One of the great advantages the Buffalo Sabres have is the wide area from which they can draw hockey-crazed fans to attend their games and cheer from home. Not only can they count on the large population of upper New York state, but they are also very close to the Canadian border where they can count on Southern Ontario fans to support the nearby Sabres.
The St. Catharines team was a Chicago feeder team back then. Brian turned professional the following year but was buried in the minors except for an 8 game playoff appearance with the Hawks in 1968.
The 5'11" and 190 pound center was sold to the Western Hockey League's Denver Spurs in 1969-70, and Brian played well scoring 34 goals in 70 games. The expansion Buffalo Sabres were quick to pluck a few players from the Western Hockey League in order to give them some depth - such as Kevin O'Shea, Cliff Schmautz and Ted Hodgson. It was speculated that McDonald was selected partly for publicity reasons in order to attract curious fans from St. Catharines.
Brian would appear in 12 games with the Sabres in 1970-71 but collected no points. He did show some nice aggression as his 29 penalty minutes suggested. But he spent most of his 12 games watching the game from the Sabres bench. He would spend most of the year and the following year back in the Western league playing minor league hockey.
While Brian never returned to the NHL, he did go on to enjoy five more seasons of major league hockey. In 1972-73 Brian signed on with Houston Aeros of the World Hockey Association. McDonald would also play with the Los Angeles Sharks and Michigan Stags before finishing his career with 3 seasons in Indianapolis with the Racers.
Brian played in 304 WHA games, scoring 90 goals and 190 points.