Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend

The Providence Bruins continue to pile up wins. They extended their winning streak to eight with a pair of road victories against a good Charlotte Checkers team over the weekend.

In the first game on Saturday, Providence won, 3-1, despite being outshot, 31-18. On Sunday, the P-Bruins trailed by a goal early in the second before scoring four straight in a 5-2 victory.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.


— Providence is in first place in both the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference as of Monday. They are 39-14-8-2 with a .698 points percentage. Only the Calgary Wranglers (.734) and the Coachella Valley Firebirds (.726) are ahead of them.

— Goaltending has been a strong suit all season. In Saturday’s win, Brandon Bussi stopped 30 of 31 shots and improved his record to 19-4-4 with a .928 save percentage, which is second in the AHL. His glove save on Cory Conacher was one of the best of the year. On Sunday, Kyle Keyser kicked out 19 shots, including a great stop on Connor Bunnaman with three seconds left in the second period. Keyser is 11-3-2 with a .913 save percentage.

— Georgii Merkulov scored a goal in each game after picking off bad passes by Charlotte. He leads all AHL rookies in scoring with 23-27-50 in 58 games and has 16 goals in his last 22 games.

— After missing two months with a knee injury, Luke Toporowski buried a breakaway goal in first game back on Saturday.

— The power play went 2 for 7 in Sunday’s win.

— Chris Wagner’s score on Saturday gave him a career-high 16 goals.

— Connor Carrick had a power play goal on Sunday on a bomb from long range and has 2-8-10 in his last 7 games.

— Fabian Lysell was credited with three assists on Sunday.

— Dan Renouf was plus-three on Sunday.


— Providence gave up a two-on-one while on the power play and allowed a shorthanded goal by Lucas Carlsson on Sunday.

— The roughing call on Justin Brazeau by referee Jackson Kozari on Sunday was a joke.

— Mike Reilly took a terrible fall into the boards in the third period on Sunday. Luckily, he wasn’t seriously hurt.


— Injured: Vinni Lettieri, Joey Abate, Nick Wolff, Matt Filipe

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins week

Michael DiPietro stopped 33 shots in his first start for Providence, a 4-2 win over Syracuse. He was one of three P-Bruins goalies to record a win last week. (Photo courtesy of Providence Bruins)

The Providence Bruins won all three of their games over the last week and they continue to hold down first place in the Atlantic Division.

They started with a solid 4-2 win over the Syracuse Crunch at home on Wednesday. On Saturday, Providence played very well on the road in a 4-1 victory against the Springfield Thunderbirds. Back home before a big crowd on Sunday, the P-Bruins earned a 3-2 shootout win against the Thunderbirds.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.


— Providence has won five games in a row. With 11 games left in the regular season, they have a record of 37-14-8-2 and 84 points. They are three points ahead of second-place Hershey, which has a game in hand.

— Joona Koppanan had a tremendous week. He scored a goal and an assist against Syracuse and an assist in Springfield. Then on Sunday he scored a shorthanded goal and a power play goal and buried the only goal for the win in the shootout.

— The power play went four for nine in the three games.

— The P-Bruins got wins from three different goalies. Playing his first game with Providence, Michael DiPietro stopped 33 shots in the win against Syracuse. Brandon Bussi stopped 32 of 33 shots and improved his record to 18-4-4 with the win in Springfield. Kyle Keyser made one of the best saves of the year on Adam Gaudette at the final buzzer, then denied all three Thunderbirds shooters in the shootout in Sunday’s win.

— Georgii Merkulov scored twice against Syracuse and once in Springfield.

— Connor Carrick had three assists against Syracuse. He has 1-7-8 in the last five games. He also stepped up and fought Keean Washkurek after the Springfield player snowed Kyle Keyser.

— Fabian Lysell had a goal and an assist against the Crunch.

— Curtis Hall scored his first goal of the season in Springfield.

— The crowd of 10,054 got its money’s worth at Sunday’s entertaining game. Providence’s average attendance is up to 7,697, which is an increase of over 700 fans per game from 2021-22.


— I looked high and low and couldn’t find anything bad this week.


— Injured/sick: Vinni Lettieri, Fabian Lysell, Luke Toporowski, Nick Wolff, Matt Filipe

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend

Chris Wagner takes the puck to the net against Hershey goalie Zach Fucale on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Providence Bruins)

A weekend that started on a sour note turned out to be one of the most impressive of the season for the Providence Bruins.

They had lost four of their last five games after they dropped a 6-3 decision in Springfield on Friday night. And the outlook was grim going into Saturday night’s home game against the first-place Hershey Bears as the P-Bruins were without Vinni Lettieri, Georgii Merkulov, Marc McLaughlin and Jakub Lauko.

But after falling behind by two goals in the opening 10:42, the P-Bruins rallied for a 3-2 win.

Then on Sunday, Vinni Lettieri turned in one of the great performances in recent franchise history. He scored a hat trick and added an assist in the first 10:20 as Providence jumped out to an early lead on their way to a 5-3 victory and a sweep of the two games against Hershey.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.


— The weekend ended with Providence in first place in the Atlantic Division with 78 points, three ahead of Hershey.

— Lettieri’s hat trick in 10:20 on Sunday was the fastest by a P-Bruin since Randy Robitaille scored three in 14:14 on Nov. 25, 1998. In that game, Providence scored 10 goals in the first period in a 14-2 win at Syracuse. Lettieri finished with 3-2-5 on Sunday and has 19-23-42 in 43 games.

— After going 11 games without a goal, Oskar Steen scored twice in Springfield on Friday and notched the game-winner and added an assist on Saturday.

— Connor Carrick scored a goal on Saturday and assisted on all three of Lettieri’s goals on Sunday.

— Eddie Tralmaks had a goal and an assist on Saturday. Chris Wagner had a goal and a helper on Sunday.

— Even though he gave up five goals on Friday, Kyle Keyser kept the score close with several brilliant stops.

— Providence’s come-from-behind win in the third period on Saturday is even more impressive when you consider that before then Hershey’s record when leading after two periods was 20-1-0-1.

— Brandon Bussi made 21 saves in Saturday’s win, improving his record to 17-4-4. His .925 save percentage is second in the AHL.

— Dan Renouf scored his first goal of the season in Springfield on a nifty setup from Jakub Lauko. Renouf dropped the gloves with Greg Printz after Printz dropped Fabian Lysell with a hard hit.

— Johnny Beecher threw his best hit of the season with 3:50 left on Saturday. His clean shoulder check lifted Hershey’s Jake Massie off his skates and knocked him to the ice. Beecher had a goal and an assist on Sunday.

— After drawing crowds of 9,112 and 8,186, the P-Bruins are fourth in the league with an average attendance of 7,673.


— Going into Sunday’s game, Providence’s power play at home was dead last at 14.3 percent. (But they did score a power play goal in the first period.)

— The P-Bruins are giving up 32.05 shots per game. That’s 29th in the AHL.


— Injured: Luke Toporowski, Marc McLaughlin, Joey Abate, Matt Filipe

Johnny Beecher reacts after Jake Massie of Hershey objected to Beecher’s crushing check on him in Saturday night’s game. (Photo courtesy of Providence Bruins)

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins week

The Providence Bruins have hit a rough stretch. Struggling to score goals, they were fortunate to return from a three-game road trip with two out of six points.

Coming off an ugly home loss to Rochester on Feb. 26, the P-Bruins got off to a great start in Bridgeport on Thursday night as Georgii Merkulov scored a power play goal 68 seconds in. They held onto the lead well into the second period before giving up seven straight goals and losing, 7-1, to the Islanders.

In Hershey on Saturday, Providence managed only 11 shots, but snuck away with a 1-0 victory over the first-place Bears.

On Sunday, they were outplayed for long stretches and lost to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 3-1.

 Here’s the good, bad and ugly.


— Providence is in second place in the Atlantic Division, just one point behind Hershey.

— Chris Wagner willed Providence to a win in their last visit to Hershey on Dec. 31 and his all-out effort helped deliver Saturday’s victory. In a scoreless game in the third period, Wagner threw a couple of hard checks on the boards and in open ice. Then his hit knocked a Hershey defenseman off the puck behind the net, allowing the P-Bruins to gain possession. Seconds later, Wagner fed Marc McLaughlin for the only goal of the game.

— Brandon Bussi rebounded from a tough night in Bridgeport with a standout performance against Lehigh Valley. It could have been a one-sided loss if not for Bussi, who stopped 36 of 38 shots.

— Kyle Keyser stopped all 22 shots in Hershey for his first shutout of the season. It was exactly the kind of performance that was needed after Thursday’s tough game.


— The P-Bruins have scored three goals in the last three games. They didn’t generate nearly enough chances in the last two games. The absence of Vinni Lettieri and Luke Toporowski leaves a big hole.

— Fabian Lysell is minus-10 and has no goals in the last seven games. Oskar Steen has gone 11 games without a goal. Joona Koppanen hasn’t scored in 10 games. Curtis Hall has no goals in 31 games this season and one goal in his last 62 games.

— Providence went 17 minutes without a shot in Hershey and finished the game with only 11.

— Even though Paul Thompson of the Islanders was in the crease and getting in Brandon Bussi’s way in what looked to be a clear case of interference, referees Reid Anderson and Jason Williams allowed his goal that tied the game in the second period in Bridgeport.

The P-Bruins appeared to lose focus, allowing another goal just 21 seconds later, and a third goal only 19 seconds into the third period. The final score was 7-1, the worst loss of the season.

While there was more than enough blame to go around, it was a rare poor performance for Bussi as he allowed six goals on 26 shots.

— Third-place Charlotte is closing the gap on Providence. The Checkers are now five points back with the P-Bruins holding a game in hand.


— On Sunday, Marc McLaughlin’s nose was cut when his face was rammed into the glass by Garrett Wilson with 9:17 left in the third and he was cut near the eye in his fight with Wilson with 1:17 left in the game. He gushed an alarming amount of blood, but was OK after the game.

— Injured: Vinni Lettieri, Luke Toporowski, Joey Abate, Matt Filipe