Trio of young goaltenders looking forward to the next step

Hutchinson/By S. Bradley

They are the “Three Caballeros” of Bruins rookie camp.

They’ve been together as a trio of goaltenders at previous rookie, development and training camps, and have gotten to know each other well on and off the ice over the last couple years.

But if Adam Courchaine, Matt Dalton and Michael Hutchinson didn’t feel like they were in a three-way battle for a large prize during the first three days of rookie camp, starting tonight they’ll be on notice that everything is on the line every time they take the ice.

The Bruins’ rookie game with the New York Islanders will be the first chance for two of the three goaltenders attempting to earn the open spot on the Providence (AHL) farm club’s roster to strut their stuff in a highly competitive environment against an opponent from a different dressing room.

“They need to realize too, to do the math and there is a strong competition to be our No. 2 or to share the job with Nolan Schaefer,” Providence Bruins coach Rob Murray said earlier this week about his three young netminders. “There’s going to be a little bit of an evaluation and we’ll wait and see who emerges as that guy.”

Each of the three goaltenders came to camp with different levels of past experience on his resume and dreams of making this year the year he takes the next step in his career. There’s no far-off teenager who’s definitely ticketed for junior hockey in this group. While the battle might not capture everyone’s attention the way Tyler Seguin’s fight to make the NHL or Tim Thomas’ attempt to supplant Tuukka Rask will, it’s still an important positional fight for each individual’s career and the Bruins’ organizational depth chart.

Hutch

At 20 years old, Michael Hutchinson is eligible to return to London (OHL) this season. However, the ’08 third-round pick isn’t thinking about being in the Knights’ crease right now.

“I feel like my game really developed in junior this last year,” said Hutchinson, who was 32-12-2 with a 2.86 goals-against average in 46 games last season. “My goal is not to be back in the OHL this year and I feel I’m ready to move on and hopefully the Boston organization feels the same way and I’ll be playing somewhere else.”

If Providence isn’t the answer, Reading (ECHL) could be. Of course, the 6-foot-3, 192-pound Hutchinson is probably at a slight disadvantage in this fight because of his eligibility. Nonetheless, he has improved and matured in each season since he was claimed by Boston. And some have compared his positional play and lanky frame to a younger Rask. If last year was his last in London, Hutchinson made the most of it.

“Just getting the playing time in London really helped me work on some things and parts of my game. I realized that playing a lot of games, you really have to take care of yourself on and off the ice,” he said. “It’s one of those things that I still need work on my consistency, but I tried to work on that a little bit last year and I thought I made some improvement.”

Hutchinson also won’t be intimidated this camp, be it from his competition or the crowds at the Garden. Playing in London gets a guy used to being in the spotlight.

“You’ve got just over 9,000 fans at night. It was great playing in front of that atmosphere and getting used to it,” he said. “A couple weeks into the season, you didn’t really notice the crowd. So it was good to get adjusted to that, I think it’ll help me down the road.”

Adam’s been around

Courchaine/By S. Bradley

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