By Brian Compton
HAMILTON, N.J. – After dropping Game 1 of the National Conference Finals to the Alaska Aces in dismal fashion–a 6-0 loss, if you recall–the Titans needed a much-needed boost, and fast. That boost came in the form of Paul Brown.
The scrappy rookie has been tremendous since joining the Titans in time for Game 2 against the Aces–which was a 7-1 victory–and has helped form a phenomenal third line that also includes Leon Hayward and Bryce Cockburn.
Game 3 is at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Game 4 is at 7 p.m. on Saturday. If necessary, Game 5 would be played on Monday at 5 p.m. Tickets for all three games are on sale now at the Sovereign Bank Arena Box Office, by telephone at (609) 599-9500 and online at TicketMaster.com.
“We just compliment each other so well,” Brown said Wednesday after the Titans skated at Ice Land in preparation for Game 3 of the Kelly Cup Finals, which takes place Friday night. “Leon’s kind of the glue for the line, and me and Bryce are both from B.C. (British Columbia), so we call it the ‘B.C. Connection.’ I’m pretty happy with who I’m playing with.”
More importantly, Brown is just happy to be playing. He could have very easily gone home when his American Hockey League season ended, but Brown noticed that Mike Haviland put him on Trenton’s playoff roster. Brown couldn’t wait to become a member of the Titans once again.
“As soon as we got done in Milwaukee, I knew these guys were still playing and I was on their roster,” Brown said. “I felt part of the team when I was here, and I quickly became a part of the team when I came back. This is just a great group of guys. If you love the game, you don’t want to be golfing right now. This is perfect for me. I wouldn’t want to win it with any other guys. It’s unbelievable how many friendships I’ve made since I’ve been here.”
Hayward is awfully happy to have Brown back. The two are roommates on the road and have developed a strong friendship. Hayward even admitted that Brown’s arrival brought the Titans another element for the playoff push.
“The energy he brings and he passion he has to play is just contagious,” Hayward said. “He’s one of the best guys I’ve ever met. He’s just been great and he added that little jump that we needed.”
But Brown has not only brought energy, as he’s been one of the Titans’ best players since returning from AHL Milwaukee. After recording just six points in 20 regular-season games, Brown has potted five goals and nine points in eight postseason contests for Trenton, which is just two wins away from its first Kelly Cup.
“That’s just the game of hockey,” Brown said. “You definitely get out of it what you put in it. I’ve just kind of got my feet back under me. I’ve worked a lot on some skill stuff. I’m keeping my stick on the ice.”
Of course, Brown is not the only reason why the Titans have a 2-0 series lead on the Florida Everblades. What the Titans have been able to accomplish is due to a team-wide effort.
“Everybody pulls their part of the rope,” Brown said. “Everybody does their job. I think the guys were excited to see me, but I think somebody would have done the job, too. That’s just the way the team is and that’s why we’ve been successful.”
Sometimes you have to gamble to be successful. Haviland took a gamble by deciding to put Brown on the playoff roster.
“He‘s been welcomed with open arms,” Haviland said. “Every time I see him, he just gets better and better. He‘s a tough kid, but he’s got some hands. He knows the game. He’s been very good since he’s been back.”