BOSTON — If there were any doubts about Byron Bitz’s courage — and I don’t think there were — they were quickly erased with one enormous battle in the neutral zone tonight at TD Banknorth Garden.

The Boston Bruins’ 6-foot-3, 200-pound rookie forward met the challenge from 6-foot-3, 237-pound Washington enforcer Donald Brashear in a lengthy, mostly even bout midway through the third period of the Bruins’ 3-2 overtime win.

Bitz landed a few early shots before he tired out and Brashear threw a few hay-makers to close things out. All in all, it was a great way for the Saskatoon native to get his first NHL fight under his belt.

“I think I did all right. He’s pretty strong, he got me inside and he’s tough to maneuver around. But I was pretty happy with how I did,” said Bitz.

The former Cornell star explained that Brashear had taken exception to a slightly high elbow on a hit moments before the fight started. But it didn’t sink in for Bitz until after he went to the box and Bruins tough guy Shawn Thornton congratulated him that he’d just stood toe to toe with one of the NHL’s most feared foes.

Bitz earned rave reviews from Thornton.

“He did a hell of a job. One of the three toughest guys in the league and he just took him on,” said the Bruins’ usual go-to ‘fightmeister.’ “He did a great job. It shows a lot about his character. I know the guys love having him in the room, love having him on the team. I know I loved playing with him when I was playing with him those few games. I can’t say enough about that kid – he has good character, he’s a great person and he just did a hell of a job.”