Wednesday night’s renewal of the Ultimate Ursine battle will pit conflicting endeavors to snap out of a winless funk as the Providence Bruins, on the heels of a one-point-in-three-game weekend, visit the Hershey Bears, who have lost their last four overall and last two in a shootout.
Hershey is presently running away with the league’s most lethal power-play brigade with a 30.1 percent success rate. On home ice, the Bears have converted 16 out of 42 man-up invitations for an average of 38.1 percent.
The Bears’ penalty killing at the Giant Center is irreproachable in its own right, allowing only three goals on 35 scenarios for a 91.4 percent survival rate.
The Bears have multiple games in hand on the majority of their cohabitants, meaning they are technically tied with the Adirondack Phantoms for the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference with a .594 winning percentage.
Wednesday’s first period could be a telling indicator as to the ultimate upshot of the game. The Bears have scored 23 goals in the opening frame, second in the league to St. John’s (24), whereas the P-Bruins have accrued an AHL-worst minus-12 differential in the first 20 minutes.
Former P-Bruin Keith Aucoin is in a three-way for third on the AHL leaderboard with 21 points and is second only to Peoria’s TJ Hensick with 17 assists.
Decorated Calder Cup hero Chris Bourque and newly acquired veteran Jacob Micflikier also rank within the top 10 producers among active AHLers, brandishing 9-11-20 and 8-11-19 transcripts, respectively.
Six of Bourque’s goals, nine of Aucoin’s helpers and 12 of Micflikier’s points have come on the power play. Defenseman Patrick McNeill has pitched in a jutting eight assists with a man-advantage himself.
Andrew Carroll is tied with a familiar Providence foe, Richard Clune of Manchester, for the league lead with eight major penalties.
Goaltender Dany Sabourin, who transferred to Hershey last year after spending 2009-10 in the Bruins’ system, has made 30 appearances with the Bears, but has yet to face Providence. He will, however, reportedly get the nod on Wednesday.
The Bears have had five games stretch beyond regulation, but have settled for the single point every time, authorizing three sudden-death strikes and bowing in two shootouts. Out of eight total shootout attempts, only Micflikier has hit the back of the net for Hershey.
Wednesday will mark the P-Bruins second straight meeting with one of Hall of Fame Boston blueliner Ray Bourque's sons. Ryan Bourque is a rookie with the Connecticut Whale, who pilfered a 3-2 shootout decision at the Dunkin Donuts Center on Sunday.
The P-Bruins will host Hershey in the teams’ only other encounter this season on Feb. 17.