( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By: Mark Allred | Follow me on Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The American Hockey League Providence Bruins were on the road last night at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts, to play the Atlantic Division-leading Springfield Thunderbirds. The top minor-pro affiliate of the National Hockey Leagues Boston Bruins earned a significant two points in a 3-0 win and 24-save shutout for B’s goaltending prospect Kyle Keyser. This was Keyser’s first career professional No-No, and he’s been stellar in two games this weekend even though the Providence team lost 4-1 on Friday night against the visiting Belleville Senators at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in downtown Providence, Rhode Island.

The Providence team continues to struggle with the AHL’s Covid-19 protocols but is slowly getting key players back in the lineup but also getting outside additions from the lower minor-pro affiliates and PTO signings. The Providence team, along with several other clubs in the AHL, are struggling to keep the Covid sickness away from their respected organizations. This has been a challenge as numbers are rising worldwide as many parts in the world are shifting to their winter seasons, where the spread of anything can increase immensely.

Last weekend the Providence organization was forced to postpone three straight games due to AHL protocols and in the recent week have had to make significant additions just to put a full lineup out on the ice the last two games. The AHL transactions have been crazy for the past weekend a half for several teams in the AHL, particularly the Providence Bruins, who have made additions to accommodate open roster availability.

Last week players such as forward Kelti Jeri-Leon (PTO), forward Patrick Polino (PTO), defenseman David Drake (PTO), defenseman Wyatt Ege (PTO), defenseman Matt Murphy (PTO), goaltender Jeremy Brodeur (ECHL Affiliate Loan), and forward Justin Brazeau (ECHL Affiliate Loan), have joined the NHL Bruins top minor-pro affiliate as paid insurance policies while the organization continues to get healthy.

The Providence Bruins got offensive production in every period of this game last night against the Thunderbirds, starting at the 5:26 mark of the opening frame with a goal from recently recalled Justin Brazeau. The assists on the big right winger Brazeau’s first of the 2021/22 season was from forwards Alex-Olivier Voyer and Eduards Tralmaks. Brazeau would get his second of the season and game in the second frame at the 9:22 mark assisted by defenseman Aaron Ness and consecutive secondary assist efforts from Tralmaks for a 2-0 lead.

Brazeau has been a pleasant surprise playing in his first season for the ECHL Maine Mariners. The big winger has 10-10-20 in 18 games the NHL Bruins “AA” minor-pro affiliate and has been one of Maine’s leaders alongside fellow power forward Pascal Laberge who both joined the team from Portland, Maine during the previous off-season signing as free agents. Brazeau has two points in two games for Providence this season during his call-ups to fill roster spots.

In the third period, the Providence club went up by the score of 3-0 on a goal from newcomer forward Keltie Jeri-Leon, who was playing in his second AHL game. The assists on the Jeri-Leon goal went to forward Matt Filipe and forward Curtis Hall at the 3:03 mark of the final frame and finished the scoring on the night for both teams. Jeri-Leon was most recently with the Bruins ECHL Maine Mariners where he had 3-5-8 numbers in 18 games.

Jeri-Leon joined the Maine club in September signing as a free agent after spending five seasons in the Western Hockey League with several teams before turning pro. Keltie posted 58-52-110 numbers in 250 career WHL games and was certainly happy to get his first AHL goal as seen below.

The star of the game was goaltender Kyle Keyser who got consecutive starts in the net for the first time this 2021/22 AHL season. Keyser has been somewhat of a workhorse lately in the crease for Providence head coach Ryan Mougenel especially with everything going on health-wise.

This is a big year for Keyser as it’s his last year of this current three-year entry-level contract, so the 22-year-old is auditioning for an extension to possibly stay in the Bruins organization for further looks. With Kyle earning his first career shutout last night, the undrafted netminder now has a 2021/22 season record of 4-5-3 with a 2.44 goals-against-average and .914 save percentage.

Providence Head Coach Ryan Mougenel’s Post Game Press Conference Quotes

“This win really says a lot about the veteran players on this team. What people don’t see is a leader like Aaron Ness, who really took a hold of the guys earlier this week when we only had a few players skating.

“We only had a couple days to prepare and I’m not going to lie, I was concerned about the mental state of the team, and obviously the health of the team first and foremost.

“When you ramp it back up without a lot of preparation like that, it’s just a real challenge. I can only imagine being a player and going through that.

“Tonight was really about the guys and how much they care for each other. We didn’t play the way we wanted to last night and tonight was a great response.

Next game for the Providence Bruins

The Providence Bruins finish the three games in three days this weekend this afternoon when the Toronto Marlies come to Rhode Island to play the top minor-pro affiliate of the Boston Bruins. Puck drop from the Dunkin’ Donuts Center is set for 3:05pm. The Marlies sit in the third position in the North Division with a 10-7-1-1 regulars season record good enough for 22 points. Toronto is 5-4-0 on the road and is 5-3-1-1 in their last ten games.

The home Providence club goes into this afternoon’s action occupying the fourth position in the Atlantic Division with a 9-6-3-1 record and 22 points. The Bruins have a 4-5-1-0 record at the Dunk this season and are 5-3-2-0 in their last ten games. With Keyser starting the first two games of the weekend on Friday and Saturday, I believe veteran netminder Troy Grosenick will get the call this afternoon against Toronto.