Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pre-game Puckbag: P-Bruins @ Portland Pirates

Opening draw
Not unlike their parents in Boston, the Providence Bruins have a chance to surmount the .500 fence Saturday night when they visit the Portland Pirates at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

At 7-7-1, the P-Bruins will try to improve their season series to 3-0-0 with the Pirates, who are presently mired in the Atlantic Division cellar, on a two-game pointless skid and 2-6-0 in their last eight outings after an initial 2-1-1 start.

Entering Saturday’s action, the P-Bruins are one of a whopping 12 Eastern Conference inhabitants with a winning percentage of .500 or better. The Pirates are in the slim minority, joined by the defending Calder Cup champion Binghamton Senators and the Manchester Monarchs, whom the Bruins victimized with a dramatic 1-0 decision Friday at the Dunkin Donuts Center.

Notable names
Andy Miele, who returned to the Pirates last Friday after a two-week recall to the parent Phoenix Coyotes, is second only to Rochester’s Marcus Foligno with a 33.3 shooting percentage. Over seven AHL appearances, Miele, Carter Camper’s former teammate at Miami University, has inserted four goals on 12 SOG.

Brett Hextall and Ryan Hollweg are the only active Portland regulars in the plus/minus black with ratings of plus-3 and plus-1, respectively.

Veteran defenseman Nathan Oystrick is on the three-game point-getting streak with a goal and four assists in that span.

The P-Bruins slapped Manchester stopper Martin Jones with his league-leading seventh loss of the season Friday night while sparing their own Anton Khudobin the same fate. However, Khudobin is still tied with Portland’s Curtis McElhinney for third on that dubious leaderboard with six setbacks apiece.

The P-Bruins have a substantially better power-play conversion rate on the road (21.4 percent as opposed to 4.9 percent at The Dunk) while Portland has reaped more 5-on-4 rewards at home (20.7) than away (17.6 percent). The Pirates have also killed 92.3 percent of their road penalties, but only fended off 77.3 percent of opposing power play onslaughts at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

This Date In Providence Bruins History: November 12

1992: Grigori Panteleev’s hat trick spells the difference in a 5-2 home win over Hershey.

1995: Tim Sweeney’s second straight two-goal game highlights an 8-2 throttling of the Prince Edward Island Senators at the Providence Civic Center. In addition, top gun Ryan Hughes inserts the 1,000th goal in franchise history.

1999: Eric Nickulas bags two goals while Peter Ferraro and Andre Savage each log a 1-2-3 scoring line for the night as part of a 7-2 home win over the Hershey Bears.

2004: A fight-filled 3-2 home win over Hershey includes goaltenders Hannu Toivonen and Peter Budaj tussling at center ice late in the second period.

2006: Trailing the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, 3-1, at the second intermission, the P-Bruins rally for a 4-3 overtime win at The Dunk. Martins Karsums inserts the equalizer with 8:16 to spare in regulation, then ends the same bonus round he had forced at the 1:57 mark.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Post-game Puckbag: P-Bruins 1, Monarchs 0

Swift summation
Entering Friday night’s face-off, the Providence Bruins were already without their top two goal-getters with Zach Hamill (five) on recall to Boston and Stefan Chaput (four) sidelined by an injury.

Through the first 40-plus minutes, they were virtually without the equally leaned-on Max Sauve, who at that point was one of eight Providence skaters still with no registered shots against Manchester Monarchs goaltender Martin Jones.

But with 4:56 to spare in the closing frame, Sauve, whose line with Josh Hennessy and Jamie Tardif have had a hand in each of the last four P-Bruins goals, broke a nightlong 0-0 tie.

Upon burying Hennessy’s rebound on Jones’ porch, Sauve snapped his team’s scoreless drought of 137 minutes and 43 seconds. And he ultimately cemented his team’s first regulation win at the Dunkin Donuts Center this season as the Bruins subsisted on the 1-0 decision before 10,212 uplifted rooters.

For the longest time leading up to Sauve’s strike, it appeared as though things would be all downhill for the P-Bruins’ arid offense, which managed to claim an 11-10 upper hand in the first-period shooting gallery. This coming after they had failed to crack double digits under the SOG heading in the first period of each of their previous four games.

After each team landed seven shots apiece in the second, the Monarchs took three unanswered bids in the first seven minutes of the third period. By the halfway mark, only Jamie Arniel and Kyle MacKinnon, who rode on a stimulating end-to-end breakaway, had pelted Jones.

But after the Monarchs couldn’t penetrate P-Bruins’ backstop Anton Khudobin on eight third-period shots, Sauve made his team’s third try the charm. Another five saves by Khudobin gave him his second goose-egg with the Spoked-Ps.

P-Bruins pluses
After being abandoned on several laborious nights and having to work overtime to accomplish the bulk of his recent wins, Khudobin pitched a refreshing 30-save shutout. The No. 1 stopper was fittingly the center of attention in the climactic phases of Friday’s game as he repelled three extra-man shots within the final minute-and-a-half.

Calle Ridderwall didn’t do much on the offensive front, but was heroic on two unanswered penalty kills prior to Sauve’s decider in the third period. In the dying seconds of Lane MacDermid’s sentence in the fifth minute and Hennessy’s sin bin term in the 14th minute, Ridderwall cleared the zone after a blocked shot and upon picking up a threatening rebound.

Matt Bartkowski made his presence felt in multiple ways for the better part of the night, particularly in the opening frame. He threw two attempted shots and getting the first on net on his first shift. Throughout the rest of the opening frame, he could be spotted blocking shots, winning footraces and setting up breakouts on Providence property while thwarting Manchester clearing attempts at the other end.

And, as it happened, he shared a plus-1 rating with partner David Warsofsky and Sauve’s line.

Hennessy has now had a hand in all five the Bruins’ regulation goals in four meetings with the Monarchs, along with the shootout winner last Saturday up at Verizon Wireless Arena.

Bruins blights
For the fourth consecutive game, MacDermid was held pointless while committing a minor penalty.

Chris Clark and Craig Cunningham each had two shots on goal in the opening frame, but did not add to that bushel in the 40 minutes thereafter.

Providence had the lone two power plays of a scoreless second period, but mustered only two cumulative shots on those chances. With that, the 5-on-4 brigade is now scoreless on each of its last 13 shifts.

Monarchs notes
Defenseman Jake Muzzin led all participants with seven shots on goal. Winger Dwight King was a close second with five registered stabs.

Jones, who halted 22 out of 23 shots faced, claimed the game’s No. 3 star accolade.

Colby Cohen, the weightiest of all P-Bruins at 215 pounds, engaged in his first fight of the season and the third of his professional career. He tangled with Ray Kaunisto at the 14:29 mark of the third period, just 35 seconds and one whistle before Sauve’s strike.

Pre-game Puckbag: P-Bruins vs. Manchester Monarchs

Opening draw
The Providence Bruins will engage Manchester for the third time in four overall outings as the Monarchs drop in on the Dunkin Donuts Center for the second straight Friday night.

Through the first three out of 10 total installments in their season series, the road team has consistently emerged the victor. The Monarchs have reaped 7-1 and 2-1 decisions at The Dunk before the P-Bruins claimed a 3-2 shootout triumph last Saturday up at Verizon Wireless Arena.

The regional rivals enter this contest in a virtual tie for second place in the Atlantic Division with 13 points apiece, although Providence has one game in hand. In addition, the fourth-place Worcester Sharks trail each team by three points, but have six games in hand on the Bruins and seven on the Monarchs.

Notable names
Monarchs winger Brandon Kozun and center Andrei Loktionov have both scored one point in each of the first three Providence-Manchester meetings this season. Their total output in the season series is matched by Richard Clune (two goals, assist) and eclipsed only by defenseman David Kolomatis, who had two strikes and two helpers against the Bruins.

Josh Hennessy has a hand in all four of the P-Bruins’ goals scored at Manchester’s expense this season. He inserted a power-play strike in his season debut as part of the 7-1 shellacking Oct. 14, set up Max Sauve’s wraparound in last Friday’s 2-1 home falter and had a 1-1-2 regulation log along with the shootout clincher last Saturday.

Clune and teammate Jordan Nolan are a 1-2 punch on the AHL’s penalty-minute leaderboard with 67 and 56, respectively.

The upshot of their last meeting dropped Manchester to 0-1 in shootouts while the P-Bruins own the league’s best one-on-one record at 3-0.

The Monarchs enter Friday’s contest as the only AHL team with more than 300 penalty minutes (312) on their transcript.

This Date In Providence Bruins History: November 11

1998: John Grahame’s 5-0 shutout over the host Worcester IceCats pulls the P-Bruins into a tie for first place in the New England Division.

2005: Tim Thomas repels 39 out of 40 shots faced to help the P-Bruins surmount an initial 1-0 deficit en route to a 3-1 victory in Norfolk.

2006: In the P-Bruins’ first visit to Worcester since the departure of the IceCats, Ryan Glenn has a hand in all three visiting goals, though the Sharks skate off with a 6-3 victory.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

This Date In Providence Bruins History: November 10

1995: After being shut out by three adversaries in as many nights the previous weekend, the P-Bruins get back on the board and back in the point column with a dramatic 3-3 home tie versus the expansion Baltimore Bandits. Tim Sweeney, facing the new AHL affiliate of his old friends in Anaheim, scores his second goal of the game for the equalizer in the final minute of regulation during a six-pack attack sequence.

1996: In his Providence debut, goaltending prospect Paxton Schafer outduels Tomas Vokoun in a 4-3 home win over the Fredericton Canadiens. With that, the P-Bruins put together their first pair of consecutive victories on the season.

2006: The P-Bruins win their sixth straight contest and extend their unbeaten streak to seven games by throttling the Norfolk Admirals, 6-3, at The Dunk.

2007: In the final installment of a 10-game road swing to start their season, the P-Bruins fall short of a two-point package in Portland, where they concede a 4-3 overtime decision. Nonetheless, their record morphs to 8-1-1 with the home opener still four nights away.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Commentary: Why Shouldn’t P-Bruins Take Rhode Island Kids To School?

I will be forthright and confess that this is somewhat personal.

As a kid in grade school down in Newport County, I can recall taking field trips to a local campground, to a children’s theater in Fall River, to Roger Williams Park Zoo and to an aquarium in a town and state I cannot specifically recall.

That was all well and good, for those were all places with a certain appeal to me, as well as countless schoolmates. It sure beat the conventional, humdrum, six-to-seven hours in the classroom.

That said, even then I openly wondered “Where are the sports-related trips?” I was attentive enough at the time to notice that the Pawtucket Red Sox routinely started their Wednesday games at noon. Yet if any Rhode Island or southeastern Massachusetts schools were pouncing on the opportunity that presented, Melville Elementary sure as heck never did.

But as much of a puckhead as I have been since my earliest memory, it didn’t even occur to me that a hockey game would be conceivable field trip material. Yet today, you see at least a handful of AHL and other minor professional teams making it happen on an annual basis.

Over the past two days alone, there have been games facing off anywhere between 10:30 a.m. and noon local time in Hamilton, Oklahoma City, Grand Rapids and Manchester. Last Wednesday morning, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers hosted the Connecticut Whale before a season-high crowd of 7,696―heavily permeated by youngsters who just woke up after resting from their trick-or-treat excursion.

Now my inner child is really wishing the Providence Bruins had made this possible back in the 1990s. And my present-day self is wondering why they couldn’t do that today, for their own benefit and that of established and prospective young rooters.

The more you look at the way it’s already being done in other venues, the more you see how easily it could work. The following is a direct quote from the Manchester Monarchs’ “Education Day” pitch to New Hampshire educators.

Upon arriving at the game, each participating student will receive a workbook. This tool incorporates all the educational aspects of the American Hockey League while harnessing the excitement of the great sport of hockey. Students will use their math skills to calculate how many points certain players scored last season, their geography skills to identify a player’s hometown, their knowledge of New Hampshire history to better understand the Monarchs players’ new home, their critical thinking skills to solve word puzzles, and much more!

Once the students enter the arena, the learning will begin. On the concourse, your students will find exhibits focusing on Health & Wellness, Geography, Math, Reading and Science, most of which will be interactive. The Monarchs game itself will include video board quizzes and trivia.

The P-Bruins already jut out on the league’s promotional landscape with all of the elementary and middle school choruses they bring for their pregame patriotic concerts. Consider a school-hour home game a means of stepping up that outreach.

Just as multi-game road trips are conventionally credited with gelling a sports team, a bus ride to a destination far beyond the classroom helps a group of schoolmates bond. By serving as the basis of that bonding, scrapbook experience, the P-Bruins can make themselves a youngster’s reference point for future outings with family and friends.

The natural result: More ticket sales and more energized, vocal support at future games, to say nothing of what they could draw for the school-day skate alone.

Of the five AHL teams to have hosted this event this season, four drew an audience eclipsing their average attendance up to this point. The odd party out was the Grand Rapids Griffins, whose Wednesday morning bout with the Rockford IceHogs was played before 5,888 witnesses while their nightly median is presently 6,277 fans.

Translation: No guarantees this would beef things up at the Dunkin Donuts Center turnstiles, but it’s more than possible, especially if it were slated in lieu of what would have been a Sunday game.

That scenario would generate an added benefit directly to the padded personnel. If only for one out of the 18 slated occurrences, what AHL team wouldn’t want to push off Part III of a full weekend to Tuesday or Wednesday?

If only for one time, Bruce Cassidy’s pupils could take their rest day immediately after bussing back into Providence, resume practice for one or two days and then engage in some midweek extramural action. Wouldn’t that be a refreshing change of pace from cramming a one-day road-trip sandwiched by a Friday and Sunday home date and waiting until Monday to recharge?

The Sound Tigers doubtlessly excused themselves from what would have been a 14th three-in-three weekend slate with last week’s matinee. And they’re going to do it again in April, when they conduct another Wednesday morning face-off against Springfield.

With at least 62,000 K-5 students within the 401 area code, another 33,000 middle school-aged students and additional locals from Bristol County, Mass., who is not to benefit if the P-Bruins spring for this burgeoning custom?

This Date In Providence Bruins History: November 9

2003: Pat Leahy draws first blood on a power play with 3:10 gone in the opening frame and the P-Bruins subsist the rest of the way for a 1-0 road win over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, backed by Tim Thomas’ 33-save effort. It is the P-Bruins' first (and still only) victory on this particular date after previously losing on the same date three years running.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

P-Bruins Log: Cohen, MacDonald Stirring Another Not-So-Great Fall

The last time Colby Cohen inserted a goal for the Providence Bruins, the New England Patriots were waiting to see whom they would host the following week in the AFC Divisional playoffs.

In the interim, the Pats have lost an unexpected heartbreaker to the New York Jets in that aforementioned playoff game, brooked a brief lockout with their 31 NFL cohabitants and are now 5-3 at the halfway mark of their season. All the while, Cohen has appeared in 56 AHL games and registered 92 shots on goal, all of them repelled by opposing stoppers.

The last time veteran P-Bruins’ forward Kirk MacDonald tuned the mesh in extramural game action, the celestial Boston Red Sox were one weekend away from commencing the 2011 season with an American League pennant ostensibly on tap.

In the interim, the Sox have sandwiched a rather succulent summer with two pieces of musty white bread in April and September and subsequently undergone a rapid front office overhaul. All the while, MacDonald has played 20 AHL games and taken 41 shortcoming shots. That has left his career goal bushel at 32 through 178 appearances in Providence, just as it was after 158 twirls with the Spoked-P.

This is someone who has tallied a respectable 14 and 15 goals over his first two full seasons in the AHL, who tied Max Sauve for third on last year’s Providence scoring chart with 38 points.

Then again, this is also someone who went through a 25-game goal drought between Oct. 15 and Dec. 17 of last season.

Over the 68 games that followed, with an underachieving core all around him, MacDonald sprinkled 13 strikes, culminating in a two-goal performance as part of a 4-2 win over Connecticut on March 27.

Since then, apart from seven assists, he has had an arid April, an O-fer October and is just coming off a pointless three-game weekend to commence the month of November.

These bipolar trends are nothing new to the likes of Cohen, either. The sophomore defenseman has all of two professional strikes to his credit after a cumulative 80 outings between the Lake Erie Monsters, Colorado Avalanche and P-Bruins.

Upon dropping out of Boston University at the conclusion of his junior season in March 2010―but not before inserting 25 goals on 199 shots―Cohen made three late-season appearances for Lake Erie.

The following year, he slugged in his first professional goal at San Antonio on Oct. 17. But he managed no other points while injuries, a brief call-up and his trade to the Bruins system for Matt Hunwick confined him to 14 total outings with the Monsters.

On the other side of his transfer and recovery, Cohen capped off his first three-game weekend with the P-Bruins by charging up a goal-assist value pack in a Jan. 9 tangle with Binghamton.

He has since added 13 helpers in 57 outings. But his shooting percentage is hardly a smooth translation of his college transcript, which included a highlight-reel, homeward-bound floater that clinched BU the 2009 national title.

As a collegian, Cohen penetrated the goalie on 12.56 percent of his registered stabs. As a professional, he has gone 2-for-128 for a 1.56 success rate, a full 11 percent drop in accuracy.

Of the 12 players who have skated for the Spoked-Ps and have yet to tune the mesh this season, MacDonald and Cohen have taken the most stabs with 29 and 25, respectively. Nobody else has broken the 20-SOG plateau without watching at least two of their bids light the lamp.

Summons to The Show?
Boston grinder Daniel Paille was termed “day-to-day” late Tuesday afternoon, one day after a shot by former Bruin and current New York Islander Steve Staios clipped him in the face. The P-Bruins’ parents were missing Rich Peverley to begin with and have not detailed his status for the team’s next game versus Edmonton on Thursday.

Either way, there is a good chance Boston will not have its spare 13th forward available in the immediate future and even the quorum of 12 game-day strikers is not guaranteed.

Accordingly, while there was hardly any word of it on Tuesday’s off-day, one can expect the first offensive promotion of the season.

Between various injuries and slumps, the number of enticing options is slim-to-none. But two viable candidates include top scorer Zach Hamill and Josh Hennessy, a 20-game veteran from his Ottawa days who had a hand in all three Providence goals over the weekend.

This Date In Providence Bruins History: November 8

1996: After five out of six home games in the month of October, including each of the last four, the P-Bruins snap out of their funk with a 3-1 win over Saint John at the Civic Center.

2003: Hannu Toivonen’s 34-save performance and Carl Corazzini’s power-play goal highlight a 1-1 tie with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at The Dunk.

2008: Trailing, 2-0, as late as the 7:42 mark of the third period and 3-1 with fewer than five minutes to spare, the P-Bruins rally for an overtime victory in Albany. Brad Marchand cuts the deficit to 3-2 with 4:16 remaining, Martins Karsums draws a 3-3 knot with 38 seconds left and Vladimir Sobotka wins it on a power play 39 seconds into the bite-sized bonus round. In addition, one of Kevin Regan’s 14 regulation saves comes on an River Rats penalty shot at 15:03 of the second period.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Key P-Bruins Team Statistics (Through Games of Nov. 6)

Special Teams
Power Play: 5-for-53 (9.4 percent)
Penalty Kill: 48-for-58 (82.8 percent)
Combined Special Teams: 53-for-111 (47.7 percent)
Shorthanded Goals For: 1
Shorthanded Goals Against: 2

Situational Records
When Scoring First: 4-1-0
When Opponents Score First: 2-6-1
When Leading After 1: 2-1-0
When Leading After 2: 2-0-0
When Trailing After 1: 2-5-0
When Trailing After 2: 1-6-0
When Tied After 1: 2-1-1
When Tied After 2: 3-1-1

Goals For-Goals Against in 1st period: 7-16
Goals For-Goals Against in 2nd period: 11-14
Goals For-Goals Against in 3rd period: 10-13
Shots For-Shots Against in 1st period: 135-168
Shots For-Shots Against in 2nd period: 124-157
Shots For-Shots Against in 3rd period: 140-142
Shots For-Shots Against in Overtime: 6-10

Penalty Breakdown
Minors: 65 (one double-minor)
Majors: 10
Misconducts: 0
Opposing Minors: 62 (one double-minor)
Opposing Majors: 10
Opposing Misconducts: 1

This Date In Providence Bruins History: November 7

1992: The power play converts six times on the night and goaltender Matt DelGuidice stops 23 shots in the second period alone. But the P-Bruins still fall short in a 9-7 barnburner against the host Adirondack Red Wings at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

1993: Sergei Zhotolk scores four goals in a 5-5 home tie with the Springfield Indians.

1999: Four individual scorers balance out a 4-2 home win over the Hamilton Bulldogs.

2001: With Boston general manager Mike O’Connell and head coach Robbie Ftorek both in attendance at the Worcester Centrum, the P-Bruins vanquish the IceCats, 3-2.

2003: After the Lowell Lock Monsters draw first blood, Carl Corazzini nails a quick equalizer and ultimately bookends the P-Bruins’ scoring in a 4-3 win at the Dunkin Donuts Center.

2004: The P-Bruins snap a five-game winless skid (0-3-2) with a 4-3 triumph at Hershey, led by Patrice Bergeron’s two-goal and three-point effort.

2010: The P-Bruins sweep a three-game weekend with a come-from-behind, 6-4 barnburner at Albany’s Times Union Center. Jordan Knackstedt (hat trick, assist) and Zach Hamill (four assists) pilot the offensive cause. Meanwhile, the P-Bruins trail, 4-1, when goaltender Nolan Schaefer relieves Michael Hutchinson at 3:30 the second period and holds the Devils scoreless on 10 shots the rest of the way.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Post-game Puckbag: Admirals 3, P-Bruins 0

Swift summation
The Providence Bruins hit a wall in yet another second- and third-period cramming session en route to a 3-0 loss to the Norfolk Admirals Sunday afternoon.

Not unlike their previous home outing, a 2-1 Friday falter to Manchester, this one was ultimately lose in the opening frame as the Admirals sculpted a 2-0 lead. In the subsequent 40 minutes, Providence pelted opposing stopper Dustin Tokarski with 31 shortcoming shots.

After the Bruins charged up an initial 4-2 edge in the shooting gallery, the Admirals went on a 9-2 run for the remaining 14 minutes of the opening frame. They hopped on the board by way of a swift end-to-end invasion at the 8:19 mark. Pierre-Cedric Labrie beat both Max Sauve and Jamie Tardif to Sauve’s rebound, hustled it out of his own zone and was ultimately there to one-time Carter Ashton’s feed home at the other end of the rush.

Just a little less than 10 minutes later, Mike Angelidis augmented the Norfolk lead to 2-0 on an ice-kisser from the slot that eluded goaltender Michael Hutchinson’s left boot.

The Providence strike force induced a more substantial sweat for Tokarski, running up a 17-6 shooting edge within the middle frame. But the 2-0 deficit didn’t morph at any point in that tempest.

Ashton finalized the 3-0 upshot with 5:36 to spare in the third when absorbed Labrie’s feed and turned a 360-degree spin as he lashed the biscuit behind Hutchinson.

P-Bruins pluses
Save for a failure to convert on any of three power plays, the P-Bruins were altogether irreproachable on special teams. They gave Norfolk’s league-leading power play few, if any quality looks in its three penalty kills and tested Tokarski during man-up and shorthanded segments alike.

Bruins blights
As if the scoreboard weren’t a reliable witness, first periods were hardly a happy hour for Bruins buffs all weekend. For the third night in a row, Providence authorized the first goal and failed to tune the opposing mesh within the first 20 minutes.

Of the six shots they mustered against Norfolk in the opening frame, one came from each constituent of the Josh Hennessy-Sauve-Tardif line while the other three came from the point.

Translation: Nine of the P-Bruins’ 12 forwards did not get around to testing Tokarski until the middle frame. And while they were, in the words of Paramore, the only exception, the fact that the Hennessy line was on the ice for each of the Admirals’ first two strikes can’t look good on anyone’s resume, either. Sauve and Tardif were both on the ice for Ashton’s goal as well, giving them each an acrid minus-3 apiece.

While Carter Camper was about as kinetic as any of his teammates amidst the 17-shot second period, he was liable for multiple infractions that potentially hindered the cause. He was blatantly caught in the middle of two offside calls and then took a holding-the-stick penalty after he was stripped of the puck by Admirals’ defenseman Mike Vernace. All but 13 seconds of Camper’s ensuing two-minute sentence carried over to a fresh sheet in the third.

Lane MacDermid had only one shot on net Sunday and finished the weekend pointless and with a minor penalty in all three outings.

Admirals notes
Tokarski tallied 37 saves en route to the shutout and first-star accolades. Ashton and Labrie, having traded goals and assists with one another, claimed the No. 2 and No. 3 stars, respectively.

Ashton led all participating skaters with six shots.

Defenseman Jeff Dimmen finished with an assist, a plus-2 rating and three shots on goal. Partner Mark Barberio was on the ice for all three goals, though he did not have a hand in any of them.

The announced attendance of 6,660 was the third-largest congregation out of 10 P-Bruins home games so far. Only the opening night game versus St. John’s (10,339) and the Oct. 21 bout with Worcester (6,869) saw a more populous turnout.

Sunday was the P-Bruins’ first shutout loss of the season and the first time they have been blanked at The Dunk since Jan. 14 of last season against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Pre-game Puckbag: P-Bruins vs. Norfolk Admirals

Opening draw
Reeling off their third road win out of four opportunities, the Providence Bruins will again try to remedy a mediocre 3-5-1 home record by hosting the Norfolk Admirals Sunday afternoon.

In an ironic twist, the 6-6-1 P-Bruins are also trying to hop back over the .500 fence for the first time in four outings. None other than the Admirals are liable for bringing them back down to .500 when they reaped a 4-2 decision at The Dunk nine days ago, which docked Providence to 4-4-1.

In their four ventures since, the Baby Bs have alternated between regulation losses and overtime/shootout wins. They most recently topped the Manchester Monarchs, 3-2, in one-on-ones at Verizon Wireless Arena on Saturday.

Norfolk, on the other hand, will vie to restore first place in the East Division, which it spilled with a 3-2 loss at Bridgeport combined with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s shootout win at Binghamton.

Notable names
Winger Carter Ashton, who opened the scoring in the Admirals’ previous encounter with the P-Bruins, has scored a goal in nine and a point in 10 out of 12 games. His strike in Syracuse last Saturday was already the fifth time he had inserted a game’s first goal.

Based on the 50-50 rotation between himself and Jaroslav Janus, Dustin Tokarski should get the nod in net for his second bout with Providence. Tokarski has started only once since his victory at The Dunk, losing a 1-0 decision at Albany this past Friday.

Since brooking six goals in a loss to Hershey on Oct. 14, Tokarski has authorized an identical number of six opposing tallies over the course of four full-length appearances.

Center Mattias Ritola was reassigned to Norfolk by the parent Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday after going pointless and retaining a minus-2 rating over five games-played in The Show. Ritola, a former teammate of the P-Bruins’ Jamie Tardif in Grand Rapids, logged a 9-18-27 transcript in 17 games for Norfolk last year.

The P-Bruins are the last stop in a string of seven consecutive road games for the Admirals, who will play four more on the road immediately after a home date with Albany this Wednesday. Norfolk will subsequently settle down for a six-game homestand that will include a two-night visit from the Bruins post-Thanksgiving.

The P-Bruins are now one of only six AHL teams who have yet to be involved in a shutout, either as the victor or the victim. Bridgeport, Charlotte, Milwaukee, Rochester and Worcester are the others.

This Date In Providence Bruins History: November 6

1998: Putting on the much-anticipated “Turn Back the Clock” promotion, complete with Rhode Island Reds jerseys, the P-Bruins pin down the Hershey Bears, 8-6. Shawn Bates’ hat trick, along with two goals apiece via Eric Nickulas and Landon Wilson fuel the home offense as both teams ultimately resort to their backup goalies.

2010: Jamie Arniel scores his second overtime goal of the season to finalize a 5-4 win at Portland. Matt Bartkowski assists on Joe Colborne’s equalizer as well as Arniel’s clincher while goaltender Nolan Schaefer makes 36 saves and gets the secondary assist on the walkoff play. Bartkowski, Colborne, Levi Nelson and Antoine Roussel all have a two-point outing.