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Ferraro's hat trick lifts P-Bruins over Lowell Lock Monsters, 6-5

Special to the Journal

LOWELL, Mass. -- Are there easier ways to win a hockey game than the way the Providence Bruins did in scratching out yesterday's 6-5 triumph over the Lowell Lock Monsters? Probably.

But all wins count the same in the standings. And the Bruins, who were in a mini-skid with just one win in their four previous games, were happy enough to skate out of Tsongas Arena with this one.

"It was certainly exciting, that's for sure," said Providence forward Peter Ferraro. He contributed heavily to the excitement, notching three goals, including the game-winner at 9:41 of the third period.

Lee Goren, who has trouble finding his finishing touch, polished off two scoring chances.. Both tallies were huge, wiping out two Lowell one-goal leads.

But even though they once owned a 3-0 first-period lead, this win was never in the bag until the dying seconds when goalie Andrew Raycroft held off the Monsters as they stormed the net with a man advantage.

"We were playing dangerous hockey," said Providence coach Bill Armstrong. "That's why they caught up to us. I told my guys that no matter what happens, you've got to forget about what happened and go play, and that's what we did."

Armstrong had extra reason to be pleased with the win. It assures the P-Bruins of having the league's winning percentage on Dec. 13, which is when the coaches will be determined for next month's AHL All-Star game. Armstrong will pilot the PlanetUSA squad in the annual classic.

That honor seemed to be a foregone conclusion early on, given the way the P-Bruins exploded out of the gate and amassed a three-goal lead by the 16:05 mark.

"Lately we'd gotten away from our game," said Ferraro, who clearly has found his. He scored twice in that period, sandwiching his 14th and 15th goals of the season around the first of the year by Pavel Kolarik. Ferraro had a big hand in that one, too, setting up Kolarik perfectly at the left post.

Ferraro got his first of the game at 6:12, firing from the left circle after taking a drop pass from Eric Manlow, who also assisted on two other goals. His second came with 3:55 left in the period when he rebounded a shot by Brandon Smith, which had been kicked out by Lowell goalie Steve Passmore.

But the P-Bruins mysteriously began to sit back, a transgression for which they paid dearly.

The Lock Monsters worked their way back into the game, tying it at 3-3 at the 11:44 mark of the second period on a short-handed goal by Kip Brennan. Less than three minutes later, Providence found itself playing from behind after Jeff Daw's redirect from the slot gave Lowell a 4-3 lead.

"Maybe we tried to sit on the lead a little bit," Ferraro said. "That's when you get in trouble."

Goren redeemed himself at 17:56 after he fought his way through a pair of defenders to keep the puck in the Lowell zone. Kolarik dug the puck out of Goren's skates and dished it back to Manlow at the left point. Passmore made the save on Manlow's drive, but Goren, who had cut to the net in anticipation, had an easy tap-in to tie the game again.

Michael Pudlick gave Lowell the lead again, early in the third period, but Goren answered back at 5:54, when he rifled in Jay Henderson's centering pass.

ICE CHIPS: Ferraro's hat trick was the first by a P-Bruin since Oct. 22, when Cameron Mann performed the feat in a 6-3 win against Portland . . . Armstrong was naturally pleased about earning his All-Star coaching spurs, just as his P-Bruin predecessor, Peter Laviolette (now an assistant with Boston) did last year. "I had blown it off all week," he said, "I didn't want to get too high in case it didn't happen. But I've got to be honest, I'm very excited. It's a credit to (our) guys to play that many games (26) and get points in almost all of them." . . . Besides Raycroft, defenseman Zdenek Kutlak was also returned to the P-Bruins by Boston. Both will be back with Boston today . . . Suiting up for Lowell was center Mike Omicioli, who had been with Providence until he was cut last week. The former Providence Friar star was one of several new players that Lowell had to sign in a hurry. Mike Milbury, the tempestuous GM of the New York Islanders pulled all of his prospects out of Lowell and cancelled their affiliation with the team in a dispute over playing time.

2000 The Providence Journal Company

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