By Len Bardsley
The Times of Trenton
TRENTON, N.J. – Paul Brown knew he had a lot of hockey left in him.
That is why it took the 20-year-old rookie from Prince George, British Columbia no time at all to call Titans’ coach Mike Haviland moments after the Milwaukee Admirals were eliminated from the American Hockey League playoffs.
Brown wanted to know if the Titans still had a place for him.
Did they ever.
Brown, who spent 20 games with the Titans during the regular season, joined them just before Game 1 in Anchorage on Tuesday. He watched that disaster and hoped he would get a chance to contribute.
Two goals and an assist later from Brown the Titans are leading the series, two games to one.
Last night Brown scored the biggest goal of his young career, knocking in a Michael Schutte rebound to give the Titans a 4-3 overtime victory.
It was the kind of goal that can give a team the kind of momentum it needs to win a series.
Just like the Titans gave Brown the momentum he needed when his promising future as a player was slowed by personal issues off the ice.
Brown spent nearly four months at home in British Columbia trying to take care of business before he was sent to the Titans on Jan. 21.
“He told me when he got back it was the best thing for him coming down to the ECHL (the first time),” said Titans’ captain Rick Kowalsky. “He is a great kid with a great attitude.”
It did not take long for Brown to forge friendships with the Titans during his 20-game stint before he was recalled to the Admirals on Feb. 28.
“The guys are great,” said Brown. “That is the biggest thing. They are good guys, they welcomed me with open arms.”
Brown could sense the Titans are putting something special together and it has not taken long for him to become part of a special group again.
“When a team goes through what this team has gone through, with its ups and downs, being in a playoff race and winning the first two rounds, teams bond. We were on a flight together for who knows how long from Alaska. That is good bonding time. Everyone gets along here.”
Brown scored two goals in the Admirals’ first-round loss in seven games against the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks. Titans’ coach Mike Haviland feels the Titans are now seeing the player the Nashville Predators selected in the third round of the 2003 NHL draft.
“I think when he was here in Trenton we saw only glimpses of Paul Brown,” said Haviland. “He had not played hockey in a long time. Physically he may not have been where he needed to be. We loved him when he was here, that is why we brought him back. We felt he could help.”
Brown felt the Titans helped him and know he is more than ready to help the Titans.
“I feel great right now,” said Brown. “This last month is the best hockey I have ever played. I think it is all through taking care of myself and learning from the older guys, especially here. I learned a lot here from the older guys like (Rick) Kowalsky, (Scott) Bertoli and (Vince) Williams. They take you under their wing and show you the ropes.”