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Affiliate Report: Providence defense sharpens, Maine salvages split

There was no post-Thanksgiving hangover for the Providence Bruins with a strong weekend defensively. Maine split the weekend series in playoff rematch.

Boston Bruins v New York Rangers
Fabian Lysell.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Thanksgiving week in hockey offers the first checkpoint about a quarter of the way through a long season. For Boston Bruins’ affiliates Providence and Maine, it’s a chance to perhaps kickstart a sputtering season as we near the end of the calendar year.

Providence showed some resilience throughout a busy Thanksgiving week. After being carved apart in a 6-4 defeat on the road against the Hartford Wolfpack (New York Rangers) last Wednesday, Providence sharpened up on defense with a pair of 2-1 wins to close the week. The Bruins won on Friday at the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Philadelphia Union) and at the Bridgeport Islanders on Saturday.

In ECHL action, Maine split a two-game series against the Reading Royals (Philadelphia Flyers) in a playoff rematch over the weekend. Maine dropped a tight one on Friday, 4-3, before rebounding on Saturday in a 3-1 victory.

Providence Bruins

8-8-3, 19 points, 7th in Atlantic Division

Nineteen games into the season, the Providence Bruins have yet to find the same consistency that saw them finish atop the Atlantic Division last year. While the young roster still tries to find its way at the professional level, this week showed signs of improvement.

On Wednesday, Providence played its two best periods of the season before falling apart late in a 6-4 defeat at Hartford. Marc McLaughlin scored 30 seconds into the contest off a feed from John Farinacci. Luke Toporowski, who also assisted on the opener, tallied an equalizer in the second period before Curtis Hall and Joey Abate padded the lead. But the wheels came off in the third when Hartford struck four times, tying the game with under eight minutes to play and adding a pair of markers in the final minute of regulation to take the lead and the points.

The team stayed on the road for Thanksgiving, and came out on the other side a more resilient team in a 2-1 triumph at Lehigh Valley on Friday. Jayson Megna opened the scoring late in the first period on the power play. The game remained 1-0 well into the third when the Phantoms equalized on a power play goal of their own. But it was Providence special teams with the last laugh as Fabian Lysell notched a power play winner in overtime. In net, Brandon Bussi had his best outing of the season with 41 saves.

Providence also secured a 2-1 win on Saturday in Bridgeport. Farinacci opened the scoring before former Bruin Karson Kuhlman tied the game at 1-1 toward the end of the first period. The game remained knotted into the third when Lysell found twine on the power play, with assists from Georgii Merkulov and Mason Lohrei, to give Providence a second straight win. This time, it was Michael DiPietro between the pipes, with the netminder made 35 saves.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Fabian Lysell — With two game-winning goals, Lysell continues to take big strides as he earns this week’s honors. Stick taps go to both goaltenders, Bussi and DiPietro, and Farinacci for a three-point weekend.

ROSTER MOVES

  • Sent Down from Boston — Patrick Brown, Mason Lohrei.
  • Sent Down to Maine — Ryan Mast.

UP NEXT: Providence and Bridgeport will meet two more times in a home-and-home series this weekend. The Bruins host on Friday at 7:05 p.m. before a return trip to Bridgeport on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. Providence is back home against Lehigh Valley on Sunday at 3:05 p.m.

Maine Mariners

5-8-0, 10 points, 6th in North Division

Facing off against the Reading Royals for the first time since the teams met for a second straight season in the opening round of the ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs, Maine was out to make a statement. What the Mariners got in their series split was continued confidence on defense with five strong periods.

In the series opener on Friday, a 4-3 loss for Maine, the Mariners controlled the play over the opening two periods. Goals from Ethan Ritchie and Gabe Guertler helped Maine stay even with Reading, 2-2, after 40 minutes. The Royals struck twice quickly in the third before Gabriel Chicoine cut the deficit in half, but the Mariners couldn’t complete the comeback.

With a platoon between two new goaltenders and local products in Shane Starrett and Brad Arvanitis, Maine has slowly been figuring things out defensively. Arvanitis, a former D-III goaltender at Babson, got the nod on Saturday and managed to put together a 34-save effort in a 3-1 victory. Maine led throughout, with Reading finally getting on the board in the waning moments to prevent the shutout.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Gabriel Chicoine — Arguably Maine’s best player this season, Chicoine scored twice this weekend to claim the honors. Stick taps go to Arvanitis, who also had an assist on Saturday, and Guertler for a goal and an assist over the two games.

ROSTER MOVES

  • Sent Down from Providence — Ryan Mast.
  • Loaned Out — Tim Doherty (Chicago Wolves — AHL).

UP NEXT: A rare cross-conference clash awaits the Mariners this weekend as the welcome the Kansas City Mavericks (Seattle Kraken) to Portland on Friday at 7:15 p.m. and Saturday at 6:00 p.m.