Craig Cunningham and the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League are not completely out of the playoff scene, at least not mathematically.
With only three games remaining in the regular season the Bruins sit in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, five points out of a playoff spot.
The top eight teams in each conference advance so Providence must win its final three games against Worcester, Bridgeport and Portland and hope everyone else loses to move on, not likely.
Nevertheless, Cunningham has put up impressive numbers in his rookie season, finishing third in team scoring with 19 goals and 16 assists for 35 points.
The Warfield native signed a two-way contract last July and was drafted in the fourth round by Boston in 2010. He joined the AHL affiliate Bruins after finishing his junior career with the Western Hockey League’s Portland Winterhawks.
Elsewhere in the AHL, four teams clinched playoff berths last week and three wrapped up division titles, but there are still 11 post-season invites still left to hand out as the 2011-12 regular season enters its final week.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton secured a playoff spot with a 3-0 win over Connecticut. The Penguins will be in the Calder Cup Playoffs for the 10th consecutive spring, the longest active streak in the AHL.
The Oklahoma City Barons wrapped up their second playoff berth in as many seasons with a 3-2 win in Milwaukee. The Barons, the first Edmonton Oilers affiliate ever to post back-to-back 40-win campaigns, added the West Division championship to their list of accomplishments when San Antonio lost on Sunday.
St. John’s pulled out a 3-2 win over Hershey Bears. The victory gave the IceCaps the Atlantic Division title, becoming the first AHL team to win a division crown in its inaugural season since the 2002-03 Binghamton Senators.
The Bears got help from Portland and Adirondack, whose losses on Saturday allowed Hershey to clinch its seventh straight trip to the postseason. And the Bears’ loss was also a boon for Norfolk, which wrapped up first place in the East Division as a result.
Five teams have clinched playoff berths and only two have been mathematically eliminated, leaving 23 clubs, including Providence, to fight it out for the final 11 tickets to the 2012 Calder Cup dance.
There is no joy in Evansville, as the Icemen were swept by the Missouri Mavericks in the first round of Central Hockey League action on Monday.
The team comprised of former Trail residents Todd Robinson, Steve Makway, and coach Rich Kromm were bounced early from the playoffs after a promising season saw Evansville finish second in the Turner Conference.
After winning the first three games, 3-2, 7-1 and 3-2, Missouri took the final game by a score of 3-1, with Robinson netting the only goal for the Icemen.
It was another great year for Robinson, who won the CHL scoring title with 23 goals and 69 assists for 92 points in 66 games. The former Portland Winterhawk also led Evansville in scoring in the playoffs, scoring three of the team’s five goals and adding an assist. The 34 year old is one of the most prolific scorers ever to play professional hockey.
Makway also impressed on the blue line, finishing second in scoring among defencemen with 42 points.