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P-Bruins poised for the kill
Providence aims to finish off Rochester and capture the Calder Cup in front of the home fans.
By BOB DICK
Journal Sports Writer

PROVIDENCE -- Immediately after his Providence Bruins had suffered their first loss to the Rochester Americans in their best-of-seven American Hockey League Calder Cup championship series Friday night in Rochester, coach Peter Laviolette was so incensed at the lack of discipline his team showed that he said he couldn't even think about going home for Game 5 tonight at the Civic Center.

No matter that his team still held a 3-1 lead in the series, and already had beaten the Amerks, the second-best team in the American Hockey League, five of six times overall. Laviolette doesn't take losing well, especially when  he sees basic mistakes being made, as he did in the 4-2 loss at the Blue Cross Arena.

Still, on the long bus ride back to Providence, Laviolette had time to think about the situation his team was in. And, had someone told him last September that his club would have an opportunity to win the first Calder Cup title in franchise history on June 13 on home ice before a roaring sellout crowd, he would have been absolutely delighted with that scenario.

That's the situation the P-Bruins will find themselves in when they take the ice tonight at 7. Providence's fans now have the opportunity to see their club try to make hockey history by bringing the Calder Cup back to Providence for the first time since the Rhode Island Reds won it in 1956.

The P-Bruins have been tough to beat at the Civic Center this season. In the playoffs, Providence is 9-0 at home. For the season, the P-Bruins have posted a home record of 42-7.

Nevertheless, Laviolette is concerned that his team has opened the door a crack for a very good Amerks club and given them new life.

Even though he knows that no team has ever won the Calder Cup after trailing, 3-0, in the championship series, Laviolette thinks the Amerks are capable of doing just that.

Craig Fisher, who scored twice in Rochester's win at home, says playing in Providence definitely is not the best place for his team. ``But we've got nothing to lose. In our dressing room, we feel that with a couple of right bounces, this series might be different,'' Fisher said. ``We don't think it's a David vs. Goliath situation. We feel we can go into Providence and keep this thing going with a victory.''

Providence defenseman Brandon Smith said no one was thinking about a sweep in this series. ``We knew it would go a few games. It's the two best teams in the league in the finals, and we knew it would be a hard-fought series.  But we're in a position to get it done at home. We had a good effort Friday night and took the majority of the play to them. We just didn't bury our chances. At home we can do that,'' Smith said.

Providence center Joel Prpic said, ``We went into their building and got a split, and that's a good accomplishment up there. Now we're home, where it will be a different game. We've been hot at home all year. Teams don't like coming into our place. We just have to tighten things up a little bit, and our power play has to click a little better. We'll regroup and come out hard tonight.''

Peter Ferraro knows he didn't help matters Friday night by going to the penalty box twice in the third period, for slashing and roughing. ``We don't have to change too much,'' Ferraro said. ``We had a lot of shots on net; we just didn't bury them. We have to prepare the exact same way we did in Rochester. But we have to walk away from the stuff after the whistle; show more discipline.''

Another key, said Ferraro, will be getting more traffic in front of Rochester's all-star goalie, Martin Biron, who played a solid game Friday night, finishing with 35 saves.

``No question, he's a good goaltender, but a lot of those shots he saw. We have to get more bodies in front of him; that's what we need to do,'' Ferraro added.

If the P-Bruins play the way Smith, Prpic and Ferraro say they can, Providence hockey fans could be celebrating their first Calder Cup title in 43 years tonight. If they lose, the series shifts to Rochester for Game 6 Thursday night.

Copyright 1999 The Providence Journal Company

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