The Providence Bruins kicked off the AHL season when they traveled up to St. John’s, NL to take on the IceCaps on Friday, October 4th. It was the first of 8 meetings for the two teams this season. If the first game was any indication, this could be a very exciting series between the division rivals this season.
New addition to the Bruins organization, Matt Fraser, scored the first goal of the game which was also the first goal of the AHL season. Fraser started the game on a line with another new face to the Bruins, Nick Johnson. Last season, Johnson split time bewtween the ECHL, AHL, and NHL with the Coyotes organization. Rounding out the line was returning Bruins draft pick, Ryan Spooner. The assists on Fraser’s first goal of the season went to his two linemates.
Early into the second period, Tyler Randell of the Bruins and Blair Riley of the IceCaps dropped the gloves. Randell is looking to stick in the AHL for the entire season this year and is happy to fill the role of fighter as it is a role his is familiar with. Riley is new to St. John’s but not new to fighting. He was towards the top of the leader board last season in fighting majors with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
The line of Fraser, Johnson, and Spooner proved later in the second period just how much they were gelling already. At 13:13, Johnson put Providence up 2-0 with the assists going to his linemates, Fraser and Spooner.
To start off the third period, St. John’s found themselves still down 2-0. It was not the home opener IceCaps fans were expecting. They managed to finally get on the board at the 9:18 mark of the third. Rookie Adam Lowry beat Bruins goalie Niklas Svedberg with Patrice Cormier and Jordan Hill. A few minutes later, on the powerplay, the Bruins took the 3-1 at the 12:47 of the third. Jared Knight beat Eddie Pasquale with an assist to Alexander Khokhlachev.
The IceCaps were not ready to go down without a fight. Rookie J.C. Lipon beat Bruins goaltender Niklas Svedberg at 18:11 of the third to bring the score to 3-2 in favor of Providence. St. John’s pulled their goalie in favor of the extra attacker so they could try and tie it up. It worked as planned when at 19:03, Eric O’Dell tied it up. Kael Mouillierat and Jerome Sampson. During the final seconds of the period, the IceCaps held on and forced overtime.
Even though St. John’s made an excellent effort in the final minutes of regulation, it was not enough to come away with the win. Nick Johnson netted his second of the game (and the season) just over two minutes into overtime, showing his worth. Khokhlachev earned the lone assist. Svedberg made 40 saves in a win that was much closer than it looked like it would be after the first two periods. The teams won’t have to wait long for a rematch as they meet again Saturday, October 5th.