For about the last six weeks, Josh Brittain has dragged his leg around the locker room like a wolf released from a trap. Everywhere he's gone, he's taken an ice bag along, and sometimes it's been painful to watch.
But the Komets' left wing never complained and always showed up to play. He's the big, strong, silent type who's used to dealing and receiving punishment around the net.
Now the ankle is feeling a lot better and so are the Komets after Brittain's hat trick and two goals from Luca Caputi helped them blow out Kalamazoo 7-3 Wednesday night before 6,275 Memorial Coliseum fans.
``I feel great, the ankle is under control,'' Brittain said. ``It's just a matter of doing some rehab and making sure it's strong. It's just a little adversity and a matter of moving forward. I'm taking care of it.''
In other words, he's not coming out of the lineup.
``My priority is to help this team every night any way that I can,'' he said. ``The determining factor on whether or not I play is if I can contribute or not. That's it.''
The win evened the Komets' home record at 5-5, gave them four wins in their last six games overall and kept them three points up on Kalamazoo for third place in the ECHL's North Division. They are heading into road games Friday at Reading and Saturday at Wheeling.
``We've won four of six now against some pretty good hockey clubs, so I think we're making a bit of a statement now,'' Komets coach Al Sims said.
It certainly helped that recently arrived forwards Caputi and Ryan Lasch are starting to feel more comfortable after being sent down six games ago from Norfolk of the American Hockey League. Along with Caputi's two goals, Lasch passed three assists, as did Brett Smith coming off injured reserve.
Matt Firman and J.M. Rizk also scored as the Komets got goals from all three lines for the first time this season.
``It was an adjustment the first couple of games, but I feel more confident every game,'' said Caputi who has played 35 NHL games. ``Hopefully we can build off this.''
They just need more first periods like they had Wednesday. The Komets outshot the Wings 14-3 in the first 13 minutes and led 3-0, playing very aggressively, almost anxiously as they charged off the bench. Caputi tried seven shots in the first period and finished with 10 for the game.
Whenever the Wings did make a charge, Charlie Effinger stymied them in the Fort Wayne goal.
``It was kind of an unusual game that we got out to an early lead against a good hockey team,'' Effinger said. ``I felt at some point they were going to have a flurry to try and get themselves back into the game. Being up three, four goals, I just wanted to weather the storm as best I could to keep everything going forward. By doing that, you make it harder and harder for them to come back.''
Icing the puck
Captain Colin Chaulk is doubtful to play the rest of this week with his shoulder. ... Eric Giosa might get to play around Christmas, Komets General Manager David Franke said. If this were the playoffs, Giosa would probably be a gametime decision, but the Komets want to make sure he's 100 percent when he comes back. ... Goaltender Marco Cousineau is skating every day and is getting close to returning. ... Norfolk General Manager and Anaheim Assistant General Manager Bob Ferguson was at the game, as was Los Angeles Kings scout Robbie Laird. ... The Komets left immediately after the game for Reading.