By Andy Kent
Naples Daily News
ESTERO, Fla. – They’ve been virtually attached at the hip for almost a decade, so it was only a matter of time before David Brine and Franklin MacDonald found themselves in the same hockey dressing room yet again.
MacDonald and Brine, both 21-year-old rookies on the Florida Everblades, caught up on old times during Tuesday morning’s pre-game skate at Germain Arena, staying on the ice after the rest of their teammates had exited to work on a few things. It was MacDonald’s first practice with the ECHL team he was reassigned to Monday by the American Hockey League’s Rochester Americans, but his umpteenth time on the ice with his childhood friend.
“Me and Briner have been playing together since we were 12, so it definitely helped to see a familiar face when I arrived,” said MacDonald, a defenseman who flew in Monday night. “We stayed in touch all summer and were at Florida Panthers rookie camp together, and we’ve always seemed to follow each other wherever we’ve gone in hockey.”
Brine, a forward, first played with MacDonald in a summer youth hockey program in Nova Scotia. He hails from Truro and MacDonald from Sydney. In juniors, the two were teammates first on the Truro Bearcats of the Maritime Junior “A” Hockey League in 2002-03 and then from 2003-06 with the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
This past summer, Brine and MacDonald were participants in Canada’s popular reality television show, “Making The Cut: Last Man Standing,” where 36 young hockey players compete for a $250,000 endorsement contract and representation from an NHL agent. Again, they were on the same team representing hockey players from the Eastern part of Canada.
“We were roommates up there and played for Team East (which was referred to as Team White on the show’s Web site),” Brine said. “We both signed contracts with the Panthers, and I know he wants to be up there in the ‘A’ but he’s got a friendly face down here and he’s going to get to play more down here. He’s going to help this team a lot and obviously he knows what I’m going to do and I know what he’s going to do, I know what he brings to the table. It’s nice to have another Maritimer down here.”
Last season, MacDonald scored 45 points (12 goals, 33 assists) in 58 games for Halifax while racking up 129 penalty minutes. His point total nearly tripled his previous high of 16 in 2004-05, and through 11 games this season in Rochester he had two assists and 12 penalty minutes.
Brine lit up the QMJHL for 100 points (34 goals, 66 assists) in 2005-06 to go along with 80 points after scoring a combined 98 points (46 goals, 62 assists) the two seasons prior. Heading into Tuesday night’s game against the Texas Wildcatters, he had eight points (4 goals, 4 assists) in 15 games with just two penalty minutes.
“I’ve heard that this club is always a competitor and always do well in the playoffs, and they want to win, which is one of the things David told me,” MacDonald said. “I wasn’t getting much playing time in Rochester so Jack Birch (Panthers director of hockey operations) told me I was coming down here to play more. I think the new rules help me because skating is one of my strengths and I’m a good two-way defenseman.”
Birch and former Panthers general manager Mike Keenan also starred in “Making The Cut,” leading the players through on-ice drills and basically running a two-week training camp.
For MacDonald, the reality television experience is something he’ll never forget, and he’s glad he got to share it with Brine.
“The cameras were kind of out of control following you around everywhere,” he said. “It’s pretty tough mentally when they’re watching you sleep, so it was pretty interesting. It was a good experience and I met a lot of good guys up there, we had a lot of fun, but I’m glad it’s over with.”
Since the final episode has yet to air, neither Brine nor MacDonald could discuss how things ended up and who wound up winning. Now, they are going to concentrate on helping the Everblades win more games and stay near the top of the ECHL’s South Division.