Precisely three weeks after hitting the nadir of their 2012-13 season up to this point with a 6-0 meltdown in Newfoundland, the P-Bruins displeased the Dunkin Donuts Center crowd of 5,309 with a 4-0 falter on Sunday afternoon. Both times, a precise total of 40 shots could not crack the code of the St. John's goaltender.
The Caps are now responsible for Providence's only two regulation losses in 11 games since Thanksgiving, in which time the black and gold have gone 8-2-1 overall.
Each of the day’s first three penalties were assessed to Bruins forward Jordan Caron. The most detrimental of those infractions was the second, a high-sticking felony at 17:32 of the first period, for it helped to set up the IceCaps’ second goal.
When the Caps converted their second power play courtesy of Paul Postma, they augmented their lead with only 94 seconds left in the first period. The timing of that insurance goal strengthened the statistical and psychological upper hand for St. John’s, and it showed in the subsequent 40 minutes as visiting goalie Mark Dekanich neutralized an eventual 40-shot tempest from the Bruins.
To say that St. John’s, and its two stoppers in particular, have picked up the P-Bruins’ number is not a wholly irrational line of thinking. After all, Dekanich and Eddie Pasquale have combined for three goose eggs this season with one apiece at the Bruins’ expense within their last two encounters.
Nonetheless, after a sleepy first shift yielded the icebreaker at even strength 45 seconds into Sunday’s contest, Providence was plainly outclassed in the way of opportunism and discipline during the game’s deciding phases.
While Bruins backstop Michael Hutchinson recovered from that first goal and was perfect at even strength afterward until it hardly mattered late in the third, he was tasked with more than was necessary on special teams.
The IceCaps accumulated seven of their first 14 registered stabs at Hutchinson over the course of Caron’s three unanswered penalties. Out of their first 19 shots, nine were logged on their four power plays, including two of their first three goals, all culminating when Spencer Machacek gave Christian Hanson an early bailout at 13:02 of the middle frame.
Hanson’s kneeing infraction, cited by referee Ryan Murphy at the 11:24 mark, would be the last of the Providence penalties. But by then, Dekanich had too much support and too much traction for himself or his skating mates to look back.
After the IceCaps killed two unanswered penalties of their own, an even-strength strike via Jason Gregoire with 6:46 to spare cemented the 4-0 outcome.
Second-year professional Craig Cunningham, the only player to see action in all 76 games with the P-Bruins last season, suited up for his 100th career AHL contest in Albany on Saturday and upped his total to 101 on Sunday.
Cunningham is in sparse company with Chris Bourque, Caron, Hanson, Lane MacDermid and Jamie Tardif as the only Providence players to have played in all 25 contests to date in 2012-13. With the exception of Bobby Robins, everybody else has either missed at least two AHL games or been in the ECHL for other portions of the season.
Cunningham and Tardif tied for the team lead on the day with five shots on goal apiece. Tardif saw a five-game point-getting streak identical to the team’s five-game winning streak come to a screeching halt as Dekanich had an answer for everything.
Junior and College Notes
Seth Griffith was a hero once again in keeping the London Knights’ winning streak alive, charging up his second multi-goal effort and scoring his second game clincher in the last three days in a 6-5 overtime thriller.
The Knights had spilled a 2-0 lead and were trailing the visiting Kingston Frontenacs, 5-3, when Griffith converted Chris Tierney’s feed to saw the deficit in half at 11:50 of the third period. After Ryan Rupert drew a 5-5 knot on a power play, Griffith, who helped the Knights avert overtime in Friday's 3-2 win, connected in sudden death for 25 goals on the season and 21 straight wins for London.
Matt Grzelcyk started what he hopes to be a working vacation between semesters at Boston University with the first day of USA Hockey’s World Junior training camp Sunday. Grzelcyk and 36 other candidates for one of 23 roster spots have convened for tryouts in Tarrytown, N.Y. between now and Tuesday, Dec. 18.
Fellow budding Boston blueliner Matt Benning was presumably content to settle for intangible input over the weekend in the United State League. Benning’s Dubuque Fighting Saints swept a two-game slate and finished their homestand at a perfect 5-0 while improving their league-best record to 21-3-1.