MARLBORO, MASS. — The narrative of facing two inferior foes has traveled alongside the Providence Bruins all season long. On April 16, this critique was put to the test, as Providence faced a formidable opponent in the Utica C0mets.
The Comets entered the matchup as an above .500 team, defeating the likes of Rochester and Syracuse to enter the afternoon battle. The Covid-19 pandemic cancelled the earlier matchup at Adirondack Bank Center, but the New England Sports Center was fortunate enough to host the intra-division match, one that allowed the home team to exit with a substantial victory.
In the first period, this conclusion appeared to be nothing more than a pipe dream for the boys in black and gold, as Utica controlled the frame. John Stevens fed his brother Nolan Stevens in the slot with just over 13 minutes remaining in the first period to establish a 1–0 lead for the team representing central New York. The Comets would extend their lead to two goals later in the period, as winger Curtis McKenzie performed a nifty move that beat P-Bruins goaltender Kyle Keyser and gave a significant lead to the visiting team.
Providence was down but not out, and looking to not make their Atlantic Division domination look like a fluke in any capacity. Defenseman Brady Lyle fired a puck past Comets goaltender Joel Hofer within the final minute of the frame and on the power play to cut the Utica lead in half at 2–1. This lead would remain for the last several seconds of the period, and Providence clearly had the momentum.
This momentum would lead to utter domination throughout the remainder of the game. Within the first three minutes of the middle frame, winger Robert Lantosi was able to win a battle in the neutral zone and turn it into a short side goal that negated the lead the Comets had build. Less than ten minutes later, Lantosi was able to receive a pass from winger Jakub Lauko and put it in the back of the net, giving Providence a 3–2 lead. This lead would remain for the period and also was one that the P-Bruins would not relinquish for the game.
The third period began with the P-Bruins wanting some insurance goals, and it did not take more than 30 seconds for winger Zach Senyshyn to fire a puck past Hofer and extend the lead. The pride of Rhode Island continued to control the pace throughout the period, culminating in goals from Paul Carey and Eduards Tralmaks that put the game out of reach for the Utica squad. Six unanswered goals spelled a victory for the home team, and that win was defined by the 6–2 score that found its way to the box score.
Keyser turned away 25 of 27 Comet shots, while Hofer was able to keep 34 of 40 P-Bruin shots out of the back of his net. The P-Bruins (14–4–1) will face the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on April 20. The Utica Comets (8–6–0) are back in action on April 19 against the Syracuse Crunch.
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