With a third win in as many visits to the Cumberland County Civic Center, the Providence Bruins can draw a virtual knot with the Portland Pirates for first place in the Atlantic Division Thursday night.
The Pirates will be trying to rekindle a winning habit after their last game before Christmas, a 5-3 loss in Manchester, cut off their six-game winning streak. The P-Bruins knew that feeling barely a week ago when they saw their string of five straight wins and eight straight unbeaten outings snapped.
Providence is liable for two of Portland’s last three home losses, having claimed a 2-1 decision Nov. 17 and a 5-2 triumph Dec. 1 in the first two installments of the 2012-13 season series.
Forward Christian Hanson leads all participants with three cumulative points―a goal, albeit an empty netter, and two assists―over the first two Bruins-Pirates bouts. Chris Bourque, Torey Krug and Ryan Spooner have all nabbed two points at Portland’s expense, one in each meeting.
On the other side, Pirates center Brendan Shinnimin is the only Pirate with multiple points versus Providence.
Amidst their first instance of three roads games in as many nights in three different cities, the Bruins will continue with a rare venture outside of New England to Adirondack on Friday. Their lone visit to the Phantoms will fall a mere 19 days after Jamie Tardif spotted two leads in regulation and Kyle MacKinnon put Adirondack away in overtime at the Dunkin Donuts Center.
The Phantoms will be entering Friday’s bout on extra rest, with this being their first engagement since a 3-2 win at Bridgeport last Saturday extended their winning streak to three games.
A break of this nature, though, is not exactly the same as having Saturday night off and then facing a Sunday adversary who is on short rest. In turn, Friday could unfold as a battle between bus legs on the Bruins’ part and rust on Adirondack’s bench.
Those bus legs promise to pick up traction to challenge Bruce Cassidy’s pupils when they polish off their weekend in Worcester, the site of their only win over the Sharks in five tries so far.
One level lower, the South Carolina Stingrays hope to make good on a fresher sheet in the wake of the holidays when they pay a two-night visit to Gwinnett Thursday and Friday. Since their six-game winning streak began post-Thanksgiving, they relapsed to a five-game winless lull (0-3-2) that they left off in Cincinnati last weekend.
Immediately following their back-to-back bout with the Gladiators, the Stingrays will usher out the calendar year Saturday with a visit from the Wheeling Nailers at North Charleston Coliseum.