It’s been a tough couple of weeks for the Boston Bruins AHL affiliate – when the NHL lockout ended, they lost their top scorers and defensemen to NHL training camp. When training camp ended, Boston kept Providence’s leading scorer, Chris Bourque, along with another vital team leader and forward Lane MacDermid. Boston also kept defensemen David Warsofsky, at least up until Sunday, when they sent him back down to Providence after recalling defensemen Aaron Johnson, who had been sent down to Providence on a conditioning stint for a few days.
In his 2 games with the P-Bruins on Friday and Saturday, Johnson was a -1 with 1 assist on a Spooner power play goal Friday. Providence lost both games, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Portland Pirates on Friday and a 3-1 loss to the Manchester Monarchs on Saturday. Today, however, Warsofsky was back in the lineup with Johnson back in Boston, and the Providence Bruins came away with a 4-1 victory over the Connecticut Whale.
Warsofsky was the #1 star. He had the game-winning goal, an assist, a +2 rating, and 4 shots on net. Warsofsky’s goal was his 3rd of the season in the AHL, and assisted by Ryan Spooner and Matt Bartkowski. The goal came at 17:57 of the 1st period.
The Connecticut Whale opened up the scoring in the 1st period at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence on Sunday with a goal by JT Miller at 4:26 of the 1st period. It was Miller’s 7th of the season, assisted by Brandon Mashinter. Jamie Tardif tied the game at 1 at 16:23 of the 1st on his team-leading 18th goal of the year from Spooner and Justin Florek. Tardif and Spooner were sent back down to Providence from Boston training camp on Friday, and on Sunday Tardif earned the #3 star while Spooner earned the #2 star.
In the 2nd period against Connecitcut, Carter Camper got his 4th of the season, a PP goal, from Warsofsky and Florek at 7:34. In the 3rd, Kyle MacKinnon secured a 4-1 lead with a goal at 14:49. It was also his 4th of the season, assisted by Graham Mink and Christian Hanson. Providence outshot the Whale 38-15 in the end.
A big part of this game was the physical play as each team racked up dozens of roughing minors and fighting majors. The 4 players for Providence that received fighting majors were Bobby Robins, Tyler Randell, Ryan Button, and Tommy Cross; for Connecticut, it was Chris Bourque’s little brother Ryan Bourque, Sam Klassen, Jason Wilson, and Dylan McIlrath.
Sunday’s 4-1 win was an important positive note to end an otherwise tough weekend on. The 3-2 shootout loss on Friday came despite out-shooting Portland 39-21. Spooner and Robins (his 2nd of the season) scored for Providence, and Darian Dziurzynski had both regulation goals for Portland. In the shootout, only Spooner and Camper converted for Providence, while Chris Conner, Ethan Werek, and Jordan Szwarz converted for Portland for the win.
On Saturday night, things did not get any easier for Providence as they were handed a tough loss at the hands of the Manchester Monarchs. They out-shot Manchester 46-47 and went 0-for-8 on the power play. Tardif scored late in the 3rd period (assisted from Camper and Florek) to make it 2-1, but soon after that, Stefan Legein sealed the Monarchs win with an empty net goal.
Niklas Svedberg got the win today and the shoot-out loss on Saturday, and Michael Hutchinson got the loss on Saturday. Svedberg was particularly big in net to preserve the lead against Connecticut today. Providence faces Manchester again this Wednesday in Manchester for a rare weekday game. Providence is now 20-15-0-3 with today’s win, giving them 43 points, lead-frogging Worcester for 3rd place in the Atlantic division. However, Manchester (20-17-2-2) won again today, giving them 44 points and the 2nd place spot in the division. The Pirates remain in first with 50 points.
Providence found it’s scoring touch with a 4-1 win today and hopefully that will carry into Wednesday, because it isn’t likely they will get their leading scorer in Bourque back anytime soon. Their top scorers found ways to score this weekend – Spooner, Tardif, and more importantly, guys who needed to score who hadn’t been, such as Camper. Craig Cunningham has also stepped up the scoring recently, and look for him to continue to do so. Wednesday’s game against Manchester will be a big one as the two rivals continue to battle for playoff positioning in the division and conference.
The win on Sunday marks the 20th win of the season for Providence. “To get 20 wins in the 1st half of the year…is pretty good The guys should be proud of themselves,” said Coach Butch Cassidy after the game.