Weekend watch list: Nov. 3-5

Photo: Mike Zitek

Patrick Williams, TheAHL.com Features Writer

Two historic AHL cities will make up for lost time this weekend when the Providence Bruins visit the Cleveland Monsters for games tonight and Saturday.

These will be the first match-ups between the two cities since Dec. 9, 1972, when the Cleveland Barons defeated the Providence Reds, 8-3. A month later, the Barons departed for Jacksonville, Fla., ending the AHL’s presence in Cleveland that had begun in 1936. The Reds were an AHL member from 1936 through the end of the 1976-77 season.

The AHL returned to Providence in 1992 with the Bruins’ arrival. Cleveland’s most recent AHL franchise, the Monsters, began play in 2007.

Both the Barons and Reds had storied runs in their respective cities and were part of the early foundation that helped to build the AHL. The Barons won the Calder Cup nine times while the Reds captured it four times. One of those championships came when the Reds swept 1956 Calder Cup Finals, the only title battle between the two cities. The Bruins (1999) and Monsters (2016) also later lifted the Calder Cup.

This season’s Monsters are off to a 5-2-0-0 start and will bring a four-game winning streak into tonight’s contest. After a 29-goal effort last season, forward Trey Fix-Wolansky is tied for fourth in league scoring with 11 points (three goals, eight assists) through seven games. Providence, which won the Atlantic Division in 2022-23, broke a four-game winless streak (0-2-1-1) with a 3-1 victory at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Wednesday.

The teams will finish their season series when Providence hosts the Monsters twice in February.

October has meant winning hockey for the Ontario Reign in recent years.

Going back to 2019, the Reign are 23-4-1-1 during the month of October, including 5-2-0-0 this season. They will attempt to carry that play into November with a visit to Colorado for contests tonight and Saturday, a set that will conclude a stretch of six of seven games away from home.

Helping to lead the way during Ontario’s current five-game winning streak has been standout rookie blueliner Brandt Clarke. The 20-year-old Clarke is tied for third among AHL defensemen (and leads all rookies at the position) with six points (two goals, four assists) through seven outings. His 32 shots also top all AHL defensemen and included 10 in his season debut Oct. 13 against San Diego. Clarke went to the parent Los Angeles Kings as the eighth overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.

The Eagles will try to shake off a winless four-game tour through Abbotsford and Calgary last week that has them off to a 2-4-2-0 start. Forward Riley Tufte, an offseason addition after spending the past four seasons with Texas, has six goals and eight points through his first six appearances with the Eagles.

The teams have also met in the postseason the past three years, with the Eagles winning all six games.

The Grand Rapids Griffins continue a busy early-season road schedule when they visit the Milwaukee Admirals in the AHLTV Free Game of the Week on Saturday (7 ET/6 CT).

Saturday’s game will finish a run of five of six games away from Van Andel Arena for the 2-3-1-1 Griffins, who picked up a point in a 4-3 shootout loss at Cleveland on Wednesday. Tim Gettinger’s second goal of the night came in the final second of regulation to earn the Griffins a point.

Milwaukee is 3-3-0-0 after dropping a 3-1 decision at Iowa on Thursday. Goaltender Yaroslav Askarov has been stellar early in his second AHL season. The 21-year-old is 3-1-0 in four games to go with a 1.50 goals-against average (second-best in the league) and .931 save percentage. Askarov went to the Nashville Predators as the 11th pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.

An AHLTV account is required to watch the AHLTV Free Game of the Week, but no subscription is needed. Visit AHLTV.com for details.