31210710007_67fe59aeaa_z(Photo Courtesy of the Providence Bruins)

By: Jen Stasio Coombe | Follow Me On Twitter @hockeygirl2976

Week nine and ‘bada-bing, bada-boom’ just like that the Providence Bruins pull five points out of the possible six this weekend to move them up, up, up in the rankings.  That’s correct three ups; it was that big a move.  In one weekend the baby-b’s went from last place in the division to sixth in the division, ninth in the conference and sixteenth overall in the league.  This past weekend saw the boys facing some of their stiffest competition yet and in a three-in-three weekend to boot.  It was not a simple task, nor was it something they were willing to just give up on.  Each and every player fought through this entire weekend, gave their all and I couldn’t be more proud. The character and resilience displayed by a few of these players were to be commended.  It was obvious that the noise about the early season penalty trouble had made its way around the league, but even when taunted on several occasions, most everyone kept calm and steered clear of being baited into anything.

Goaltender Performance:

Dan Vladar started in net this Saturday on the road against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.  Vladar had a solid night saving 29-30 shots bringing his save percentage back above .900 to .902. It looks like Vlady got his groove back.

Zane McIntyre got the nod twice again this week.  Starting in-goal both times against the Charlotte Checkers.  Friday night he had an amazing performance touted even by those who aren’t his biggest fans.  That night he saved 25-26 shots on goal. Sunday’s matinee was a bit of a roller-coaster for Zane’s emotions, and emotions are not good when you are in goal under heavy fire.  Even so, McIntyre managed to save 45 of the incredible 47 shots fired at him during this hotly contested battle.  His save percentage is now .878.

This Weekends Scores:

FRI Nov. 30 HOME              Providence 2 – Charlotte 1 WIN!!! 

SAT Dec. 1 AWAY             Providence 2 – Bridgeport 1 WIN!!!

SUN Dec. 2 HOME             Providence 2 – Charlotte 3 OTL

Detailed Daily Game Re-caps:

Friday, November 30, 2018, Providence Bruins vs. Charlotte Checkers (HOME)

In the first of match of the three-in-three weekend, the Bruins faced the best team in the league, the Charlotte Checkers.  A team stacked with solid talent, not to mention a net tended by none other than Scott Darling, formerly of the Stanley Cup winning Chicago Blackhawks.  Not an easy way to start the weekend, but Jay Leach and the entire team had the confidence and drive to not let this challenge get the better of them.  They went into this match full steam ahead skating circles around the checkers.

The first period was a challenge for both teams.  They were obviously geared up and ready to go, their feet were moving fast, and the puck was flying.  However, there was a bit of a case of the “oopsies” going around during the first half of the period with consistently missed passes or poorly handled pucks.  It took both teams about ten minutes to settle down and once they did it appeared that Providence had won the relaxation race.  They were reading the plays well and stealing the puck effortlessly over and over again.  Unfortunately pick-pocketing the Checkers never lead to any first period goals for the Bruins.  In fact, with only four minutes left to go in the period Charlotte’s McKegg was able to wrestle the puck out of the corner and make a clean pass to Poturlaski who then quickly nailed one past McIntyre high blocker. Zane was not impressed, but with a few stick taps from his teammates, appeared to brush it off.

The Bruins did not allow the lead to stand long.  Only 1:27 into the second period Bjork, fresh from Boston, rushed into the zone, passing to Fitzgerald who saw a clear path to Szwarz and that was all she wrote.  Szwarz found the back of the net right past Darling to score his 4th goal of the season.  With the score level at 1-1, the back and forth continued for the rest of the period.

It took until well into the third for Providence to find the room they needed to breathe.  On a power-play, with only four and a half minutes to play in regular time, McNeill passed to Hughes who found Cehlarik completely unguarded.  Cehlarik settled the puck and rocketed the tie-breaking goal past Darling.  Desperate to force overtime, the Checkers pulled their goalie at 3 minutes, but their effort was futile.  The Providence Bruins walked away with a huge morale-boosting win, even if the point difference was only one.  Final score: Providence 2- Charlotte 1.

Saturday, December 1st, 2018, Providence Bruins vs. Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AWAY)

Coming off a strong victory the previous night can do one of two things to a team; leave them overconfident and prone to mistakes or get them back door and ready to take on the world.  Which Providence Bruins team would show up in Bridgeport on Saturday?  It wasn’t going to be that easy to answer.  It would take time to see the two teams match up and gain their momentum before it could really be determined.

Dan Vladar started in-goal on Saturday and was fully prepared for the challenge.  He has met Bridgeport before and knows they can be fierce competitors.  The first period in this game is very similar to many we have seen lately, a lot of feeling each other out, a fair number of half-hearted shots on goal by both sides, but altogether not much to write home about. The horn sounded with no score for anyone.

That would change for Providence five and a half minutes into the second period.  Austin Fyten attempted to score, but the rebound headed out deep into the corner.  Anton Blidh was there to dig it out and drive for the net drawing the attention of all the defenders before cleverly passing to Sherman who slid the puck in the back door to open the scoring with his second goal of the season.  The rest of the period saw both teams pushing hard toward the net, but neither capitalizing on any opportunity.  When the period closed Providence led with the one goal from Wiley Sherman.

The third period was not as kind to Providence.  The only puck that found the back of the net this period came from a Sound Tiger and slid right past Vladar.  Similar to Blidh’s play the previous period, Ho-Sang pulled the puck out of the corner and passed it to Wotherspoon in front of the net.  Wotherspoon saw the opening and took it.  The score was now level, one all.  Forcing overtime guaranteed a minimum of one point for Bridgeport in this game, but that was all Providence was willing to let them have.  After four Providence shots on goal in overtime, Fitzgerald appeared to be on the breakaway when one of the Bridgeport defenders tripped him ending the bid for a goal, or so he thought.  The referees saw it differently awarding Fitzgerald a penalty shot, which Ryan slowly took up the ice and landed solidly behind Chris Gibson the Bridgeport goaltender.  With that Penalty shot Fitzy won the game for the Bruins. Final score: Providence 2 – Bridgeport 1.

Sunday, December 2nd, 2018, Providence Bruins vs. Charlotte Checkers (HOME)

This Sunday matinee promised to be a doozy, and it would not disappoint.  A rematch from Friday with the Charlotte Checkers and the last time the two teams will meet for the regular season.  There was everything you could ask for from a good matinee, happiness, sadness, anger, tears, laughter and all the bears were safely behind the glass. The perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon, well… almost perfect.

The game began with the Bruins wanting to be the first out of the gate.  At sixty-six seconds Fitzgerald took a shot that ricocheted off Darling and headed directly for Jordan Szwarz.  Szwarz not willing to waste a good rebound sent the puck back at the recovering goaltender and slid it right by him, scoring his seventh of the season.   With the Bruins up by one, the Checkers felt the need to pummel McIntyre with pucks, twelve shots on goal in just the first period, but not a single one found its way past.

The second period got a bit chippy as the teams battled back and forth.  Charlotte appeared to be skating through molasses from time to time slow to respond and make any real progress.  Perhaps this was their aim?  Up until this point, Providence had been playing a very fast paced game driving hard, so by slowing things down maybe they hoped to disrupt the flow of Providences game.  Either way, the Checkers defender Trevor Carrick was trying to bait anyone he could into a brawl.  Believe it or not, even Anton Blidh took a pass on this guy, well for now anyway.

The third period began similarly with a fair amount of exchange between the two teams, until at a bit after six minutes when Kuhlman pulled a nifty one.  Shooting the puck straight at Darling, who was unable to control the rebound, it came straight back out and after a glance around Kuhlman passed it Frederic who was positioned perfectly to lay the puck in behind the veteran goaltender and put the Bruins up by two.  The story was far from over though as the prodding that the Checkers had been doing all night and in fact all weekend was finally wearing on the Baby-B’s.  The penalties came creeping in and at 9:33 on one of the power-play opportunities the Checkers scored a goal to bring them within one point of tying and forcing overtime.

Then things got really hairy.  A few after that power-play goal there was a flurry of activity around the Providence net; shots on goal, battles for position and so on.  In the middle of this chaos one of the Charlotte players gloves the puck out of the air and herein lies the controversy, according to McIntyre the puck went straight into the goal off the glove (illegal), according to some sources it may have been redirected off the players stick into the goal, and according to other sources it may have actually come of one of the Bruins skates into the goal.  Regardless, from McIntyre’s point of view, it was a hand goal, and he chased the referees past the blue line screaming and motioning about it.  When it was clear his input was not making a difference Zane headed back to the goal to await the result of the officials’ conference.  The result did not go his way and enraged, he busted his stick against the goal and threw what remained ‘in the direction of,’ not ‘AT’ per se, the referees.  He was lucky to get away with that I’d say.  After the game when I mentioned how lucky he was, he cracked a wry smile and said, “Noticed that did you?”  Um, yes Zane pretty sure thousands of us did.

45212221905_72899a6391_z(Photo Courtesy of the Providence Bruins)

With the score even and forced into overtime, both teams fought down to the very last seconds.  Perhaps distracted by the earlier rage or thinking ahead to the shoot-out, Zane let his guard down and with only sixteen seconds left in overtime Charlotte scored the game-winning goal.  The emotion of this moment let loose a brawl, and Anton Blidh ended up getting a ten-minute major for misconduct along with Szwarz and Charlotte’s Carrick receiving two-minute minors for roughing. Not the perfect end to the weekend, but a great weekend indeed!

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