With two of their bigger-bodied blueliners uncertain for the coming weekend's action, the Providence Bruins have made their first defensive promotion of the 2012-13 season, summoning first-year pro Tommy Cross from the South Carolina Stingrays.
The transaction was posted on the AHL’s official list of roster moves Wednesday morning.
As it happens, depending on exact lineup plans for the three games in three days, the Hartford native is slated to put in his Providence season debut against his hometown Connecticut Whale on Friday.
Cross, who put in two appearances with the P-Bruins last April one week after finishing his college career, moves up a level after retaining a tie with Tyler McNeely for the Stingrays scoring lead. Each man has tallied six goals and 11 helpers through 22 games.
Besides his tangible output, Cross’ promotion comes as little surprise in the wake of the recent absences of Garnet Exelby and Kevan Miller.
The grizzled Exelby, who easily holds the languishing P-Bruins’ best rating at plus-five, has been out of commission with a groin ailment since Nov. 17. Miller, last year’s runaway leader with a plus-20 rating, was confined to the sidelines for Sunday’s 6-0 letdown in St. John’s.
While Exelby is implicitly improving, head coach Bruce Cassidy told the Providence Journal that Miller, along with forward Carter Camper, is “probably out this weekend.”
The four-year letter winner and two-time national champion from Boston College should also be leaned on to translate some of his two-way production from the ECHL. As of Wednesday morning, Providence has the AHL’s most plebeian offense with only 2.06 goals per game, including no more than two in any of its last four outings.
Besides a host of inconsistent, frostbitten forwards, part of the P-Bruins’ ailment is a modicum of tangible output from the point. Through the first 16 games, defensemen have accounted for a cumulative three goals and 11 assists, including two goals directly off the twig of Exelby.
From an individual standpoint, that is nothing short of encouraging for the Bruins’ second-round draftee from 2007, who has hung in through a multitude of injuries. In the last year-plus, with more stable health, Cross has put a stamp on his leadership qualities at BC and transitioned smoothly to the next level.
That overall maturity has made him a pleasant surprise in South Carolina and will have him leaned on to help reverse the P-Bruins' fortunes beginning with their three-game slate this weekend.