The second half of the 2022-23 season is off and running and both Boston Bruins affiliates continue to show their mettle as they contend for playoff positioning. The Providence Bruins and Maine Mariners are vying for home ice in the postseason, and both have hit their strides since the New Year.
Providence, which had seen mixed results as of late, finally found some consistency with a trio of road wins over the past week. Providence knocked off the Hartford Wolfpack (New York Rangers), 4-2, on Wednesday to kick off the week. On Friday, Providence defeated the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Philadelphia Flyers), 4-2, before cruising past the Utica Comets (New Jersey Devils), 4-1, on Saturday.
As for Maine, the hot streak came to a halt against the North Division frontrunner Newfoundland Growlers (Toronto Maple Leafs). Maine won the second matchup of the three-game series, 5-2, on Saturday, but dropped a pair of tightly-contested affairs. Maine fell 3-1 on Friday and 5-3 on Sunday.
27-9-9, 63 points, T-1st in Atlantic Division
It’s business as usual once again for the Providence Bruins. With the NHL club getting healthy, Providence has a full roster to deploy. The talent was on display over the weekend as the P-Bruins notched three victories on the road to move into a tie for first in the Atlantic Division.
On Wednesday, Providence continued its run of games against Hartford with a 4-2 win. The teams traded goals in the opening 40 minutes, with Chris Wagner and John Beecher tallying equalizers. In the third, Providence pulled away thanks to a Georgii Merkulov power play marker and a Joona Koppanen empty netter that beat the buzzer.
Friday’s 4-2 victory over Lehigh Valley provided a similar setup, with Wagner and Beecher notching assists on the opening two goals from Justin Brazeau and Oskar Steen. Merkulov again notched the winner, finishing off a pass from Mike Reilly late in the second. Reilly then set up Marc McLaughlin for a third-period power play goal. In goal, AHL All-Star Brandon Bussi notched 30 saves in the win.
On Sunday, Providence fell behind early but rallied for a 4-1 victory over Utica. Fabian Lysell tallied on the power play to tie the game late in the first with an assist from Merkulov. The Russian then scored his third game-winner of the weekend in the second period as Providence held the Comets in check.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Georgii Merkulov — Three game-winning goals clinch Merkulov the honors for the week. Stick taps go to Connor Carrick with four assists and Chris Wagner for a goal and two assists.
- Sent down from Boston — Jakub Lauko.
UP NEXT: Providence takes on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh Penguins) in a home-and-home series. Providence hosts on Friday night at 7:05 p.m. and travels to Pennsylvania for a 6:05 p.m. puck drop on Saturday.
25-14-2, 52 points, 3rd in North Division
The Maine Mariners had lost just once since December 17 entering a weekend series against Newfoundland — the top team in the Eastern Conference. In what was a true measuring stick series, Maine hung tough but dropped the three-game set.
On Friday, the hosts came from behind to knock off the Mariners, 3-1. Maine led 1-0 after a period courtesy of Reid Stefanson’s ninth goal of the season. The Growlers rallied, with Zach O’Brien scoring in the opening minute of the second and early in the third before assisting on the empty-net clincher late.
Maine evened the score Saturday with a 5-2 victory. Trailing 2-1 in the second, the Mariners struck thrice to open up a two-goal advantage. Stefanson and newly-acquired Chase Zieky notched goals, with assists from Alex Kile, before Mathew Santos added a pair to put the finishing touches on the comeback.
In Sunday’s finale, the hosts held the upper hand in a 5-3 win. The teams traded a pair of goals in the first period, as Cameron Askew and Fedor Gordeev scored to tie the game. In the opening 127 seconds of the middle stanza, both teams found twine with Santos notching an equalizer for Maine. But the Growlers pulled away with a pair of goals and held strong defensively to protect home ice and win the series.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Mathew Santos & Reid Stefanson — Not much separating these two over the weekend as they each notched four points to share the honors. Stick taps go to Tim Doherty for his three helpers.
- Mutual Termination — Nate Kallen.
TRADES: Maine completed two future considerations trades last week, adding forwards Zach Pochiro from the Allen Americans and Chase Zieky from the Wheeling Nailers. Pochiro joins from Allen as the return for an earlier deal this season that sent Bailey Conger and Dalton Gally to the Texas club. Zieky was the compensation for Josh McKechney, who Maine sent to Wheeling in November.
UP NEXT: Maine plays just twice this weekend, a home-and-home series with the Trois-Rivieres Lions (Montreal Canadiens). Maine welcomes the Lions to Portland on Friday at 7:15 p.m. and heads to Quebec for a 7:00 p.m. start on Saturday.