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Affiliate Report: Playoff push begins for Providence & Maine

As minor league hockey enters the final month of its regular season slate, both Bruins’ affiliates are in the hunt for a playoff berth.

Maine Mariners vs Worcester Railers
Keltie Jeri-Leon.
Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Spring time means playoff time in the world of professional hockey.

And for both Boston Bruins’ affiliates in Providence and Maine, the playoff push is well and truly on. The Providence Bruins and Maine Mariners remain in contention for a playoff spot, with the former still in the hunt for a division title and home ice in the playoffs.

But for Providence, their hopes of a one seed began to dwindle over the weekend with losses to the Springfield Thunderbirds (St. Louis Blues), 1-0, the Syracuse Crunch (Tampa Bay Lightning), 4-1. Providence salvaged the weekend with a 4-3 win over the Hartford Wolfpack (New York Rangers) on Monday.

Up in Maine, the Mariners are still jockeying for a playoff spot and had a five-point weekend going 2-1-1. The Mariners dropped a 5-3 result at Trois-Rivieres Lions (Montreal Canadiens) last Tuesday before winning a three-game series with the Adirondack Thunder (New Jersey Devils). Maine won, 7-0, on Friday and 4-0 on Sunday, sandwiched around a 4-3 shootout loss on Saturday night.

Providence Bruins

31-19-10, 72 points, 3rd in Atlantic Division

The Providence Bruins just can’t seem to get things right on a consistent basis — a troubling sign with the postseason looming. After seemingly turning the corner last week, Providence suffered losses at home to Springfield, 1-0 in overtime, and Syracuse, 4-1.

In Friday’s contest, Providence and Springfield cancelled each other out through 60 minutes of regulation, despite combining for 70 shots in that span. Springfield broke Providence hearts three minutes into overtime as Klim Kostin scored just his second goal of the season to clinch a victory. Providence goalie Troy Grosenick looked solid, making 34 saves.

Providence finally found the back of the net on Sunday, briefly taking the lead on Jesper Froden’s 14th of the season just 94 seconds into the middle frame. But by the end of the period, Syracuse had pulled in front and added two more in the third.

Finally, something gave for Providence on Monday night with a 4-3 victory, in overtime, over Hartford. Tied 2-2 going into the third period, Froden tallied again to put Providence in front before a late equalizer from the Wolfpack forced overtime. Early in the extra frame, Steven Fogarty put the winless streak to bed with a game-winner.

Player of the Week: Steven Fogarty — An assist on Sunday and a two-point outing in Monday’s win help Fogarty earn this week’s honors. Jesper Froden and Joona Koppanen get the stick taps this week.

Roster Moves

  • Signed — Brandon Bussi (Western Michigan)

UP NEXT: Three big games next week as the regular season winds down. Providence has a home-and-home series with the Bridgeport Islanders, travelling to the Nutmeg State on Friday at 7:00 p.m. before hosting their division rival on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. Providence closes the week hosting the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Philadelphia Flyers) on Monday at 7:05 p.m.

Maine Mariners

30-28-7, 54 points, 3rd in North Division

Maine opened last week with a loss at Trois-Rivieres, 5-3, a result that could’ve derailed a positive stretch. The Mariners never really got it going, even midway through the second period after scoring twice in two minutes to cut the deficit down to one goal. The Lions roared back, renewing a three-goal advantage. Even after an early third-period tally, Maine just couldn’t complete the comeback.

But all was forgotten on Friday when Adirondack came to town. Maine won going away, 7-0, scoring multiple goals in every period and outshooting the Thunder, 38-22, on the night. Mathew Santos was one of six players to score, tallying a pair of goals. Newly-signed Gabrielle Chicoine got in on the action with his first goal for the team. In goal, Stefanos Lekkas made easy work of a 22-save shutout.

With the weekend series shifting to upstate New York, Santos again was a catalyst for Maine in a 4-3 shootout defeat. The forward tallied a goal and two assists in a back-and-forth affair that went to a shootout. The Thunder earned an extra point on the night, converting two of its three attempts in the shootout.

On Sunday, Maine skated away with a 4-0 victory. Reid Stefanson struck for his first goal while Patrick Shea tallied two assists. In net, Lekkas preserved another shutout with a 24-save performance.

Player of the Week: Stefanos Lekkas — In 137 minutes of hockey, Lekkas made 54 saves without allowing a goal as the netminder continues to impress at the ECHL level. Mathew Santos gets hefty stick taps for his six-point week.

Roster Moves

  • Loaned — Ian McKinnon (Jacksonville Icemen) and Alex Kile (Lehigh Valley Phantoms).
  • Signed — Reid Stefanson.

UP NEXT: Maine heads out of town for four games this week. Up first, a regional rivalry game with the Worcester Railers (New York Islanders) on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. Then, it’s off to Pennsylvania to face the Reading Royals (Philadelphia Flyers) for three games, beginning Friday and Saturday at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday at 3:00 p.m.