Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend

Gemel Smith of Syracuse and Joey Abate of Providence drop the gloves in the first period on Sunday. Abate is among the AHL leaders in fighting majors with seven. (Photo courtesy of Providence Bruins)

The Providence Bruins earned three out of six points in their three games over the weekend.

They started with a 2-1 overtime loss against the Hartford Wolf Pack at home on Friday. They bounced back with a solid 5-1 road victory against the Utica Comets on Saturday. Back home, Providence dropped a 4-0 decision to the Syracuse Crunch on Sunday.

“I actually really liked us, as crazy as that is in a 4-0 loss. We did a lot of good things. Getting down 2-0 right off the hop is kind of tough. It’s disappointing, but we’ll learn from it. We’ve got to get better at three-in-threes,” said coach Ryan Mougenel after Sunday’s game.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.


— The P-Bruins are still solidly ensconced in second place in the Atlantic Division with 57 points and a .679 points percentage.

— Kyle Keyser stopped 25 of 27 shots in Friday’s overtime loss, then kicked out 18 of 19 shots in relief of Keith Kinkaid on Sunday. He has a 5-0-2 record with a .932 save percentage and a 1.87 goals-against average.

— The power play is still 30th in the league at 15.5 percent, but there are signs of life. The P-Bruins scored twice with the man advantage on Saturday and once on Friday.

— Providence hung five goals on Akira Schmid of Utica, who went into the game with the league’s best goals-against average.

— Brandon Bussi stopped 26 of 27 shots against Utica to improve his record to 13-2-4 with an AHL-best .924 save percentage.

— Vinni Lettieri’s on a heater with 4-5-9 in the last six games.

— Jakub Lauko is playing very well lately – he scored a goal and added an assist on Saturday and his plus-11 leads the team.

— Justin Brazeau is playing well. He scored Providence’s only goal on Friday, then posted 1-1-2 on Saturday.

— Oskar Steen put the P-Bruins on the board first in Utica with a deft deflection from in front.

— Eddie Tralmaks returned to the lineup and scored his first goal of the season on Saturday night.

— Dan Renouf assisted on two goals in Utica.

— Johnny Beecher has gone 15 games without a goal, but Ryan Mougenel saw some improvement in his game. “I thought John Beecher had a real strong weekend,” he said.


— It was a tough travel weekend. After playing at home on Friday night, the P-Bruins drove 255 miles to Utica for Saturday night’s game. When that was over, they jumped on the bus for the trip home, arriving at 3 a.m. Twelve hours later, the puck was dropped for Sunday’s game. Was it any wonder they fell behind by two goals 5:25 into the game?

— Providence fired 51 shots on the Syracuse net on Sunday but didn’t score.

— Jakub Lauko allowed Hartford’s Zac Jones to beat him to the net and score the game-winner just 20 seconds into OT on Friday.

— Providence’s next game is Wednesday against – surprise! – Hartford.


— The diagnosis is not in yet, but it sounds like the injury to Luke Toporowski on Saturday in Utica could keep him out for a while. Ryan Mougenel: “Hopefully it’s not as bad as we think it is.”

Toporowski went down with a knee injury when he was kneed by Michael Vukojevic with 3:41 left in a game that Providence led, 4-1.  “To me it’s a dirty play,” Mougenel said.

Vukojevic received only a minor penalty for kneeing. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he hears from the league this week.

Earlier in the same game in Utica, Jakub Lauko was lucky he wasn’t injured when he was kneed by Jack Dugan with 9:25 left in the second period. There was no call on the play by referees Mason Riley and Conor O’Donnell.

— Injured/sick: Luke Toporowski, Fabian Lysell, Matt Filipe

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend

Anton Stralman played his first game for the P-Bruins and his first AHL game since the 2008-09 season on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Providence Bruins).

The Providence Bruins took three of four points out of the weekend and, while that’s nothing to complain about, it could have been four out of four.

Opening the weekend on the road on Friday, Providence came from behind in the third period against the Hartford Wolf Pack to earn a 5-3 win.

At home on Sunday and facing a Wolf Pack team that was playing its third game in three days, the well-rested P-Bruins didn’t really get engaged until midway through the second period. A stronger start might have gained them a regulation win instead of a 4-3 overtime loss, but there are going to be games like this in the course of a long season.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.


— Providence finished the weekend with a solid hold on second place in the Atlantic Division. With 54 points, they are three behind the first-place Hershey Bears and 10 ahead of the third-place Charlotte Checkers.

— Vinni Lettieri had a goal and an assist on Friday and a pair of goals on Sunday. He has 4-1-5 in his last three games. Tied for third in the AHL with nine power-play goals, he continues to lead the team in scoring with 16-17-33 in 38 games.

— Marc McLaughlin scored the winning goal on a power play and added two assists on Friday. On Sunday, his clean win on an offensive zone draw led directly to Vinni Lettieri’s shorthanded goal. Playing his best hockey of the season, McLaughlin has 3-4-7 in his last 5 games.

— Brandon Bussi gave up four goals in Sunday’s OT loss, but if not for his stellar play in the second period, the Wolf Pack could have jumped ahead by three or four goals. He finished the game with 38 saves and continues to have the best save percentage in the AHL at .933.

— Chris Wagner and Vinni Lettieri put the team on their backs in the second period on Sunday as the P-Bruins played their way back into the game after being dominated by the Wolf Pack in the first half of the period.

— Connor Carrick scored on a rip from the point off a Chris Wagner pass and assisted on Vinny Lettieri’s second goal on Sunday. He had a game-high six shots on goal.

— Luke Toporowski made a pretty move to beat Louis Domingue on a penalty shot on Friday.

— Jack Ahcan has assists in five straight games, including a perfect setup on Marc McLaughlin’s GWG on Friday.

— The bigger they are, the harder they fall. Chris Wagner flattened 6-foot-7 Matt Rempe with a check with 7:50 to go on Friday.

— The power play went a combined 3 for 7 on Friday and Sunday. That’s progress as the PP moved up one slot to 30th in the AHL.

— Jakub Lauko continued his good play with a goal on Friday night. He also took a solid stab at scoring a “Michigan” goal on Sunday.

— Anton Stralman played his first game for the P-Bruins and his first AHL game since the 2008-09 season on Sunday.


— The P-Bruins are heading into a difficult weekend. After playing at home on Friday against – who else? – Hartford, Providence will play at Utica on Saturday night, then return home in the wee hours for a Sunday afternoon game against Syracuse.

— The cross-checking penalty on Oskar Steen with 4:15 left on Sunday was a head-scratcher. Maybe Steen deserved a penalty for something on the play, maybe he didn’t, but it couldn’t have been a cross-check as Steen had only one hand on his stick when he engaged with the Hartford player.

— In the first half of the second period on Sunday, Providence was outshot, 12-1, as Hartford totally dominated. The P-Bruins were outshot, 14-5, in the third period.

— P-Bruins will play Hartford for the fifth straight time on Friday. C’mon man!


— Injured: Mike Reilly, Matt Filipe

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend

Set up by Fabian Lysell, Providence’s Vinni Lettieri rifles the puck past Hartford’s Louis Domingue in overtime on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Providence Bruins)

It was another productive weekend for the Providence Bruins as they earned four of six points by winning two of their three games.

“In a three in three, we’ll take that,” said coach Ryan Mougenel.

They opened the weekend with a well-earned 3-2 victory against the Utica Comets at home on Friday. In Hartford on Saturday, the P-Bruins were outplayed in a 3-1 loss to the Wolf Pack. Back home on Sunday, the P-Bruins edged Hartford, 3-2, in overtime.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.


— Fabian Lysell made a brilliant one-on-one play to set up Vinni Lettieri’s goal 26 seconds into overtime on Sunday. He danced Hartford’s Bobby Trivigno before sliding a pass to Lettieri for a one timer that beat Louis Domingue in the Wolf Pack net. It’s a shot that Lettieri stays on the ice to practice long after other players have left.

— With 37 games played and 35 to go, Providence finished the weekend in second place in the Atlantic Division with a record of 22-8-5-2. They have 51 points and a points percentage of .689. Only Hershey (54) and Coachella Valley (52) have more points.

— Making his first start since injuring his knee on Nov. 5, Kyle Keyser stopped 29 shots and earned the win on Sunday. “He deserved that. It’s not easy coming back from being out three months,” said Mougenel. Keyser is 5-0-1 with a .931 save percentage and 1.89 goals-against average.

— Marc McLaughlin had a good weekend. He had 1-1-2 on Friday and a goal on Sunday and was plus-two in each game.

— Justin Brazeau is hot. He scored a goal on Friday and a goal and an assist on Sunday. He has 5-5-10 in his last eight games.

— Jack Ahcan made a perfect pass to Justin Brazeau on the game-winner on Friday, then got the puck to Lysell in overtime on Sunday.

— Keith Kinkaid stopped 32 of 34 shots in Hartford on Saturday. The pad stop he made on Matt Robertson two minutes into the third period was one of his best of the season.

— Hartford’s Matt Rempe is 6-foot-7. Providence’s Jack Ahcan is 5-foot-8. In the second period on Saturday night, the smaller guy absolutely steamrolled the bigger guy with a clean hit.

— While the Wolf Pack crowed about filling the bottom tier of their rink with 6,189 fans on Saturday, the P-Bruins drew 10,169 on Sunday, the biggest home crowd of the season. Providence is fourth in the AHL with an average attendance of 7,265.

— Providence caught a couple of breaks against Utica on Friday. First, an apparent goal by the Comets at the end of the second period was washed out. It looked like the puck crossed the goal line before time ran out, but the referees looked at the replay and ruled that that it had not. Then, after killing a five on three, Marc McLaughlin’s dump-in took a crazy bounce past Utica goalie Nico Daws for a lucky goal 2:27 into the third period.


— Linesmen Dmitri Antipin and Stephen Drain should have stepped in sooner when Matt Rempe of Hartford pounded J.D. Greenway in a one-sided fight in the second period on Sunday.

— Tough break for Georgii Merkulov in the third period on Sunday. With Providence up, 2-1, he lost an edge and fell down after carrying the puck into the offensive zone. Hartford’s Zac Jones collected the puck and passed it up to Tanner Fritz, who went in alone and scored to tie the game.


— Injured: Eduards Tralmaks, Matt Filipe

— Providence is in a 0 for 15 stretch on the power play. The PP is 31st in the league at 13.8 percent.

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins week

Justin Brazeau scored twice on Saturday and added another goal on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Providence Bruins)

Okay, it wasn’t a perfect week for the Providence Bruins, but they’ll take two wins in three games all season long.

The P-Bruins started the week with a 5-2 win at Bridgeport on Wednesday. They traveled to Bridgeport again on Saturday for their eighth straight road game and won, 6-3. Back home on Sunday for their first game at the Amica Mutual Pavilion since Dec. 16, Providence lost to the Utica Comets, 2-1.

“It’s tough. They come in (having played) three in three and at the end of the day we had opportunities to get it done and we fell short,” said coach Ryan Mougenel. “There’s lessons in it, for sure. I haven’t really liked our Sundays at all here. It’s something to address and get better at.”

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.


— As of Sunday night, Providence was in second place in the Atlantic Division – two points behind Hershey — and tied for second in the AHL with 47 points. They’ve lost only seven of 34 games in regulation time.

— Providence went 5-2-1 in its eight straight road games from Dec. 17 to Jan. 7.

— A pair of quick strikes left the P-Bruins in good shape in Bridgeport. They scored two goals in 13 seconds (Oskar Steen and Jakub Lauko) on Wednesday and twice in 30 seconds (Joona Koppanen and Vinni Lettieri) on Saturday.

— Justin Brazeau is on a hot streak with 3-4-7 in his last five games. He had two goals and was plus-4 on Saturday night and added another goal on Sunday afternoon.

— Joona Koppanen had a goal and an assist in each of the games in Bridgeport.

— Vinni Lettieri scored the game-winner and added an assist on Saturday. With 12-16-28 in 33 games he continues to lead the team in goals and points.

— Jakub Lauko has a goal and three assists in the last three games. He is plus-10 so far after finishing last season at minus-28.

— Oskar Steen is playing some of his best hockey of the season with 3-4-7 in his last five games.

— Joey Abate had a strong game on Wednesday with a goal and five shots. He’s tied for second in the league with six fighting majors.

— Mike Reilly scored the longest goal of the season on Saturday, hitting the empty net from 198 feet near the end of the game. Brandan Bussi earned his first assist of the year.

— After drawing 8,562 fans on Sunday, the P-Bruins are fourth in the AHL with an average crowd of 7,027.


— Utica scored on its second shot of the game on Sunday.

— Going into Sunday’s game, Providence was allowing an average of 33.97 shots per game, second-most in the AHL.

— Starting on Saturday, P-Bruins play five straight games against Hartford.


— The power play remains a problem. After going 0 for 5 on Sunday, the PP is 30th in the AHL at 14.5 percent.

— Injured: Eduards Tralmaks, J.D. Greenway, Matt Filipe

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins week

The Providence Bruins ended 2022 on a high note, winning their last two games and taking four out of six points on their tough Pennsylvania road trip.

They started the week with a tight 1-0 loss in Hershey against the first-in-the-AHL Bears on Wednesday.

On Friday, Providence’s struggling power play came to life with a pair of goals in a 4-3 victory at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton despite being outshot, 39-27.

Back in Hershey one night later, the road-weary P-Bruins showed tremendous character in grinding out a 4-3 win despite being outshot, 41-21. The Bears, rested and ready after not playing on Friday, tied the game at 5:39 of the third, but Providence quickly responded with Chris Wagner’s power play goal at 7:05, which turned out to be the winner.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.


— The P-Bruins finished the calendar year in second place in the Atlantic Division with 43 points and a .694 points percentage in 31 games. They are 18-6-5-2.

— If you’d told me at the start of the season that Providence would have only six regulation-time losses in their first 31 games I’d have said you were crazy.

— Chris Wagner was a beast all over the ice in the third period of Saturday’s win. He scored the eventual game-winner on the power play seven minutes into the period, then had some tremendous shifts on the penalty kill and won important defensive zone faceoffs as the clock ran down.

— Georgii Merkulov had a productive weekend with a goal and an assist against the Penguins on Friday and two assists against the Bears on Saturday. With 6-17-23 in 28 games, he leads the team in assists and is second in points.

— Oskar Steen hadn’t been producing a lot on offense in the last couple of weeks, but that changed on Friday when he buried the game-winner with 2:49 left. He also recorded two assists that night and chipped in with another helper on Saturday.

— The power play broke a drought with two goals on Friday and another one, for the game-winner, on Saturday.

— After the Pens’ Alex Nylander fell down and lost the puck in the neutral zone, Vinni Lettieri put a perfect pass on the stick of Oskar Steen for the winning goal on Friday.

— After giving up a goal in the first minute on Saturday, Keith Kinkaid delivered a strong performance with 38 saves, including some 10-bell stops with the game on the line.

— Luke Toporowski got a nice break in Saturday’s game when, without a better option, he lofted a backhander toward the goal from a foot inside the blue line and it somehow landed in the net behind Hershey goalie Hunter Shepard.

— Brandon Bussi continues to lead the AHL with a .936 save percentage.

— Jakub Lauko snapped a one-goal-in-15-games slump with an impossible angle goal on Saturday.

— Connor Carrick’s slapshot goal on Friday might have been the hardest shot by a Providence Bruin all season. He leads the team’s defensemen with 3-14-17 in 26 games.


— Brandon Bussi undoubtedly would like to have back the bad-angle shot by Valtteri Puustinen of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton that got past him on Friday.

— After a tough game on Friday, the P-Bruins had to face a Hershey squad that didn’t play the previous night.

— On Saturday, Providence gave up a goal only 27 seconds into the game.

— Hershey had nine power plays to only three for the P-Bruins on Saturday.

— Jakub Lauko didn’t help the cause when he took a misconduct and a game misconduct for abuse of officials four minutes into the third period on Saturday. The tired P-Bruins could have used his legs as they tried to close out the win.


— Injured: Johnny Beecher, Kyle Keyser, Eduards Tralmaks, Matt Filipe