Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend

Luke Toporowski barrels to the net past Hartford’s Zac Jones on Friday. Toporowski scored Providence’s only goal of the weekend on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Providence Bruins)

The Providence Bruins dug themselves a hole in their two playoff games this weekend. As a result, their season will be on the line Wednesday night in Hartford.

Because they finished first in the Atlantic Division, the P-Bruins earned a bye in the opening round of the Calder Cup playoffs. In hindsight, that didn’t help them.

After 12 days between games, Providence wasn’t sharp and was outplayed by the Hartford Wolf Pack in a 1-0 loss in Game 1 of their best-of-five Atlantic Division semifinal at home on Friday. The P-Bruins were better on Saturday, but lost, 2-1.

Now the series moves to Connecticut for a win-or-go-home game on Wednesday. The fourth game, if necessary, will be at the XL Center on Friday.

“Definitely a much better willingness to play the right way (than in Game 1), but not enough, obviously,” coach Ryan Mougenel said after Saturday’s loss. “We need everybody going and I don’t know if we had everybody going. But there were some real good things we can build off of and build some momentum and that’s what we’ve got to do now.”

Providence is certainly capable of winning on the road. In fact, they were better on the road than at home during the regular season with a record of 24-9-3 for a .708 points percentage, second in the league behind Calgary’s .750.

“I think it says a lot about our team, a team that can play well on the road. The one thing we’ve had, we’ve had great bounce back. It says a lot about the guys in the room. There’s guys with tons of pride. They don’t want their season to end, they want to extend it,” Mougenel said.

“Kudos to Hartford. They’re doing a good job playing above us and that’s testament that they know we’re fast. We have to do a better job playing behind them, creating anxiety with our feet. You just can’t have three or four guys, we’ve got to do it by committee. We’ve got strong belief and that’s what it’s about.”

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.


— Brandon Bussi played very well in both games, stopping 57 of 60 shots. He denied Tanner Fritz twice on shorthanded breakaways on Friday. “I just wish we could give him some run support,” said Mougenel.

— Luke Toporowski scored Providence’s only goal of the weekend, a bar-down rip on his former Kamloops teammate Dylan Garand on Saturday night. He posted a team-high total of six shots in the two games.

— The penalty kill was a perfect 5 for 5 on Friday and Saturday.

— Mike Callahan came to Brandon Bussi’s defense and fought 6-foot-6 Tim Gettinger after Gettinger ran over Bussi.


— The power play went 0 for 4 in the two games.


— Providence had only 14 shots in Friday night’s 1-0 loss. Hartford’s Dylan Garand will never have an easier shutout.

— One goal in two games is not going to take you far in the postseason or any other time.

— Going back to last season, in Providence’s last four playoff games, in 264:39 of play, they’ve scored only three goals.

— Injured: Trevor Kuntar

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend

Brandon Bussi hugs winning goalie Kyle Keyser (38) after Sunday’s game. (Photo courtesy of Providence Bruins)

The last weekend of the regular season ended on a high note for the Providence Bruins as they clinched first place in the Atlantic Division in the final period of the final game on Sunday.

The P-Bruins started their three-in-three weekend with a lackluster 7-2 loss to the Springfield Thunderbirds on the road on Friday night. They responded in a big way on Saturday at home against the Bridgeport Islanders. Providence trailed 3-1 in the second period before rallying for a 5-3 victory.

Saturday’s win put Providence in position to jump over the Hershey Bears and into first place by beating Springfield at the AMP on Sunday, which they did.

The P-Bruins took an early lead, but the game was knotted at three after two periods.

Before the last period, coach Ryan Mougenel told his team, “We’ve got 20 minutes to just outcompete them and execute and we can put a banner in the stands and you guys can all be a part of that. That’s a pretty special thing to do as a group.”

In the third period, they exploded for four goals and won going away, 7-3.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.


— Providence finished first in the Atlantic Division and in the Eastern Conference with a record of 44-18-8-2. It’s their third Atlantic Division title in the last four years. They have a bye in the opening round of the Calder Cup playoffs.

— The P-Bruins outscored Bridgeport and Springfield by a combined 7-0 in the third period.

— Jack Ahcan had an epic third period on Sunday. He went top shelf for a shorthanded goal that turned out to be the game-winner and added an assist on Marc McLaughlin’s insurance goal. For the weekend, he had 1-4-5 and was plus-eight.

— Chris Wagner had a great weekend. He scored a shorthanded goal on Friday, then scored twice and added an assist on Sunday and was plus-four. He finished with a career-high 19 goals.

— Vinni Lettieri has 8-9-17 in his last 10 games. He put up 23-25-49 in 48 games.

— Eduards Tralmaks had his best weekend of the season and it’s probably not a coincidence that it happened after Ryan Mougenel reunited the 664-pound line of Tralmaks, Joona Koppanen and Justin Brazeau. Tralmaks scored the game-winner from Koppanen and Brazeau on Saturday. The line combined for five points on Sunday, including a goal and an assist by Tralmaks.

— Georgii Merkulov led the team in scoring with 24-31-55 in 67 games. He finished second in the AHL in rookie scoring.

— Connor Carrick’s plus-15 is the best on the team. Dan Renouf is second with plus-10.

— Rookie defenseman Frederic Brunet was impressive in his pro debut on Saturday. He assisted on two goals.

— Rookie forward Brett Harrison posted his first point as a pro with an assist on Saturday.


— Providence finished with the worst road power play in the league at 14.8 percent.

— The penalty kill had a tough weekend, giving up five goals in 14 shorthanded situations.

— Providence allowed a goal 38 seconds into the game on Saturday.

— After taking an early 2-0 lead on Friday, the P-Bruins gave up seven straight goals.

— They gave up two goals in 12 seconds in the second period and two goals in 1:56 in the third period of Friday’s game.


—  Injured: Nick Wolff, Trevor Kuntar

Eduards Tralmaks stuffs the puck past Bridgeport’s Jakub Skarek for the game-winner on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Providence Bruins)

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins week

Rookie Mason Lohrei recorded his first point as a pro with an assist on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Providence Bruins)

At home for three straight games, the Providence Bruins earned four of a possible six points last week.

They snapped a two-game losing streak with a solid 3-1 win over the Hershey Bears on Wednesday. They ground out a 3-1 win against the last-place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Friday. Then they lost to the red-hot Hartford Wolf Pack, 5-3, on Saturday.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.


— The P-Bruins head into the final week of the season in second place in the Atlantic Division with 94 points. They trail first-place Hershey by a point. They have a bye for the first-round of the playoffs.

— Providence went 5-1 against Hershey this season.

— Vinni Lettieri returned from an ankle injury against Hershey and scored the winning goal and added an assist. He scored an empty net goal to clinch the win against WBS. He’s averaging a point per game with 21-24-45 in 45 games.

— Shane Bowers scored twice against Hershey and again against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. His first tally against Hershey snapped a 38-game goal-less streak.

— Connor Carrick made a terrific pass to Vinni Lettieri on the winning goal on Friday. Carrick was plus-2 on both Wednesday and Friday.

— Brandon Bussi delivered yet another fine performance on Friday, stopping 36 of 37 shots in the win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. His .925 save percentage is second in the AHL.

— Kyle Keyser played well against Hershey, stopping 28 of 29 shots. He was very strong in the third period when the P-Bruins were outshot, 14-4.

— Luke Toporowski had a good weekend. On Friday he made a play to get the puck to the net and it was tipped in by Eduards Tralmaks, giving Providence the lead with 18 seconds left in the second period. On Saturday he smoked a wrist shot past Dylan Garand for his 14th goal of the season. Toporowski would probably be closing in on 20 goals if he hadn’t missed a couple of months with a knee injury.

— On his 30th birthday on Saturday, Josiah Didier scored two goals. He hadn’t scored since Dec. 4. It was the first multi-goal game of his pro career.

— Mason Lohrei recorded his first point as a pro, earning the second assist on Josiah Didier’s first goal on Saturday.

— Eduards Tralmaks scored a goal on Friday and assisted on one on Saturday.


— The power play went 0 for 8 in the three games. It is 1 for its last 21 and is last in the AHL at home at 14.3 percent.

— Georgii Merkulov has come a long way with his defensive zone play this season, but he was minus-3 on Saturday.

— Three of Hartford’s first 13 shots went in on Saturday.


— The AHLTV broadcast from the Amica Mutual Pavilion on Saturday night was unwatchable at times. I don’t see camera work that bad anywhere else in the Atlantic Division.

— Injured: Nick Wolff, Joey Abate, Trevor Kuntar

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins week

Justin Brazeau celebrates after scoring his 16th goal of the season on a first-period power play on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Providence Bruins)

It wasn’t a particularly good week for the Providence Bruins. They didn’t play very well while winning once and losing twice.

In Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Wednesday night, they escaped with a 4-3 shootout win against the last-place Penguins. The road-weary P-Bruins were blitzed, 5-0, by the Hartford Wolf Pack on the road on Friday night, then were beaten, 5-2, at home against the Bridgeport Islanders on Saturday.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.


— With six games left in the regular season, Providence has clinched a place in the playoffs and is in second place in the Atlantic Division with 90 points, one behind Hershey, which visits the AMP on Wednesday night.

— Johnny Beecher’s arrow is pointing up. He didn’t hesitate to drop the gloves with Brandon Scanlin on Friday after the Hartford defenseman blasted Sammy Asselin into the boards and he scored a nice goal on Saturday.

— Attendance continues to be strong. A crowd of 10,503 was at Saturday’s game on Star Wars Night. Providence is fourth in the AHL with an average of 7,787.

— Fabian Lysell scored a slick goal against Wilkes-Barrie/Scranton and buried the only goal in the shootout in Providence’s win.

— Connor Carrick assisted on both Providence goals on Saturday. He has 6-34-40 in 58 games.

— Brandon Bussi stopped all three Penguins shooters in the shootout win on Wednesday.


— The P-Bruins’ eight-game win streak ended with the loss in Hartford.

— They gave up a goal 19 seconds into Saturday’s game.

— Providence gave up two goals in 49 seconds in the first period against the Penguins and two goals in 44 seconds in the first period against the Islanders.

— Confusion between defense partners Mike Callahan and Josiah Didier led to a goal for Hartford with two seconds left in the first period on Friday.

— Don’t know how there was no penalty called on Bridgeport’s Chris Terry for dangerously shoving Joona Koppanen into the boards at the end of the second period on Saturday. Referee Chad Ingalls was 10 feet away and looking right at the play.

— The power play went 1 for 13 in the three games.

— Fabian Lysell has been minus-1 in five straight games. His minus-12 is the worst on the team.

— The team bus from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton didn’t pull into the AMP until around 3:30 a.m. on Thursday.


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