Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pre-game Puckbag: P-Bruins vs. St. John's IceCaps

Opening draw
The bipolar Providence Bruins, whose wins and losses have come in crowds over the first 10 games of the season, will try to buck their second skid in a Sunday matinee home date with the St. John’s IceCaps.

The long-distance divisional rivals will lend a little symmetry to each other’s October slates, St. John’s having previously reaped a 4-1 victory from the Dunkin Donuts Center on opening night.

Since that meeting, the Caps have yet to relinquish full or partial control of the top seed in the Atlantic circuit. Although, given that the 4-0-0-2 Worcester Sharks have three games in hand on the IceCaps and four on the P-Bruins, Sunday’s game might as well be a battle for second place. Unless the Sharks crash on their sugar rush, Worcester is setting a tone as the real team to beat.

Notable names
After charging up a goal-assist value pack in their opening night victory at The Dunk, IceCaps’ defenseman Paul Postma had a momentary cold spell, going pointless in four straight outings. Since then, though, he has thawed back out for a 1-4-5 log over the last three games.

Captain Jason Jaffray, who inserted a shorthanded goal against the P-Bruins in their previous confrontation, had a hand in all three St. John’s goals as part of a 4-3 overtime loss at Springfield Saturday night. In addition, he tied teammate Marco Rosa for a game-high six shots on net and took two of the game’s six penalties.

Goaltender Peter Mannino was called up to the parent Winnipeg Jets Saturday while center Aaron Gagnon came down from The Show on Friday. Mannino and colleague David Aebischer have an identical 2-2-0 AHL record while stand-in Edward Pasquale has won his lone AHL start, a 28-save effort that helped thrash the Portland Pirates, 5-1, in Newfoundland last Tuesday.

St. John’s defensemen Travis Ramsey and Postma are the only IceCaps regulars to have not taken any penalties yet this season. Kyle MacKinnon, who garnered his first point Saturday in the form of an assist at Bridgeport, is the only Providence regular with the same spotless disciplinary record.

The P-Bruins and IceCaps will only meet twice more this regular season when they play a back-to-back, midweek set a Mile One Centre Feb. 7-8.