( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By: Mark Allred | Follow me on Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Last night the American Hockey League Providence Bruins were at the XL Center in downtown Hartford, Connecticut, to play the Hartford Wolf Pack. The top minor-pro affiliate of the National Hockey League Boston Bruins was coming off a tough 4-0 shutout to the Utica Comets on Tuesday night, where goaltender Jeremy Swayman took the loss, stopping 17 of 21 shots. On Friday night in Hartford, Swayman and his Providence club looked to redeem themselves on the road, but an 11th-hour goaltending change had Jeremy being pulled from the lineup in favor of fellow B’s prospect Kyle Keyser.

Just before puck drop in last night’s Boston Bruins road game against the Arizona Coyotes, the B’s announced that Tuukka Rask has a lower-body injury and is day-to-day. Swayman will meet the NHL B’s in Dallas, Texas, before the Dallas Stars game on Sunday at 7pm. Before Swayman’s recall, he currently has a 2-2-0 record, a 2.52 goals-against-average, and a .896 save percentage.

With the next franchise goaltender returning to the NHL off to the mid-west Providence Bruins, Head Coach Ryan Mougenel turned to B’s prospect Kyle Keyser to face the Wolf Pack. Keyser, whose last game played was on December 30th, 2021, in a 5-3 loss to the Rochester Americans, brought his 2021/22 regular-season record of 4-6-3, a 2.76 GAA, and .897 Save% into Hartford for his 12th start of the year.

With the sudden change in the crease before last night’s game at the XL Center in Hartford, the Providence Bruins had emergency backup goaltender Patrick Salkind on the bench with the recent influx at that position. The 30-year-old Virginia native played four years of NCAA Division III hockey for the Nicols College Bisons in Dudley, Massachusetts graduating after the 2016/17 season.

The road game for Providence last night against the Wolf Pack was a back and forth affair as these two Atlantic Division rivals always bring a gritty style of play wherever they meet up. In the first period, the visiting Providence club took the lead with a solid effort from defensemen Andrew Peski who scored his first AHL career goal assisted by forward Matt Filipe and forward Chris Wagner at the 9:12 mark of the opening frame. At the tail end of the first period, Hartford would come back and tie the game at one at the 18:57 mark.

Early in the second period, the host Wolf Pack would pull away for the one-to-one tie at the 2:49 mark when Hartford scored a power-play goal. Just two minutes later, Providence forward Joona Koppanen, who’s stepped up his game offensively this season, notching his fifth of the year on the man advantage, assisted by two other teammates playing well in forward Eduards Tralmaks and defenseman Jack Ahcan. Close to four minutes later the Wolf Pack sink their claws in further in this home effort to take a 3-2 lead at the 8:01 mark ending the scoring for both teams in the middle frame.

In the third period, it was desperation time for the Providence Bruins down a goal because you could see the intensity pick up, shifting the ice in the visiting Bruins direction. At the 5:06 mark, Providence defenseman Jack Ahcan would tie the game at three with his fifth goal of the year, assisted by forward Cameron Hughes and defenseman Josiah Didier. The 28-year-old Didier, who made his 2021/22 regular-season debut a few games ago after returning from a long process with a knee injury, earned his first point of the season. Once again, the resilient Hartford team would take a 4-3 lead at the 11:18 mark on the power play making a winning effort for the Bruins a further reach away.

In the final minutes of the final period, Providence Bruins forward Samuel Asselin would score his eighth of the season, assisted by forward Joona Koppanen and forward Zach Senyshyn. Both teams would go through an extra five minutes of overtime to finish the extra frame. During that overtime period, Providence had a tremendous chance to earn the second point of the game when a Hartford player went to the box, but Wolf Pack starting goaltender Kieth Kinkaid stood on his head along with the Pack’s defensive shutdown, only allowing three shots.

This game would require some individual offensive skills to capture the seasoned point of the game that was up for grabs in the shootout. In the skills competition forward, Justin Brazeau and Jack Studnicka were the only Providence players who were successful, while the host Hartford Wolf Pack were just a little better, scoring three on B’s netminder Kyle Keyser ending the game as a 5-4 road loss. Kyle stopped 29 of 33 Wolf Pack shots in the surprise start with the turn of events that happened pregame with Swaymen being recalled to the NHL. Keyser now has a regular-season record of 4-6-4 with a 2.74 GAA and .903 Save%.

Game Stats Per The Providence Bruins Official Post-Game Media Release

Andrew Peski opened the scoring for Providence with his first career AHL goal.

Jack Ahcan scored a goal and added an assist for his fifth multi-point game of the season. His five goals rank first (tied) amongst all AHL rookie defensemen. He leads all Providence defensemen in goals, assists, and points while ranking third (tied) amongst all P-Bruins skaters in assists.

Joona Koppanen scored a goal on the power play, his fifth goal of the season, and added an assist for his second multi-point game of the year.

Josiah Didier, Matt Filipe, Cameron Hughes, Zach Senyshyn, Eduards Tralmaks, and Chris Wagner each picked up one assist. Didier’s assist marked his first point of the season.

Samuel Asselin scored the game-tying goal to send the game to overtime. He has scored five goals in his last five games.

Next Game for the AHL Providence Bruins

If this snowstorm doesn’t postpone this evening’s road game tonight at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts, the Providence club will play the host Springfield Thunderbirds. The AHL Bruins currently have a 17-11-3-2 record after 33 of 39 games played in this 2021/22 regular season. Springfield sits in the third position in the Atlantic Division with a 20-13-4-1 record and 45 points. Providence sits in the fourth position with 39 points and could certainly make up some ground on the higher Atlantic Division rival if tonight’s contest actually goes according to schedule.

Per Mark Divver this morning, the Providence Bruins have released EBUG netminder from his Amateur Tryout agreement as it seems like reinforcements from the ECHL Maine Mariners are available and ready to be in Springfield tonight. Per the official AHL websites transactions page on the website, the NHL Bruins have reassigned netminder Callum Booth from the Mariners to the AHL Providence Bruins and could get the start in goal tonight on the road.