With now less than two months remaining in the regular season, both the Providence Bruins and Maine Mariners are fully in the throws of a playoff push. With home ice a major possibility, the teams are hoping to keep their momentum rolling into the next two months.
Providence continues to win, but occasional slip-ups still leave a cause for concerns. After a 6-2 win at home over the Springfield Thunderbirds (St. Louis Blues) on Friday, Providence dropped a 3-2 contest in overtime at the Hartford Wolfpack (New York Rangers) on Saturday. Looking to close the week strong, Providence was stunned, 3-2, at home on Sunday by Springfield.
In ECHL action, the Maine Mariners went 2-1-1 over the past week to climb into second place of the North Division standings. The week started with a 5-4 overtime loss at the Adirondack Thunder (New Jersey Devils) on Wednesday. The Mariners returned home for three games over the weekend, defeating the Trois-Rivieres Lions (Montreal Canadiens), 5-0, on Friday and the Atlanta Gladiators (Arizona Coyotes), 6-2, on Saturday. But on Sunday, Atlanta secured a series split with a 5-2 victory in a battle of current and former Bruins affiliates.
30-10-10, 70 points, 1st in Atlantic Division
It’s obvious Providence boasts a talented and capable roster, but sometimes it’s tough to know what to expect on a given night. After starting the weekend with a bang, Providence fizzled out in its final two contests suffering consecutive defeats.
In the weekend opener, Providence used an early third period flurry to down Springfield, 6-2. Chris Wagner broke the deadlock late in the first period, and Georgii Merkulov and Fabian Lysell chipped in goals in the middle frame to build a 3-1 lead. That’s when the floodgates opened, with Eduards Tralmaks, Marc McLaughlin, and Wagner all scoring in a five-minute stretch. Brandon Bussi took care of business in net, making 22 saves to win again.
On Saturday, Providence fell apart in the final 10 minutes of a 3-2 overtime loss at Hartford. McLaughlin and Jack Ahcan each tallied to give the Bruins a two-goal edge midway through the third. The Wolfpack responded with a pair of goals in three minutes to tie the game, then won it 17 seconds into overtime.
Sunday offered the same result, a 3-2 loss, this time in regulation at home to Springfield. Merkulov fired Providence in front late in the first, but a pair of Thunderbird goals put the visitors ahead in the second period. Justin Brazeau equalized to knot the game at 2-2 after 40 minutes. But Springfield held its nerve, striking early in the third and fending off a late deluge to secure a road win.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Jack Ahcan — Five points on the weekend for the defenseman hands him the honors for the week. Merkulov and Brazeau get the stick taps for four points each last weekend.
- Called up to Boston — Jakub Lauko.
- Sent down to Maine — Mitchell Fossier.
UP NEXT: Just two games on the docket for next weekend. First up, a 7:05 p.m. puck drop on Friday against Charlotte Checkers (Florida Panthers) before a matinee against the Rochester Americans (Buffalo Sabres) on Sunday at 3:05 p.m.
29-15-3, 61 points, 2nd in North Division
The playoff push continues for the Maine Mariners, who now find themselves in second place of the North Division and in position for home-ice in the opening round of the playoffs.
In Maine’s first contest of a four-game week, a 5-4 overtime defeat at Adirondack, the Mariners were plagued by an inability to protect a lead. Maine scored three straight goals following the Thunder’s opener, and added another early in the second period to establish a 4-2 lead. But the Thunder were undeterred, striking twice in a flash to tie the game 4-4 after two periods and winning it in overtime.
The Mariners rebounded with a 5-0 win over Trois-Rivieres in their return to Portland on Friday night. Patrick Shea and Conor Bleackley each scored twice, and Michael DiPietro preserved a 33-save shutout.
Saturday night saw a similar offensive outburst in a 6-2 win over Atlanta. Tim Doherty notched a five-point night with a goal and four helpers, while Shea chipped in a goal and three assists. Gabriel Chicoine registered two assists for a second straight night, and Reid Stefanson led the scoring charge with two tallies.
On Sunday, Atlanta pulled away in a more evenly-matched affair, 5-2. Shea and new signing Austin Albrecht struck for the Mariners — the latter notching his second goal of the weekend. Atlanta took the lead for good with seven seconds left in the middle stanza, and struck twice more in the final frame to seal a series split.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Tim Doherty — It was an eight-point week for the forward, who earns this week’s honors. Shea, with seven points, gets stick taps along with Bleackley and Chicoine.
- Sent down from Providence — Mitchell Fossier.
- Loaned Out — Alex Kile (Lehigh Valley), Mathew Santos (Milwaukee).
- Signed — Austin Albrecht.
UP NEXT: The longest road trip of the season has arrived for Maine, as they’ll head west to face the ECHL’s top team — the Idaho Steelheads (Dallas Stars) — in a three-game series. The week begins on Wednesday night, followed by back-to-back contests on Friday and Saturday, with all games scheduled for 9:10 p.m.