By: James Swindells | Follow me on Twitter @jimswindells68
The Providence Bruins, the top AHL affiliate of the Boston Bruins, moved into the AHL’s tenth weekend of play with a home-and-home matchup with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The Phantoms, the top AHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers, sit in seventh place in the Atlantic Division, 13 points behind the division-leading Hershey Bears, coming into the weekend’s action.
Since Lehigh Valley’s last visit to Providence in mid-November, where they swept a two-game weekend series with Providence, the Phantoms hold a 4-4-1 record. Philadelphia’s 2020 first-round selection, Tyson Foerster, leads the Phantoms in scoring with 8-10-18 in 22 games.
Providence, looking to avenge their back-to-back losses to Lehigh Valley, holds a 5-2-2 record since the November meeting with the Phantoms. The P-Bruins reside in second place in the Atlantic Division, just two points behind Hershey and 11 points ahead of Lehigh Valley. Vinni Lettieri leads Providence in scoring with 10-13-23 in 23 games.
FRIDAY VS. LEHIGH VALLEY
Providence head coach Ryan Mougenel sent Keith Kinkaid (4-3-2, 3.20 GAA, .914 SV%) to the nets for Friday night’s matchup. The Phantoms’ head coach Ian Laperriere countered with Samuel Ersson (8-7-1, 2.50 GAA, .918 SV%). Ersson won both meetings in mid-November at The AMP vs. Providence.
Sticking to form in four of their last five games, Providence found themselves in an early hole at the hands of Kieffer Bellows and his third score of the season at 4:45 of the first period. Though in another early game deficit, the strength of this season’s version of the P-Bruins has been their ability to fight their way back into games.
Providence went to work following the Bellows’ goal and applied a ferocious forecheck that produced numerous scoring chances on Ersson but failed to produce their first score of the night. With 6:01 left in the opening period, Chris Wagner won a faceoff inside the Phantoms zone. Wagner won the faceoff back to Mike Reilly, who took the puck down the side wall and behind Ersson’s net. Reilly then threw the puck into the netfront area, and it deflected off of Joona Koppanen and bounded into the cage behind Ersson. Providence knotted the score at one with 5:53 to go.
Providence’s PK unit killed off a late-period penalty to Joey Abate and went to the first intermission deadlocked at one with Lehigh Valley. Both teams also finished the first 20-minute session tied at 13 shots apiece.
Providence opened up the second period on their first power play chance of the night. Cal O’Reilly was whistled for tripping at 1:16, allowing the AHL’s 29th-ranked PP unit an opportunity to improve its ranking. Things turned sideways when the Phantoms’ Elliot Desnoyers forced a Providence turnover and found himself in the clear. Desnoyers beat Kinkaid cleanly and notched his second shorthanded goal of the season, giving the Phantoms their second lead of the night.
Hoping to extend their 2-1 lead, Lehigh Valley was given two power play opportunities when Oskar Steen went to the penalty box at 3:12 and Koppanen followed at 5:01, giving the Phantoms a brief 5-on-3 for 11 seconds. The P-Bruins successfully killed the Steen and Koppanen penalties and managed to keep the game within reach.
Providence was granted another chance to improve their struggling PP ranking when Linus Hogberg and Garrett Wilson were assessed minor penalties at 11:24. The P-Bruins, owners of a full two-minute 5-on-3 power play, struck just 17 seconds into the two-man advantage. Following a Lettieri faceoff win, Georgii Merkulov moved the puck to Justin Brazeau at the top of Ersson’s crease. Brazeau quickly swept the puck to a wide-open Fabian Lysell, who deposited the puck behind a sprawling Ersson.
Still possessing 1:43 of a 5-on-4 power play, the P-Bruins struck once more at 13:06 with Mark McLaughlin’s third goal of the season, and for the first time in the game, Providence held the lead at 3-2. The struggling P-Bruins power play had struck twice in 85 seconds and reversed the game’s momentum in Providence’s favor.
Before the close of the second period, Providence extended their lead to 4-2 with a 4-on-4 goal by Samuel Asselin at 17:12. Lehigh Valley’s Cooper Marody took a high sticking penalty, Providence’s Jack Ahcan negated the abbreviated P-Bruins power play with a tripping penalty at 16:45. In the final seconds of the Marody penalty, Lysell, possessing the puck, streaked through the neutral zone, gaining easy entry to the Phantoms’ zone. Gliding through the slot, Lysell slid a pass across the grain to Asselin. Asselin snapped off a wrist shot that beat Ersson to the stick side, sending Providence to the second intermission, erasing the Phantoms’ 2-1 lead, and beating Ersson for three goals in a span of 5:31 to close out the period.
Providence looked to secure their eighth comeback victory of the season as the third period got underway, but Lehigh Valley turned the tables on the P-Bruins. The Phantoms started their climb out of the two-goal hole they faced at 2:14 when Artem Anisimov netted his sixth goal of the season to cut the Providence lead to 4-3.
Providence failed to regain their two-goal edge after the Phantoms’ Adam Ginning took a slashing penalty at 3:17. Ginning made amends for his penalty by evening the score at four with 8:03 to go in regulation time. Elliot Desnoyers won a faceoff in the Providence zone that Kieffer Bellows corraled and immediately sent to Ginning at the blue line, Ginning ripped a slap shot that beat Kinkaid cleanly for his first goal of the season.
Kinkaid and Ersson kept the scoresheet clean following Ginning’s game-tying goal, and both teams managed a point in the standings as the game went to overtime. Luke Toporowski would take an ill-timed penalty by closing his hand on the puck with 2:45 left in overtime. The Phantoms unleashed a five-shot barrage on Kinkaid during the man advantage. In the midst of a Lehigh Valley mad scramble, Keiffer Bellows found a wide-open Anisimov to Kinkaid’s left. Anisimov promptly stuffed the tumbling puck under Kinkaid, and Anisimov’s second tally of the game completed the Lehigh Valley comeback.
Providence was outshot 27-15 after the first period, and Lehigh Valley finished with a 40-28 edge in shots. Keith Kinkaid’s record dipped to 4-3-3 with a 3.35 GAA and .910 SV%. Vinni Lettieri maintained his point-per-game pace with his assist on Lysell’s goal. Lysell’s goal and an assist gave him 19 points in 20 games. Providence’s PP unit went 2-for-5 by taking advantage of a 5-on-3. The PK unit was 4-for-5 on the night, with the blemish coming on Anisimov’s game-winner in OT. The announced crowd of 6752 watched Lehigh Valley win its third consecutive game at The AMP.
3rd Star – Elliot Desnoyers (Lehigh Valley)
2nd Star – Fabian Lysell (Providence)
1st Star – Artem Anisimov (Lehigh Valley)
SATURDAY AT LEHIGH VALLEY
Both teams traveled overnight from Providence to Allentown, PA, for the back end of the home-and-home matchup at the PPL Center. Kai Wissman drew into the lineup, replacing Mike Reilly, and JD Greenway stepped in, replacing Fabian Lysell. Brandon Bussi (7-1-2-1, 2.28 GAA & .932 SV%) received the start in net for Providence, and the Phantoms sent Nolan Maier (1-0-0, 1.00 GAA & .933 SV%) to the crease for his second start of the season.
Bussi would be the lone highlight in the early going for Providence as both teams slogged through a scoreless first period. Lehigh Valley outshot the P-Bruins 9-5 in the opening 20 minutes, and Bussi kept the Phantoms at bay beyond the midway point of the game. Lehigh Valley would keep Providence under siege for most of the middle period and finally solved Bussi with 5:19 left. Adam Ginning threw a shot toward the netfront traffic that Cooper Marody deflected through Bussi. Marody’s second goal of the season brought on a deluge of teddy bears from the 8004 in attendance at the PPL Center.
Providence managed to get to the second intermission having only surrendered the Marody goal while being outshot 23-9 by Lehigh Valley. Bussi had held his own under the Lehigh Valley’s attack, and Providence finally scored a goal to support Bussi as they attempted to draw back into the game. Joona Koppanen picked up a loose puck inside the Providence blue line and sent a pass to a streaking Joey Abate at center ice. Abate had slipped behind two Phantoms’ defenders and broke in on Maier, beating him over his glove side to knot the game up at one with 9:54 left in the third period.
Providence would survive a late tripping penalty call to Mark McLaughlin and, on the back of Bussi’s 33-save effort, found themselves heading to overtime for the second night in a row vs. the Phantoms. Vinni Lettieri made quick work of the Phantoms in the OT session. With a tenacious forecheck by Lettieri, Egor Zamula was stripped of the puck inside the Phantoms’ blue line. Lettieri broke free of Zamula and ripped a wrist shot just over Maier’s glove to give the P-Bruins the 2-1 come-from-behind victory 52 seconds into overtime.
Providence was outshot by Lehigh Valley 35-19. Brandon Bussi stopped 34 of 35 shots and improved his record to 8-1-2-1 with a 2.16 GAA (4th in AHL) & .936 SV% (1st in AHL). With his 11th goal of the season, Vinni Lettieri (11-14-25) maintained his point-per-game pace and extended his point streak to seven games. Lettieri has found the scoresheet in 22 of the 25 games he has played this season. With their two-goal outing on Friday night, the P-Bruins PP unit moved to 27th in the AHL with a 15.6% rating. Providence’s PK unit ranks 16th in the AHL with an 80.2% success rating. While securing three of a possible four points vs. Lehigh Valley, Providence maintained its 2nd place standing in the AHL’s Atlantic Division behind the league-leading Hershey Bears. Before the Christmas break, Providence will travel to North Carolina for a pair of games versus the Charlotte Checkers on December 22nd & 23rd.
3rd Star – Joey Abate (Providence)
2nd Star – Elliot Desnoyers (Lehigh Valley)
1st Star – Cooper Marody (Lehigh Valley)
Providence Bruins Home Game Ticket Information
If you would like to attend 2022-23 Providence Bruins regular season home games at the Amica Mutual Pavilion, fans can choose from Black Level (20 games), White Level (10 games), or FlexTix Season Memberships. To become a member and reserve seats, 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 theahl.com 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 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.
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