row, Maine’s goaltener, this time Jeremy Brodeur, nothced 40-plus saves in a victory.

Player of the Week: Jeremy Brodeur — It wasn’t perfect, but the Maine netminder stopped 78 total shots over two victories and picked up an assist in the series finale. Zach Malatesta gets stick taps for a pair of OT winners, as does Callum Booth for his impressive play on Thursday. Lots of other all-around good performances as well, including Nick Jermain and his three assists on Saturday and Tyler Hinam scoring his first two professional goals.

Roster Moves

  • Sent Down from Providence — Callum Booth.
  • Returned from Loan — Michael Kim (Springfield Thunderbirds), Keltie Jeri-Leon (Abbotsford Heat), Lewis Zerter-Gossage (Tucson Roadrunners)
  • Released — Jonathan Harty.
  • Placed on Reserve — Andrew Romano and Nate Kallen.

Maine also made another trade, acquiring defender Roshen Jaswal from the Greenville Swamp Rabbits.

UP NEXT: Another week in Canada for the Mariners. Maine travels for four contests at the Newfoundland Growlers, beginning on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. before wrapping up with 5:30 p.m. puck drops on Friday and Saturday and a 12:30 p.m. start on Sunday.