Crazy Weekend Road Trip
February 27, 2012
by Thomas Chace Jr.
Reading the AHL gamesheets tells a crazy tale about this past weekend for the Providence Bruins. On Friday night in Worcester, the first of three straight road games, goalie Michael Hutchinson was spectacular in the third period making 22 saves. Providence scored 4 goals in the period to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win 5-3. A huge victory. The road victory was in front of a packed house who came to see New England Patriot TE Rob Gronkowski spike the puck at center ice. The Sharks offered to pay his fine from the NFL that was levied on "Gronk" for spiking the football during the Pats regular season. I understand the puck broke into four pieces. Crazy right?
Saturday night brought the Bruins to Bridgeport where they established a 3-0 lead about halfway through the second period. Goaltender Anton Khudobin started the game and held Bridgeport at bay making 29 saves on shots fired at the Providence net. After a cross-checking penalty and ensuing fight involving Kevan Miller at the 14:00 mark, the Sound Tigers scored a power-play goal 19 seconds later to make it 3-1. With just seconds left in the second period, Bridgeport scored again making it 3-2 at the 19:14 mark. 14:19 and 19:14, you can't make this stuff up!
This is where the goalie thing got interesting. Michael Hutchinson came out to play the third period in goal for Providence. What happened to Khudobin, the starting goalie? Was he pulled for poor play, an incident, injury, trade? Big question. Especially with the season winding down and the playoffs in sight.
"Hutch" allowed two goals in about nine minutes in the third. Lead gone for Providence. Sound Tigers have scored four unanswered goals and have a 4-3 lead. To Providence's credit they responded 34 seconds later to tie it back up at 4-4. Exactly three minutes later Bridgeport scored the game winning goal and held on for a 5-4 victory over a frustrated Providence club. What about the goalie situation?
Not much time to pout for the Bruins though. Sunday found the B's in New Hampshire for an afternoon date with the Manchester Monarchs. Providence once again took a lead at 2-0 in the second period at the 9:19 mark. Unbelievably, Manchester then scored three unanswered goals in the second period to take a 3-2 lead. Michael Hutchinson was in net again, with the status of Anton Khudobin unknown. Interesting though that Khudobin was listed as the back-up goalie on the gamesheet. Crazy.
Once again the resilient Bruins scored at 9:36 of the third period on a goal by Max Sauve (called up today by Boston) to tie it up at 3-3. With just 2:32 left in regulation, the Monarchs scored the game winner. The final score 4-3, with Manchester outshooting Providence 46-35.
So there was a huge victory, followed by two huge losses, a goaltender issue. The weekend also featured six fights. Nathan McIver and Kevan Miller each had two and Bobby Robins and MacDermid had the others. These were some real heavyweight battles too.
"Hutch" faced 103 shots over the weekend. The opposition averaged 44.6 shots on goal against Providence over the three road games. That's a lot of rubber. Providence averaged 35.3 shots which is not too shabby either. These were wide open games that turned into extremely close games. Kyle MacKinnon, Kirk MacDonald and Jamie Arniel are heating up.
Today the Providence Bruins recalled goalie Adam Courchaine from the Alaska Aces (ECHL). What does that mean for Anton "Dobby" Khudobin, the workhorse in net for the Bruins? Is he being traded? Injured? Disciplined?