For the first time all season the Providence Bruins won all three of their weekend games and extended their winning streak to four games with a 2-0 blanking of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers Sunday afternoon. Craig Cunningham and Carter Camper both scored in what would be Anton Khudobin’s 100th professional win.
“We’re learning how to win, we’re learning how to close them out,” Coach Cassidy said, “Let’s hope it continues.”
“It’s nice to get some wins together and be able to celebrate,” Cunningham said, “Everyone’s been contributing, everyone’s feeling good and hopefully we can keep this thing rolling after Christmas.”
Providence came out firing on all cylinders in the opening period creating a lot of early chances. They would go on to outshoot Bridgeport by a tally of 18 to 7. Their energy paid off when Jordan Caron set up the play and Carter Camper fed a pass to Craig Cunningham right in front across the net and Cunningham beat Kevin Poulin blocker side. Cunningham’s goal came broke a power play drought on the weekend as it came on the Bruins’ 13th power play chance of the weekend.
“Camper made a great pass to Caron. A guy with skill like Caron made a great play to me and I had a wide open net,” Cunningham said of his eventual game winner, “I didn’t do much, kinda just popped it into an empty net. Those guys executed the play really well.”
There were three other power play opportunities in that first 20 minutes of play. Having an extra man on is always going to be helpful regardless of whether or not it results in goals as frustrating as it may be.
“As long as you’re creating chances and not frustrating yourself by not executing,” Cunningham said of the advantage of having the extra player, “Even if you don’t score, it creates energy for the rest of the guy on the bench. I thought our power play did a good job tonight, both units getting pucks to the net.”
The Bruins wrapped up the first period up by a goal but headed to the dressing room frustrated but it was something Coach Cassidy was almost glad to see.
“We walked in here and you’d think we were losing. We were frustrated. That’s a good thing for our group,” Cassidy said following the game. “They’ve raised our expectation level.”
That expectation level comes as the team is now only 10 points behind the division leader and the team is streaking. “Even though we’re up one nothing, that was our goal to come in with a lead, they were disappointed they weren’t able to finish a few more plays,” Cassidy said, “It shows me now they’re not as passive as they were before, they’ve raised their expectation and our standard and they believe they can play with anybody, at least in our division. That’s important.”
Bridgeport’s anger came to blows early in the period as Tyler Randell and Blair Riley dropped the gloves at 3:56. There was more physicality after Josh Hennessy took a big side hit from Brett Gallant and was slow to get up. There was no call on the hit as Steven Kampfer came to his teammates defense and he ended up in the box for roughing.
Minutes later Providence would find themselves with the man advantage again and Camper picked up his second point of the night with a power play goal. Poulin was laying on his back after making a flurry of saves and Camper had a wide open net after receiving a pass from Kampfer. David Warsofsky started up the play and also got an assist. The Bruins would carry that 2-0 lead into the dressing room for the second intermission.
There would be no scoring in the third period and that was due in part to excellent play from Khudobin. The goaltender faced all 13 shots he faced in the period including a breakaway from Michael Haley.
Another scary moment of injury also came in that period when captain Trent Whitfield looked like he took a stick to the eye. He laid on the ice without his gloves or helmet on but play was not stopped and there was no call. He immediately headed to the dressing room with about six minutes to go. This call and Hennessy’s earlier in the game were something Cassidy was not very happy about, especially since Jamie Tardif had to miss the game due to injury after he took a questionable hit against Connecticut.
“Some nights it leaves you scratching your head,” Cassidy said. “I don’t know if we’re being targeted or what. We’re going to have to start squawking to defend our players,” he said of the missed calls.
With the win, the Providence Bruins find themselves on a four game win streak as they now have a stretch of time off for Christmas. To end in such a manner will certainly make the break a lot more relaxing.
“Always end on a high note,” Cunningham said with a smile after the game.
“Like I said, we went through a tough stretch there. Those were some tough days coming to the rink, not a lot of energy, not a lot of emotion but we battled through it and stuck with it,” Cunningham said, “We’re feeling good about ourselves and that’s important for break.”
Doing so well is not just important for the break but to make up for lost games.
“It’s important, break or no break, to catch up. We’re playing catch up with our bad stretch,” Cassidy said, “When you don’t win in 8 games, you’ve got some work to do.”
Providence has been starting their makeup work since they ended the streak. “Our work started with catch up a little while ago and you can only do it one game at a time,” Cassidy pointed out, “If you try to make up five or six games all at once, you’re gonna stress yourself out. This weekend was good though, a lot of close games.”
The Providence Bruins will look to keep their winning streak going a day after Christmas as they head out on the road for four games in week before returning home to the Dunk on January 6th.