Providence Hosts Hershey in Final Regular Season Meeting
Providence, RI - The Providence Bruins (23-24-3-1, 50 PTS, 6th Atlantic) host the Hershey Bears (32-14-1-3, 68 PTS, 2nd East) this evening at the Dunkin' Donuts Center for the teams' second of just two regular season meetings in 2010-11.
In the only previous match-up between the two squads on Dec. 18, the P-Bruins were victorious 2-1 at the Giant Center. Kirk MacDonald and Jamie Arniel scored the goals only 52 seconds apart, while Nolan Schaefer earned the win against his former club with 26 saves. For Hershey, Braden Holtby suffered the loss and Andrew Joudrey was credit with his team's only goal.
Now, months later, the P-Bruins enter play tonight looking to put a halt to their three-game skid, their longest since a four-game winless drought from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1. All three of the recent losses have come on the road, including the last two in Charlotte, but Providence can perhaps benefit from the comforts of home, where the club has won five straight dating back to Jan. 16.
Hershey, meanwhile, is surging. Since a three-game losing streak from Dec. 12-18, the Bears are 16-2-1-2, including points in their last 10 games at 9-0-0-1. Former Bruin and 2009-10 AHL Most Valuable Player Keith Aucoin has led the charge all season with 50 points (13g, 37a), good for the team-lead and fifth in the league. The veteran has really stood out of late, however, as he currently rides a 12-game point-streak, during which he has three goals and 16 assists since Jan. 15. Also north of 40 points for the Bears are Brian WIllsie (22g, 26a), Andrew Gordon (22g, 24a) and Kyle Greentree (19g, 24a).
For the P-Bruins, the All-Star Arniel continues to lead his team in scoring with 14 goals and 31 points. With top-line forwards Jordan Caron and Zach Hamill recently recalled to Boston, Providence has called in reinforcements from Reading. Wingers Yannick Riendeau and Devin Timberlake have come up from the ECHL after previous experience in Rhode Island. Riendeau began the year with the P-Bruins, going scoreless in five games, but he's since scored 26 points (10g, 16a) in 31 contests for the Royals. Timberlake, meanwhile, is a Brown University graduate who got his first taste of AHL hockey late in 2009-10 with two goals in six games for Providence. This year, the rookie has 13 points (7g, 6a) in 30 ECHL outings.
Between the pipes, it could be another duel between Schaefer and Holtby. Schaefer is 9-14-1 with a 3.06 goals-against-average in 25 games this year, while Holtby is 12-5-2 with five shutouts, a 1.73 GAA and .939 save percentage in his 20 contests. Both Holtby's GAA and save percentage lead the AHL.
On special teams, Providence ranks 29th (11.6%) in the league on the power play and 27th (77.9%) on the penalty kill, while Hershey is in the top-10 in both categories. The Bears sit second with the man-advantage at 22.6% and eighth when short-handed at 85.1%.
On Saturday, the P-Bruins travel to Springfield for a 7 p.m. tilt. Providence then closes out the weekend on Sunday at home versus Connecticut at 4:05 p.m. for a Valentine's Day themed Poster Night, with posters free to the first 1,000 fans. 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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