The Boston Bruins have seemingly hit a crucial turning point late in their regular season as the push for playoff positioning intensifies. Both of the Bruins’ minor league affiliates may have followed suit over the past weekend.
The Providence Bruins returned home to take two out of three victories over the weekend. Providence knocked off the Hershey Bears (Washington Capitals) on Friday, 2-0, and the Springfield Thunderbirds (St. Louis Blues) on Saturday, 3-2. However, a 4-1 defeat to the Utica Comets (New Jersey Devils) on Sunday prevented a weekend sweep.
Up in Maine, the Mariners welcomed the Newfoundland Growlers (Toronto Maple Leafs) to town for a three-game set. After dropping Friday’s contest, 4-3, Maine earned its first two victories over the division leaders this season in emphatic fashion, 9-4 on Saturday and 6-4 on Sunday.
30-18-9, 69 points, 2nd in Atlantic Division
After three shootout losses last weekend in Charlotte, Providence returned home to try and snap a five-game winless run. With division foes Hershey and Springfield, as well as North Division leader Utica, on the docket, it was truly a make-or-break weekend for Providence in a tight playoff race.
Providence flexed its defensive muscles once again in game one of the weekend, shutting out Hershey, 2-0. The teams were scoreless well into the third period before Ty Lewington and Matt Filipe tallied for the hosts. Troy Grosenick had another strong effort in net, stopping all 28 shots he faced in his third outing since returning from injury.
The following night, Providence took down Atlantic Division leader Springfield, 3-2, behind a late game-winner from Victor Berglund. Justin Brazeau and Steven Fogarty each tallied as well, hitting double-digit scoring totals for the year. Kyle Keyser made 24 saves in the victory, denying the last 14 shots he faced to help fuel the comeback win.
On Sunday, Utica roared into ‘The Dunk’ and skated home with a 4-1 win victory. The lopsided score doesn’t reflect how hotly contested the game actually was. Trailing 2-0 entering the third period, Providence started piling up shots, accruing 21 in the final frame. Eduards Tralmaks cut the deficit in half late, but a pair of empty-netters by the Comets closed the night.
Player of the Week: Joona Koppanen — With an assist in all three games over the weekend, Koppanen picks up the honors this time. Stick taps go to Grosenick, who has provided some strong depth at the goaltending position for the organization, and Justin Brazeau who continues his meteoric rise up the organizational ladder.
- Sent Down from Boston — Kodie Curran.
- Called up from Maine — Callum Booth.
- Sent Down to Maine — Ian McKinnon and Jeremy Brodeur.
- Signed — Jacob Wilson and Grant Gabrielle.
UP NEXT: Providence closes out a six-game homestand next weekend with a wraparound slate. They’ll host Springfield on Friday night at 7:05 p.m., then welcome the Syracuse Crunch (Tampa Bay Lightning) to the Ocean State on Sunday at 4:05 p.m. Providence will end the week on Monday night against the Hartford Wolfpack (New York Rangers) at 7:05 p.m.
28-27-6, 54 points, 4th in North Division
Maine may not have been so happy to see Newfoundland come to town this weekend, having lost their first six encounters with the North Division leaders this season. Despite a loss to open the series, Maine seemed to have figured out the Growlers with a pair of offensive explosions to end the series.
On Friday, the Mariners and Growlers traded goals, but the visitors pulled ahead with one tick to play in the second period. Maine found the equalizer late in the third, only to fall behind again a mere 24 seconds later.
Alex Kile, returning from an extended loan at Philadelphia’s AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley, and Ian McKinnon, who had been in Providence for the past couple weeks, both tallied for the Mariners. Michael Kim, also returning from loan at Springfield, notched an assist.
The next night, Maine’s offense clicked into high gear in a 9-4 thumping. Mathew Santos had five points (two goals, three assists) while Kile (four points) and Keltie Jeri-Leon (three points) also scored a pair of goals. In all, eleven players recorded a point with seven having multi-point nights. In net, Stefanos Lekkas and Callum Booth combined for 40 saves in the win.
On Sunday, the beat continued in a 6-4 victory. Maine opened a 6-0 lead after 40 minutes, with Santos and Patrick Shea each tallying twice and adding an assist. Connor Doherty provided four helpers, while Lekkas again shined making 31 saves. Newfoundland scored four times in the third to make it interesting, but Maine staved off the comeback bid to earn two points.
Player of the Week: Mathew Santos — Playing in just the last two games, Santos was a catalyst with eight points (four goals, four assists). Stick taps to Alex Kile for his strong return from loan with four goals and two assists, and Patrick Shea for a five-point series.
- Called up to Providence — Callum Booth.
- Sent Down to Maine — Ian McKinnon and Jeremy Brodeur.
- Returned from Loan — Michael Kim (Springfield Thunderbirds) and Alex Kile (Lehigh Valley Phantoms).
- Released — Jake Bricknell and Tyler Ward.
Additionally, Maine suspended defenseman Brendan St-Louis, with details of the team-issued suspension undisclosed, to preserve his ECHL playing rights. St-Louis signed with the Peoria Rivermen of the SPHL the following day.
UP NEXT: A busy week ahead for Maine. The Mariners head to Quebec to face the Trois-Rivieres Lions (Montreal Canadiens) on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. before a three-game series with the Adirondack Thunder (N.J. Devils) on the weekend. Maine hosts Adirondack on Friday at 7:15 p.m. before bussing out to upstate New York for games on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday at 3:00 p.m.