Only four points separate the last-place Providence Bruins and the first-place Worcester Sharks in the AHL’s Atlantic Division. That gap was widened, in part, by this past Sunday’s shootout loss to the Sharks, which has amounted to an identical four-point gap (6-2) in the Providence-Worcester season series through three meetings, all at the Dunkin Donuts Center.
This weekend, though, will bear an opportunity for Providence to keep up this matchup’s two-way trend of road rewards, this time in its favor. The Bruins were 4-1-1 at Worcester’s DCU Center last season and 3-2-1 there in 2010-11.
The P-Bruins, who have at least two games in hand on each divisional cohabitant, ought to be fuming with motivation when they enter the Sharks’ house for Part 4 this Saturday. Ditto Friday, when the second-place Manchester Monarchs drop in at The Dunk for the fifth installment of a currently deadlocked season series.
Providence and Manchester have split two meetings apiece in each other’s mansion to date, the Bruins claiming the most recent contest in a 3-2 decision on Nov. 16 at home.
Jordan Caron has tallied four of his seven points at the Monarchs’ expense, including a hat trick in an Oct. 19 road win. His assist on Nov. 16 was his most recent point overall with the exception of a drought-dampening goal in Portland last Saturday.
Presumptive starting goaltender Niklas Svedberg has claimed each of the two Providence victories versus the Monarchs, repelling a cumulative 86-of-93 shots-faced in three starts. Michael Hutchinson brooked a 3-1 loss on opening night with a mere 18 saves.
Hutchinson and Svedberg have split the credit for claiming a single point in the Bruins’ last two tangles with the Sharks. The first-year AHLer Svedberg has yet to visit the DCU Center, where Hutchinson owns a 4-2-0 lifetime record.
Sunday’s weekend finale will crack open another bite-sized, non-divisional series with the Adirondack Phantoms stopping by for their only visit of the season. Providence will return the favor three weeks from Friday.
One level lower, the South Carolina Stingrays, who have run up a 10-3 scoring differential in three consecutive victories, will conclude a four-game homestand and try to double their season-high winning streak this weekend. They will host the Trenton Titans for two nights Friday and Saturday, then venture out to visit the intrastate rival Greenville Road Warriors on Sunday.
The Stingrays will have Justin Courtnall back from Providence, which swapped him out on Wednesday after a two-week promotion in exchange for Tyler Randell.