For the Boston Bruins’ minor league affiliates Providence and Maine, excitement quickly turned from the playoffs to disappointment as both teams were eliminated in the first round of their respective seasons last week.
The Providence Bruins, who entered the playoffs as the third seed in the Atlantic Division, have lost the last eight contests in regular and post-season play. Providence faced the six-ranked Bridgeport Island team in the first round, an unfavorable match in the regular season, and dropped a pair of heartbreakers 2-1 in overtime.
In Maine, the Mariners lost in the opening round of the ECHL’s Kelly Cup Series to the Reading Royals (Philadelphia Flyers), 4-2. Maine went into a series match last week and faces elimination with Game 6 and 7 on the road, but the Mariners were denied a 2-1 defeat on the road to close out a solid first season as a Boston pro.
36-25-11, 83 points, third place in the Atlantic League
With the world on lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Providence Bruins looked in a position to finish this season as the AHL’s first team and clear favorite for the Calder Cup title. But the remainder of the season was called off and this team, arguably one of the best in Providence history, never got its chance.
Providence won the division title in 2021, a 25-game shortened season in which they faced three opponents, but did not participate in the post-season. And so, in 2022, Providence looked destined for a deep playoff, especially during long stretches of the season as the team dominated opponents and held the top spot in the division.
But in mid-April, the wheel kicked off a six-game losing streak to end the regular season. In the playoffs, facing six-seeded Bridgeport, Providence struggled hard but failed with two defeats 2-1 in overtime.
In game one of the best of three series, Jacob Lauko put Providence ahead late in the second half, but Bridgeport tied it only 1:07 in the final frame. In overtime, Arnaud Durando scored the winning goal for the islanders to take the first game on the way home. Troy Grosnick, who struggled with injuries for most of the second half of the year, made 30 saves in a hard-fought effort.
Grosenick again played well in Match 2, stopping 32 shots in a 2-1 defeat. Providence trailed 1-0 at the end of the third half before Nick Wolf equalized to force overtime. But again, Bridgeport, this time through Aato Ratti, fired a sudden death winner to seal game two and the series.
Player of the week: Troy Grosnick One of the unsung heroes of the regular season, Grosenick was easily Providence’s best player during the post-season series defeat. The goalkeeper, 32, has brought experience and consistency to Providence’s backend and has been instrumental in hitting other goalscorers such as Kyle Keiser and Brandon Busey.
33-31-8 74 points fourth in the northern division
After trailing 3-2 in a better-of-seven series heading into Reading, Maine had to dig deeper. The Mariners were coming off a heartbreaking 3-2 home loss in Game Five, but they were the better team during the three games in Portland.
In Game 6, losing 2-1, Maine set the tone as Nick Master hit the third time in the series to give the sailors a lead. Trevor Gotsch tied things up at Reading in the second period before Jacob Pritchard fired the Royals up front halfway through the third period. The Mariners outperformed Reading 15-8 in the last period, but comeback efforts failed and the season ended early.
Callum Booth netted the net as Maine rotated netminders throughout the series and made 31 saves in Game 6.
Player of the week: Nick Master A goal, four shots, and a plus 1 rating make the Master Maine’s best player during their last post-season game. Booth played well enough to earn stick flicks despite losing.