By: Cody Stelluto | Follow Me on Twitter: @TownieTalkCody
The Providence Bruins returned home to the Amica Mutual Pavilion yesterday, February 19th, 2023. It was a packed arena as the Providence Bruins took on the Springfield Thunderbirds for a 3:05 PM EST puck drop.
The Providence came into the game with a 30-9-8-2 record, good for first in the Atlantic Division. Springfield held a record of 24-18-2-4 before Sunday afternoon’s bout, sitting in fourth place in the Atlantic. On the season, the P-Bruins have had much success over the Thunderbirds, posting a 5-0-1 record against them heading into today.
Merkulov one of few bright spots in today’s lineup
Since the injury to teammate Vinni Lettieri, Georgii Merkulov has been on fire while sliding over to the center position. Although his six-game-goal streak was snapped on Saturday, he found the back of the net on a beautiful shot from the left dot, going top shelf over Joel Hofer’s glove hand. Merkulov now has nine goals in his last ten games and 16 total on the year. “Merk was one of the young guys that I thought was good,”; said Providence Head Coach Ryan Mougenel when asked how Merkulov has been shooting more as of late.
Need to handle Three game stretches better
When asked about the game today, Mougenel mentioned the team “has to learn how to fight through three in threes better,”; meaning a stretch of three games in three days. He wasn’t pleased with much of the team’s overall play outside of his encouraging words on Merkulov, stating that “hockey isn’t always a comfortable game”; when mentioning how the team needs to learn to handle it.
The P-Bruins struck first in this game, as Merkulov gave them the lead with 2:37 remaining in the first period. The P-Bruins escaped the first with a 1-0 lead, and aside from Merkulov, much of that can be credited to Kyle Keyser. Keyser made a few key saves in that first, sprawling across the net in acrobatic fashion to keep the P-Bruins ahead.
It wasn’t the same 19-shot effort, however, once the teams returned to action in the second period. Totaling only six shots-on-goal in the period, it seemed the P-Bruins were a little flat. It was a power-play goal for the Thunderbird’s Brady Lyle that tied the game 1-1 with 14:17 remaining in the period. The second goal for the Thunderbirds came only two minutes later as Mitchell Hoelscher gave them the lead, snapping one past Keyser. Justin Brazeau tied the game late in the period for the P-Bruins, giving them some much-needed life heading into the third.
This game was certainly chippy, as Chris Wagner was given a 10-minute misconduct major for snapping one of the Thunderbirds player’s sticks on his way to the box after a scrum ensued, and penalties were issued.
Hoelscher’s second goal was a game-winner
After receiving a stretch pass from teammate Matthew Kessel, Hoelscher found the back of the net on a breakaway to give the Thunderbirds the lead and ultimately win the game for them. The P-Bruins attempted to pull the goalie and get some empty net magic, but with no success, they suffered a 3-2 defeat in front of the home crowd at Amica Mutual Pavilion.
The Providence Bruins take the ice after a four-day rest against the Charlotte Checkers on February 24th.