By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – The busiest week yet in a still young season, recent days saw the Providence Bruins return to Marlborough on a high note after a dominant road trip.
Their success now has the team leading the sparse, three-team Atlantic Division, this year as they play home games at the local New England Sports Center due to COVID-19 testing at their traditional home in Providence.
Away from home, Bruins thrive with sense of normalcy
Beating the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Feb. 19, Providence snagged a third consecutive victory on Feb. 21 up the road against the Hartford Wolf Pack. Four days later, the team was then back in Marlborough for a rematch with the Sound Tigers.
For Head Coach Jay Leach, this busy trip through the Northeast is refreshing.
“We’ve been looking forward to this for a long time,” he said.
Battling the Sound Tigers and the Wolf Pack on their turf, Leach said in a recent press conference that he was especially grateful to be back in full sized arenas.
Alluding to his own team’s situation playing in the small New England Sports Center Rink 1 stadium, he said the atmosphere has helped his squad.
“It’s good to be able to play multiple games against different opponents in AHL buildings,” Leach said.
After road victories, Bruins stumble at home
The Bruins topped Bridgeport, Feb. 13 in a 1-0 squeaker of a game. In Hartford, the offense then came alive for a 5-2 rout.
On Feb. 25, against Bridgeport again, though, the team struggled to finish strong in their own temporary home, falling 3-2.
“They brought a level of energy that was not met by us,” Leach said of The Sound Tigers effort in his post-game comments. “We just did not compete as hard as they competed.”
The unique challenge of hockey in 2021, Leach says, is navigating schedules and matching that aforementioned energy. As Providence is playing 26 games against just three opponents, this year, there’s little room for complacency.
“If you play the same team over and over again and you win, it’s not going to get easier, it’s going to get harder,” Leach said.
Schedule slates another busy week for Bruins
With February fading, the Bruins now enter the busiest month of their season.
They’ll kick things off with three games, this week, opening with a two game road trip to Hartford and closing with a March 4 matchup with Bridgeport at home.
Games are available for paid streaming through AHL.com as the Bruins try to hang on to their prime position in league standings above Hartford and Bridgeport.
Our Providence Bruins notebook is an ongoing roundup of activity for the Providence Bruins hockey team as they play their 2021 season in Marlborough due to COVID-19. Check back weekly for updates.