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Affiliate Report: Providence pushes past Pennsylvania foes, Maine on the right track

The Providence Bruins are starting to find a rhythm, while the Maine Mariners are slowly steadying themselves.

NHL: SEP 29 Flyers at Bruins
Georgii Merkulov.
Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Boston Bruins are battling the injury bug as we head towards the end of the calendar year. With several key players out, reinforcements have been called in from the minors. As is often the case with an injury-riddled team at the NHL level, the ripple-down effect throughout the organization’s farm system takes a toll.

The Providence Bruins learned that all too well last week, dropping all three of its contests to snap a seven-game win streak. Providence fell in overtime to the Hershey Bears (Washington Capitals), 3-2, on the road last Wednesday. The struggles continued at home over the weekend, with blowout losses to the Toronto Marlies (Toronto Maple Leafs), 8-2, and the Syracuse Crunch (Tampa Bay Lightning), 4-1.

The Maine Mariners fared no better, dropping a pair of home games to the Newfoundland Growlers (Toronto Maple Leafs), 3-1, and Adirondack Thunder (New Jersey Devils), 4-3.

Providence Bruins

13-10-4, 30 points, 4th in Atlantic Division

With a shorthanded squad and many top players earning opportunities at the NHL level, Providence saw its run of seven straight victories snapped with three losses last week.

Providence closed out a Pennsylvania road trip on Wednesday with a 3-2 overtime loss against the Atlantic Division front runner Hershey. Trailing 1-0 entering the second period, Providence got goals from Joey Abate and Georgii Merkulov to take the lead after 40 minutes. But the hosts battled back, tying it in the third before winning in overtime.

With the Bruins back in the Ocean State, home cooking didn’t help Providence get back on track. Providence dropped their Friday contest, 8-2, to Toronto. Providence took a 1-0 lead midway through the first period. But the Marlies immediately took control, scoring eight straight goals including four in the middle frame.

Providence met a similar fate on Saturday, falling 4-1 to Syracuse. Fabian Lysell opened the scoring to put Providence ahead, 1-0, after a period. The Crunch came out firing in the final 40 minutes, adding a pair of tallies each in the second and third periods to claim a road victory. The loss capped off a rough week in net for Brandon Bussi, allowing 11 goals on 66 shots.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Georgii Merkulov — It’s no surprise Merkulov keeps pacing the Providence offense. It’s a bigger surprise he hasn’t earned an NHL call-up yet. Stick taps go to Lysell and John Farinacci.

ROSTER MOVES

  • Called up to Boston — Patrick Brown, Mason Lohrei, Ian Mitchell, Parker Wotherspoon.
  • Sent Down from Boston — Jesper Boqvist.
  • Sent Down to Maine — Ethan Ritchie.

UP NEXT: Providence opens a seven-game road swing this week with three tough matchups. First, a rematch at the Toronto Marlies on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. Providence then works its way back East, visiting the Rochester Americans (Buffalo Sabres) on Friday at 7:05 p.m. followed by a meeting with league-leader Hershey on Saturday at 7:00 p.m.

Maine Mariners

8-11-2, 18 points, 6th in North Division

Maine’s early struggles are no longer a slow start. Over 20 games into the season, the Mariners have just 18 points and a long way up to the playoff positions in the North Division.

Last week, Maine dropped a pair of contests at home, beginning Saturday night against Newfoundland in a 3-1 defeat. Adam Mechura put Maine ahead late in the first, but a pair of second-period markers by the Growlers tilted the ice for good. Newfoundland added an empty-netter late, holding the Mariners to just eight shots over the final 20 minutes.

Maine blew another lead on Sunday in a 4-3 defeat to Adirondack. Mechura and Alex Kile both scored in the first period, but Adirondack responded with a pair of goals in the second and third periods to pull in front by two. Kile lit the lamp again with two seconds left in regulation, too little too late for the hosts.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Adam Mechura — The forward opened the scoring in both games over the weekend to earn the honors this week. Stick taps go to Kile and Ethan Keppen.

ROSTER MOVES

  • Sent Down from Providence — Ethan Ritchie.
  • Released — Adam Samuelsson.

UP NEXT: Maine is on the road this week for a pair of games. First, a return trip to face the Adirondack Thunder on Friday at 7:00 p.m. Then on Saturday, Maine faces New England rival Worcester Railers (New York Islanders) at 5:05 p.m.