READING, Pa – Josh Brittain is looking forward to being back at, as he called it, The Jungle on Thursday for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
He is one of the three players with the Reading Royals, who would even know that Memorial Coliseum is called that, thanks to Axl Rose and Guns N’ Roses and a certain song that has been played every game there since the early 1990s.
That atmosphere is something Fort Wayne has in their arsenal, said Brittain, whose defending-champion Royals are tied at 1 with the Komets in the best-of-seven series.
The Royals also have defenseman Bryant Molle, who played 86 games with the Komets from the spring of 2011 to 2012, when he helped them to the CHL title. He has 21 assists in 145 games with the Royals over two seasons, including 22 games last year in the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
Forward Kevin Walrod, who had an empty-net goal in the Royals’ 4-2 victory at Santander Arena on Saturday, was in training camp last fall with the Komets. After scoring one goal in two preseason games, he spent 21 games with Bloomington of the Southern Professional Hockey League (13 goals, 23 points), five games with Evansville of the ECHL (two assists) and 39 regular-season games with the Royals (8 goals, 24 points).
And then there’s Brittain, a forward, who was one of the few bright spots from the Komets’ ill-fated one-season affiliation with the Anaheim Ducks. The 6-foot-5, 235-pound former third-round pick of the Ducks had 13 goals and 27 points in 31 games with the Komets last season before he was called up to Norfolk of the American Hockey League.
He had 11 goals and 19 points in 43 games with the Admirals and began this season with Hershey of the AHL and had three goals and four points in 20 games. He had 14 goals and 26 points in 36 games in the second half the season with Reading.
Being up in the American league, it’s a different game and it’s a faster game, Brittain said. You’re playing with some serious skill level, and it makes you a better player. I think if I can bring anything down from there, it’s the work ethic and tenacity and how to play the game properly. Hopefully, I can lead by example, be a leader for this team and get us moving forward.
Brittain had the opening goal of this series, a 2-1 Komets victory Thursday. He also had one of two empty-netters in Game 2.
I can tell you that after that performance, our team’s going in the right direction, said Brittain, whose Royals won the conference’s regular-season title and defeated the eighth-seeded Komets in three of four games.
Brittain, 24, was in the AHL while all those games were going on.
I kind of know from being in Fort Wayne how the team is built and assembled, Brittain said. All I can say to the guys is (that) it’s a playoff atmosphere (there). We had two games at home and were lucky enough to get one of the two wins. That’s good for us moving forward. I think we’re in a great position and really looking forward to capitalizing going into Fort Wayne.