KALAMAZOO, Mich. – Komets coach Al Sims said he believes Josh Brittain can be a dominant player.
And Brittain has been proving Sims right lately.
The 6-foot-5, 230-pound left wing has six goals and nine points in the last eight games, all since Chris Auger went down with a season-ending knee injury and Brittain was put on the top line alongside captain Colin Chaulk and Brandon Marino, last seasons MVP in the CHL.
He was a little frustrated because he wasnt playing a lot, Chaulk said. Since he came on our line, weve talked a lot about what we want to accomplish and how we want to do it. Were playing together and working hard for each other. When you do that and when you have some ability, which all three of us do, youre going to be successful.
Brittain, 22, was picked by the Anaheim Ducks in the third round of the 2008 NHL draft and is in his third professional season.
He has played 41 games in the higher-level American Hockey League with Syracuse, tallying two goals and seven points. In 51 games with Elmira of the ECHL, he had eight goals and 16 points over the last two seasons.
Brittain has been more productive with the Komets, with whom Anaheim became affiliated in the offseason, and he wants to prove he belongs back in the AHL.
Brittains return to the AHL is a matter of confidence, and he has been gaining that with the Komets, who have won five of their last six games but lost 6-2 at Kalamazoo on Saturday night. Thats part of the reason Im down here, to play and get confidence, said Brittain, who is from Milton, Ontario, and had a prolific junior career in the Ontario Hockey League.
Im just working on my game, working as hard as I can, to get back up (to the AHL). In the meantime, I want to do the best that I can for this team, he said.
Brittain isnt afraid to mix it up by banging in the corners or playing physical in front of the net.
He has 24 penalty minutes this season with Fort Wayne (7-3-1).
This is the most hes scored in his pro career, Sims said.
Josh is a kid who really feeds off confidence, and hes got himself very confident around the net, finishing around the net and going to the net.
At this level, hes a powerful forward. And hes making his presence felt.
Note: Defenseman Nick Schaus, who has four assists in nine games with the Komets, was recalled by Norfolk of the AHL. He has played 126 games in the AHL with Worcester and Syracuse.