By: James Swindells | Follow me on Twitter @jimswindells68
The Providence Bruins, the top AHL affiliate of the Boston Bruins, got back to work this weekend with a pair of games versus the Hartford Wolf Pack. Providence played their third and fourth games versus Hartford in five consecutive meetings. The P-Bruins went into the weekend’s action sitting in second place in the Atlantic Division, three points behind the Hershey Bears. Hartford resides in seventh place, 14 points behind Providence and 17 points behind Hershey.
Forward Joona Koppanen returned to Providence on January 20th after joining Boston on their two-game road trip to New York against the Islanders and Rangers. Koppanen was immediately recalled on January 21st after Boston’s Tomas Nosek suffered a fractured foot and was expected to miss approximately a month. Forwards Alex-Olivier Voyer and Eduards Tralmaks were returned to the ECHL’s Maine Mariners. Tralmaks has been sidelined since November 2nd, when he sustained a knee injury vs. the Utica Devils. With Koppanen recalled to Boston, Tralmaks was returned to Providence on January 22nd.
FRIDAY AT HARTFORD WOLF PACK
Providence head coach Ryan Mougenel turned to veteran netminder Keith Kinkaid (5-6-3, 3.27 GAA, .910 SV%) to kick off the weekend. Meanwhile, Hartford head coach Kris Knoblauch countered with his veteran goaltender, Louis Domingue (9-6-6, 2.37 GAA, .914 SV%).
Hartford, equipped with the AHL’s 32nd-ranked power play, got an early opportunity when Providence’s Vinni Lettieri got whistled for hooking just under two minutes into the game. Hartford mounted four shots and applied good pressure on Kinkaid and the AHL’s fifth-ranked PK unit, but the Pack’s PP unit stuck to form and failed to obtain the game’s opening score.
Providence used the strength of their forechecking game and caused Hartford to fail on a clear of their zone. Kai Wissmann forced a Wolf Pack turnover, and Jakub Lauko drove the slot, danced through the Wolf Pack defense, and beat Domingue to give the P-Bruins the early 1-0 lead at 6:32. Lauko’s seventh goal of the season staked Providence to the early lead for the fourth consecutive game against Hartford.
Providence’s 31st-ranked power play unit got its chance to extend their one-goal lead on a hooking penalty by Hartford’s Austin Rueschhoff three minutes following the Lauko tally. Hartford had an easier go of things on the P-Bruins man advantage and surrendered no shots as Providence could not establish zone time or pressure on Domingue.
Both goaltenders stood their ground for the remainder of the opening period. Kinkaid stopped a Bobby Trivigno breakaway attempt with 5:43 left in the period. On Providence’s next trip into Hartford territory, Domingue went post-to-post and robbed Samuel Asselin, then closed out the period by denying a Georgii Merkulov one-timer to hold the Providence lead at one goal.
After withstanding Providence’s strong first period, Hartford used the P-Bruins recipe for their game-equalizing goal. The Pack used a strong forecheck after dumping the puck in behind Kinkaid, and Ryan Carpenter’s hard work behind Kinkaid paid off as Turner Elson did the rest by burying Carpenter’s feed past Kinkad on his blocker side.
Hartford got a chance for redemption on the power play as John Beecher went off for a delay of the game call at 6:54. Hartford’s PP unit struck just past the midway point of the Beecher penalty as the Pack peppered Kinkaid and broke through on a netfront tip by Will Cuylle on a Lauri Pajuniemi feed to give Hartford the 2-1 lead.
Providence answered the Wolf Pack’s go-ahead goal on their next power play attempt on a Zach Giuttari interference call at 9:41. Vinni Lettieri redirected Mike Reilly’s shot at the top of Domingue’s crease, and following a lengthy video review, Lettieri was awarded his 14th goal of the season, and the P-Bruins had knotted the score at two with 9:01 to go in the middle stanza on their first PP goal versus Hartford this season.
The AHL’s bottom two PP units had struck once apiece in three minutes by each team’s respective leading goal scorer. Providence managed a successful PK after Kai Wissmann went off for a cross-check at 15:45, and the P-Bruins wrestled momentum away from Hartford over the last couple minutes of the period. Through 40 minutes, Providence held a 27-17 shots on goal edge over Hartford.
The deadlock would be broken 2:48 into the final period when Domingue played an errant dump-in by Josiah Didier. The Wolf Pack netminder sent a stretch pass into the P-Bruins zone that Trivigno played behind Kinkaid’s net to a streaking and uncovered Karl Henriksson, who buried his shot and gave the Wolf Pack their second lead of the game.
Facing their second deficit of the game, Providence pushed the pace following the Henriksson tally and received a penalty shot opportunity after Luke Toporowksi was slashed at 4:56. Toporowski beat Domingue with a clean backhand shot up and over Domingue’s blocker side and Providence had erased Hartford’s second lead of the game just 2:08 after the Henriksson goal.
Providence continued its onslaught on Domingue as they held momentum following the Toporowski marker. The shots piled up as Domingue held Providence in check with key saves as Providence buzzed the Hartford zone looking for the go-ahead score. An altercation between Wissmann and Pajuniemi produced Providence’s fifth power play of the night, and Providence came through with their second consecutive PP goal.
With Josiah Didier in the penalty box for the P-Bruins and Ryan Carpenter and Pajuniemi taking up residence in the Hartford penalty box, the Providence PP unit worked the puck around the Pack zone, looking to exploit the Hartford PK unit. A Toprowski shot from the point was turned away by Domingue, but the rebound found Jack Ahcan, who turned and sent a pass to Mark McLaughlin in the slot. McLaughlin corralled the Ahcan pass, wheeled, and beat Domingue past his blocker.
McLaughlin’s game-winner, his seventh goal of the season, with 3:14 to go and Oskar Steen’s empty netter with 35 seconds left, cemented Providence’s fourth straight win. The Providence win and a Hershey loss at Laval moved the P-Bruins within a point of the first-place Bears in the Atlantic Division.
Providence outshot Hartford 40-23. Keith Kinkaid improved his record to 6-6-3 with a 3.25 GAA and a .908 SV%. Luke Toporowski (1G, 1A), Mark McLaughlin (1G, 2A), and Vinni Lettieri (1G, 1A) had multi-point games. Jack Ahcan’s assist on McLaughlin’s goal moved him into the team lead in assists with 18. McLaughlin’s three-point night was a season-high. Ahcan (4A) extended his point streak to four games. The XL Center crowd of 7032 saw the P-Bruins hand Hartford its first regulation loss since December 28th in a 7-4 loss at Springfield.
3rd Star – Luke Toporowski (Providence)
2nd Star – Karl Henriksson (Hartford)
1st Star – Mark McLaughlin (Providence)
SUNDAY VS. HARTFORD WOLF PACK
Providence rookie goaltender Brandon Bussi (12-2-3, 2.16 GAA, .935 SV%) got the matinee start in the crease vs. the Wolf Pack and was opposed by Louis Domingue (9-7-6-1, 2.45 GAA, .913 SV%). Veteran defenceman Anton Stralman played his first game for Providence since Boston assigned him to the P-Bruins on November 29th. Stralman suited up for his first AHL game since the 2009 Calder Cup playoffs with the Toronto Marlies. Defencemen Nick Wolff and Dan Renouf drew back into the lineup as Providence looked to sweep the home-and-home versus Hartford.
Providence failed to keep its recent stretch of quick starts intact as they surrendered the game’s opening score 2:51 into the opening period. Hartford’s Jonny Brodzinski deflected a point shot by Zach Giuttari that fought through netfront traffic and beat an unsuspecting Bussi off Brodzinksi’s redirect.
Already facing a one-goal deficit, Providence’s Joey Abate took a high-sticking infraction at 8:15 and put Hartford and the AHL’s worst power play unit on the ice, looking to extend the Pack’s 1-0 lead. Hartford’s PP unit failed in its attempt to build on its lead, and with a terrific effort by Providence’s Vinni Lettieri, found itself surrendering the P-Bruins’ first shorthanded goal of the season.
Lettieri thwarted a Hartford entry to the P-Bruins zone that forced a faceoff inside the Hartford zone. Off the ensuing faceoff win by Mark McLaughlin, Nick Wolff took puck possession and directed a shot that Domingue stopped. The rebound off of Domingue kicked to Lettieri, who promptly pounced on the puck, deposited it into the gaping net, and knotted the game at one at 9:09.
Things remained deadlocked until the final minutes of the period, even though Providence was handed a power play opportunity on Hartford’s Brandon Scanlin’s tripping call at 13:06. That chance went by the boards, and Hartford killed the P-Bruins man advantage and found the go-ahead goal with 2:02 left in the opening 20 minutes.
The Wolf Pack’s Bobby Trivigno and Ty Emberson mounted a 2-on-1 that developed as they crossed into the Providence zone. Emberson dished to Trivigno as they moved through the P-Bruins zone, and Trivigno fired a shot at Bussi’s net. As Emberson set up position in front of Bussi, he directed the puck behind Bussi, giving Hartford a one-goal lead that would hold as the two teams went into the first intermission.
Brandon Bussi donned his Superman cape at the outset of the second period and stonewalled Hartford with nine saves in the opening five minutes. Bussi’s efforts through a Fabian Lysell tripping penalty managed to keep the Providence deficit at one goal. The frantic pace Hartford was dictating led them to a 13-2 edge in shots eight minutes into the period.
Providence fought through the opening half of the period and eventually put its own stamp on the middle period. The P-Bruins grabbed the game’s momentum and pushed the next 13 shots on Domingue as he tried to hold back the Providence attack. Providence went back on the PP, and on the ensuing faceoff win by Georgii Merkulov, Lettieri took a Connor Carrick feed at the top of the left faceoff circle and one-timed his second goal of the game and deadlocked the game at two.
Just 93 seconds later, Chris Wagner racing through the neutral zone with the puck, gained easy access to the Hartford zone. Wagner found Carrick just inside the blue line, and the veteran defenceman deposited Providence’s third goal past Domingue to give them their first lead of the game at 3-2 with 3:27 to go in the middle frame. Providence had withstood a furious Wolf Pack charge at the start of the period and mounted its own fierce rebuttal to the Wolf Pack’s early surge and, on the back of stellar netplay by Bussi, had managed to bring a one-goal lead into the second intermission.
Another quick barrage of Hartford shots opened the third period, meeting resistance by Bussi. The Providence PK unit stymied the Pack’s PP unit when Nick Wolff was whistled for a trip at 4:18. Hartford went shotless during the man advantage as they attempted to square the score at three.
Hartford controlled territorial play in the early to middle stages of the period and finally succeeded in beating Bussi for the third time in the game. Blake Hillman sped untouched into the Providence zone and dished off to Turner Elson on the right wing. Elson found Ryan Carpenter in the slot, who unleashed a shot that Bussi kicked aside and produced a rebound that Carpenter jumped on and immediately sent it past the prone Bussi.
Hartford rode the momentum of the Carpenter goal and maintained the territorial edge in play. It paid off with their fourth power play of the game on an Oskar Steen cross-check at 14:15. The P-Bruins kept the Pack’s PP unit at bay and surrendered a lone perimeter shot as the teams held serve the remainder of the period and went to overtime to determine who got the extra point in the standings.
Hartford won the faceoff to open the overtime session and never relinquished possession of the puck. Bussi stuffed an initial surge by the Pack, and Hartford’s Tanner Fritz regrouped at center ice while new skaters joined him. Fritz skated through the neutral zone and into the P-Bruins zone, where he found Will Cuylle alone on the right wing side and buried the one-time feed from Fritz to give Hartford the victory. The weekend split with Hartford saw the P-Bruins obtain three points in the standings and maintain the three-point gap behind the Atlantic Division-leading Hershey Bears.
Hartford outshot Providence 42-26. Brandon Bussi took the loss, dropping his record to 12-2-3-1 with a 2.16 GAA and .935 SV%. Connor Carrick (1G, 1A) and Vinni Lettieri (2G) had multi-point games. Lettieri’s two goals stretched his point streak to three games (4G, 1A). Providence’s PP unit went 3-for-7 in the two games vs. Hartford and ranked 30th in the AHL at 15.1%. The PK unit went 6-for-7 on the weekend and, at 83.9%, ranked 6th in the AHL. The announced crowd of 7873 at The AMP saw Providence’s record in January drop to 4-3-1.
Providence returns to action on Friday, January 27th, when they kick off a 3-in-3 weekend versus Hartford at The AMP. The P-Bruins head to upstate New York and face the Utica Devils on Saturday, January 28th and return home on Sunday, the 29th, with a matchup against the Syracuse Crunch to close out January.
3rd Star – Bobby Trivigno (Hartford)
2nd Star – Vinni Lettieri (Providence)
1st Star – Will Cuylle (Hartford)
Providence Bruins Home Game Ticket Information
If you would like to attend the 2022-23 Providence Bruins regular season home games at the Amica Mutual Pavilion, fans can choose from 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
If any Boston or Providence Hockey fans want to watch the NHL Bruins’ top minor-pro affiliate in action, 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 $69.99, Full AHL regular season access with no playoffs for $49.99, pay monthly for $22.99, or single-day access for $7.99.
AHLTV offers team packages of $39.99 for single-team Home and Away games in the regular season, $29.99 for single-team away games, or $29.99 to watch your team play at home for the upcoming regular season.