MARLBORO, Mass. — Despite being outshot and only having ten forwards dressed, the Providence Bruins proved to be too much for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on March 15 and skated away with a 5–2 victory.
Providence has been the class of the Atlantic Division this season, but NHL call-ups left Providence with a roster that, while recognizable, was missing some key pieces that led them to the top of the division. Forwards Greg McKegg, Oskar Steen, and Karson Kuhlman were all with the Bruins taxi squad, along with defenseman Jack Ahcan and goalies Dan Vladar and Jeremy Swayman. Assistant Captain Zach Senyshyn was called up last week, and was injured in his NHL action. Additionally, forwards Cooper Zech, Curtis Hall, and Anton Blidh were all scratched due to injury concerns.
This mass exodus of players led to only 16 skaters donning the spoked “P” and two goalies with zero action at the AHL level this season as the options for protecting the crease. Goaltender Callum Booth, an offseason acquisition for the franchise, was tasked with the reins for this contest.
While this should have been a chance for the Sound Tigers to pounce on the depleted P-Bruins, the exact opposite occurred. This precedent was established 80 seconds into the contest when defenseman Brady Lyle intercepted the puck at his own blue line, rushed the puck into the offensive zone, cut to the middle, and fired the puck past Sound Tigers goaltender C.J. Motte for the games opening goal. Despite the fast start, no additional pucks reached the back of the net for either side in the period, and the first frame ended with a 1-0 score in favor of Providence. Shots were even at 11 at this point.
The second period brought domination from the Sound Tigers’ shot department, while the P-Bruins used their domination on the scoreboard. Just before the five-minute mark of the period, a power-play presented an opportunity for forward Robert Lantosi to snipe a wrist shot from the top of the circle past Motte and into the back of the net for a 2-0 Providence lead. The lead would be increased with just over eight minutes remaining when defenseman Ian McKinnon dealt the puck to center Pavel Shen, who beat Motte for his first goal of the season. The 3-0 deficit signaled the end of the night for Motte, who had made 13 saves on 16 shots. With new goaltender Francis Marrotte in the crease, it appeared to be time for Bridgeport to crawl back into the game. Unfortunately for them, defenseman Tommy Cross took a wrist shot that beat Marrotte just 27 seconds after the third goal and gave Providence a commanding 4-0 lead.
This lead carried into the third period and held for most of it until Cross beat Marrotte for his second goal of the game with under four minutes left. Garbage time goals from Sound Tigers forwards Tom Kuhnhackl and Cole Bardreau ruined Booth’s shutout bid, but were far from enough to take the game from the P-Bruins and led the game towards its final 5–2 score.
Booth saved 36 of 38 Sound Tiger shots while Marrotte saved five of seven shot attempts against him in relief. Providence (10-2-1) is off until Saturday, when they take on the Hartford Wolf Pack, while Bridgeport (2-7-0) faces off against the Wolf Pack on Thursday. Both games have a puck drop at 1 p.m. E.T.