By: Mark Allred | Follow me on Twitter @BlackAndGold277
The Providence Bruins got two big wins over the weekend against two teams sitting in the first and second position in the American Hockey League Atlantic Division. Providence has been in the middle of the eight-team division for the majority of this 2021/22 regular season. The top minor-pro affiliate of the National Hockey League, Boston Bruins, always seems to come out of the gate a little slow with the B’s roster seemingly changing due to injuries with their higher parent club and recent Covid-19 protocols.
From this point forward, it’s undoubtedly going to be challenging for first-year AHL Head Coach Ryan Mougenel as the NHL taxi squad rosters are back, hopefully, to eliminate postponing games. Regardless of protocols and taxi squad rosters, late December and early January is generally the timeframe that this Providence Bruins team gets settled in and makes a push in the second half of every season to get into position for a Calder Cup Playoff seed.
The last two years, although abbreviated due to the ongoing pandemic, the Providence organization has won back-to-back Atlantic Division titles and could get on a roll to make it a third this season. Below is a weekend wrapup of the last two games and the upcoming schedule.
Friday, December 31st, 2021, Providence Bruins vs. the Hartford Wolf Pack
The Providence club traveled to the XL Center in downtown Hartford, Connecticut, to play the Atlantic Division second-place Hartford Wold Pack team. After a disappointing 5-3 loss on Wednesday night last week to the host Rochester Americans, it was essential to get back on track before the weekend’s action began. The game against Rochester was the first contest in a 12-day stretch as the Providence club had three consecutive postponed games, so the B’s were a little rusty last Wednesday.
In the first period in Hartford, the AHL Bruins got off to a good start on the road with forward Jesper Froden scoring his fifth goal of the season on the man advantage with the assists going to forward Oskar Steen and forward Cameron Hughes. The first period scoring for the B’s ended with a goal from forward Oskar Steen, who remains red hot offensively, notching his tenth goal of the season at the 19:36 mark assisted by defenseman Urho Vaakanainen and forward Steven Fogarty.
In the second period of this game against the host Wolf Pack, veteran forward Steven Fogarty who scored his sixth of the year on a power-play goal at the 11:44 mark assisted by forward Jesper Froden and forward Oskar Steen. The final Bruins goal of the middle frame and game against Hartford came at the 17:25 mark on a shorthanded goal from forward Cameron Hughes assisted by forward Alex-Olivier Voyer and defenseman Jack Ahcan.
There was no scoring from either team in the final period at the XL Center as the Providence team completely shut down any desperation effort from the Wolf Pack to seal the deal on a 4-0 victory. Veteran goaltender Troy Grosenick got the start in goal on this night, stopping all 17 Wolf Pack shots for his 17th career shutout and first in a Providence Bruins uniform.
Sunday, January 2nd, 2022, Providence Bruins vs. the Springfield Thunderbirds
The Providence Bruins finally returned home to the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in downtown Providence, Rhode Island, as the visiting and Atlantic Division-leading Springfield Thunderbirds came to town. After a full day of rest on Saturday and the adrenaline still flowing from shutting out Hartford on Friday night, Providence certainly brought an offensive onslaught against the visiting Thunderbirds club.
In the first period, Providence got on board with the game’s first goal at the 17:58 mark on a goal from forward Alex-Olivier Voyer, who scored his second goal of the season assisted by forward Eduards Tralmaks and defenseman Ty Lewington. With 11 seconds remaining in the opening frame forward, Eduards Tralmaks scored his third goal of the season, assisted by forwards Justin Brazeau and Joona Koppanen to finish the period up 2-0.
In the second period at the 41-second mark, the Providence club got off to a quick start and 3-0 lead on a goal from forward Cameron Hughes, who’s been red hot lately, scoring his fifth goal of the season with the lone assist going to defenseman Nick Wolff. At the 5:44 mark of the second forward, Joona Koppanen notched his third goal of the season on the power-play giving the B’s a commanding 4-0 lead assisted by forwards Jakub Lauko and Jack Studnicka. At the 19:21 mark of the second frame forward, Curtis Hall scored his first goal of the season and second career professional goal assisted by forwards Samuel Asselin and Alex-Olivier Voyer for a 5-1 lead.
The Providence Bruins would get two shorthanded goals in the third period, with the first at the 10:25 mark and a 6-1 lead going to forward Cameron Hughes, who scored his second goal of this game and the sixth of the season assisted by defenseman Nick Wolff and forward Alex-Olivier Voyer. The second shorty of the final period against the visiting Thunderbirds went to forward Joona Koppanen, who scored his fourth of the season and second of this game at the 15:05 mark assisted by defenseman Urho Vaakanainen and forward Chris Wagner. The game would finish as a 7-1 victory and be the highest goal production game of this 2021/22 regular-season campaign. In the past three games since returning from the three consecutive postponed games, the Providence team has scored a total of 14 goals and getting contributions from up and down the club’s lineup.
Veteran goaltender Troy Grosenick got the start in goal against the visiting Thunderbirds and stopped 26 of 27 shots for the victory in his second straight game of the weekend. Grosenick improves his 2021/22 regular-season record to 6-1-1 with a goals-against-average of 1.92 and .926 save percentage.
With two wins over the weekend, the Providence team improves its regular-season record to 13-8-3-1, good enough for 30 points on the year and fourth place with 47 games remaining. The team is currently on a two-game winning streak and is 7-3-0 in the last ten games.
Upcoming Week Schedule for the AHL Providence Bruins
The top minor-pro affiliate of the Boston Bruins gets back to work with a game mid-week on Wednesday as the team is on the road on January 5th, 2022, at the Webster Bank Arena at 7 pm to play the Bridgeport Islanders. The Islanders are currently sitting in 8th position, which is last in the Atlantic Division with a record of 10-16-3-3 and are 6-8-0-1 at home this season.
The following two games for the week will see the Lehigh Valley Phantoms visiting the Dunkin’ Donuts Center starting on Friday night at 7:05 and the final game of the home-and-home on Sunday at 3:05 pm. The Lehigh club currently sits in the sixth position in the Atlantic Division with a 9-11-4-2 record and a 4-7-1-1 record on the road. These next three games against lower-division teams in the Atlantic shouldn’t be a problem for the surging Providence team, but in the always hungry league, any team can certainly play the spoiler.
If you and your family would like to attend this weekend’s action at the Dunk against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, please go to the AHL Bruins official website at providencebruins.com for tickets. If you have a group and want tickets of ten or more or would like information on individual suite rentals, please contact Anthony Pontrelli at 401-680-4713.