|Hockey Heaven: Articles:
Providence 5, Rochester 1
|PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - The Providence Bruins' journey
from worst to first is finally complete.
The American Hockey League's worst team a year ago, the Bruins completed a stunning reversal of fortune by winning the Calder Cup with a 5-1 victory over the Rochester Americans Sunday night before a roaring sellout crowd of 11,909 at the Providence Civic Center.
Joel Prpic had a goal and two assists and linemate Marquis Mathieu added a goal and an assist to lead the Bruins, who won the series four games to one. Goaltender John Grahame made 26 saves in posting his 15th playoff win.
Forward Peter Ferraro, Providence's top post-season scorer with 21 points in 19 games, was named Most Valuable Player of the playoffs.
En route to the first Calder Cup title in the seven-year history of the franchise, Providence won 71 of 99 games, establishing an AHL record for most total victories (regular season and playoffs) in league history. The Bruins set four AHL records and established 26 franchise records on the trail to the Calder Cup.
``I don't have any hesitation in saying these guys are arguably the greatest team ever to play in the AHL,'' said first-year coach Peter Laviolette. ``When you consider the winning percentage, the records they broke, the banners they won, these guys are arguably the greatest ever in the AHL.''
``The reward has finally been received,'' said Providence captain Dennis Vaske. ``It's been our goal all year. You play this game so long, it's great to finally have something to show for it.''
Rochester, which finished with the second-best regular-season record in the AHL behind Providence, dropped the first three games of the Calder Cup finals before winning Friday night to force a fifth game. No AHL team has ever rallied from a three games to none deficit to win the Calder Cup title.
The Bruins took charge of the game with two first-period goals. Landon Wilson put Providence on top with a power-play goal 5:48 into the game. He pounced on the rebound of an Eric Nickulas shot in the slot and fired the puck past Rochester goalie Martn Biron (30 saves) .
Providence doubled its lead with 2:07 left in the period when Prpic tapped home a cross-crease pass from Mathieu.
The Bruins took a commanding 3-0 lead on a Mathieu goal with 6:42 left in the second period. Mathieu followed up on the rebound of a Prpic shot and flipped the puck past Biron.
The Americans finally got on the board with 10:55 left in the game when Dean Melanson beat Grahame on a breakaway. But Providence quickly dashed Rochester's momentum when Ferraro countered with a goal 17 seconds later. Cameron Mann finished the scoring with an empty-net goal with 38 seconds remaining.
Ferraro said the Bruins entered game five with great confidence. ``Rochester is a hard-working team and sometimes hard work can override skill, said Ferraro. ``But our team is a combination of skill and hard work and it definitely paid off.''
The Bruins are the fourth team in AHL history to go from last place one season to the Calder Cup championship the next, joining Indianapolis (1941 to '42), the Providence Reds (1955 to '56) and Sherbrooke (1984 to '85).
© Associated Press