Saturday, December 31, 2011

This Date In Providence Bruins History: December 31

1993: Andrew McKim, Dmitri Kvartalnov, Fred Knipscheer and Jozef Stumpel each score a multi-goal game en route to a 10-6 triumph over the host Springfield Indians. It marks the first time the P-Bruins have cracked double-digits in the goal column in a single game. Meanwhile, goaltender Scott Bailey repels 33 out of 39 shots faced for his first AHL win.

1996: A 5-2 win at Portland gives the P-Bruins two consecutive victories after they had previously lost six straight and won each of the four prior that skid.

2001: For the second time in 10 days, Andrew Raycroft lays a goose-egg on home ice―this one a 4-0 triumph over the Saint John Flames―to put the P-Bruins in first place in the Eastern Division.

2002: Clutch scorer Matt Herr’s power play conversion snaps a tie and beats the visiting Hartford Wolf Pack, 2-1. The win gives Providence a perfect 4-0-0 performance against their rivals in the month of December.

2004: After dropping the month’s first two games to Manchester, the P-Bruins finish December 2004 with an 8-2-4 record. Their unbeaten streak extends to 12 games with a 3-0 win at Portland.

2005: Tim Thomas stops 49 out of 50 shots to earn a 3-1 win in Hartford.

2007: Sean Curry strikes in overtime to thwart the Springfield Falcons comeback and win a 3-2 decision for the visiting P-Bruins.

Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 In Review: Rhode Island Hockey’s Top Stories Of The Year

Convention Center Cup
Already scheduled to start the new season with Boston’s Black and White intrasquad scrimmage at the neighboring Dunkin Donuts Center, the P-Bruins got a bonus when their parent club won its first Stanley Cup since 1972.

With this being the Bruins’ first title since placing its prospects in Providence and the two teams fostering the longest active AHL-NHL alliance, it would have been a crime against nature not to let Rhode Island fans have a turn with the trophy.

Fortunately, what started as a no-guarantees push by Mayor Angel Taveras became a reality in the dusk of the offseason. And on Sept. 8, locals joined Providence captain and Boston Black Ace Trent Whitfield, Bruins’ assistant GM Don Sweeney and Providence-turned-Boston PA announcer Jim Martin to receive the Cup at the Rhode Island Convention Center.

Less than two weeks later, Providence alumni and ring-bearing Boston players Johnny Boychuk, Brad Marchand, Adam McQuaid, Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas all returned to The Dunk to skate in the scrimmage.

Quite the storybook culmination to the two New England capitals’ second full decade of puck partnership.

Cavanagh Leaves Too Soon
The calendar began on a tragic note for the state’s compact hockey community when, on Jan. 6, Warwick’s own Tom Cavanagh was found dead in the parking garage at Providence Place Mall. His untimely passing at the age of 28 was ultimately ruled a suicide and the details as to his struggles with mental illness gradually unfolded over the ensuing weeks.

Cavanagh, a former ironman at Toll Gate and Harvard University and journeyman with three AHL New England teams, had been released from the Springfield Falcons two months before his death. His last point was an assist on opening night against the P-Bruins at The Dunk.

A member of a vast, puck-loving clan, Cavanagh’s funeral was attended by the entire Falcons’ team as well as the men’s teams from Harvard and Providence College, alma mater of his younger brother, David, and cousin, John Cavanagh.

Friars Discharge Army
After three years of exponentially evident futility, the PC men’s program finally conceded that not all dream matches come true.

One week removed from missing the Hockey East playoffs for the third time in as many years, East Providence product and former Friars’ captain Tim Army was relieved of his head coaching duties.

Army had initially rolled up an almost respectable record of 41-56-11 over the first half of his tenure, but then saw his alma mater’s run of 24 consecutive conference playoff appearances end. Upon failing to restore the program’s relevance on two mulligans, he gave way to Nate Leaman, who was formally introduced May 3.

So far, Leaman has this year’s Friars sitting fifth in Hockey East with games in hand and above the .500 fence with an 8-7-1 national record. That already matches PC’s win total from 2010-11.

Cassidy Inherits Murray’s Mess
Not unlike the Friars, the P-Bruins have been brooking an unprecedented string of irrelevance. Upon missing the Calder Cup playoffs in consecutive years for the first time in their existence, the Bruins’ top farm club saw GM Peter Chiarelli fork out head coach Rob Murray and elevate assistant Bruce Cassidy.

So far, that tweak has yet to summon the same results as Friar Puck. Apart from two four-game winning streaks, the Baby Bs are still floundering and quickly buried all encouraging memories of their 12-6-1 play-for-pride homestretch from the end of last season.

Nearing the halfway mark of the 76-game schedule, Providence is second-to-last in the AHL’s Eastern Conference. And unlike the parent club, they are at or near the bottom of the league’s offensive and defensive leaderboard.

Digit Done
In keeping with the inadvertent motif of the year, Brown University and women’s head coach Digit Murphy ended their 22-year alliance after the program’s single-worst season in four-plus decades of existence. The Bears had been on a steady downward spiral since 2005-06, their winning percentage worsening or failing to improve by the year.

After four straight seasons of single digits in the win column and three straight campaigns of 20 or more losses, Murphy gave way to Amy Bourbeau, who was 4-5-5 behind the Brown bench at the time of the December deceleration.

Lacasse Edits Record Books
In one valiant losing effort against Boston College in the Women’s Hockey East semifinals March 5, PC junior goaltender Genevieve Lacasse broke Jana Bugden’s program record of 2,555 career saves. One period later, she broke Northeastern counterpart Florence Schelling’s hours-old record of 44 stops in a single WHEA postseason game.

Now in her senior season, Lacasse eclipsed Bugden in another category Nov. 19 when she blanked Vermont, 3-0, for the 15th shutout of her collegiate career. And she will enter 2012 needing one more victory and at least 13 opportunities to top the Friars’ charts under that heading.

Two Providence Teams Crash Whale Bowl
The two-week Whaler Hockey Fest in neighboring Connecticut this past February featured two of hockey’s best Ocean State-Nutmeg State rivalries, and in both cases, Providence dampened the home party with a victory.

On Sunday, Feb. 13, the PC women’s team edged UConn, 4-3, thus sweeping their three-game season series. Six nights later, in the marquee climax of the Fest, the P-Bruins deleted 2-0 and 4-3 deficits to top the Connecticut Whale in a shootout, 5-4.

The AHL game set a league attendance record with an audience of 21,673 on hand at East Hartford’s Rentschler Field.

Environmental Wake-up Call
After a Feb. 17 game between Johnson and Wales and Curry College at the Rhode Island Sports Center, 28 members of the visiting Curry team were hospitalized with various symptoms that are readily attributed to the rink’s Zamboni fumes. Exposure to nitrogen dioxide required a majority of the players to remain in the hospital for a full two days.

The North Smithfield ice facility responded by acquiring an electric resurfacing machine in the offseason.

A Bear For The Buds
The Brown men’s program splashed a seven-year drought by having its first entrant in the NHL Draft since 2004. Defenseman Dennis Robertson, currently a sophomore with the Bears, was chosen 173rd overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Two other Brown alumni made a slightly bigger splash in The Show as Aaron Volpatti and Harry Zolnierczyk broke in with the Vancouver Canucks and Philadelphia Flyers, respectively.

Mounties Still At The Summit
For the second consecutive season and the third time in the school’s history, Mount Saint Charles Academy garners the state championship in both boys’ and girls’ hockey.

This Date In Providence Bruins History: December 30

1992: Sergei Zholtok’s first North American pro hat trick fuels a 7-1 romp over the New Haven Senators at the Providence Civic Center.

2002: Andre Savage and Carl Corazzini each prolong a four-game point-scoring streak by scoring the P-Bruins goals in a 2-2 knot with Hershey.

2004: Keith Aucoin’s hat trick and four-point night pilots a 4-2 win over the Falcons at the Springfield Civic Center.

2005: Tyler Redenbach and Nate Robinson record two points apiece to help the P-Bruins surmount a 2-1 deficit in the third period en route to a 4-2 win at Portland.

2006: Jonathan Sigalet stands out in a losing cause, assisting on each Providence goal in a 5-4 decision at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

2009: Mikko Lehtonen and Andy Wozniewski are both named to the 2010 PlanetUSA All-Star team.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

This Date In Providence Bruins History: December 29

1993: Second-year pro Scott Bailey makes his debut in the Providence net against the Hershey Bears. His 42-save effort, including a foiled penalty shot on Yanick Dupre, helps the P-Bruins to a 3-3 tie at Hersheypark Arena.

1996: Paxton Schafer lays a 30-save goose-egg while Jean-Yves Roy scores a playmaker hat trick in a fight-filled, 5-0 home victory over Fredericton that halts a six-game losing streak.

2002: The P-Bruins reclaim first place in their division upon pacing themselves to a 3-2 home win over Manchester.

2006: In a visit to Philadelphia, the P-Bruins bend Phantoms goaltender Martin Houle with 34 regulation shots and seven overtime stabs, then break him in the shootout. Kris Versteeg and David Krejci combine for three shootout conversions to finalize a 4-3 win at the Spectrum.

2007: The P-Bruins delete 2-0 and 3-2 deficits en route to their third road win in as many nights and as many cities. In the shootout, all four Providence skaters beat Portland goaltender Gerald Coleman while Tuukka Rask stops two of his three challengers to cement a 4-3 victory at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

2009: For the second time in 11 nights, the P-Bruins reap a 3-2 overtime victory out of Springfield’s MassMutual Center. Mikko Lehtonen and Trent Whitfield each scrape out two assists, including a collaborating to set up Andy Wozniewski’s power-play strike at 2:18 of the bonus round.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

This Date In Providence Bruins History: December 28

2002: Andrew Raycroft bolsters a 4-3 win at Portland with 31 saves, giving the P-Bruin seven wins in a span of eight tries.

2003: Andre Savage pilots the offensive cause with a goal and an assist while Tim Thomas stops 47 out of 50 shots-faced to tie the Lowell Lock Monsters, 2-2, at Tsongas Arena.

2007: David Krejci opens the scoring, then has his second straight night of two assists while Pascal Pelletier has his second straight multipoint outing as part of a 4-2 road win over Bridgeport.

Monday, December 26, 2011

This Date In Providence Bruins History: December 26

1996: In his fourth season with the P-Bruins, former U.S. Olympic captain Peter Laviolette is chosen to assume the same leadership role with the AHL’s World All-Stars.

1999: Calder Cup hero Marquis Mathieu returns from offseason surgery, but his first game in the P-Bruins title defense is marred by a 5-1 loss to Lowell.

2000: Peter Ferraro and Eric Nickulas insert two unanswered goals within the first half of the third period, ultimately turning a 3-1 deficit into a 3-3 home tie with the Portland Pirates.

2003: Peter Hamerlik repels all 14 first-period shots while Carl Corazzini sets up Ivan Huml’s icebreaker at 19:47 of the opening frame. After the Manchester Monarchs fill the two-goal pothole singlehandedly dug by Huml, Corazzini restores the P-Bruins lead for good en route to a 3-2 win at The Dunk.

2004: The P-Bruins extend their home winning streak to five games and their overall unbeaten streak to nine with a 3-2 win over the Lowell Lock Monsters.

2005: Ben Guite assists on both regulation goals and Nate Robinson inserts the lone shootout strike on either side in a 3-2 home win over Lowell.

2008: Martins Karsums has a hand in both regulation goals, then scores the shootout winner to top the Worcester Sharks, 3-2, at DCU Center. Tuukka Rask stops 46 out of 48 shots in the first 65 minutes, then repels four out of five in the shootout for the win.