"Tonight was game one for a lot of us," said Providence captain Trent Whitfield of the AHL Bruins second exhibition contest of 2012. "Some guys played last night [versus Springfield], but it’s getting a feel for yourself. Getting the timing of a real game.
"We had a couple of intraquad games, but they’re scrambled — you’re playing against your buddies — it’s not the intensity you need to be at.
"So to play tonight, it felt good," he said. "It felt good to get out there, and get some real competition, and we can build on that."
With just one more exhibition to play (on Saturday night versus the Falcons in Springfield's MassMutual center) the P-Bruins look to build momentum going into their first regular season game next Friday evening versus Manchester in Providence's Dunkin' Donuts Center.
After two games in two nights, everyone wearing the spoked-P sounded happy with their efforts this week, but also agreed that there remains plenty of work to be done before the puck is dropped in anger versus the Monarchs.
"I like our battle level, it’s been good both nights," said Providence Head Coach Bruce Cassidy. "Today, we had a little more size in the lineup, a little less skill. We had our chances around the net; we just didn’t have a lot of guys finish as well as last night [in a 4-1 preseason win over Springfield].
"But our effort was there," continued Cassidy. "I thought defensively both nights we didn’t give up a lot.
"Guys are competing hard for whatever spots there are, and there are not that many."
With over a week to go in training camp, there's time to make a case for playing time, and on Thursday, Coach Cassidy said everyone needs to earn their sweater for the home opener.
"Well I think they were clear coming in. Guys have contracts. Now, what isn’t clear is who’s going to be in the lineup on opening night, because you’ve got eight or nine NHL contracts on defense, we’ve got probably 12 or 13 forwards with a couple of American League contracts...that did good work for us last year when we needed them," explained Cassidy. "I think what won’t be clear right up until last week is who’s going to be sixth defenseman, and backup goalie, and maybe your 12th forward, and stuff like that.
"It’s a good problem to have when you have this many players that are capable of playing in the league, as opposed to having to find guys. That’s just what I see compared to last year."
But whatever success the P-Bruins find during the 2012-13 campaign will have been sown during the 2011-12 season, as many of the current Providence Bruins got their first of professional hockey.
"It’s coming together," said Whitfield. "We’ve got some really good young players coming in, obviously, and this is going to be an excellent league."