Daniel Brickley is ready to go.
He is “absolutely cleared to play and he will 100 percent be in the lineup [this weekend in Tucson],” Ontario Reign Head Coach Mike Stothers said after today’s practice.
Brickley is going on two months out of the lineup, a stretch which began on January 9 in San Jose, as he suffered a lower-body injury against the Barracuda. Brickley got tangled up going into the corner with San Jose forward Antti Suomela and was unable to get up afterwards, as he was helped off the ice by Ontario Athletic Trainer Jeff Andrews and his teammates.
After what’s been a big rehab effort from Brickley, the Reign expect to have the services of the 6-3 defenseman this weekend in Tucson. Brickley’s season has consisted of 26 AHL games and four NHL games with the Kings and he seemed to be playing his best hockey at the AHL level right before his injury in January. With three regulars – Sean Walker, Matt Roy, Kurtis MacDermid – up with the Kings, and just six other defensemen currently on the Reign roster, Brickley should have the opportunity to not only re-enter the lineup, but to be a contributor as well.
Ontario travels to Arizona tomorrow to play a back-to-back set in Tucson against the Roadrunners, beginning on Friday evening at 6:05 PM Pacific. Friday’s game was announced as the AHL’s Facebook Watch Game of the Week – Fans can visit the AHL’s Facebook Page and watch Friday’s game free of charge.
Stothers on Brickley’s opportunity on the blueline
Absolutely. He’s been out a while, so he’s anxious to get back in the lineup and we’re anxious to get him back in the lineup. I think it’s one of those situations where we know he’s done all the work to make sure he’s healthy and we are somewhat thin on the backend with a lot of games coming up on the road, so we’re going to need everybody. It’ll be nice to get big Bricks back in the lineup. He’s a big man, moves well, moves the puck, has a good reach, a heavy shot. It’s been a bit of a frustrating year for him, so we’re looking at this as an opportunity for him to have a fresh start and use the remaining games, basically as his season.
Stothers on what he’s looking for from Brickley over the rest of the season
I’m not looking for him to do anything, I’m just looking for him to be Daniel Brickley. He doesn’t have to go out there and be flashy or anything, [don’t] force things, just play. Just play like you’re trying to contribute, not be the difference maker, just come in and there should be a lot of weight off of his shoulders, with the way that things have gone in the first half. Just come in and be a contributing member of the team. We’re not asking anybody on our team to be “the answer” or “the thing.” Just come in, play, play to his strengths and I think he’ll be effective for us.
Brickley on being excited to return to the lineup
Yeah, it’s been a long time, I think it’s been eight weeks this Friday I believe. I was cleared a week and a half, two weeks ago but I was home with family…I’m really excited. It’s something that I’ve been eager and looking forward to get back to playing with the guys and just being around the guys. It should be fun.
On practicing with an end in sight, as opposed to rehabbing
Yeah, it definitely makes it a little bit easier. When you’re day-to-day and conditioning, sometimes you might just be going through the motions, but now that I’m cleared, I’m back, I’m ready to go, my now conditioning is working, I see the light at the end of the tunnel. We have games this weekend, good contests against Tucson and Colorado coming up, it gives yourself a little motivation to get going again.
On what he’s trying to bring in his return to the lineup
Just get back in and help the team as best as I can, help the team in any way I can. I said it earlier, but to be back with the guys, I was away from it all, I felt a little out of the loop. Being in the locker room, it’s good. Guys are laughing and having a good time, it brings everyone’s spirits up a little bit. Just get back and help the team win.
On whether getting back into the lineup can be an outlet for him
One-hundred percent. Hockey’s kind of an escape for me. Once I’m on the ice, I don’t think about the outside noise. When I’m out there, it’s my job and I’m not thinking about anything else except playing hockey and helping the guys. It’s just an escape.