Providence Bruins notebook: Locals notice COVID-19 precautions as AHL team hits the road

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By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer

Providence Bruins players celebrate after scoring a goal during their 5-3 win over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, this week. (Photo/Providence Bruins)

Marlborough – The Providence Bruins continued their season headquartered in Marlborough, this week, with an out-of-state road trip as COVID-19 precautions continue.

Though they were in Bridgeport, Connecticut for their lone game, Feb. 13, Bruins connections to their adoptive home in Marlborough remained as the team is playing its 2021 home games here due to coronavirus testing back at its traditional home arena in Providence.

Strict ‘bubble’ turns heads at New England Sports Center

The general public can’t watch games in-person. But the Bruins still make their presence felt in town.

Security at the New England Sports Center (NESC) is strict with nearly a half dozen police officers and security guards standing by doors during a recent game, according to Hudson High School Boys Hockey Coach Mike Nanartowhich.

Especially when players move to and from their primary rink, meanwhile, swaths of the NESC sit roped off to other skaters and coaches.

“It’s pretty serious on their end of it,” Nanartowhich said in an interview with the Community Advocate last week.

The Providence Bruins are preserving a coronavirus “bubble,” this season. That’s why the general public, journalists, and outside hockey players alike can only see games through the subscription based AHL.TV streaming platform.

If a Providence player gets sick, after all, their illness would likely decommission the entire team for days if not weeks.

As Providence regularly sends players up to its NHL parent team, the Boston Bruins, such an infection could also disrupt the big-league season.

“It makes sense,” Nanartowhich said, understanding why he and his players need to keep their distance. “If Hudson High School exposes one of those guys, that’s a problem.”

In sole game, this week, a mistake then a strong performance from Swayman

On the road, Feb. 13 Providence Bruins head coach Jay Leach sang the praises of goalie Jeremy Swayman even after Swayman at one point strode out of his net only to pass a puck directly to Bridgeport Sound Tigers forward Cole Bardreau.

Bardreau easily skated past Swayman and punched a go-ahead-goal into an empty net early in the second period.

“He knows he made a mistake,” Leach said of Swayman. “We all know he made a mistake. It happens.”

Undeterred, Swayman stopped all but one shot for the rest of the game following that hiccup, celebrating as the Bruins ultimately came back to defeat the Sound Tigres 5-3.

“That says a lot about [Swayman’s] maturity, his composure and, really, his mindset,” Leach said after the game.

Schedule has Bruins out of town through Feb 21

After practicing at a rink in Providence, this week, the Bruins are back in Bridgeport, Feb. 19 before then shipping a few miles north to Hartford, Conn., for a matchup against the Hartford Wolf Pack, Feb. 21.

After that, the Bruins will come back to Marlborough for their third and final home game in the month of February at the NESC on Feb. 25.

Our Providence Bruins notebook is an ongoing roundup of activity for the Providence Bruins hockey team as they play their 2021 season in Marlborough due to COVID-19. Check back weekly for updates.