An abundance of capable goaltenders in the system is not necessarily a bad thing, and back in September of 2005, during the Providence Bruins training camp, 20-year-old Mike Brown said the competition would provide motivation to give his best effort. Unfortunately he would be the odd man out after fellow rookie Jordan Sigalet impressed in camp and AHL vet Tim Thomas was assigned to the Providence roster by Boston.
Brown signed his first pro contract with the Bruins in July of 2005, but so far he’s been unable to find much stability in his rookie season.
“It’s been a little bit of a rollercoaster so far,” he admitted recently.
That rollercoaster has taken him up and down between the ECHL and the AHL and without the benefit of significant ice time. He attended camp with Boston and Providence, but was eventually assigned to the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL, an affiliate of the Washington Capitals. He played a total of three games with the Stingrays during the months of October and November. During that time he also earned an abbreviated stay in Providence to back up Thomas while rookie Sigalet was in Boston, but didn’t see any playing time. By the end of November, he’d been traded to the Dayton Bombers of the ECHL, an affiliate of Columbus. Brown saw the majority of his ice time in eight games with the Bombers before getting another recall to Providence in early January.
“It’s been tough going up and down,” he said. “You never know where your next game is going to be, and you never know if you have to go in as a backup or when your next start is going to be.”
Though his rookie season has not yet provided the ideal setting for him to excel, the true test will be his outlook, his willingness to keep working, and his ability to make the most of any chances he gets. As frustrating as it’s been, what’s admirable is he’s managed to maintain a positive attitude.
“I played in some games [in Providence] and hopefully I might get a start. It’s been fun — a learning process anyway.”
Brown grew up in Syracuse, New York and began playing hockey at the age of seven. He credits his neighbor for convincing him to take up the sport, and the decision to play net was almost pure chance.
“I just kind of liked the equipment they were wearing,” he said, laughing. “You know, being a kid, you just like that stuff. Then they threw me in there and I did pretty well, so I just stuck with it.”
Brown went on to play three years in the OHL for the Saginaw Spirit, and then the Owen Sound Attack. Saginaw was a struggling team and consequently the young netminder saw a fair amount of rubber in his two and a half seasons there. Still, he held them up as best he could and was traded to Owen Sound midway through the 2004-05 season. The change of scenery worked out for the better and Brown posted some of his finest stats with a .913 save percentage, 2.49 goals against average and the first winning record of his junior career with17-9-6 in 33 games.
Brown is still in Providence backing up fellow rookie Sigalet, and there’s a possibility this could be a lengthy stay, especially now that Sean Fields has been released from his PTO and Thomas has made his mark in Boston. So far, Brown has only seen about 40 minutes of ice time, during which he stopped 13 of 15 shots for a 2.87 goals against average and .867 percentage. Sigalet is having a strong season, but in all likelihood he will need a rest at some point, and then Brown will get a shot at his first ever AHL start.
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