Mitch makes the switch
When Mitch Britton found out his role was changing with the Campellton Tigers, one of the first things he did was contact Thorold Blackhawks coach and owner Scott Barnes.
Britton spent the 2017 season with the Blackhawks and had a productive rookie campaign with 11 goals and 23 points before moving on to the Maritime Junior A Hockey League last season.
Britton had a solid season with the Tigers, who are located in a small city in New Brunswick, but the team was shifting direction and Britton was told his role would likely be diminished this season.
“I loved it out east but my coach contacted me in the summer and said my ice time might not be as much as I want it to be,” Britton said. “I texted Barnes and told him I wanted to come back and he made it happen.
“I’m happy to be back.”
Britton enjoyed his season with the Hawks which made a return that much easier.
“I just loved it here. The coaching staff, the players, the whole atmosphere was just great, especially for my first year of junior.
“I had a blast so it made me want to finish my junior career here.”
Barnes was thrilled Britton wanted to return.
“It’s always a nice thing when a player wants to come back to you,” Barnes said. “He liked his time here so he wanted to come back.
“We were happy to get him back.”
Britton’s role this season has morphed into a checking winger on a line with fellow veterans Dylan Latty and Blair Jenkins.
“He’s played a really good shutdown role,” Barnes said. “His skating and speed and physicality and size makes him a tough player to play against.
“All three are good kids and that have played that role for us before. We were expecting them to contribute (offensively) and I think they all can. They are usually in the offensive zone for most of their shift so that means their best line is not in our zone.”
Britton has experience as a checking forward.
“That was my role last year as well, more of a shut down guy and get into the corners and battle,” the 20-year-old native of Brantford said. “That’s basically been my role in junior so I’ve adapted to it and fit into it.
“Every team has goal scores and playmakers and shutdown guys and it’s important to have shutdown guys. They can really get the energy going on the bench and shut down the other guys and it gets your team going.”
Britton acceptance of the role has been key.
“You have to be mentally strong that is your job and you’re just going out there to shut down guys,” he said. “You’re not going out there to score or make nice plays. You just have to make sure you are doing your job and getting pucks out.”
Britton has three goals and five points in 19 games and Barnes admitted all three were thrust into the role after getting off to slow starts offensively.
“All three of those guys, say for the first 10 games, they didn’t have a good start,” Barnes said. “Every single one of them would tell you they didn’t. We had them together and then not together, sort of mixing and matching.”
The Hawks had a team meeting around the 10-game point of the season where Barnes redefined their roles.
“We told them to start fresh and this is what we need you guys to do,” he said. “Since then they have turned it up. It was almost a little bit of a relief for them knowing that’s how we felt. It was a fresh start even early in the season.”
The Blackhawks have won five of their last six games to improve to 11-6-2-1 heading into their matchup with the league-leading Caledonia Corvairs at home Thursday.
“We knew we were a better team than we were showing,” Barnes said. “We had a chat with everybody around that time, the coaches and the players, we all knew we were a lot better than we were showing. We figured some things out and everyone bought in. It was almost the belief that we’re a good team.”
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