This Sunday marks 1,000 career games for Fife Flyers‘ forward Brendan Brooks, and it comes against his former side Braehead Clan.
Brooks comes from the city of St Catharine’s in Ontario near the US-Canadian border, a town that was also home to former NHL players such as Bryan McCabe and Rob Davison.
“I was playing road hockey as a kid every day from when school ended until my parents dragged me to bed,” said Brooks.
“Playing with the older kids on my street day after day was one of the best memories growing up – and when we didn’t have a goalie we would dress my sister up in gear and strap her to the net.”
Brooks played his first professional game 19 years ago when he suited up with Mississippi Seawolves in the ECHL after having iced between Owen Sound Attack and the North Bay Centennials in the OHL.
His first played professionally in Illinois with Quad City Mallards, where he bagged 44 goals with 43 assists in two years.
Brooks spent the 2000/01 season with Dayton Bombers, going on to receive his first AHL call-up with the Lowell Lock Monsters.
He has worked with a number of coaching staff over the years, but there have been a few who have stood out.
“Greg Ireland was my junior coach with the Caledon Canadians – at the time we were the best team in Canada,” added Brooks.
“He installed a winning mentality, he demanded the best and we gave him our all. Paul Gillis was my coach in my very first full season as a pro.
“I was the youngest on the team by six years and he took me under his wing and really helped me transition from a junior player to a pro – he was amazing.
“Larry Huras was a coach that had and still has a huge impact on my overseas career – he helped me change my game to a more European style while still keeping the core of my game.
“Bruce Boudreau (currently head coach in NHL with Minnesota Wild) has had a huge impact on my entire hockey life. I’m so grateful to have had him as a mentor for me throughout my career on and off the ice.”
After nine seasons in North America Brooks headed to Europe, spending two years with Stavanger Oilers in Norway before moving to Switzerland and Germany.
Another stint in Norway followed and Brooks admits the transition between the leagues was one he relished.
“The style of play in Switzerland is a very fast transitional style of game and in Germany they played a very North American hard-hitting game,” he said.
“It’s amazing the different styles I’ve had to adapt to and sometimes change my game in order to be successful.”
Brooks joined Braehead in 2015, becoming a huge fan favourite with his hard-working attitude on and off the ice, before moving to Fife this summer.
During his career Brooks has shared the ice with some of the game’s leading names.
“I played on a line with Pavel Datsyuk in an exhibition game against Tampa Bay Lightning and I was in awe by his stick handling ability and hockey awareness,” said Brooks.
“Dainius Zubrus, Alexander Daigle, and Trevor Gillies – you wouldn’t think he would make the list of the top players I’ve played with, but he is the best player at his job as an enforcer and he’s one of the best teammates you could ask for.
“I’ve also had the privilege to play against are Anze Kopitar, Zach Parise, and Eric Staal, to name but a few.
“My career highlights would have to be signing a NHL contract with the Detroit Redwings – my favourite team as a kid – playing for Team Canada in the Spengler Cup, winning a junior championship with Caledon Canadians and being able to play the game I love as a professional for 20 years.”
(Image permission: Fife Flyers)