Despite split with Hershey, Providence returns home with momentum
File this under riding the wave of momentum.
After advancing past Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in a thrilling opening round series, the Providence Bruins picked up right where they left off, scoring three first period goals, two of them during a Tommy Cross penalty, en route to a 3-1 victory over the Hershey Bears on Saturday night in Hershey. The following night, the and were just 2:30 away from taking a 2-0 lead before ultimately falling in overtime in Game 2 on Sunday.
Austin Czarnik got the ball rolling in midway through the first period in Game 1 from Chris Porter to put the P-Bruins up 1-0. At 12:47, Cross was called for high-sticking, which would lead to the floodgates opening…for the Bears. Colby Cave walked in unassisted 50 seconds into the penalty kill to double the Providence lead, while Jake DeBrusk added another shorthanded tally 56 seconds later with assists from Chris Casto and Zane McIntyre.
Speaking of McIntyre, the former North Dakota standout had yet another stellar day. To go along with his assist, Macintyre stopped 24 of 25 shots he faced and kept Hershey off the scoreboard until late in the game, when Nathan Walker broke through with just 2:26 remaining. Providence also held Hershey scoreless on the power-play, going three-for-three in shorthanded situations.
Providence had to fend off a hard-charging and desperate Bears team in the third, however, getting outshot 8-2 in the final frame, but McIntyre and the rest of the P-Bruins stood tall, yielding just the one goal. Hershey tried to gain some much-needed momentum towards the end of the first as Tyler Lewington dropped the mitts with Providence enforcer Tyler Randall. The plan backfired as Providence got a power-play out of the deal when Lewington was also called for cross-checking. Providence seemingly gained the momentum into the second, outshooting Hershey, 9-6, in the middle frame.
Game 2 on Sunday was a back and forth battle. After a scoreless first, which saw Providence get outshot, 10-4, each team had their fair share of decent opportunities, most notably the P-Bruins after Linus Arnesson’s shot from the point clanged off the post four minutes into the second. The Baby B’s puck luck turned against them as about a minute later when Madison Bowley’s blast from the blue line beat MacIntyre to put Hershey up, 1-0.
Just like their first round series against WBS, Providence wasn’t deterred. The Baby B’s once again fought back, this time on the back of Wayne Simpson. At 8:45, Simpson maneuvered between two Hershey defensemen to pick up a loose puck and flip a nifty backhander past Hershey goalie Phoenix Copley to knot the game up at 1-1. 6:29 later, Simpson struck again after banking home a Danton Heinen rebound and tallied in his second of the period and third of the postseason to put Providence ahead, 2-1. Simpson and company finished the period outshooting Hershey, 13-5.
The Baby B’s spent most of the third limiting Hershey’s chances offensively, and a 2-0 series lead looked to be within their grasp. But a Christian Djoos power-play goal with 2:30 left in regulation threw a monkey wrench into those plans. With Chris Breen off for tripping, the Bears finally snapped an 0-for-18 postseason power play skid when Djoos rifled one past MacIntyre from the left circle to pull Hershey even.
Both the Bears and P-Bruins traded chances during the first several minutes of the extra session with three shots apiece. But at 5:44, Bears forward Stanislav Galiev would find a loose puck following a face off win to set up Travis Boyd’s game-winning goal as Hershey evened the series with the 3-2 come from behind victory in Game 2.
Though the P-Bruins just missed grabbing both games in Hershey, they have a reason to be confident as the series shifts to the Dunkin Donuts Center for the next three games. Game 3 is scheduled for Thursday night and Game 4 is set for the following night, both with 7:05 puck drops. Game 5 is set for this Sunday – Mother’s Day – at 3:05.