Kellen Briggs had a uniquely weird experience as member of the inaugural Ontario Reign team in 2008-09. He was injured in the team’s second preseason game, didn’t play again until January, then was called up to the American Hockey League a month later and never returned to California.
Yet, Briggs’ affection for Ontario was enough to eliminate the other ECHL offers he received this summer. The goaltender spoke about a variety of topics in a telephone interview from Minnesota on Monday …
What went into your decision to return to Ontario?
A lot. I was in Germany last year, and checked out the
German/European hockey scene, and decided that I wanted to come back and play in North
America this season. I didn’t know exactly what to expect. I learned a lot
about the hockey market over there. I felt that I would get more, it would be
more fulfilling to play in North America as opposed to Europe.
How much of that was tied into advancing, getting promoted in the game?
A lot. I want to try and get back to
the AHL. I’m committed to the team (in Ontario), but I’m prepared to move on to
an American League team if the opportunity comes up.
Did you have any other ECHL offers?
I was talking to a few (ECHL) teams, but I like Ontario. I
think the city, the arena are great. The organization is very professional. I knew if I
was going to be in the East Coast league, I wanted to be in Ontario.
Was there a possibility you could stay in Portland after the 2008-09 season?
There wasn’t anything solid there. They
weren’t willing to commit to anything right away. If I was willing to stay over
here last year, who knows what would’ve happened. It’s difficult to try and
guess what might have happened.
What’s Dresden like?
It’s a lot different – the culture’s different, the hockey’s
different. Dresden is different from Ontario. Anything you can think of, it was
different. They had McDonald’s over there. It was a little bit better. I don’t
eat a lot, but I had to try it.
The Reign have already signed one goalie (Garrett Zemlak) and could still be assigned another by the Kings (Martin Jones). Are you at all concerned about being squeezed out of playing time?
That’s something I can’t control. I’m going to come ready to
play and ready to battle. It’s not something you worry about. You worry about
yourself. I’m going to play as well as I can and see what happens.
How much attention did you pay to the Reign when you were in Germany?
Quite a bit, actually. There’s quite a bit of down time, so you’re busy looking at
the East Coast League website.
Were you concerned by the fact that they missed the playoffs?
No, no. I know Karl’s a good coach. I know
the organization was good. I don’t know what happened with the team. That was
last season. This is a new season.