Providence Hosts Springfield in Fight for Sole Possession of Fifth

Providence, RI - The Providence Bruins (22-21-3-1, 48 PTS, 5th Atlantic) host the Springfield Falcons (22-22-1-3, 48 PTS, 6th Atlantic) this evening at the Dunkin' Donuts Center for the teams' eighth of 10 regular season meetings in 2010-11. On the year, the P-Bruins are 3-3-0-1 against the Falcons, including a 1-2-0-1 mark in Rhode Island.

Both teams begin the unofficial second half of the season tonight following the All-Star break locked at 48 points, each holding a share of fifth in the Atlantic Division, though the P-Bruins are percentage points ahead having played one less game. Providence is coming off of a 3-2 loss to Worcester last Saturday, snapping the club's stretch of seven wins in eight games dating back to Jan. 15. Springfield, meanwhile, has won two contests in a row and three of four after a two-game sweep at Norfolk. The Falcons have had good success this season away from the MassMutual Center, going 13-10-0-2, while the P-Bruins are 9-13-1-1 on home-ice, including four straight wins.

These squads last matched up on Dec. 26, 2010 at Springfield, a 5-2 Falcons win. In the season-series, the clubs have alternated wins and Max Sauve has done his best to lead the charge for Providence with six goals and an assist in the seven meetings. Kirk MacDonald has added four goals for the P-Bruins, matched by the Falcons' Mike Blunden and Columbus winger Matt Calvert. Tom Sestito (2g, 4a) and David Savard (6a) are the leaders for Springfield, each with six points. Between the pipes, Nolan Schaefer is 2-2-1 with a 2.57 goals-against-average for Providence, while David LeNeveu is 3-1-0 with a 1.72 GAA and .934 save percentage on the Springfield side.

Providence will be playing with the minimum of 12 forwards after Thursday's recall of Zach Hamill to Boston. The third-year center earned his first call-up of the season after an impressive 12-point January centering Jordan Caron and Jeremy Reich. Hamill is second on the P-Bruins in scoring with 28 points and boasts a team-best 25 assists in 44 games.

All-Star Jamie Arniel paces Providence in scoring with 14 goals and 30 points, and he is coming off of a two-point, plus-four effort in last weekend's All-Star Classic. Without Hamill, he is also the team's active leader in assists with 16. In net, Schaefer is 9-13-1 with a 3.01 GAA, while AHL rookie Matt Dalton is 6-4-0 with two shutouts and a 2.67 GAA.

On the other side, Springfield is without recent Calvert and John Moore, who were both summoned by the Blue Jackets over the last few days. Rookie Tomas Kubalik, meanwhile, has shined as he leads the Falcons with 30 points, and his 14 goals are tied for a team-best with the recently acquired Trevor Smith. Dave Byers, formerly of Hartford, is first with 19 assists. In the crease, LeNeveu is 12-12-2 with a 3.01 GAA and Gustaf Wesslau shows a 8-9-1 record and 2.97 GAA.

On special teams, the P-Bruins rank 30th (12.0%) in the league on the power play, though they have scored on five of their last 19 opportunities (26.3%). Providence is 27th (77.8%) on the penalty kill. Meanwhile, Springfield sits 22nd (15.4%) in the AHL with the extra skater and seventh (84.9%) when short-handed.

After tonight, Providence plays its next three games on the road, beginning Saturday in Worcester. The P-Bruins are home next on Feb. 11 against Hershey at 7:05 p.m. for Rhode Island Reds T-Shirt Night, courtesy of Dunkin' Donuts. To purchase tickets or for more information, call the Providence Bruins' ticket office at (401) 273-5000 or log on to the team website at providencebruins.com.

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