With things seemingly in their hands, the Providence Bruins looked like they would cruise to a victory after the first two periods. But the Bridgeport Sound Tigers had different plans with an onslaught in the final 20 minutes with goals from Travis Hamonic (5:42), Aaron Ness (9:33), David Ulstrom (11:11) and Johan Sundstrom (17:39).
But with a shorthanded the roster, the Baby B’s survived behind two goals by Craig Cunningham and eked out a 5-4 victory Friday night at the Dunkin Donuts Center.
“When the game started I didn’t know what to expect,” said Providence coach Bruce Cassidy, who was without the likes of Chris Bourque, David Warsofsky and Lane MacDermid, just to name a few. “We have some stuff to work on, but I’m pretty pleased with the first two periods. So overall I’m happy to get the victory.
Already down several players, the P-Bruins were dealt a bigger blow before the third period when Jared Knight and Zach Trotman left the game due to injury. That left enough room for a desperate Bridgeport team to bounce back.
“They got some big bodies out there,” said Cassidy. “We were down a D and down a forward and played a little bit of a reduced lineup and they had nothing to lose. It’s 5-0, they were able to throw the kitchen sink at us. We made it a little tough for ourselves, but we persevered and that’s what matters. We’ll take it and we’ll learn from it.”
While there was some fingernail biting going on the final twenty minutes, the Baby B’s got off to a hot start in the first forty. Cunningham (at 15:12 of the first and 12:08 of the second, Christian Hanson (11:43 of the first), Torey Krug (14:17, first) and Tommy Cross (16:26 of the middle stanza) sparked Providence’s effort, while Tyler McNeely – called up to fill one of the open roster spots – added an assist in his first AHL game of the season and Max Sauve and Carter Camper each had multiple helpers.
“We were notified yesterday about the guys who were going up to Boston for camp,” Cassidy said. “We had to call up some bodies to fill up our roster, but we were able to do so with Justin [Courtnall] and Tyler McNeely and they played a role for us tonight.”
There will certainly be some uncertainty for Providence this weekend. But, with just two roster spots open to start the season in Boston, that uncertainty will be diminished come next week when some of the players return from camp.
At that point, Cassidy will play his cards accordingly.
“We’ll let training camp play itself out in Boston and we’ll see what we get.”