Game Preview: Providence at St. John’s

With Thanksgiving in the rear view mirror, the Providence Bruins will be making their way up to Newfoundland and Labrador to take on the St. John’s IceCaps for games on Saturday and Sunday night at the Mile One Centre. This will be only the second time that the Bruins will be heading up to St. John’s in what is a relatively new Atlantic Division rivalry. It will also be the only time that the Bruins cross the Canadian border this season, as the lone remaining game against the IceCaps will be at home on December 16th. That should be a good thing for the P-Bruins as they have not fared well when having to visit the Great White North the past few seasons.

Since 2010, the Bruins have played in Canada on two separate road trips, February 25th and 26th, 2010 in Abbotsford, British Columbia and February 7th and 8th, 2011 in St. John’s. Of those four, the Bruins took only the first game against the Heat, a 4-0 shutout fueled by two point nights from Maxime Sauve, Jordan Caron, and former Bruin Andrew Bodnarchuk, and backstopped by a 30-for-30 night from Michael Hutchinson. Since then, however, the Bruins have lost three straight in Canada, getting outscored 10-3. Some road fatigue should be expected though, as a bus (and ferry) ride to St. John’s is over 1,550 miles long and takes over 32 hours. Traveling to Abbotsford is even more draining at 3,135 miles and over 52 hours of travel time by bus. Naturally, a plane ride is highly recommended by that point.

The Bruins are coming off their most successful weekend of the season so far, winning two of three – including their first road win in nearly a month – and look to continue their streak in St. John’s. Right now, the Bruin with the hottest stick belongs to third year center, Ryan Spooner, who has notched two goals and three assists over the last four games, which nearly equals his totals from his last two seasons with the Bruins combined (3 G, 4 A over 8 GP). The 45th overall pick of the 2010 NHL Draft has spent the majority of his career in the OHL system with Peterborough, Kingston, and Sarnia, and has racked up quite a solid set of statistics over the course of those four seasons: 113 G, 146 A in 230 GP (5 G, 6 A in 18 playoff games).

Meanwhile, the IceCaps have been struggling to find their rhythm as of late as they have gone 3-3 since their 3-0 loss to Providence on November 4th. The past week has been especially up and down for St. John’s as they went W-L-W-L against the Albany Devils and Hamilton Bulldogs. One bright spot for the IceCaps has been left winger Carl Klingberg, who scored four points in the last five games (2 G, 2 A) after a very slow start to the season (1 G, 0 A over 8 GP). Also playing well as of late is center Eric O’Dell who had a four game point streak snapped in Wednesday night’s loss to Hamilton. He had one goal and four assists over the course of his streak.

While neither team features players that played for the other team, it should be noted that Jamie Tardif did play one game with the former incarnation of the IceCaps, the Manitoba Moose, on December 2, 2006. He didn’t contribute in Manitoba’s 5-3 loss to the Hershey Bears, but he did share the bench that day with the current captain of the IceCaps, Jason Jaffray. Other interesting connections to note: Chris Bourque and Dean Arsene spent five seasons together in Hershey from 2005 to 2009; Jordan Caron and Patrice Cormier played with Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL from 2006 to 2010 before both jumping to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies for the last few games on the 2009-10 QMJHL season; and Jason Gregoire, Matt Bartkowski, Carter Camper, and Colby Cohen all played with the Lincoln Stars of the USHL for some time between 2006 and 2008.

Saturday’s game will be at 7:30 PM NST (6:30 EST), with Sunday’s game at 6:00 PM NST (5:00 EST).  The Bruins will return the following Friday night to play the Connecticut Whale at 7:05 PM, at the Dunk.

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