Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins week

The Providence Bruins shuffled home from Charlotte for the Christmas break with one out of four points.

On Thursday night, facing a feisty Checkers team that had lost five in a row, the P-Bruins had a one-goal lead with just over eight minutes left in the third period before giving up a goal to tie it and then losing in overtime, 2-1.

On Friday, Providence failed to cash in on power play opportunities on the way to a 5-2 loss. It was only the second time this season they’ve lost by three goals.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.


— The P-Bruins hit the Christmas break with a record of 16-5-5-2. They are in second place in the Atlantic Division and in the AHL with 39 points and a .696 points percentage.

— With a goal and an assist, Jack Ahcan had a good game on Friday.

— Mike Reilly scored a beauty of a goal in the 5-2 loss.

— It was good to see J.D. Greenway get fired up and toss Charlotte’s Gerry Mayhew around in a fight on Thursday.

— Joey Abate didn’t have any points to show for it, but he continued to be effective with his physical play.


— The absence of eight-goal scorer Fabian Lysell (playing for Sweden in the World Junior Championship) and nine-goal scorer Luke Toporowski (sick) really put a crimp in the P-Bruins’ attack.

— Every team is victimized by bad bounces at times over the course of a long season and the P-Bruins saw a bunch in Charlotte. On the Checkers’ tying goal on Thursday, a shot bounced off the glass and right to Connor Bunnaman in front of the net for an easy score. On Friday, a Charlotte shot hit the skate of Providence defenseman Conor Carrick in front and bounced onto the stick of Riley Bezeau, who had most of the net to shoot at for the first goal of the game less than two minutes in. Later, Georgii Merkulov dove to block a shot from the point only to have the puck go directly to a wide-open Lucas Carlsson, who buried it for Charlotte’s fifth goal.

— Oskar Steen has one goal in his last 14 games. He was minus-three on Friday night.

— Referees Stephen Hiff and Jack Young worked both games. They appeared to be younger than many of the players. That’s not a good thing.

— The schedule gets harder in the coming week with two games at first-place Hershey and one at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.


— Even with Fabian Lysell and Luke Toporowski in the lineup, the power play hasn’t clicked lately. In Charlotte, the PP went 0 for 13 and has now fallen to 31st in the league at 13.9 percent. Only Hartford (12 percent) is worse with the man advantage.

— Injured/sick: Luke Toporowski, Kyle Keyser, Johnny Beecher, Eduards Tralmaks, Matt Filipe

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend

Vinni Lettieri’s goal in overtime lifted Providence to a 2-1 win on Saturday. He leads the team in scoring with 11-13-24 in 25 games. (Photo courtesy of Providence Bruins)

For the second weekend in a row, the Providence Bruins split their two games.

At home on Friday night, the P-Bruins let a two-goal lead get away in the third period and lost in overtime to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 5-4.

In a rematch in Allentown on Saturday night, Providence managed to get rid of the sour taste of Friday night’s loss. They were outshot, 35-19, but pulled out a 2-1 victory over the Phantoms on Vinni Lettieri’s goal in OT.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.


— As has happened more than once this season, it was Vinny Lettieri to the rescue on Saturday night. He hounded Lehigh Valley’s Egor Zamula into an awful turnover, then skated in and tucked home the winner in overtime. Lettieri leads the team in scoring with 11-13-24 in 25 games.

— Brandon Bussi delivered another strong performance in Saturday’s win, stopping 34 of 35 shots. His .936 save percentage is the best in the league.

— Providence finished the weekend in second place in the Atlantic Division and in the AHL. They have 38 points and a .731 points percentage in 26 games. The only team ahead of them is Hershey, which has 41 points and a .732 points percentage in 28 games.

— Joey Abate had his best weekend of the season. He rattled the boards with solid hits throughout Friday’s game and he tied Saturday’s game with a breakaway goal.

— Joona Koppanen had a goal on Friday and made a good play on Joey Abate’s goal on Saturday night. He alertly fired the puck up to Abate behind the defense at the red line for a breakaway that ended up in the Phantoms’ net.

— In his last game before heading off to play for Sweden in the World Juniors, Fabian Lysell scored a goal and made a razzle-dazzle play to set up Sammy Asselin’s goal on Friday. He is tied for third among AHL rookies with 8-11-19 in 20 games.

— The power play chipped in with two big goals on Friday night. Providence was 30th in the league on the power play at the end of last weekend, but has now creeped up to 27th.

— Georgii Merkulov had two assists on Friday, including a perfect pass to Marc McLaughlin for a power play goal.

— The P-Bruins are 6-2-1-2 when trailing after two periods. They are 10-1-3-1 when outshot.


— They earned a point on Friday, but that was a game Providence should have put away before it got to OT.

— The P-Bruins had lost to Lehigh Valley once in regulation time, once in overtime and once in a shootout – all at home – before winning in OT against the Phantoms on the road on Saturday.

— Providence heads into what looks to be its toughest stretch of the season so far. The next seven games are all on the road and every opponent has a record above .500.

— They were outshot 6-0 in overtime on Friday.

— The P-Bruins had no power plays on Saturday. Zero, zilch, nada.


— Injured/ill: Johnny Beecher, Jakub Lauko, Eduards Tralmaks, Kyle Keyser, Matt Filipe

— The bus from Lehigh Valley arrived back in Providence at 3:30 a.m. on Sunday.

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend

Oskar Steen celebrates his first-period goal with teammates on Sunday afternoon. (Photo courtesy of Providence Bruins)

The Providence Bruins won one and lost one in their two weekend games.

Trailing 2-1 in the third period at Bridgeport on Saturday night, the P-Bruins scored twice in 53 seconds and earned a 3-2 win against the Islanders.

Things didn’t go nearly as well back home on Sunday afternoon. Providence fell behind early, took the lead on two goals in less than three minutes and then gave up the next four goals on the way to a 5-2 loss to Bridgeport. It was their first defeat of the year by more than two goals.

“We’ve been winning games but our details haven’t been good. That’s what you get when you play as loose as we did. We know Bridgeport. We know they’re going to come in and play the brand of hockey that they play and we fell right into it. It’s just disappointing,” said coach Ryan Mougenel after Sunday’s game.

“If you’re going to be like that, your toughness has to be your power play and our power play let us down. It actually, I think, hurt us. It hurt our momentum. Special teams, we’ve got to make sure we’re dialed in here this week. That’s what it’s going to be, getting back on track.

“Those games are going to happen. There’s young players that make young mistakes and some of our older guys weren’t there to pick it up.”

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.


— The Hershey Bears slipped ahead of Providence and took the lead in the Atlantic Division and overall in the AHL, but Providence remains in good position in second with 35 points and a .729 points percentage.

— After stopping 28 of 30 shots in Saturday’s 3-2 win, Brandon Bussi is tied for the AHL lead with a save percentage of .932.

— Fabian Lysell returned to the lineup after missing three games because he was sick and scored twice in Bridgeport. Snipes and toe-drags are great, but going to the front of the net and converting good opportunities, as he did on Saturday, is important, too, and should result in a lot of goals for the flashy rookie.

— Oskar Steen knew what to do when a Bridgeport defender handed him the puck in the slot on Sunday: He buried it for his fifth goal of the season.

— Providence caught a break when veteran goalie Cory Schneider turned the puck over to Vinni Lettieri in the first period on Sunday. Lettieri dished to Georgii Merkulov, who slid the puck into the open net. Somehow Fabian Lysell also was credited with an assist on the play.

— Vinni Lettieri has points in five straight games. His assist on Georgii Merkulov’s goal on Sunday was his 100th in the AHL.

— Georgii Merkulov made a very nice pass to Fabian Lysell for the game-winner on Saturday.

— Connor Carrick had a goal and an assist in Saturday’s win.


— Providence had a golden opportunity to get back in the game on the power play on Sunday when Bridgeport was hit with a five-minute penalty and then a two-minute penalty in the last minute of the second period. They not only didn’t score, they failed to generate any Grade A chances. Providence has fallen to 30th in the AHL on the power play at 14.4 percent. Only Hartford (14.3 percent) and Chicago (12 percent) are worse.

— Tough break for Keith Kinkaid and the P-Bruins on Sunday when a Bridgeport shot bounced off the glass behind the net and right to Otto Koivula for an easy tap-in goal.

— Going into Sunday’s games, Providence was allowing an average of 34.13 shots per game, the most in the league.

— The P-Bruins fell behind just over five minutes after the opening faceoff on both Saturday and Sunday.


— Injured: Kyle Keyser, Eduards Tralmaks, Matt Filipe

The P-Bruins thought they had a goal at the end of the second period, but the puck didn’t cross the line until time had run out. (Photo courtesy of Providence Bruins)

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins week

A heavyweight bout between Nick Wolff of Providence and Matt Rempe of Hartford enlivened Sunday afternoon’s game. (Photo courtesy of Providence Bruins.)

The Providence Bruins won two of their three games and earned four out of six points over the last week.

Playing their fourth road game in a row, the P-Bruins lost to the Bridgeport Islanders, 4-3, in Connecticut on Wednesday.

They trailed 50 minutes into the game at home on Saturday before scoring two late goals for a 2-1 win against the Springfield Thunderbirds.

At home again on Sunday, they took advantage of subpar goaltending in the Hartford net and beat the Wolf Pack, 3-1.

“I’m not complaining. There’s a lot to like, but there’s things we have to get better at,” said coach Ryan Mougenel after Sunday’s game.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.


— The P-Bruins again finished the weekend in first place in the Atlantic Division and in the league. They’ve earned 33 of a possible 44 points.

— Providence’s goaltending continues to be excellent.

Brandon Bussi kicked out 25 shots in the win over the Thunderbirds, including a couple of 10-bell stops on Nikita Alexandrov during a five-on-three Springfield power play in the third period. He is tied for first in the AHL with a .932 save percentage.

Keith Kinkaid, pulled after giving up three goals in the first period in Bridgeport, responded with a season-high 46-save performance on Sunday. He made some terrific stops during a five-on-three in the first period. His .921 save percentage is eighth in the league.

— Kai Wissman scored his first AHL goal in Bridgeport. Josiah Didier scored his first goal of the season on Sunday.

— Jack Ahcan scored his first goal of the year and it was the winner against Hartford. He has a five-game point streak with 1-5-6.

— Vinni Lettieri had a goal, an assist and six shots against Springfield. On Lettieri’s goal, which tied the game at 10:15 of the third period, the play started when Chris Wagner gained possession in the Thunderbirds’ end. Justin Brazeau set up in front, screening Springfield goalie Vadim Zherenko. The puck went from Georgii Merkulov to Jack Ahcan to Lettieri, who fired it at the net. Neither Wagner nor Brazeau were credited with assists, but the goal doesn’t happen without them.

— Stick tap for Sammy Asselin for jumping in to defend Johnny Beecher after a hard hit in Bridgeport. He leads the team in penalty minutes with 29.

— Jakub Lauko had good games on Saturday and Sunday. He fought Springfield’s Luke Witkowski after Witkowski threw a big hit on Josiah Didier. He scored this third goal of the season and blew up a Hartford player with a hard check on Sunday.

— Justin Brazeau showed off his soft hands, scoring the GWG on Saturday. The play started with a strong forecheck by Vinni Lettieri. Then Luke Toporowski found Brazeau in front and he did the rest with a nice move to beat Vadim Zherenko.

— Joey Abate earned his first AHL assist with a good pass to Jakub Lauko on Sunday.

— If you like fights, this was your week. There was one bout on Wednesday and two each on Saturday and Sunday.

The scrap between Nick Wolff and Hartford’s 6-foot-7 Matt Rempe on Sunday was the best of the season so far at the AMP.


— Down by a goal in Bridgeport, Oskar Steen and Jakob Lauko broke in on a two on zero but came away empty-handed when Lauko hit iron.

— On Sunday, referees Mathieu Menniti and Jackson Kozari whistled Providence for eight penalties while giving only two to the Wolf Pack.

— The P-Bruins didn’t bring much juice in the first two periods at Bridgeport. They were outshot, 12-2, in the first period and had only nine shots after two periods.

— Providence didn’t muster a shot on Sunday until the game was 10 minutes old.

— Joona Koppanen snapped two sticks within a couple of minutes in the second period on Wednesday.

— I am asking once again that the use of the ice-level, behind-the-net camera be scaled way, way, waaaaay back on AHLTV broadcasts in Providence.


— Injured/sick: Mike Reilly, Fabian Lysell, Kyle Keyser, Eduards Tralmaks, Matt Filipe

Keith Kinkaid makes one of his 46 saves against Hartford on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of the Providence Bruins.)