The Providence Bruins went 1-1-1 in their three-game swing this past weekend, collecting three out of a possible six points. While some would look at it as an average, if not, solid stretch, the Baby B’s will certainly come out of the long weekend kicking themselves over leaving a few points on the board.
No matter how you slice and dice it, Providence could have — and very well should have — gone 3-0. But a late blown lead cost them an extra point or three. Now, after spending most of the season near the top of the Atlantic Division, the P-Bruins have slipped three spots down to the fourth and final playoff spot.
Providence began the week hosting the Bridgeport SoundTigers, a team they had taken three of four from so far this season. File this one under the best team doesn’t always win.
Despite outshooting Bridgeport 44-26, including 19-4 in the third period, the P-Bruins could only muster a single shot past SoundTigers netminder Jared Coreau. Oliver Wahlstrom and Otto Koivula provided timely tallies for the SoundTigers on a night where the P-Bruins struggled on the power play. Pavel Shen scored Providence’s lone tally in the disappointing 2-1 loss.
“The power-play was disappointing,” head coach Jay Leach said after the game, “When their goaltender is playing well like that, the power-play has to capitalize. We’re disappointed in that.”
The P-Bruins found a measure of revenge the next night in Bridgeport. Trent Fredric’s three-point night and a pair of goals from newcomer Brett Ritchie sparked the P-Bruins to the 3-1 road win.
Ritchie made his mark early scoring just 1:36 into the contest with Frederic and Cehlarik assisting. Bridgeport evened things up with another power-play tally as Mason Jobst lit the lamp with Cehlarik serving a too many men penalty.
The SoundTigers built on the momentum from Jobst’s tally, finishing the middle frame a 13-8 shot advantage. That didn’t deter the P-Bruins at all as Ritchie struck again with 17 seconds left to give the team a 2-1 lead heading into the locker room.
Frederic capped off his stellar night with an unassisted goal to give the P-Bruins some insurance en route to two needed points.
Max Legace made 26 saves in the win
“Coming our in the third, we had the mindset of playing the right way,” Leach said of the victory. “We played with 18 skaters, got pucks in deep and took care of the puck. That’s how we have to play moving forward. It was great to get two points out of it.”
After the split, the P-Bruins welcomed the Springfield Thunderbirds hoping to end the busy weekend of the high-note. Instead, they let a golden chance slip away.
Providence held a two-goal lead with less than a minute to play. But, on the heels their big brothers relinquishing another three-goal lead in Pittsburgh, the P-Bruins couldn’t finish the job as Springfield scored twice in the final 60 seconds and capped off the comeback in overtime with a 6-5 win.
Paul Carey opened the scoring with his team-leading 16th of the year from Jack Studnicka just 1:46 into the contest. Providence continued to press on, looking to extend their lead but T-Birds goalie Phillip Desrosiers stood tall to keep the Baby B’s in check. With just under two minutes to play in the frame, former Baby B’s captain Tommy Cross netted the equalizer, his seventh, from Rodrigo Abols.
Springfield pulled ahead near the midway point of the middle stanza on Abols’ second goal of the season. But just 54 seconds later, Brendan Gaunce turned it into a true see-saw battle, collecting his ninth goal of the year from Brendan Woods and Zach Senyshyn. But another ex P-Bruin struck against his former team with just six seconds left in the second as Rob O’Gara netted his third of the season to give Springfield a 3-2 lead heading into the locker room.
Providence entered the third playing up to what Coach had said after Saturday. They broke through on the power play as Cehlarik scored his 11th of the season to start their three-goal third. Carey added his second of the day on Studnicka’s third assist to give the P-Bruins a 4-3 lead a minute later.
Gaunce gave the P-Bruins some insurance with his 10th of the season with just under two minutes left in regulation. It turned out the P-Bruins needed that insurance just to tally one point.
With the Springfield net pulled, Owen Tippett collected his 17th of the season from Daniel Audette and Brady Keeper at 19:19. Then, with just nine seconds left, Aleski Saarela nailed the equalizer from Abols and Tippet to force overtime. Sarela netted the game-winner at 4:20 of the extra session on the heels of Ritchie’s hooking penalty to secure the importable 6-5 win.
“We have a group over here that’s trying their hardest and certainly a little fatigued,” Leach said following the loss. “You’re going to get these games. Whenever these two teams play each other… some nights it’s fun, some nights, like tonight, it’s not.”
The P-Bruins sit five points behind the Hartford Wolfpack and Hershey Bears atop the AHL Atlantic Division and one point behind the third-place Charlotte Checkers. Another busy week at Dunkin Donuts Center awaits beginning with a pair of tilts against the Leigh Valley Phantoms on Wednesday and Friday and concluding with a pivotal matchup with Hershey on Saturday.
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