(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr)

By Tim A Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Week nine of the AHL season has arrived, and the Providence Bruins skate into it 12-3-1 (25 points). That is good for first in the Atlantic Division and third in the American Hockey League. They are coming off a week that saw them lose to the Hartford Wolf Pack 4-2 before beating the Bridgeport Sound Tigers 3-2 in overtime. Our boys in black and gold have one game coming up that you will not want to miss.

There was a game scheduled for Monday, April 3, 2021, against the Utica Comets. Unfortunately, that game will take place at a later date. That is due to the COVID health and safety protocols. The hockey action kicks off on Monday, April 5, 2021, when the Bridgeport Sound Tigers come to town to take on the Providence Bruins at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, Massachusetts. It should be an exciting week of hockey!

Saturday, April 3, 2021, Providence Bruins vs. Utica Comets (POSTPONED)

Despite being postponed, I thought I would give some background on the Utica Comets. They are 6-2-0-1 (13 points). That is good for second in the North Division and sixth in the American Hockey League. Last season, Providence was a perfect 2-0 against the Vancouver affiliate. This matchup has been good to the Bruins over the past five seasons, going 9-3 during that time.

Utica’s offense has been one of the best in the league this season. Over their nine games, they are averaging 3.78 goals a game. Part of that offense is a formidable power-play. They have scored ten power-play goals in 44 opportunities. That’s a 22.7% rate. Their defense, on the other hand, leaves something to be desired. Utica is giving up 3.22 goals a game.

To give those numbers some perspective, the Bruins are scoring 3.44 goals a game in their 16 games played. On defense, they are giving up 2.00 goals a game. This matchup will favor Providence, but there are no easy wins in the AHL. It will be an exciting game when played.

Monday, April 5, 2021, Providence Bruins vs. Bridgeport Sound Tigers (HOME)

The Monday matchup will mark the ninth of 12 meetings the two rivals will have this season. The first battle saw the Bruins come away victorious 4-1. Rookie netminder Jeremy Swayman was superb in net for Providence. He stopped 26 of the 27 shots fired his way. The one goal he let up was a power-play goal that got deflected multiple times. Hard to fault him for that.

Zach Senyshyn, Alex-Olivier Voyer, Samuel Asselin, and Robert Lantosi scored for the spoked P. For Voyer and Asselin; it was their first career AHL goals. Top prospect Jakub Lauko started hot with two assists in the game. Meanwhile, rookies Jack Achan and Nick Wolff recorded their first career AHL points. Each had an assist.

The second meeting was a little less one-sided, but the Providence Bruins still came out on top 5-3. Rookie goaltender Jeremy Swayman had a quality game stopping 17 of the 20 shots fired his way. Cooper Zech, Robert Lantosi, Jakub Lauko, Cameron Hughes, and Joona Koppanen scored for the Providence Bruins. Jakub Lauko and rookie Jack Achan would contribute two assists each on the scoresheet.

The third matchup was an absolute defensive slugfest. The Providence Bruins would go on to win 1-0. The only goal came in the third period when Zach Senyshyn buried a pass from Paul Carey. Both goalies were playing out of their minds. Providence netminder Dan Vladar would stop all 24 shots he faced. On the other end of the ice, Bridgeport goalie Jakub Sharek stopped 36 of 37 shots in the loss.

The fourth battle between division foes saw the Providence Bruins fall 3-2. Brady Lyle and Joona Koppanen scored goals. Forward Matt Filipe registered his first career AHL point assisting on the Koppanen goal. Netminder Dan Vladar went on to stop 27 of the 30 shots faced in the loss.

The fifth meeting saw the Providence Bruins come out on top 4-1. Oskar Steen (2), Robert Lantosi, and Karson Kuhlman scored for the Bruins. Rookie netminder Jeremy Swayman was superb in goal. He stopped 24 of the 25 shots he faced in the victory.

The sixth battle saw the Providence Bruins come out victorious 3-0. Matt Filipe, Zach Senyshyn, and Karson Kuhlman (EN) scored goals for Providence. For Filipe, it was his first career AHL goal. Rookie netminder Jeremy Swayman was sensational again, stopping all 25 shots he faced for his first career AHL shutout.

The seventh installment of the season-long series saw the Providence Bruins win 5-2. Brady Lyle, Robert Lantosi, Pavel Shen, and Tommy Cross (2) scored for Providence. Callum Booth got his first start for our boys in black and gold. He stopped 36 of the 38 shots he faced.

The eighth battle saw Providence emerge victorious 3-2 in overtime. Matt Filipe, Alex-Olivier Voyer, and Oskar Steen scored goals for the Bruins. Rookie netminder Jeremy Swayman had an excellent bounce-back game stopping 28 of the 30 shots he faced.

The Bridgeport Sound Tigers are 3-9 (six points). That is good for third in the Atlantic Division and 28th in the American Hockey League. Not a lot has gone right for the Islanders’ affiliate this season. Both their offense and defense have been subpar all year. One thing that could work in their favor is a close game. On the year, the Sound Tigers are 2-1-1 in one-goal games. Meanwhile, Providence is also 2-1-1 in one-goal games. If Bridgeport can keep it close, they have a chance to win.

My Players To Watch This Week

Up Front

Robert Lantosi: Robert Lantosi is in his second season in Providence. He was coming off an excellent rookie campaign that saw him net 11 goals while dishing out 20 assists for 31 total points in 50 games. He has picked up right where he left off. In 16 games for our boys in black and gold this year, he’s found the back of the net six times while dishing out five assists for 11 total points. He’s also on a mini three-game point streak. Look for him this week.

On The Blue Line

Jack Ahcan: Jack Ahcan has had an excellent first season with the Bruins. He was sent back to Providence after spending a brief stint with Boston due to injuries. In 13 games in the AHL, he’s netted one goal while dishing out seven assists for eight total points. He’s also been one of Providence’s best defensemen all season. A callup to the NHL can provide players with a lot of confidence. Let’s hope he takes what he learned and continues his stellar play in the AHL.

In Net

Jeremy Swayman: Jeremy Swayman has been one of the big reasons why Providence has been so good this season. The rookie is playing well beyond his years. In eight starts this season, he’s 8-1 with a 1.89 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage. In his last game, he bounced back from his first professional loss with an overtime win. It was great to see that from the rookie. Look for him this week.

The Providence Bruins are playing dominant hockey right now. They are beating teams not only with defense and goaltending but also with an elite offense. They are playing an exciting brand of hockey that has been a joy to watch each game. I hope everyone enjoys the games and is staying safe! Feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!