The Providence Bruins were missing starting goalie Troy Grosenick and backup Kyle Keyser. Top defenseman Jack Ahcan was on recall with Boston, as was third-leading scorer Jesper Froden. Cameron Hughes, who leads the team in points, was out with an injury.
The P-Bruins received a lift from new additions to the roster, swept both games in Pennsylvania over the weekend and moved back into first place in the Atlantic Division.
With Brandon Bussi making his pro debut in goal, Providence beat Lehigh Valley in a shootout, 3-2, on Saturday night. Less than 24 hours later, they edged Hershey, 2-0, as Bussi registered his first shutout.
Here’s the good, bad and ugly.
— Brandon Bussi was the star of the weekend. In his first start on Saturday, the rookie goalie from Western Michigan was tremendous in overtime and stuffed all three Lehigh Valley shooters in the 3-2 shootout win. On Sunday, he stopped all 26 Hershey shots in the 1-0 victory.
— Ohio State free agent Georgii Merkulov had a first game to remember against Lehigh Valley. He set up goals by Chris Wagner and Joona Koppanen with perfect passes, then he scored the winner in the shootout.
— The penalty killers – Josiah Didier, Aaron Ness, Chris Wagner – were brilliant in overtime on Saturday, setting the stage for the shootout win.
— Rookie Michael Callahan moved in from the blue line to bury a rebound for his first goal as a pro in Hershey and it was the game-winner.
— Chris Wagner continues to play very good two-way hockey and he tied a career high with his 15th goal against Lehigh Valley.
— Goals are still hard to come by for Jakub Lauko, but he registered an assist in both games over the weekend, including the primary helper on Mike Callahan’s goal.
— First-rounder Johnny Beecher didn’t have any points, but he played two solid games in his first weekend as a pro. He used his speed, held his own on faceoffs and had four shots on Saturday and two more on Sunday.
— Providence is 7-1-1 in Pennsylvania (Hershey, Lehigh Valley, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton) so far this season. On the road and at home, they’ve shut out Hershey four times.
— Not that it was ever in doubt, but the P-Bruins clinched a playoff spot on Friday night. They’ve missed the playoffs only five times since the franchise opened for business in 1992-93.
— By the end of the day on Sunday, Providence was first in the Atlantic Division with a points percentage of .615. Charlotte and Springfield were second at .614.
— The P-Bruins took a too-many-men penalty in overtime on Saturday night.
— Starting Tuesday, they close the regular season with a demanding stretch of seven games in 12 days.
— Injured/sick: Cameron Hughes, Tyler Lewington, Eduards Tralmaks, Kyle Keyser, Victor Berglund