By: James Swindells | Follow me on Twitter @jimswindells68
On Saturday evening, the Providence Bruins hosted the Springfield Thunderbirds, the St. Louis Blues AHL affiliate, on Women In Sports Night at the Amica Mutual Pavilion in the last preseason matchup for the two squads before the 2022-23 AHL season gets underway on October 14. Danielle Marmer, Player Development and Scouting Assistant for the Boston Bruins, was in attendance for the pregame ceremonial puck drop.
The Bruins, led by second-year coach Ryan Mougenel looked to finish off a perfect preseason with their second consecutive victory over Springfield. In the first matchup on Friday evening at the Mass Mutual Center in Springfield, the P-Bruins defeated the Thunderbirds 4-2 behind two-point performances from Georgii Merkulov and Luke Toporowski and a 22-save outing by Brandon Bussi. Kyle Keyser would get the start in net for Providence on Saturday and see his first preseason action. Fabian Lysell would see his first action as a P-Bruin after being cut from Boston on Thursday. Lysell was penciled in on a line with John Beecher and Oskar Steen, both also recently sent to Providence from Boston.
As things got underway, Springfield’s Drew Callin would get whistled for a hooking penalty just 2:19 into the match. Providence sent out forwards Steen, Beecher, and Lysell, along with defencemen Mike Callahan and Kai Wissman, as Mougenel would get an early look at his newly-formed power play unit. The chance would go by the boards as Providence failed to capitalize on the man advantage. Springfield would have difficulty alleviating the pressure by Providence in their defensive zone and would find themselves in a 1-0 hole just five seconds after Callin exited the penalty box. First-year pro, Luke Toporowski would find Samuel Asselin from behind the T-Birds net, and Asselin slipped a shot behind Vadim Zherenko, giving the Bruins the lead at 4:24.
At 7:09, the Thunderbirds would find themselves shorthanded once again as former P-Bruins defenceman Andrew Peski would get called for boarding and put Springfield on the PK again. Providence would get a chance to take control early with a successful power play and double their lead. But a turnover in the neutral zone was picked up by Thunderbirds center Dylan McLaughlin and forward Will Bitten broke in on Kyle Keyser. Bitten would bury the McLaughlin feed behind Keyser to complete the shorthanded bid, knot the game at one with 11:50 remaining, and finish the scoring in the first period. The two teams would head into the first intermission deadlocked in shots on goal with nine each.
As the middle period got underway, Providence would retake the lead just 24 seconds in as forwards Georgii Merkulov and Justin Brazeau would assist on Luke Toporowski’s shot that would leak through new Thunderbirds goaltender Jake Theut. Facing another early-period deficit, Springfield would find the game slipping out of reach as the Bruins would strike twice in the following 4:07. Providence’s third goal followed on another power play opportunity as Springfield defenceman Griffin Luce went to the box on an interference call at 2:11. On the ensuing faceoff, Fabian Lysell would corral a feeble clearing attempt by Springfield and slip a pass over to defenceman Michael Callahan who would wrist the puck into traffic and past Theut just 20 seconds into the man advantage. The Bruins had secured a two-goal lead, and their momentum had tilted the ice heavily in their favor.
The Bruins continued applying a heavy forecheck and found themselves winning puck battles in the corners and forcing a sustained attack inside the Thunderbirds’ zone. The relentless pressure would lead to Kai Wissman and Grant Gabriele teaming up with forward Curtis Hall as he chipped in a pass from Gabriele behind a besieged Theut and upped Providence’s lead to 4-1 with 13:29 to go in the second frame. The momentum the Bruins had built at the start of the second period would be wasted as they would cut a groove to the penalty box over the next 21 minutes of game time by taking five penalties that would give Springfield a chance to get back into the game.
Providence would kill off successive penalties by Toporowski and Alex-Olivier Voyer to maintain their 4-1 lead with seven minutes remaining in the second period. Forward J.D. Greenway would head off at 18:11 for a slash that would put the P-Bruins PK unit on the ice for the third time in just under eight minutes. The third time was the charm for Springfield as Will Bitten found Greg Printz in open space, who beat Keyser at 19:19 to cut the Providence lead to 4-2. The Thunderbirds would head into the second intermission having seized all the momentum and hoping to slice further into Providence’s two-goal lead.
Any hopes the T-Birds had of mounting a comeback in the third period ended with Hugh McGing taking a hooking penalty 4:11 into the period. Providence returned to the power play, and 48 seconds into the advantage, defenceman Victor Berglund set up Justin Brazeau, beating Theut, who had just surrendered his fourth goal in 25 minutes of play, over his right shoulder. Providence would continue their path to the penalty box in the third period as Fabian Lysell and Oskar Steen both would get two-minute minor penalties that Providence’s PK unit would successfully kill. Springfield would pull Theut with 4:44 left in the game for an extra attacker, and Providence’s Grant Gabriele would slide the Bruins’ sixth and final goal into the empty cage to complete back-to-back victories over Springfield, putting a cap on the preseason schedule.
Providence’s power play was 2 for 5 (40%), and the PK unit was 5 for 6 (83.3%) on the night. Kyle Keyser finished with 30 saves on 32 shots for a .938 save percentage. Luke Toporowski had his second multi-point game of the weekend with a 1-1-2 game, and defenceman Grant Gabrielle also finished the night at 1-1-2.
The three stars of Saturday’s contest were as follows:
Third Star – Kai Wissman (Providence)
Second Star – Curtis Hall (Providence)
First Star – Luke Toporowski (Providence)
With the conclusion of the exhibition season, the P-Bruins will kick off their 31st season as the Boston Bruins’ top AHL affiliate on Friday, October 14, versus Atlantic Division rival Bridgeport Islanders, the AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders. Puck drop at the Amica Mutual Pavilion is scheduled for 7:05 PM.
Providence Bruins Home Game Ticket Information
If you want to get ready for the 2022-23 Providence Bruins regular season home games at the Amica Mutual Pavilion, tickets are available exclusively through purchasing a 22-23 Providence Bruins Season Membership.
Fans can choose from Gold Level (Full Season), Black Level (20 games), White Level (10 games), or FlexTix Season Memberships. To become a member and reserve seats for Opening Night, please visit providencebruins.com/memberships or contact CJ Tsoumakas at 401.680.4738 or email@example.com.
Single-game tickets can be purchased at the Providence Bruins’ official website at providencebruins.com.
Watch the Providence Bruins Home and Road Games Via Live Stream on AHLTV
Also, if any Boston or Providence Hockey fans want to watch the NHL Bruins’ top minor-pro affiliate in action, please go to the watchtheahl.com website and get an affordable AHLTV package that suits your viewing needs. You can access every team in the AHL in the regular season and playoffs for $104.99, Full AHL regular season access with no playoffs for $84.99, or you can pay monthly for only $22.99, and there’s always single-day access for only $7.99.
AHLTV also offers individual team packages of $64.99 for single-team Home and Away games in the regular season, $44.99 for the single-team away games, and finally, $44.99 to watch your team play at home for the upcoming regular season.