Eight weeks ago, Anthony Brito was trying to help the Coquitlam Adanacs win the Minto Cup. Today, he is the top scorer in the Pacific International Junior Hockey League.
The 20-year-old veteran is off to an amazing start in his fourth season with the Delta Ice Hawks. A goal and an assist in Tuesday's 10-1 thumping of the Port Moody Panthers gives Brito 22 points in just seven games, including 14 goals. He has already recorded three hat tricks and only teammate Mak Barden (17 points) is within shouting distance of him in the league scoring race.
Making Brito's production even more remarkable is he had only a couple of days of training camp under his belt prior to Delta's regular season opener. The North Delta native was busy helping the Coquitlam Adanacs make a deep run in the junior "A" lacrosse playoffs, ending with a runner-up finish at the Minto Cup national finals which concluded in late August.
"It's pretty tough going from running to skating just like that," smiled Brito.
"I pretty much came back and got into it pretty quick. They put me on the first line right away and I got a bunch of confidence from my first game with four points. It's gone from there."
Brito is throwback to what multi-talented athletes did decades ago.
Former NHL stars such as Wayne Gretzky and Joe Nieuwendyk were dominate lacrosse players who continue to play the summer sport right through junior.
Brito's roles in the two sports are different. With the Adanacs, he is a defensive specialist who is usually trying to shut down other teams' top scorers. With Ice Hawks, he is counted on for his production and was one of the team's top performers during last spring's championship run with 23 points in 19 games.
"He is playing extremely well," said Ice Hawks head coach Dave McLellan. "The puck is going in for him because of the hard work he is putting in and he's in the right spot more often than not. He is a 20year-old who has the experience of winning a championship last year. He knows what it takes to be successful.
"We want guys like Anthony to lead the young guys of what Ice Hawks hockey is all about and that's speed, skill and toughness."
Brito won't be going from the lacrosse to hockey season again. He is in his final year of junior hockey eligibility although he does have one more year of lacrosse remaining.
"I like both and that's why I have kept playing them," he added. "Lacrosse is a lot different sport but I like coming back to it and playing hockey at the same time. The (Ice Hawks) told me to take my time (returning) but I wanted to be on the ice with the boys again. I'm having a lot of fun out there and things are going my way right now."
The Ice Hawks (6-1-0) were slated to visit the Richmond Sockeyes (5-0-1) last night in an early season battle of the league's top two teams. The cross-river rivals will meet again on Tuesday (7: 30 p.m.) at the Ladner Leisure Centre.
Veteran Aaron Merrick made an impressive return to the line-up against Port Moody, leading the hosts with a hat trick.