PROVIDENCE - It doesn't matter what 19-year-old just up from junior steps onto the ice for the Providence Bruins - he produces.
In the first AHL games of their pro careers, goalie Adam Courchaine and right wing Jordan Knackstedt delivered. Courchaine, via the Ottawa 67's made 21 saves and foiled the Manchester Monarchs on all four "shootout" attempts, while Knackstedt, via the Moose Jaw Warriors scored the go-ahead in the second period and game-winning goal of the shootout in a 3-2 victory for the Atlantic Division leaders.
"There's not a whole lot at stake right now, we want to make sure that we give ourselves a chance to see what they can do," said P-B's coach Scott Gordon after another junior, Zach Hamill, scored the game-winning goal in a shootout in his AHL debut game Friday against Hartford.
"The better comfort level that they have of playing now, who knows what happens in the playoffs when you need an extra body," said Gordon, whose P-B's won their third consecutive "shootout" victory of the three-game weekend set, extending their unbeaten streak to five games.
Not just that, but the P-B's are now 11-4 in shootouts, have won 28 one-goal games and in 12 three-game-in-three-night weekend series this season, they have taken the series nine times, sweeping four of them.
"Nervous? I was going to pay somebody $100 to score so we wouldn't have to go to a shootout," chuckled Courchaine, who was ready to skate off the ice in the shootout. "I thought it was only three shots, that's what we played in juniors. I thought that it was over!"
After Brett Skinner and Hamill had their first two shots of the "shootout" turned away by Manchester goalie Jon Bernier, the LA Kings' No. 1 draft pick in 2006, Courchaine did his part by denying the Monarchs on their first two shots.
Then it was Knackstedt's turn to twirl from center ice in alone on Bernier and he flipped a wrist shot over the Monarch's glove hand. Nate Thompson scored on the fourth P-B's shot for a 2-0 lead and Courchaine didn't have to make a save on Manchester's fourth shot as the Monarch skater lost control of the puck.
"In juniors, I shot most every one, it just worked out for me,"said Knackstedt, who had 85 points with 31 goals over 72 games for Moose Jaw in the WHL. "Your first game, there's a lot of nerves, but after a few shifts, I was taking more pride in not getting scored on."
Knackstedt scored his first pro career goal at 3:46 of the second period, on a power play after a Monarch defender mishandled the puck in front of the Manchester net. Then at 8:19 of the third period, Pascal Pelletier's 36th goal of the season from atop the left faceoff circle beat Bernier for the 2-2 equalizer.
In between, Manchester's John Zeiler scored on a fluky goal, tying the score at 14:07 of the second period, a one-timer of a puck that squirmed out of the right corner. Then Matt Moulson, the former Cornell star, netted his 28th goal, a power play at 7:29 of the third period.
"He (Courchaine) was solid, I'm sure that he was nervous," said Gordon, who notified the teenager of his starting assignment Sunday morning after deciding to give Jordan Sigalet a breather after four straight starts and two straight shootout wins.. "Knackstedt, I like his size, he has good poise with the puck."
The P-B's not only snapped Manchester's four-game win streak, they limited the Monarchs to nine shots or less in each of the three periods of regulation time, none in the five minute overtime.
"Coming in like this, you have to take the pressure, but you can't worry about it too much," added Knackstedt.
- Defenseman Brett Skinner picked up two assists, giving him 39 in 66 games, matching his AHL career total over three previous seasons and 127 games .. The P-B's released Aaron Slattengren (23 points, 10 goals in 37 games) The P-B's killed five of six penalties, allowing just one goal in 14 chances over the weekend The P-B's have taken points in 10 straight (7-0-3) games at home T.J. Trevelyan has points (two goals, two assists) in three of the last four games In winning their fifth straight, the P-B's have not allowed a foe to score more than three goals "These (junior) guys come in and in the back of their minds, they all think the next step from juniors is the NHL," said Gordon of the learning curve.