Monday, October 24, 2011

P-Bruins Log: Big Breakout Weekend For Ridderwall

Call it coincidence or call it a pattern. But so far, Providence Bruins rookie winger Calle Ridderwall has clearly carried over a tendency to inject his team back into a game that began in the climactic phases of his college career.

Along with that, he variously figured in to an altogether irreproachable five-point, three-game weekend for the P-Bruins. His team trailed at least once in all three of their latest outings. And at least once, when there was a deficit glowering at him and his mates, Ridderwall either put a biscuit in the basket or an adversary in the penalty box.

And after each of those acts, the Providence strike force thawed out its sticks and found a way to elude a regulation loss, or better yet consume a victory.

This motif may not necessarily retract. The last time Ridderwall was a regular in an active lineup, he was similarly clicking in desperate situations.

Almost seven months ago, he connected on a power play to put his Notre Dame team on the board and whittle Merrimack’s 2-0 lead in half late in the first period of the NCAA Northeast Regional semifinals. And that was only 27 seconds after Merrimack had augmented its lead to begin with on a shorthanded goal.

Leading up to Ridderwall’s goal, the Warriors were also outshooting Notre Dame, 13-8. For the rest of regulation, the Irish went on a 28-16 run and deleted another two-goal deficit en route to a 4-3 overtime victory.

Less than two weeks later, in a Frozen Four semifinal bout with Minnesota-Duluth, Ridderwall inserted his own shorthanded strike with 17:55 to spare in regulation, closing a deficit to 4-3. Initiating an odd-man rush after a turnover in the Irish zone, Ridderwall escorted the puck to the point position and drilled a homeward-bound saucer through a forest of backchecking bodies.

From the next face-off onward, Notre Dame outshot Duluth, 14-1, although Bulldogs goalie Kenny Reiter answered everything to preserve his team’s victory.

Fast-forward to this past weekend. For the first time since joining the team as a free agent on an AHL contract in mid-August, Ridderwall got his chance to suit up for more than one game with the P-Bruins on the same weekend.

All he did with that was land a cumulative nine shots on goal, four on Friday versus Worcester and five on Saturday at Portland, with two of those amounting to his first professional points.

More telling, though, were the circumstances and timing of Ridderwall’s two strikes. Not unlike the Irish in those two NCAA tournament games, the P-Bruins were trailing the Worcester Sharks by a pair of goals for much of Friday’s first 40-plus minutes.

Then, with 1:46 off the third-period clock and just 78 ticks after Mike Connolly had pulled the visitors ahead, 3-1, Ridderwall absorbed a feed from fellow rookie Craig Cunningham and inserted a backhander. Although the Sharks continued to throw their share of flurries at the Providence net, the newly-fortified P-Bruins propped up the one-goal differential until Jamie Tardif’s extra-man conversion with 30 seconds left.

In Portland the following night, the host Pirates converted a power play in a hurry to claim a 3-2 advantage with 40 seconds off the clock in the third period. Providence was patently on its heels, as evidenced by Portland’s concomitant 4-0 run in the shooting gallery within the first five minutes.

But then, with 6:17 gone, Ridderwall simultaneously broke the Bruins’ drought and beat goaltender Justin Pogge to draw the third knot of the night. For the rest of the ride, the shooting was relatively even (9-8, Portland) and Carter Camper inserted the final goal for Providence en route to a 4-3 triumph.

Oh, and one-third of the P-Bruins’ nine third-period stabs were off of Ridderwall’s twig.

Most recently, playing his third game in as many days after seeing action in only one per weekend to start the young season, Ridderwall revitalized the Bruins in an uncredited way. In turn, he may have helped to salvage another point the same way he set the course to pilfer a pair of wins the preceding two nights.

Leading up to the halfway mark of Sunday’s opening frame at the Dunkin Donuts Center, the Albany Devils were subsisting on a 1-0 lead and running up an 8-2 edge under the SOG heading.

That was when Ridderwall nabbed the puck in his own end and broke it down to Albany property, where encountered a high-stick courtesy of Devils’ defenseman Brandon Burlon.

With Burlon bound for the sin bin at the 9:59 mark, the Bruins charged up five power-play shots and went on an 11-3 run. And less than four minutes after Burlon’s jailbreak, Zach Hamill finally solved Albany rookie stopper Maxime Clermont.

Albany and Hamill traded strikes once more in the third period, thus securing the single-point for Providence in an eventual overtime setback.