By Dakota Antelman, Managing Editor
Marlborough – The Providence Bruins are roughly halfway through a season spent playing at the local New England Sports Center due to ongoing coronavirus testing in Providence, itself.
Planning to head back to Rhode Island, next season, the Bruins and their players recently got some milestones out of the way.
Filipe scores first pro goal
Bruins skater Matt Filipe scored his first professional goal, March 10 against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
While that game took place on the road, the larger place of Marlborough in this season still has personal meaning.
Matt is the son of Hudson High School hockey legend Paul Filipe. As such, he grew up learning lore about the local community all while visiting the New England Sports Center for anything from practices, to games, to tryouts, to skills clinics.
Speaking to the Community Advocate late last month, Filipe said he’s always felt pressure from his father. But the pressure has still simultaneously felt healthy.
“I always had that hanging over me from him,” Filipe said of his father. “…But he’s my biggest fan.”
As he had delighted his family throughout this season, Filipe gave them something extra special to celebrate about, March 10, with his first goal.
On the road and locked in a 0-0 tie early in the third period of the game, Filipe skated into position to the right of the net. Then taking a light pass across the mouth of the goal area, he hammered a quick shot over the pad of Bridgeport’s goaltender.
That score turned out to be the game winner in a larger 3-0 victory for Providence. It, in turn, got Filipe back into the scoring column after he notched his first career assist back on Feb. 25.
Bruins expand lead in standings
With Filipe celebrating individual success, the Bruins as a team are also riding a season of collective strength.
As of March 14, they led their Atlantic Division with a win-loss-overtime loss record of 9-2-1.
Offensively, they had nearly twice as many goals scored as any division competitor. They, then, also sat tied for the lowest number of goals allowed in the entire, nationwide, American Hockey League.
That last fact lines up with praise team coaching staff have heaped on their goaltenders throughout the season.
“He has been plug and play from day one,” Coach Jay Leach most recently said of primary starter Jeremy Swayman. “He very much gives you the sense that he’s working every day the same way, preparing the same way. He goes out there and performs, really, the same way. He’s very consistent in everything he does.”
Swayman’s average of just 1.57 goals allowed per game ranks him second among all currently active AHL goalies. The Bruins are undefeated in the seven games where they’ve started him, this year.
Limited COVID-19 playing schedule promises familiar slate of games to come
The result of COVID-19 restrictions and the decision by a handful of AHL teams to sit out this season, the Bruins are playing 24 of their 26 games against the same two opponents, this year.
Those teams also happen to be Providence’s two district competitors — the Hartford Wolf Pack and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
As the season goes on, the Bruins will continue to bounce between these two squads before a welcome matchup against the Utica Comets on April 3.
(Photos courtesy/Providence Bruins)
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.