Providence,RI- Once again the Providence Bruins maintained the better of the scoring chances from cover to cover. The Bears were unable to get many quality chances and suffered a major set back with an injury to their top goalie Pheonix Copley. As a result, the Bruins took the 2-1 win and evened the series at two apiece.
Similar to game 3, Providence outshot the Bears by a wide margin in the first period. The Bears managed three shots to the Bruins 15. Hershey seemingly had better zone time than in game 3 but continued to struggle to get pucks to the net.
The game’s first marker came early in the second period with Providence on the power play. With Madison Bowey in the box for cross checking, Alex Grant scored from the point to give the Bruins the lead at 2:04 of the second period. Providence has now scored the game’s first goal in three out of the four games in this series.
The lead would turn out to be short lived however. Paul Carey playing in his first postseason game in the AHL of 2017 due to NHL recall, made his presence felt. Nearly four minutes after the Grant strike, Carey found Christian Djoos open on the point for a shot. Dustin Gazley managed to tip the shot as he skated through the high slot. The deflection eluded Zane McIntyre to even the score at 1-1 at 5:51 of the second.
Providence broke the tie in the period’s final minute. A Chris Breen point shot deflected to Chris Porter to Copley’s left. Porter, in an attempt to catch the Hershey netminder leaning, immediately passed to a breaking Noel Acciari to Copley’s right. Copley quickly stretched across and made the desperation save on Acciari but in doing so hurt something in his lower body and immediately writhed in pain. The puck bounced back to Porter and he buried it into the open goal. Copley threw his helmet off and was in great discomfort. He was helped off the ice by his teammates and replaced by Vitek Vanecek. The goal was clean, no interference on the play on the part of any Bruins player and Providence held the 2-1 lead after two.
The third period was the only frame Providence failed to eclipse double digits in shots (9). Their defense proved too much for Hershey to take advantage as the Bears once again were held to three shots in the period. None of which found their way into the net. They had zone time but Providence kept them mostly on the outside of the slot. By the end of regulation shots were 39-11 in favor of Providence. The horn sounded with the Bruins on top by the final score of 2-1.
Did You Know:
Providence have yet to surrender a first period goal in nine postseason games.
Vanecek was perfect in relief stopping all nine shots he faced. This is not the first time Vitek Vanecek has had to come on in relief during a playoff game in his career. Nearly a year to the day, in ECHL South Carolina, Mark Dekanich went down with injury in overtime of game seven of the second round. Vanecek came on in relief and went on to take the win in double overtime.
With his assist on the Bears lone goal, Christian Djoos leads all Bears players in points in the playoffs. In nine games he has seven points (2 G 5 A).
Looking to add to their natural center depth, the Bears inserted Washington Capitals 2016 third round draft pick Garrett Pilon to the lineup. The 19-year-old registered 65 points in 67 games for the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL this season.
Both teams will have an off day on Saturday before the series resumes in Providence on Sunday at 3:05 PM.