Brad Staubitz wasn't sure what to think in January when he got shipped to the Ottawa 67's.
He had spent three seasons patrolling the blue line in Sault Ste. Marie and figured he'd finish his OHL career a Greyhound.
But he couldn't escape the league's trade deadline, with only a few months remaining in his overage season. "I think sometimes change is good, and it worked out well for me," he said.
It's also worked out for the 67's.
Staubitz has become an important part of the team since arriving in a deal that also brought winger Jamie VanderVeeken to the 67's for forward Brody Todd and defenceman Tyson Aitcheson.
"When we reached agreement, Staubitz was the key for us. There's no doubt about that," said 67's coach/GM Brian Kilrea who beat out other teams that were trying to acquire the defenceman at the deadline. "We wanted somebody in our own end that could give us what we needed. If there was going to be a deal made, it was going to be for Staubitz."
He has been one of the club's most prominent players in the opening series of the playoffs against the Barrie Colts.
Staubitz has been present physically, heaving his 6-foot-1, 210-lb. frame into Barrie players on most shifts. He's been involved in at least one fight in each of the first three games, and has battled B.J. Crombeen at the end of Games 1 and 3.
"Brad is basically a police officer out there that will take care of things if they get a little out of hand," said forward Brad Bonello.
During the third game Wednesday night, two of his shots from the blue line led to goals during a 3-2 win. Rookie Jamie McGinn tipped one of those shots behind goalie Dan LaCosta during a power play in the first period.
And in the final minute of the third, Mark Mancari banged in a loose puck after he knocked down a shot by Staubitz into LaCosta's skates.
The goal gave Ottawa a win and a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final with Game 4 tonight at the Civic Centre.
"Those are just bounces that have worked out well for us," said Staubitz with a chuckle.
"It's not something that Killer (coach Brian Kilrea), I don't think, expects too much from me."
It hasn't taken long for Kilrea to become impressed.
"He gives us a toughness in our own end that we were looking for, and he gives us an opportunity on offence because he's got a good shot."
Staubitz became comfortable so quickly with his new team that he became an assistant captain when Jeremy Akeson got injured in January, and continues to wear the "A" on his jersey even after Akeson returned to action two weeks ago.
"He's just great. He's a leader in the room," said Kilrea. "He's so respected and feared, and he's solidified our team."
IN THE CREASE: Ottawa won't make any line-up changes for Game 4 tonight, meaning Danny Battochio will start in net again for the 67's ... Kilrea praised LW Bryan Bickell for his work on Wednesday's winning goal. Bickell dove at a loose puck and knocked it back to the point to Staubitz before a Barrie defender had a chance to clear.