Monday, March 26, 2012

College Boys Bring Spring Break to Providence

Florek, Trotman, and Tremblay All Contribute
March 27, 2012
By Thomas Chace Jr.

Recent weekends have not been kind to the Providence Bruins of late.  Several weeks ago their starting goaltender, Anton Khudobin suffered a glove hand injury trying to play the puck in a game in which Providence led, but ultimately lost.  The next two games were losses as well and then Boston lost the services of their netminder, Tuukka Rask to injury.  Providence was forced to turn to Karel St. Laurent and Adam Courchaine when Providence’s other goalie Michael Hutchinson was recalled by Boston. 

At the same time, due to a rash of injuries on both Bruins teams, many players shuffled up and down Rt. 95 or could not play altogether.  When you’re battling for your playoff life, this was not the best case scenario for Head Coach Bruce Cassidy.

However, this past weekend brought much needed relief.  Several college students made Providence their spring break destination and the team, with Khudobin’s return has rebounded with enthusiasm and wins.  A six point weekend has the Providence Bruins just two points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Justin Florek was Friday night’s unlikely hero. He arrived in Providence around 1:00 am in the morning from Northern Michigan University, practiced at 10:30 with his new team, signed an ATO agreement at 5:00 pm, and then promptly went out and scored 2 goals and got 2 assists leading Providence to a 5-2 victory over one of the many teams ahead of them, the Manchester Monarchs.  Florek was not supposed to even play but sickness to Colby Cohen put Florek in the lineup as the 13th forward. 

Florek was still running on adrenaline after the game.  “It was fun. It’s been a pretty hectic day.  I never had four points in a game in my whole college career.”  A secondary education major, he will finish this semester, do some student teaching, and then complete his degree after his pursuit of an NHL career ends.

Saturday night’s battle in Connecticut was another test against a division leader.  On this night, it was newcomer Zach Trotman, a 6’4” defenseman from Lake Superior State who scored the winning goal in the third period to beat the Whale 3-2.  Trotman arrived in Providence on Friday night and with Cohen still out on Saturday was inserted into the P-Bruins lineup.  Florek’s screen in front of the Whale net allowed Trotman to register his first professional goal in his first pro game. 

Sunday in Providence the Bruins faced yet another team in front of them in the standings, old foe, the Portland Pirates.  Clarkson University product Nicolas Tremblay had only played in two games thus far for Providence but today was his day in the sun.  Tremblay scored with just 6:42 left in regulation to tie the game at 1-1.  After a scoreless overtime, the teams prepared for the shootout.  Providence scored on all four of their shootout attempts including one by our latest spring breaker, Tremblay.  Providence won 2-1 to complete a six point weekend and a yellow hard hat was given to Tremblay by his teammates for his efforts on Sunday. 

Anton Khudobin made a strong return from his wrist injury allowing just four goals in two games.  He faced 65 shots in those two games and with Rask still out in Boston and Marty Turco unable to play in the NHL playoffs, the scuttlebutt has Khudobin possibly being recalled to Boston early this week. 

Spring of course, brings hope, and to Providence a well deserved break.  Those college kids just re-energized the franchise for the weekend, now they hope to pull off a great run and get into the playoffs.  Of course, none of those boys will be eligible to play, but that’s ok.

After the six point weekend, Coach Cassidy said, “Two or three weeks ago, it didn’t look good.   We were losing bodies and games, but all of a sudden we’re back in it. Why not us?  We’ve given ourselves a chance and that’s good for all the guys.”  Agreed.

1 comment:

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