By: Mark Allred | Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277
After playing the first two games of the 2021 American Hockey League season at the “temporary” home of the Providence Bruins, the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, Massachusetts, the top minor-pro affiliate of the Boston Bruins went on the road for the first time this afternoon. The Providence club traveled to Bridgeport, Connecticut’s Webster Bank Arena for a tilt against the New York Islanders minor-pro affiliate.
This was the second time of 12 games the Rhode Island team will face off against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers during this shortened (26 Games) regular season. In the first period, the Sound Tigers broke the ice on the scoresheet with a goal at the 2:28 mark with a shot from the point got deflected past Bruins starting goaltender Jeremy Swayman.
The Providence team tied the game at one with a power-play goal at the 11:40 mark of the first period when Cooper Zech showed some veteran like patience and shimmied his way close to the mid-hash marks to fire a wrister past Sound Tigers netminder Jacob Skarek. That was Zech’s first of the 2021 campaign, and expect many more of these offensive capabilities shortly as Cooper spent a great deal of time playing in Slovakia during the Covid-19 downtime, so he’s been in mid-season form for months. The assist on Zech’s goal was given to Jakub Lauko who’s had points in two of three games.
Heading to the second period, the Sound Tigers would take a one-goal lead at the 7:14 mark of the middle frame with a short-handed goal when Swayman skated out of his crease to feed a pass to nearby AHL rookie defenseman Jack Ahcan but was intercepted by Tigers Bardreau. After giving up that unfortunate fumble, the Providence team, as seen in these early games so far, has picked up the tempo roughly mid-game. The Bruins did it when the Sound Tigers played in game one, and even in the 4-0 shutout to Hartford on Thursday; a rallying point was seen even though the end result wasn’t desired. That could be seen in this game as well. It seems late-game heroics and training are systems things at multiple levels.
At the 10:11 mark of the second period speedster forward Robert Lantosi who took a sweet feed from linemate Cameron Hughes to tie the game at two. Lantosi skating with the puck wide and easily finding open ice close-in and get a shot as Hughes got knocked down at the top of the crease as he’s there trying to create havoc in front. Back and forth we go the Sound tigers take a 3-2 lead at the 16:48 mark of the second frame with another short hander.
Down one in the game, entering the final period of the game, it seemed like Providence Head Coach Jay Leach and supporting coaching staff of Trent Whitfield, and fellow assistant Ryan Mougenel inspired this team to come out quick and lean harder. They definitely responded and were attentive to the message during the intermission break between the second and third period.
Recently hot Providence forward Jakub Lauko got the Bruins off to a quick start in the third period (29 Seconds) when he received some sweet sauce from well playing Oskar Steen and redirected the Sweden native’s pass into the net as he beat out the defenseman creating a lane to crash the net. That was Lauko’s first goal of the season, and he now has 1-4-5 numbers in three games, which currently leads the Providence team.
The Bruins would continue to play well and put the presser on the home Tigers team when the Providence club would get a power-play goal from Cameron Hughes at the 2:10 mark of the final frame to take the first lead of the game. The host Sound Tigers would concede the contest when they pulled the goaltender and surrendered an empty-net goal from Joona Koppanen with three seconds remaining in the game.
Bruins starting goaltender Jeremey Swayman had some shaky times in this game but recovered nicely afterward to get back in the game and be that supporting member from the deep backend. Bruins defensive corps was simply outworking offensive opportunities from today’s opponent, limiting shots on the rookie Swayment to 20, stopping 17. So far, in two games started this season, the former University of Maine netminder has a goals-against-average of 2.00 and .915 save percentage.
The Providence team is now 2-1 on the early 26-game regular season and get back on the ice when the club returns to the Webster Bank Arena on Friday, February 19th, 2021, at 1 pm ET and the second game of the week and final game of a three-game road trip to finish the home-and-home two-game stint in the state of Connecticut.