In a game that had 134 penalty minutes, three 10-minute misconducts, two game misconducts and several great scoring chances, the Providence Bruins and the Worcester Sharks provided a glimpse of old-time hockey for 60 minutes.
Unfortunately for the Baby B’s, they fell in heartbreaking fashion.
Despite taking the lead twice in the third period, the Sharks fought back both times and in triumphant fashion took home a 5-4 victory over the Bruins Friday night at the Dunkin Donuts Center. With 10.5 seconds left, Jonathan Matsumoto capped off the Worcester victory with his fifth of the year on a great shift from his line that included Brodie Reid and James Sheppard – both of whom got assists on the game-winner.
The loss was certainly a tough one to swallow for head coach Bruce Cassidy, who saw Worcester overtake Providence for second place in the Atlantic Division standings.
“I knew going in that Worcester has an incredible record when tied or trailing after two periods,” said Cassidy. “That’s their seventh win [when tied or trailing after two] and its not even Christmas. They never quit, and we know them well enough. They are resilient, and our guys weren’t strong on the puck.
“Give them credit for what they did, but if we managed the puck better, they don’t get two of them in the third.”
As Cassidy noted, the Baby B’s had their problems managing the puck in the third period and that was pretty evident with the game-winner.
Despite a nice pad save by Niklas Svedberg on Reid late in the third, the P-Bruins D could not get the puck out of their own end. Worcester then cycled the puck nicely to set up Matsumoto’s heroics.
“We had it three times,” Cassidy said. “And even when it came back in front of the net, in those situations in crunch time, you are going to eat the puck no matter what. For a guy to get the puck in the slot with 10 seconds left uncontested and be able to zip it, we were doing something wrong. And we have to correct that.”
There’s no doubt that the Sharks and Bruins have developed a pretty intense rivalry since Worcester became the home of the San Jose affiliate a few years ago. And its no surprise that it didn’t take long for the two to renew acquaintances with 10 first period penalties.
What is a little more surprising to Cassidy is the bad blood carried over into a wild second period. Out of the 134 penalty minutes, 90 of them came in the second period. Bobby Robins and Frazer McLaren also received game misconducts after dropping the gloves at the 10:19 mark in the middle stanza.
“It’s always physical against Worcester and that usually gets out of the way early,” the P-Bruins coach stated.
“Tonight for some reason it seemed like someone was always going to the box for either team. I don’t know if the game got away for some reason, but I think you saw frustration from both sides and that’s what led up to all of that.”
Despite the loss, P-Bruins forward Chris Bourque (his third and fourth tallies of the year) found the back of the net twice, both on 5-on-3’s – including a goal to give his team a 2-1 lead 34 seconds into the third – while also adding an assist on Craig Cunningham’s goal to make it 3-3. Jamie Tardif also added his 14th of the season to give his team a 4-3 lead at 8:16 of the third. That was erased, however, when former Boston University captain John McCarthy tied the game nearly five minutes later on a deflection for his fourth of the season.
On top of his assist on Matsumoto’s game-winner, Sheppard added his seventh goal of the season at 2:15 of the third – 1:41 after Bourque’s second goal – while Bracken Kearns gave his team a 3-2 lead 47 seconds later with his eighth of the year.
With one game left before the holidays, the Baby B’s look to retake second place in the Atlantic when they travel to Hartford to face the Connecticut Whale Saturday night.