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Armstrong left fuming after P-Bruins' sub-par effort

2.12.2001 00:05
The Providence coach vows changes after his team falls to the Albany River Rats, 7-4, yesterday.
Journal Sports Writer

PROVIDENCE -- There's no doubt about it now. The Providence Bruins are a mess on the ice.

That point was driven home yesterday when the P-Bruins dropped a 7-4 decision to the lowly Albany River Rats at the Civic Center.

Albany, you see, just happens to have the second lowest point total in the American Hockey League. The loss was Providence's fourth in a row. Making the loss even uglier was watching the Rats outshoot the P-Bruins, 40-34.

And don't be misled by the final score. Only goals in the last two minutes of the game by Providence's Andre Savage and Cameron Mann made the final score seem respectable. Otherwise, it was another frustrating Providence performance that featured missed shots, a powerless power play and some
shaky goaltending.

The P-Bruins started out well enough, jumping to a 2-0 lead in the first period before giving up six straight goals. Savage finally scored Providence's third goal at 18:02 of the final period. Albany's seventh goal
was an empty-netter.

Clearly, some changes need to be made and coach Bill Armstrong is ready to make them.

"There was some personnel in our lineup that didn't weather the storm very well," said an agitated Armstrong. "Some of them chose to give up and play a different way than we normally play. Those people will be taken out of the lineup because I have so many numbers now I can replace them and put in the people who I think will give me an effort for 60 minutes. You have to give effort. I don't care what the score is and those people didn't give me effort."

Another nagging problem for Providence lately has been its ineptness on the power play. The P-Bruins were 0 for 6 with a man advantage against the Rats and are now 2-for-their-last-31 attempts on the power play.

"It was frustrating to watch us on the power play because we did a lot of things well, but we couldn't score. We couldn't bury our shots," Armstrong said. "You have to bury your chances because missing those opportunities is costing us wins."

Between now and tomorrow night, when Providence hosts Cincinnati at the Civic Center, Armstrong was asked what he plans to do in order to try to turn things around.

"We're going to practice (today)," said Armstrong. "We're going to stick to the basics like we always do. We're not going to change anything, but we're going to put some different people in the lineup and make sure there are some hungry players in there who want to play hockey."

Armstrong wouldn't say who he planned to yank from the lineup.

"I'll tell you after I have looked at the video who gave up. There could be some surprises. Bottom line is the Providence Bruins have to give effort every night and tonight we had guys who didn't give that type of effort."

Providence started out strong and owned a 2-0 lead midway through the first period on goals by Ivan Huml (8:55) and Brandon Smith (10:18). Huml scored his first goal since Jan. 12 when he converted a pass from behind the Rats' net by Mattias Karlin.

Less than two minutes later Smith uncorked a drive from the right point that ticked off the glove of Albany goalie J.F. Damphousse. Newcomer Kent Hulst earned his second assist since joining Providence Friday.

After Smith's goal, however, the game belonged to the River Rats. Albany closed to 2-1 before the first period ended when Providence failed to clear the puck from in front of goaltender Andrew Raycroft (33 saves), allowing Rats left wing Alex Zinevich to flick home his eighth goal. That Albany score came seconds after Mann, who missed an open net earlier in the period, narrowly missed putting the P-Bruins up by three when he fired a drive off the left-goal post.

Albany skated all over Providence in the second period and outshot the P-Bruins, 17-7, with three of their shots beating Raycroft for a 4-2 Rats' lead.

Jiri Bicek scored the first of his two goals in that period when he batted home a rebound at 13:19 that tied the score, 2-2. A couple of minutes later Bicek was at it again when he grabbed a loose puck off the left wing boards, skated in on Raycroft through the left circle, cut to the middle and pushed home a backhand shot at 16:10 that gave Albany its first lead, 3-2.

Then, with one minute remaining in the period, Sascha Goc ripped a rocket at Raycroft, who made a nifty skate save. However, the long rebound landed on the stick of Stanislav Gron in the left circle. Gron looked up, saw an open net and calmly lifted the puck into the Providence cage for a 4-2 Rats lead.

Copyright 2001 The Providence Journal Company

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