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Affiliate Report: Providence climbs to second place; Maine remains in the cellar

The first weekend of 2024 saw Providence continue to find a way and Maine continue to struggle.

New York Rangers v Boston Bruins
Jayson Megna (20).
Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images

When the calendar flips to January, it offers a turning point for teams looking to change the trajectory of their seasons. For both Boston Bruins affiliates, this sentiment is true in different ways.

AHL affiliate Providence Bruins have hung around in the middle of the pack for the first half of the season, and now look to springboard up the standings and peak towards the end of the season. That work began last weekend with a home-and-home series sweep of the Springfield Thunderbirds (St. Louis Blues), winning on the road, 4-3, in a shootout before a 6-3 triumph at home on Sunday.

As for Maine, the 2023-24 season has gone just about as worse as the club could’ve imagined. A poorly constructed roster has led to lackluster performances all season long, and the Mariners find themselves at the bottom of the North Division standings. Maine started the year going 1-1-1 over the weekend, losing at the Adirondack Thunder (New Jersey Devils), 5-2, on Friday before a 5-4 overtime loss to the Thunder at home on Saturday. On Sunday, Maine collected a 4-2 win at home over rival Worcester Railers (New York Islanders).

Providence Bruins

19-12-4, 42 points, 2nd in Atlantic Division

Providence has won its last five games, including two over the past weekend against Springfield. The streak has vaulted the AHL Bruins into second place in the Atlantic Division.

The first of two victories over Springfield came on the road Saturday, 4-3 via a shootout. After falling behind 2-0 after a period, Providence tilted the ice in the middle stanza with three goals to take the lead. Springfield tied it midway through the third, before John Farinacci converted the lone shootout attempt for Providence in the sixth round to earn the extra point.

Sunday’s rematch in Rhode Island left no doubt, with Providence streaking to a 6-3 victory. Providence scored four times in the first 17 minutes and the game’s first five tallies to take firm command. Georgii Merkulov, back in Providence after his first NHL stint, set up a pair in the opening period to mark his return to the AHL. Springfield cut the lead to 5-3 in the third before Anthony Richard tallied his second goal and third point of the afternoon to cap a weekend sweep.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Anthony Richard — Three goals and an assist over the weekend give Richard the honors this week as the forward now sits second on the team with 28 points (14g, 14a). Stick taps go to Fabian Lysell, Jayson Megna, and Patrick Brown.

ROSTER MOVES

  • Called up to Boston — Jesper Boqvist, Parker Wotherspoon.
  • Sent Down from Boston — Mason Lohrei, Georgii Merkulov.
  • Sent Down to Maine — Curtis Hall, Kyle Keyser, Ryan Mast.

UP NEXT: A three-game weekend for Providence sees the AHL side play on home ice for a change. On Friday, Providence hosts the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at 7:05 p.m. followed by a Sunday matinee against the Bridgeport Islanders at 3:05 p.m. In between, a Saturday night trip to face the Hartford Wolfpack (New York Rangers) at 7:30 p.m.

Maine Mariners

11-13-5, 27 points, 7th in North Division

New year, same problems for the Mariners. A leaky defense, coupled with an inconsistent offense, have made this season more of a slog than anticipated. Even with reinforcements coming in, Maine is still trying to find its footing more than halfway into the season.

In the first game of last week at Adirondack, Maine struggled on both ends in a 5-2 defeat. With goaltender Francois Brassard making his Mariners return, Maine struggled to contain Tristan Ashbrook, who had four points in the Thunder win. Alex Kile scored both for Maine, with one assisted by newcomer Darien Kielb.

In a 5-4 overtime loss to Adirondack on Saturday, Kile again provided the spark on offense with two goals and an assist. Leading 4-2, Maine surrendered a pair of late goals as the Thunder forced overtime, eventually completing the comeback.

Maine salvaged the weekend with a 4-2 win over Worcester at home on a snowy Sunday. Kile struck twice again late in the third period, flipping a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead. Curtis Hall, sent down from Providence last week, tallied an empty netter at the buzzer to seal the win.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Alex Kile — Pretty obvious when you score six goals in three games. Stick taps go to Gabriel Chicoine with a slew of assists.

ROSTER MOVES

  • Sent Down from Providence — Curtis Hall, Kyle Keyser, Ryan Mast.
  • Suspended — Reid Stefanson.
  • Trades — The Maine Mariners and Fort Wayne Komets completed a four-player trade, with the Mariners acquired D Darien Kielb and G Francois Brassard from the Komets in exchange for F Ethan Keppen and D Mackenzie Dwyer. Maine also acquired F William Provost, completing a future considerations trade with the Cincinnati Cyclones.

UP NEXT: With new faces in the mix, Maine will play four games over the next eight days, beginning with a home matchup against the Trois-Rivieres Lions (Montreal Canadiens) on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. Then, the Mariners head to the Keystone State to take on the Reading Royals (Philadelphia Flyers) in a three-game series. After two 7:00 p.m. puck drops on Friday and Saturday, the teams will wrap up the three-game set on MLK Day with a 1:00 p.m. contest.