By MIKE ASHMORE
Special to ECHL.com
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — It hasn’t been a bad two weeks for Petr Mrazek.
Featured in The Hockey News? Sure thing.
Winning goalie at his first AHL All-Star Game? Check.
First pro shutout en route to AHL Player of the Week? Yep.
Now, the 20-year-old can add "called up to the NHL" to that list as well. The Ostrava, Czech Republic native has blown through the ECHL and AHL en route to his first stint with the Detroit Red Wings, and it surely won’t be his last. With regular backup Jonas Gustavsson and ex-Toledo Storm netminder Joey MacDonald out of action, Detroit summoned its top goaltending prospect from Grand Rapids on Monday to back up starter Jimmy Howard.
But with the Red Wings slated to play four games over a six-night stretch, all indications point to Mrazek making his NHL debut sooner rather than later.
"At some point in time this week, we have to play another goalie beside Jimmy Howard," Detroit general manager Ken Holland told The Detroit Free Press.
Mrazek is hardly your regular stopgap. He needed just three games with the Walleye to earn a promotion to the Griffins, and wore a mask emblazoned with Family Guy character Peter Griffin on his way to a stellar campaign in the AHL; he posted a 2.26 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in 25 contests. It’s no wonder Red Wings fans are giggidy…ahem, giddy at the chance at getting to see their future in net in the present.
But ECHL.com was fortunate enough to catch up with Mrazek at the AHL All-Star Game last weekend, and here’s how the conversation went:
Mike Ashmore, ECHL.com: Detroit drafted you in the third round back in 2010…what do you remember about that day?
Petr Mrazek: "I didn’t fly to L.A., so I was sitting home and watching a little bit. Then, I turned off the TV when it was like at (pick) 140, and they picked me at 141 in the fifth round. That was pretty cool. I turned off my TV and laptop, and a couple minutes later I got a call. I was really surprised and really happy."
ECHL.com: Until this year, a lot of fans perhaps knew you best from your performance at the World Junior Championships. Was that kind of your first taste of the spotlight?
Mrazek: "That experience at World Championships, it was a great moment in my hockey career for juniors. I couldn’t play for the national team for a couple years, then I get the chance and we played very good hockey there."
ECHL.com: I know you only got into three games with the Walleye, but what can you tell me about how much that experience helped you?
Mrazek: "That was a great experience. Those were my first games in the pros, so I will always remember that. It opened my eyes. I’m happy they sent me there."
ECHL.com: I didn’t know you were a fighter…that was some scrap you got into with (fellow ECHL alum) Carter Hutton in the Rockford-Grand Rapids brawl. Is that one of the craziest things you’ve been involved in?
Mrazek: "I don’t want to say it was something crazy, it’s hockey. The fights come in hockey. I didn’t see him coming, I saw him behind me. I couldn’t even think about a fight, it was just drop the gloves and we were together."
ECHL.com: What does it mean to you to make the AHL All-Star Game, especially considering you didn’t even start the year there?
Mrazek: "That means a lot to me. It’s my first year in pro hockey and the AHL, and I get a chance to play in the All-Star (Game). That’s my first All-Star (Game) in my life. It’s a great experience, and it’ll be great memories."