by Jordan Conn | AHL On The Beat
What a difference a year can make.
Eleven months ago, Brandon Bussi was the fifth goaltender in the Boston Bruins organization, protecting a crease in the ECHL for the Maine Mariners.
He joined the Providence Bruins last November when injuries hit both the National Hockey League and American Hockey League rosters. Bussi, who is now 25, turned the transaction into gold by quickly winning the starting role.
The Sound Beach, N.Y., native sustained the starting job in Providence long after everyone got healthy, and he finished with a 2.40 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage in his rookie season. Bussi won 22 of the 31 games he appeared in, leading Providence to an Atlantic Division regular-season title and the best record in the Eastern Conference.
Head coach Ryan Mougenel has high praise for his 2023 AHL All-Star and AHL All-Rookie netminder.
“Bussi is a guy that plays how he lives,” Mougenel said. “He is a fantastic kid who has a real thirst to get better. He is a true testament of ‘goalies can grow and develop.’
“(Bruins goaltending coach) Bob Essensa said it best to Bussi when I was in the room with them: ‘Coaches love goalies that win.’ And that is what he does. He wins.”
Despite a slow start for this season for the team in 2023-24, Bussi has continued his progression. In his last three starts, the netminder stopped 91 of 95 shots, good for a .957 save percentage.
The team feels a boost in confidence when Bussi is between the pipes.
“He brings stability to our team,” said defenseman Dan Renouf. “Everyone is confident in him. He is someone you root for off the ice, too. He’s a great kid and someone everyone wants to see him succeed.”
Bussi appreciates what he hears from Bruins fans and understands how fortunate he is to be a standout professional hockey player. If you see a group of Providence Bruins visiting a school, hospital or various other places in the community, most likely Bussi will be among them, eager to give back to the people of greater Providence.
Last month, Bussi visited the Sargent Center in East Greenwich, R.I., a school for children with disabilities. This was more than just another visit for the netminder, who feels a special connection with those who call the Sargent Center home.
“There is extra meaning when I visit kids with autism, as my younger brother has autism,” Bussi said. “Being able to interact with those kids often reminds me of my brother and having the opportunity to bring them a memorable experience means the world to me.”
Along with his teammates, Bussi stopped by a Target store in Seekonk, Mass., on Monday to purchase toys for kids at Hasbro Children’s Hospital. He plans to deliver the toys himself to the hospital later this month.
“We are so proud of Brandon and all that he has done on the ice with the team and in the community,” said Bruins president Jeff Hagan. “He is a role model not only for kids in the community but for his own teammates as well. We know that Brandon will continue to be an example for all as he continues his professional career.”
Bussi, who backed up Linus Ullmark for the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Dec. 7, is making a lot of people happy this holiday season. Just ask his coaches, teammates, fans, and the Providence community.