Something had to give when the Providence Bruins and Springfield Falcons converged Friday night with identical three-game winning steaks. As it happened, the host P-Bruins went above and beyond in the trend-busting department. Jamie Tardif’s hat trick effectively spelled the difference in a 6-3 triumph at the Dunkin' Donuts Center.
With the loss, Springfield stopper Curtis McElhinney saw an end to his personal four-game winning streak and six-game (5-0-1) unbeaten tear. Conversely, the Baby Bs entered Friday’s action 5-0-1 in their last six decisions and emphatically kept their hot hands alive at the expense of McElhinney’s personality.
Lane MacDermid’s icebreaker in the second period constituted the Bruins’ first shorthanded goal in 2012-13 and the first shortie surrendered by the Falcons this season. In addition, it broke McElhinney’s shutout streak of 88 minutes and 27 seconds in this matchup, dating back to an Oct. 20 encounter and encompassing his 3-0 shutout of Providence on Oct. 26.
By beating McElhinney merely once, the P-Bruins made like their neighbors at Providence College by delaying a new record for a Massachusetts rival. Last Friday, the Friars dramatically deadlocked Boston College, 3-3, to deny Eagles coach Jerry York an all-time NCAA-best 925 wins.
This Friday, the local professional team ensured that McElhinney will have to wait at least one more night to surpass Manny Legace’s record of five single-season shutouts in a Falcons uniform.
Shortly after MacDermid splashed their drought against the Falcons fortress, the Bruins went on a critical sugar rush. Tardif polished off a Chris Bourque rebound on a power play at 11:43 of the middle frame and, off the ensuing draw, Craig Cunningham augmented the lead to 3-0 at 11:56.
Keeping the momentum rolling, Providence drew itself a power play only 40 seconds later at 12:36 and froze the three-goal edge through intermission.
Springfield perked up in the closing frame and whittled its deficit down to 3-2 and later 4-3, though not before Tardif buried the remnants of another point shot for his second strike of the night and second straight multi-goal game.
Tardif later finalized the 6-3 upshot by mailing a long-distance empty-netter less than seven minutes after Ryan Spooner had injected a dose of insurance, finishing an end-to-end rush with Max Sauvé.
Sauvé and Bourque, with two assists apiece, joined Tardif in the home team’s multipoint club for the night. For Sauvé, this meant ending a 10-game scoreless skid, while Bourque extended his production streak to four games.
Also of note at The Dunk: Carter Camper, out since Nov. 18, and Kevan Miller, missing from the active lineup since Nov. 24, both returned to action for the P-Bruins. Camper was one of 11 point-getters while Miller was one of five Providence skaters with a plus-two rating on the night or better.
Providence, now winners of its last four and point-takers in each of its last seven, will have another battle of hot hands Saturday when it ventures to Albany, where the Devils will vie to defend their five-game winning streak.
Stingrays Rally In Regulation, Slip In Shootout
Justin Courtnall, barely a week removed from his reassignment back to South Carolina, helped spark a point-salvaging rally in the third period of Friday’s visit to Greenville. His primary assist parented the first of two unanswered goals by Tyler Johnson, scored 29 seconds apart to erase a 4-2 deficit.
The host Road Warriors, though, prevailed in the subsequent shootout, 3-2.
College, OHL Notes
In the NCAA, Colton Hargrove returned to the Western Michigan Broncos lineup, putting in his first appearance since Nov. 17 against the host Michigan Wolverines. He recorded one shot on goal and a minus-one rating, though his seventh-ranked squad subsisted on three unanswered goals for a 4-1 victory, throwing in a last-minute empty-netter.
Cody Payne was decidedly less fortunate while representing another Michigan institution, the Plymouth Whalers. He committed the game’s first penalty and later brooked a minus-two rating amidst a 7-3 beatdown at the hands of the Sudbury Wolves.
The sizzling Seth Griffith penned a more favorable scoresheet entry in the tone-setting phases of his Friday engagement, as well as a dramatically delectable closing line. He opened the scoring for his London Knights with a power-play conversion at 14:03 of the first period and then scored the decider with only four seconds left in regulation as part of a 3-2 victory over the Owen Sound Attack.
Perhaps most fittingly, it was London’s resident Bruins draft choice whose goal summoned the team’s teddy bear toss. According to the official OHL game sheet, a total of 10,671 toys snowed onto the ice when Griffith first tuned the mesh, forcing a 12-minute delay of game.