In the world of minor league hockey, inconsistency and player development go hand-in-hand. As top prospects continue to refine their skills in preparation for the NHL, that often comes with down games or weekends. The key is how they respond.
After Providence collected three wins a week ago, the Boston Bruins’ AHL affiliate was dealt a trio of losses last weekend with several top players elevated to the NHL roster due to injuries. Providence dropped a pair of home games against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, 4-2 on Friday and 2-1 on Saturday, before a 3-1 setback at the Bridgeport Islanders on Sunday.
In the ECHL, the Maine Mariners split a road series with the Trois-Rivieres Lions (Montreal Canadiens), winning 4-2 on Friday before losing 2-1 on Saturday. Sunday, Maine returned stateside with a 3-2 win at the Worcester Railers (New York Islanders) on Sunday.
6-7-3, 15 points, 7th in Atlantic Division
After showing some promise a week ago, Providence was without key contributors Oskar Steen and Ian Mitchell for the weekend as Boston was shorthanded with injuries. The constant player movement has made it difficult for Providence to find consistency with its lineups and its play.
Providence welcomed Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to town for a two-game series over the weekend. In the opener, the Penguins and Bruins cancelled each other out for two periods before the visitors took control in a 4-2 win. Scoreless entering the third period, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton scored three times in 14 minutes to take a commanding lead. But Providence fought back, with Justin Brazeau and Georgii Merkulov each tallying goals 22 seconds apart to give Providence a chance. Penguins goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic, who made 17 saves, put the game to bed late with his first career goal into an empty net.
Game 2 wasn’t much different as the Providence offense remained sluggish in a 2-1 defeat. The teams traded goals in the opening frame, with Reilly Walsh tallying his first of the season off assists from Brazeau and Merkulov. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton retook the lead for good in the second period, and Joel Blomqvist stopped 29 shots to secure the series sweep.
Looking to salvage the weekend at Bridgeport, Providence again struggled to generate anything on the offensive end in a 3-1 loss to the Islanders. Bridgeport struck early before adding a pair in the third — including a marker from old friend Karson Kuhlman. John Farinacci finally got Providence on the board late to prevent a shutout, but that was all the Bruins could muster in a frustrating end to the weekend.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Justin Brazeau — With a point in all three games (1g, 2a), Brazeau was easily Providence’s best player on the weekend. Stick taps go to Georgii Merkulov for a goal and an assist as well.
- Called up to Boston — Ian Mitchell, Oskar Steen.
UP NEXT: It’s a Thanksgiving road trip for Providence with three games this week. First up, Providence visits the Hartford Wolfpack (New York Rangers) on Wednesday night for a 7:00 p.m. showdown. After an off day on Thursday, Providence returns to action at the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Philadelphia Flyers) on Friday at 7:05 p.m. The AHL Bruins conclude the week with another trip to Bridgeport on Saturday at 7:00 p.m.
4-7-0, 8 points, 6th in North Division
A team in desperate need of a spark, Maine finally seems to have things trending in the right direction with two wins in three games over the weekend. Maine started off strong with a 4-2 victory in the series opener at Trois-Rivieres on Friday. Trailing 2-0 after a period, Maine rallied to tie the game after 40 minutes with goals from Adam Mechura and Ethan Keppen. Mechura gave Maine the lead midway through the third before Austin Albrecht, who assisted Mechura’s game-winner, padded the lead late on the power play.
Albrecht tallied another assist in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat. Trois-Rivieres scored a goal in both the first and second periods to take a 2-0 lead before newly-acquired Adam Samuelsson scored his first goal as a Mariner, combining with Ryan Mast and Albrecht to cut the deficit in half. Shane Starrett had a combined 49 saves in the series, including 24 on Saturday.
Maine capped off the weekend with a 3-2 victory over archrival Worcester on Sunday. The Mariners took command of the game early, pulling out to a 3-0 lead after two periods. Mechura tallied his third goal of the weekend while Gabriel Chicoine had a pair of assists. Brad Arvanitis made 34 saves and held off a late push from the Railers to earn the victory.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Adam Mechura — A two-goal game on Friday and another tally on Sunday give Mechura this week’s honors. Stick taps go to Albrecht for another solid week and Chicoine for a multi-assist game.
- Signed — Adam Samuelsson.
- Released — Cole Ceci, Owen Norton
UP NEXT: Maine kicks off a two-week homestand with a pair of games against the Reading Royals (Philadelphia Flyers) in a rematch of the Mariners’ first-round playoff series from each of the past two seasons. Friday’s contest starts at 7:15 p.m. with a 6:00 p.m. faceoff on Saturday to round out the weekend.