BRIDGEPORT -- Since the Bridgeport Sound Tigers got Brock Nelson back from injury Jan. 11, his fellow centermen have dwindled one by one.
Coach Scott Pellerin conceded it's a bit of a concern. But he likes the way his players have responded when he has put them in the middle.
"At this point, this is the lineup we're going to go with," Pellerin said. "Things change daily at times."
"(Sundstrom and Watkins) are some of our best centermen," Backman said. "Guys like me have to step up."
Sundstrom was knocked out of Saturday's game after a high hit. He didn't play Sunday, didn't practice all week and didn't make the bus ride to Virginia on Thursday for two games this weekend against Norfolk.
Watkins sat out two of the past three games with an undisclosed upper-body injury, but even after Sundstrom was injured Saturday, he remained on the wing. He skated without taking contact during the week.
Centermen or not, they're two players who've had roles on Bridgeport's special teams, and Watkins is one of the more-veteran players on a young team.
"With Sunny and Watkins out, we're missing two very good hockey players," Pellerin said. "They're definitely going to be missed."
Combs got the call to the middle Saturday after Sundstrom went down and stayed there Sunday.
"Personally just looking at his compete level, his positioning down low in the offensive zone," Pellerin said, "he brings the same kind of positioning and compete level in the defensive zone."
For Backman, it's not the first time he has been pressed into duty in the middle.
"It's not something I'm used to, but I've played a little center this year," Backman said.
"If they need me there, I'll play there."
email@example.com; http://twitter.com/fornabaioctp; http://blog.connpost.com/fornabaio