PROVIDENCE, RI- Digging deep and desperate for goals, points… anything, Hershey came to Providence looking to snap their now six-game winless streak. The Bruins special teams had other ideas. The 25th ranked power play had a night while the PK stood tall lifting Providence to the 5-2 win.
The same old song and dance emerged once again for Hershey in the first. An early penalty kill gave the Bruins just the opportunity they needed to get on track. Tommy Cross and Austin Czarnik played catch back and forth to spread the Bears penalty killers out and then fed the puck down to Vitek Vanecek’s left to Ryan Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald with his back to the goal backhanded a puck at a tough angle through Vanecek’s pads and in putting Hershey down 1-0 under five minutes into the game as has been the case for three games in a row.
Hershey survived two more penalties but failed to score on two power plays of their own. The score remained 1-0 Bruins after one.
It took nearly half of the second period for somebody to find the back of the goal again. Bears defender Jonas Siegenthaler got into some trouble in his own zone thanks to intense forechecking by Ryan Fitzgerald. Siegenthaler as a result, errantly threw a pass up the boards right to Jordan Swarz on the left half-wall. Swarz spotted a streaking Jakub Zboril in from the point and put it right on his tape. Zboril snapped Home the puck from the hashmark building the lead to 2-0. The goal marked Zboril’s first career AHL goal.
Hershey finally got on the board on the dying seconds of their third power play. Rushing up ice, Wayne Simpson and Tyler Graovac executed a perfect give-and-go leaving Graovac open to bury a power-play goal to cut the lead down to 2-1.
The second period finished with the same score but not without some rough stuff and something Hershey has yet to have seen to this point: An Anthony Peluso fight. With 27 seconds left in the second, Zach Sill hit a Bruin and Providence didn’t take kindly to it. A struggle led to his helmet coming off. Play continued deep in the Bruins zone as Peluso raced Jeremy Lauzon for a loose puck. Peluso and Lauzon grappled and dropped the gloves. In all, five penalties were assessed to four players with Sill getting the extra minor for roughing to end the second.
Here is the Peluso fight. Couple big blows. pic.twitter.com/vzcYBWFZA4
— Sin Bin Bears (@SinBinBears) January 27, 2018
In the third period, it didn’t take long for the Bruins to make Hershey pay for their lack of discipline. Just 28 seconds into the new period, pinpoint passing found Tommy Cross at the point. His shot hit paydirt pushing the lead back to two for his sixth goal of the season.
Providence kept up the pressure adding to the lead 4:20 later. Connor Hobbs was checked into the back of the goal behind Vanecek just as Vitek deflected a shot up high in the air. Hobbs being on the goal pushed it up and in on Vanecek a little bit while Josh Hennessy collected the puck and wrapped it around and it making it 4-2 Bruins at 4:48. Hershey argued Hobbs was cross-checked and against the goal being allowed but there wasn’t anything the refs could do so the play stood.
Hershey briefly made this interesting a little less than three minutes later. With a small push, Connor Hobbs unleashed a one-time rocket from the point that Zach Sill got a piece beating Zane McIntyre for Hershey’s second goal.
The momentum seemed to be shifting heavily on Hershey’s direction. They earned 1:27 of five-on-3 power play time down by two. A golden opportunity to possibly tie the game. Due to a couple of misplays and miscommunications, the power play couldn’t score on the first chance and Connor Hobbs wiped out the remaining minor by taking a tripping penalty.
Austin Czarnik sealed the game up on the ensuing power play for Providence. A missed assignment left Czarnik all alone to skate in and accept a pass from behind Vanecek’s goal. Czarnik capped off a three-point night by scoring on the play making it 5-2.
1). Ryan Fitzgerald (1 G, 3 A)
2). Austin Czarnik (1 G, 2 A)
3). Tommy Cross (1 G, 1 A)
McIntyre stopped 27 of the 29 shots that he faced. He has now won three of his past four appearances.
Vitek Vanecek stopped 23 of 28 shots the came his way. He falls to 6-6-1-2 on the year and is winless in three appearances since he shutout Charlotte on January 7th.
One minor positive takeaway for the Bears was their lone power play marker in the second. Graovac’s goal put an end to a 0-20 scoreless power play spell dating back to January 13th. It may serve as little consultation but possibly something the coaching staff will look to build on moving forward.
It is Providence’s special teams that can leave the rink feeling good. The penalty Kill finished killed 5/6 and the power play was the real difference maker for the Bruins scoring on three of their seven opportunities. A much-needed boost for a unit that’s seventh in the Atlantic division and 25th overall at 14.1%.
Hershey will finish off the unofficial first half of the season Saturday night in Bridgeport. They’ll face a Sound Tigers team that also lost tonight but has won three of four. Hershey will look the break through the now seven-game winless drought. The Bears return from the break next Friday, February 2nd to take on Wilkes-Barre Scranton on the road.
Providence travels to Springfield tomorrow night to close out their first half. They’ll pick up after the all-star break next Friday on home ice against Hartford.