Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins week

Luke Toporowski barrels to the net against Lehigh Valley on Nov. 18. The 21-year-old left winger scored a hat trick on Saturday night. (Photo courtesy of Providence Bruins)

There were some bumps along the way, but the Providence Bruins came home from their Thanksgiving week trip to upstate New York with five out of six points.

For starters, the P-Bruins let leads of 2-0 and 3-1 get away against the Rochester Americans on Wednesday before losing in overtime, 4-3.

Bouncing back from that deflating outcome, Providence showed lots of guts in Syracuse on Friday, scoring three times in the third period for a come-from-behind win over the Crunch, 5-3.

On Saturday, the P-Bruins led 2-0, 4-1 and 5-3, but Syracuse rallied to tie the game with an extra-attacker goal with 45 seconds left. Chris Wagner scored a wraparound goal in overtime for a 6-5 victory and a happy bus ride back to Rhode Island.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.


— As of Sunday night, Providence remained in first place in the Atlantic Division and first overall in the AHL. They’ve lost only twice in regulation time and have earned 29 of 38 points.

— It was a great weekend for Luke Toporowski. On Friday, he set up Sammy Asselin for goal with a slick pass on the power play, then scored the GWG in the third period. He had a hat trick on Saturday. His second score that night on an individual rush could be the Providence goal of the year to this point. With nine goals in 18 games, he’s a strong candidate for AHL Rookie of the Year.

— On numerous occasions this season Chris Wagner has delivered a big play when it’s needed most. He did it again in overtime on Saturday, scoring his seventh goal of the season. His reaction after the goal is clear proof that his competitive fire is burning as hot as ever.

— After going without a goal in his first 65 games as a pro, Nick Wolff buried his first in Rochester.

— Mike Callahan faked a shot to open a lane to the net, then fired a wrister for his first goal of the season on Friday in Syracuse. Later on in the game he made a smart play at the line that led to a goal by Justin Brazeau.

— Justin Brazeau had a good week with three goals and an assist in the three games. Oskar Steen had an assist on Friday and three more on Saturday. Sammy Asselin had 2-3-5 in the three games. His wrister for a goal in Rochester was an absolute sizzler.

— Keith Kinkaid shut the door in the second half of the game on Friday and finished with 38 saves in the win.

— Joona Koppanen made an unselfish play to get the puck to Justin Brazeau for an empty-netter on Friday. Koppanen, who is very good on the penalty kill, might be Providence’s most underrated forward.

— They are 6-0-1-0 in one-goal games.

— Providence had 21 shots in the first period on Friday. That’s the most by any AHL team in the first period this season.

— Eleven Providence players recorded points on Friday.

— When Johnny Beecher was victimized by a tough hit from Shawn Element on Friday, Dan Renouf stepped in and fought Element.

— They got a great break on Saturday when the referees wiped out a Syracuse goal because of goalie interference. “That’s just an outrageous call against the Crunch,’’ said the hometeam’s play by play guy and he wasn’t wrong.


— As of Sunday, the P-Bruins had given up 677 shots, the most in the AHL. They were allowing an average of 32.74 per game. In four of their last seven games they’ve allowed more than 40 shots.

— It sure looked like Syracuse’s Darren Raddysh slew-footed Sammy Asselin on Saturday, but the refs called him for roughing. Former Bruin Gemel Smith embellished the crap out of a Luke Toporowski high stick in the same game and, of course, drew the call.

— The power play went 1 for 15 in the three games. It’s now 29th in the league at 15.3 percent.

— The P-Bruins had good chances in OT in Rochester – including a glittering opportunity for Fabian Lysell — but couldn’t finish.

— Providence was whistled for 13 minor penalties on Saturday night.


— Talk about buzzard’s luck. On Wednesday in Rochester, ex-Bruin Anders Bjork was a ghost all night until his shot bounced off P-Bruins defender Kai Wissman and into the net to tie the game. Then, with the clock running down in overtime, Ethan Prow lofted a Hail Mary pass that somehow came down on the stick of Linus Weissbach, who skated in alone and buried the winner with six ticks left on the clock.

— Injured: Nick Wolff, Kyle Keyser, Eduards Tralmaks, Matt Filipe

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend

With NHL scouts watching, Mike Reilly scored a goal and added an assist in his first game with the Providence Bruins on Friday. (Photo courtesy of Providence Bruins)

After soaring to the top of the AHL standings in the first five weeks of the seasons, the Providence Bruins fell back to earth a bit over the weekend.

They earned two out of six points, but came out on the short end in all three games, losing in regulation time, in a shootout and in overtime, all at home.

The P-Bruins started with a lackluster 4-2 loss to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Friday. They were beaten, 3-2, by the Phantoms in a shootout on Saturday. On Sunday they led going into the third period but lost in overtime to the Bridgeport Islanders, 3-2.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.


— Despite the three losses, Providence is still first in the Atlantic Division and in the AHL with 24 points and a .750 points percentage in 16 games.

— Vinni Lettieri’s goal with 6:43 left in the third period on Saturday tied the game and allowed the P-Bruins to earn a point. He scored a power play goal on Sunday, converting a good pass from Fabian Lysell. Lettieri, who has a six-game point streak, assisted on Mike Reilly’s goal on Friday. He leads the team in scoring with 9-7-16 in 16 games. His goals this weekend were the 101st and 102nd AHL goals of his career.

— With a number of NHL scouts in the building, Mike Reilly was a standout on Friday, with a goal, an assist and six shots. He made a picture-perfect pass to Oskar Steen for Providence’s first goal. He also he played well on Sunday.

— Marc McLaughlin scored his first goal of the season on Saturday night.

— Connor Carrick had a pair of assists on Sunday. He has 1-9-10 in 14 games.

— Nick Wolff flattened Zayde Wisdom of Lehigh Valley with a clean open-ice hit on Saturday.

— Brandon Bussi kicked out 43 shots on Saturday and has the best save percentage in the AHL at .949. His 1.84 goals-against average is second.

— Attendance was solid: 6,828 on Friday, 8,097 on Saturday and 7,167 on Sunday. Providence is sixth in the league with an average of 6,898.


— Providence gave up 35, 46 and 39 shots in the three games.

— On the penalty kill Friday, Oskar Steen made a blind drop pass in the Lehigh Valley zone that sent the Phantoms off on a three on two that culminated in their first goal. Wrong time, wrong place for such a pass.

— Whoever is directing the AHL TV productions of home games needs to cut way back on the use of ice-level cameras located behind the nets.

— Providence’s Justin Brazeau put the puck in the net at the end of a very well-executed play on the power play on Friday. Unfortunately, the goal didn’t count as the puck went in just after time ran out in the first period.

— The P-Bruins will spend Thanksgiving in Syracuse.


— Injured: Kyle Keyser, Eduards Tralmaks, Matt Filipe

Chris Wagner scores Providence’s second goal on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Providence Bruins)

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend

Chris Wagner takes the puck to the net against the Charlotte Checkers. He scored twice on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Providence Bruins)

With wins in both of their games over the weekend, the Providence Bruins continue to hold down the top spot not only in the Atlantic Division standings but in the entire American Hockey League.

The P-Bruins faced the Charlotte Checkers twice and came away with a 5-2 win on Friday and a 5-3 victory on Sunday.

They led 3-0 and 4-1 on Sunday, but were hanging on by a goal as the clock ran down in the third period before Chris Wagner sealed the victory with an empty netter.

“We definitely bended, that’s for sure, but we didn’t break,” coach Ryan Mougenel said after Sunday’s game. “I didn’t think we played a great game today. (Charlotte) came in with tons of energy and took it to us.”

Chris Wagner, Joona Koppanen and Oskar Steen “really showed the younger guys how important it is sometimes to make the plays (that are) in front of you. And (Johnny) Beecher’s line did a real good job, too.”

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.


— Brandon Bussi, who is displaying a real knack for making timely saves, had another strong weekend. He is 4-0 with a .947 save percentage and a 1.84 goals against average.

— Chris Wagner scored twice, including the game-winner, on Sunday and played his usual strong game in all three zones.

— Oskar Steen potted an empty net goal on Friday and a goal and an assist on Sunday.

–Johnny Beecher scored a hard-working goal on Friday and did a lot of the little things right on Sunday, though he didn’t have any points.

“The points are going to be a bonus for him based on how he defends and how he comes back,” said Mougenel. “(He’s a) young pro learning what it takes to win and he’s going to be one of those players that you win with. (He’s) just building those habits into his game, those details that are so important,” said Mougenel.

— Providence has lost only one game in regulation time this season and that was three weeks ago. They’ve won five games in a row and earned 22 of a possible 26 points.

— Jakub Lauko scored three goals in 54 games last season. With goals on Friday and Sunday, he already has two goals in two games this season.

— Justin Brazeau scored his first of the season on a very well-executed power play on Friday. Vinni Lettieri and Georgii Merkulov made nice passes to set it up.

— Dan Renouf was plus-two on Friday and plus-three on Sunday and had an assist in both games. His partner Connor Carrick was plus-two in both games with an assist.

— Georgii Merkulov has points in four straight games. He dished an absolute beauty of a pass to Fabian Lysell for a goal on Friday.

— Kai Wissman made a sweet pass to set up Vinni Lettieri’s goal on Sunday.


— The P-Bruins had the fourth-best penalty kill in the league as of Nov. 6, but Charlotte scored four times on 11 opportunities on Friday and Sunday. As of Sunday night, Providence was 11th on the PK at 82.7 percent.

— Providence continues to give up an awful lot of shots – 42 on Friday and 39 on Sunday. They are 25th in the league in shots against, yielding an average of 32.15 per game.

— They were whistled for too many men on both Friday and Sunday.


— Injured: Nick Wolff, Eddie Tralmaks, Kyle Keyser, Matt Filipe

Georgii Merkulov is second in scoring for Providence with 4-8-12 in 11 games. (Photo courtesy of Providence Bruins)

Good, bad and ugly from Providence Bruins week

Brandon Bussi came on in relief and nailed down a win in Springfield on Saturday, then pitched his first AHL shutout in Bridgeport on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Providence Bruins)

The good times are rolling for the Providence Bruins.

After winning all three of their games this week, the P-Bruins were in first place in the Atlantic Division and led the American Hockey League in points with 18 and points percentage with .818 as of Sunday night.

They started the week with a 4-3 shootout win against the Utica Comets on the road. Providence was down by three midway through the game but rallied to tie it with a late goal and then won in the 11th round of the shootout.

On Saturday night in Springfield, Providence trailed by a goal but again came from behind to win a 3-2 decision against the Thunderbirds. That victory was notable in that all three goal-scorers – Fabian Lysell, Luke Toporowski and Joey Abate — and winning goalie Brandon Bussi are rookies. “The kids make us go,” said coach Ryan Mougenel.

In Bridgeport on Sunday, the P-Bruins got a third-period power play goal and rode back up I-95 with a 1-0 victory.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.


— With Keith Kinkaid on recall with Boston and Kyle Keyser out with an injury, Brandon Bussi came up from the ECHL and delivered terrific performances in the wins in Springfield and Bridgeport.

With the game on the line late in the third period on both nights he made sparkling saves to preserve the lead.

He finished the weekend with a 2-0 record, .961 save percentage, 1.10 goals against and his first AHL shutout.

— Connor Carrick scored his first goal with the P-Bruins – it was the game-winner in Bridgeport – and registered assists in Utica and Springfield. He has 1-6-7 in 10 games.

— Joey Abate’s first goal as a pro was the game-winner in Springfield and it was a beauty. He took the puck off a Thunderbirds defender then fired a wrister to the top shelf.

— Joona Koppanen scored in the 11th round of the shootout to win the game in Utica.

— Luke Toporowski continues to be a revelation. He scored goals in Utica and Springfield. The goal against the Thunderbirds came at the end of a strong 200-foot shift. He is third on the team with 5-4-9 in 10 games.

— Fabian Lysell turned on the afterburners, flew in on a breakaway and put Providence in the lead at 1:44 of the first period on Saturday. He’s second on the team with 3-7-10 in nine games.

— Chris Wagner scored a big goal to tie the game against the Comets with 2:41 left in the third.

— Providence killed all nine shorthanded situations in the three games. The PK is fourth in the AHL at 87.8 percent.

— They’ve won all five of their road games so far.

— Providence’s next five games are at home. They don’t play outside Rhode Island again until Nov. 23.


— After a brilliant performance in stopping 10 of 11 shooters in the shootout win in Utica, Kyle Keyser left the game in Springfield in the first period with a leg injury.

— Providence gave up two goals in 59 seconds late in the first period in Springfield.

— They mustered only two shots in the first period on Sunday.

— Seven of Providence’s 11 games so far have been against Springfield (4) and Bridgeport (3). A little more variety would be nice.


— Injured/ill: Kyle Keyser, Nick Wolff, Georgii Merkulov, J.D. Greenway, Matt Filipe