Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pre-game Puckbag: P-Bruins vs. Portland Pirates

Opening draw
One day after rinsing out the vinegar force-fed to them by the Manchester Monarchs, the Providence Bruins will try to deprive the Portland Pirates of the same opportunity Sunday afternoon.

The Pirates and P-Bruins converge on the heels of a 5-1 home loss to Manchester and 4-1 road win over Springfield, respectively. Providence is still looking for its first home triumph after whiffing on its first three bids of the young season, the most recent being a mortifying, 7-1 decision versus the Monarchs on Friday.

With Sunday’s twig-lock, the P-Bruins will promptly finish breaking the ice with all four of their Atlantic Division rivals. So far, their inter-divisional record matches their home transcript at 0-3-0.

Notable names
Portland winger Ashton Rome is the younger brother of Aaron Rome, who gained instant infamy among Bruins buffs last June for his damaging hit on Boston’s Nathan Horton in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals. Ironically, Ashton was originally drafted by Boston in 2004, but has since changed organizations four times and still seen no action in the NHL.

Ryan Duncan, who garnered the 2007 Hobey Baker Award as a sophomore at the University of North Dakota, is back in North America for the first time since a two-game amateur tryout with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in 2009.

Another Fighting Sioux graduate, Brett Hextall, leads Portland with three points and a plus-2 rating through the first two games of the Pirates schedule. Hextall charged up a goal-assist value pack in Portland’s 4-2 win at Bridgeport last weekend.

The Pirates have a pair of journeymen for a goaltending tandem in Curtis McElhinney and Justin Pogge. Pogge has accumulated 217 AHL games with three previous organizations in four cities (Toronto, San Antonio, Albany, Charlotte) while McElhinney is back in the minors for the first time since 2007-08.

The Pirates are delving into their first season as the Phoenix Coyotes’ top development team. The P-Bruins last faced a Phoenix farm club on Feb. 13, 2009, when the San Antonio Rampage pillaged The Dunk, 5-1.

Current Pirates winger Igor Gongalsky was with the Rampage in that game, though he did not transfer to Portland with the rest of the Coyotes prospects. Rather, he is the Pirates’ lone holdover from their final year as the Buffalo Sabres’ affiliate.

Defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk will played his 210th career game with the P-Bruins, thereby surpassing former captain Jay Leach for 14th on the club’s all-time list. Among defensemen, only Zdenek Kutlak, Peter Laviolette, Denis Chervyakov and Bill Armstrong have donned the Spoked-P on more occasions. All are within easy striking distance for Bodnarchuk to pole-vault this season.