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Between The Pipes

by Andrew Piper / Florida Panthers

Sam Brittain had a stellar season in goal in 2010-11 for the University of Denver and the fact that he did so as a freshman makes it even more impressive. A major knee injury at the end of the season slowed his growth and made Brittain unsure if he would ever return to play between the pipes, let alone if he would return to the form he showed during his freshman season.

After suffering that major knee injury, he is thankful for every second of ice-time he gets. After the rehabilitation process, Brittain realized even more that nothing will be handed to him and he knows he will always have to work hard for everything he aims to accomplish.

Brittain was able to make the latter part of the 2011-12 season for Denver, but that was only for 12 games, which was substantially less than the 33 games he was a part of for his freshman year.

The mental affects that a major injury has on an athlete can sometimes be more scarring than the physical ones. Brittain has worked on being able to put the injury in the past and move on without it affecting how he plays the game in the present.

“It is always kind of there and thinking about it, but for me it doesn’t play into a day to day issue on the ice,” said Brittain. “It is more of just being conscious and making sure that in the gym I keep working to strengthen my knee and my leg and keep getting more flexible just to prevent any future injury.”

With two years of collegiate hockey under his belt, Brittain will now begin to consider what is in his best interest for the long-term. With the option to return to Denver and get better in goal or go pro in an effort to begin working his way up through the Panthers organization, Brittan knows the things he needs to work on after attending the club’s Development Camp back in early July.

“Playing in college and having a little more practice time and goaltending work allows me to compete with a lot of the major junior and semi-pro guys in skill-level and competition,” Brittain said.

During that Development Camp for Panthers prospects, the young goalie got a chance to show what he can do in net. After working out the initial nerves, Brittain was able to get settled and stick to the things he is good at, which include making himself big in the net, using his chest to get across quickly and using his hands to cover up any rebounds.

“Everything is going to be a battle and a competition from here, not only with myself, but with everyone around me,” said Brittain. “And just understanding that you have got to work hard for everything is the biggest thing.”

This season may be too soon for Brittain to make Florida’s roster, so don’t expect him to be dressed in red on Oct. 13 against the Lightning, but with possible openings on the Panthers roster in goal, in one year he may just be seeing red.

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