BUFFALO – It was an encouraging day for the Bruins youngsters on Friday as they bounced back after a sluggish start to win their opening game at the Prospects Challenge.
Boston trailed 2-0 and 3-1 to the Ottawa Senators in the first period but rallied for a 5-4 win.
Luke Toporowski led the attack with two goals, Marc McLaughlin recorded a goal and an assist, Fabian Lysell scored a goal and Johnny Beecher set up a goal and potted the winner with under three minutes left in the game, turning a defender and depositing the puck in the net.
Here are three quick hits from the game:
The most dynamic Bruins prospect used linemate Jakub Lauko as a decoy on a two-on-one before wiring the puck past Sens’ goalie Mads Sogaard for a goal in the second period.
Impressive, too, was the play he made in the defensive zone late in the game. With an extra attacker on for the Senators, Lysell won a battle with the much bigger Jake Sanderson along the boards and muscled the puck out of the zone.
“He’s a player that, when he touches the puck, you get excited. I’m no different than anybody else watching him. There’s things in his game I love. I loved his second effort to get the puck out with the goalie pulled. I thought that said a lot about the kid,” said Bruins coach Ryan Mougenel.
“He’s a special kid, he’s fun to be around, I really enjoy him. He’s got things in his game that probably, like all of us, have to get better at the next level. This is what it’s about, the process, for him, taking it day by day.’’
Toporowski’s father, Kerry, put up 505 penalty minutes for Spokane of the WHL in 1990-91.
Luke’s game is offense. The 21-year-old left winger averaged a point-per-game in his last two seasons of junior hockey, with Spokane and Kamloops last year and Sioux Falls of the USHL in the COVID year of 2020-21.
His flair for scoring was on display against the Senators. He was in perfect position to bury the rebound of a Marc McLaughlin shot in the first period and he ripped home a one-timer from distance in the third period, tying the game at four.
Toporowski signed a two-year AHL deal with Providence earlier this year.
A native of Iowa, he was regarded as a very good prospect while playing as a youngster for Chicago Mission. He signed with Spokane of the Dub, where his father and brother played, at age 15.
“I went on a couple of (college) visits but Spokane was always the team I wanted to play for,’’ he said.
He didn’t let being passed over in the draft hold him back.
“When it first happened and I didn’t get drafted I was a little bummed, but I think that motivates you even more and I think that will stick with me and will be something I’ll always have in the back of my head,” he said.
Mougenel likes what he’s seen from Toporowski.
“He’s a hockey player. He’s a guy that likes to play on the inside. He’s not afraid of it and he doesn’t really need a second chance to score. He’s shoot first. There’s not a lot of rebounds with him, he seems to find the back of the net. He really impressed me a lot (on Friday). He impressed me a lot in development camp, too. Some of those competitive traits really showed up with him early on,’’ he said.
Abate signed an AHL deal with Providence out of Omaha of the NCHC last spring. He brought with him a reputation as guy who gets under the skin of opponents. He played to that identify on Friday.
The 6-foot-2 winger finished his checks and dished out a steady stream of chirps, even after the final buzzer. Earlier, when a Senator plowed Matthew Poitras of the Bruins into the boards, Abate immediately responded by knocking down an Ottawa player well after the whistle.
“I loved the juice that he brought,’’ said Mougenel. “It’s something that we need in Providence is some abrasiveness in a guy that can play. I think that’s important. I turned to Marc McLaughlin on the bench and said, ‘I know why you fought him (in the USHL).’ He would have annoyed me as well.
“I’ve been very transparent with Joey, what he needs to do to find minutes with the team. That’s how he’s got to play. Be an irritant, kill penalties and provide a value where you can be on the ice and not be a liability. He did everything I expected, came as advertised.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY
Luke Toporowski on former WHL opponent Fabian Lysell:
“Me and him had lots of battles. We went at it a lot with words and on the ice. We hated each other, essentially. He’s a great player. He plays with so much tenacity and then you see his skill take over. I think that’s what separates him from everybody else.
“Now we’re teammates and we’re getting along and we’re buddies. I’m happy to be on this side of the bench with him.”