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)