Despite a depleted lineup because of callups by Boston, the Providence Bruins rolled to a 5-2 victory over Bridgeport on Monday in Marlboro.
Providence dressed 16 players – six defensemen and 10 forwards – two under the limit of 18. With goalies Dan Vladar and Jeremy Swayman with the NHL club, the P-Bruins turned to Callum Booth and the former Salisbury School netminder kicked out 36 shots to earn his first win in his first start of the season.
Tommy Cross scored twice and Brady Lyle, Robert Lantosi and Pavel Shen added single goals.
Since losing in overtime to Bridgeport on Feb. 9, 2020, Providence is 22-2-1. They are 15 points ahead of second-place Hartford in the Atlantic Division.
Here are three quick hits:
The rookie defenseman from the Ontario Hockey League continues to play well, recording his first Gordie Howe hat trick as a pro.
His wicked wrister staked Providence to an early lead and he assisted on two goals by Cross, his D partner.
In the third period, Lyle took issue with a hard hit on Jakub Lauko and fought Jeff Kubiak of the Sound Tigers.
“To be honest with you, I didn’t know a whole lot about the player. We obviously signed him out of (Owen Sound). I never really saw him,’’ said coach Jay Leach. “We obviously didn’t have the opportunity to see him in rookie camp like we usually would. He came in, really, with a blank canvas with our staff, but he’s been great, he’s been solid.
“One thing I really like about Brady is he’s really hard on the puck. Obviously he has a hard shot, which you saw today, but every pass is hard – it’s a pro pass. In battles, he’s able to win pucks.
“He’s certainly working on certain aspects of his game to transition to professional hockey, but it’s been a terrific start. We’re able to play him in most situations, which is a lot to say for a young, rookie defenseman coming out of junior.’’
Lyle, who signed a two-year AHL contract with Providence last summer, has 4-4-8 in 12 games and is tied for the team lead with plus-9.
Up from Jacksonville of the ECHL, Ian McKinnon is carving out a niche for himself as a banging winger who won’t hesitate to drop the gloves against the toughest players on the opposing team.
McKinnon earned his first point in the AHL on Monday and took on rock-hard Seth Helgeson in a bout late in the game.
“We knew he was a physical presence. We’ve had players playing in Jacksonville, so we developed a bit of a relationship with their coach – (John Ferguson Jr.) did. He was highly recommended from (Jacksonville coach) Jason Christie,’’ said Leach.
“He brings an element of physicality. He’s able to get to hits, which is a big thing. Usually these physical players, you’ve got to make sure they can skate to get in on these hits, and he does. He makes you pay.
“He forces the turnover in the second when the puck comes over the glass there. And to be honest with you, he’s making some plays. Made a nice play to (Pavel Shen) on that goal. Along with all that comes some physicality and obviously he gets into a fight today toward the end against a tough, tough customer (Seth Helgeson) in this league and does a great job.
“We knew he was a physical player and didn’t know a whole lot about his up and down play. He’s another one that’s been able to come in and fill a role for us and play regular minutes.’’
Callum Booth has spent most of the season on Boston’s taxi squad. After going months without playing in a game, he stepped in on Monday and helped the shorthanded P-Bruins to another win.
“Boother comes in today – I think he played one game in the East Coast League and I think it was in November, maybe, or it might have been December, but doesn’t play a game until March 15 and goes out there and gets a nice win. In all honesty, it was close to a shutout. He did a nice job,’’ said Leach.
Indeed he did. Booth made a handful of 10-bell saves before the Sound Tigers broke his shutout with a pair of late goals. By then, Providence had wrapped up the victory.