Monday, August 25, 2008

CHL announces its 2008-09 master schedule

Texas Brahmas pick up an extra game against division rival Laredo Bucks

The Central Hockey League released its 512-game master schedule today. As a result of changes which took place because of schedule conflicts between the Blazers and Oklahoma City's NBA franchise, the Texas Brahmas will gain an eighth match up against their division rival, the Laredo Bucks.

As in years past, the full schedule is 64 games over 23 weeks. 32 games will be at home and 32 will take place on the road. The Brahmas will see Southeast Division opponents 17 times this season.

During the 2008-09 campaign, the Brahmas will be at home for 28 weekend dates including 12 Fridays, 12 Saturdays, and four Sundays. They will round out the home slate with two Tuesday games and two Wednesday games.

The season opens on the road at Bossier-Shreveport on Friday, October 17th.

The Brahmas will have two four-game home stands and four three-game home stands.

The longest road trip will be for six games starting with two games at Mississippi followed by a three-game series at Arizona and one game against Bossier-Shreveport before returning home.

The Brahmas will haunt the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico where they will play the Scorpions on October 31st.

Fans will work off their Thanksgiving meals cheering against the Oklahoma City Blazers when they visit NYTEX on November 28th.

The day after Christmas will bring Killer Bees to North Richland Hills as Rio Grande Valley comes to town on December 26th.

The New Years Eve game will take place at NYTEX against the Corpus Christi Ice Rays.

Love will not be in the air at NYTEX on Valentines Day when the Laredo Bucks visit on February 14th.

The Brahmas will host the defending President's Cup Champion Arizona Sundogs on January 16th. This will be the first time the two teams have played each other at the NYTEX Sports Centre.

A rematch of the 2007-08 Northern Conference Finals will take place when the Colorado Eagles
come to town on February 6th.

The season will close with a three-game road trip ending in Rio Grande Valley on Saturday, March 21st.

As a result of the schedule changes, the Brahmas will add two road games against the Oklahoma City Blazers on Sunday, November 23rd at 5:10pm and on Wednesday, January 7th at 7:10pm.

The Brahmas will still have a road game on Saturday, January 10th, but will play the Mississippi RiverKings instead of the Oklahoma City Blazers.

The Brahmas will still play at home on Saturday, January 17th, but will host the Laredo Bucks instead of the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs.

Two road dates have been removed from the schedule; January 9th at Mississippi and March 1st at Oklahoma City.

What do the changes mean?
  • 10 games against the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs instead of 11
  • 8 games against the Laredo Bucks instead of 7
  • 8 games against the Oklahoma City Blazers instead of 7
  • 4 games against the Mississippi RiverKings instead of 5

Phew! OK, suffice it to say, are you ready for some Hockey?

Defenseman Chris Mann re-signs with the Texas Brahmas

Blue Line "enforcer" back for 2008-09 campaign

The Texas Brahmas have announce that Chris Mann has re-signed with the team. Mann, 29, was a pillar of the Brahmas D Corps last season as he helped the team advance to the Northern Conference Finals last season, his first year in the CHL. Mann played in 60 regular season games and registered four assists. He also played in nine post-season contests.

Brahmas Head Coach Dan Wildfong is happy to have Mann back with the squad this season.

"Chris did some great things for us last season. This season we wanted to be sure to solidify the blueline, so it’s great to keep a stable defenseman familiar with our system," said Wildfong.

The six-foot, 215-pound native of Ottawa, Ontario played four seasons of NCAA hockey at Elmira College in New York. Mann tallied 58 points (13 G, 45 A) and 209 penalty minutes over 96 games played with the Soaring Eagles. A three-year captain, Mann anchored the best power play in the ECAC Division III West Conference in 2004-05 as Elmira finished with a 21.5% conversion rate for the season.

After graduating, Mann signed with the Elmira Jackals (UHL) but suffered a broken jaw in just his third game with the club that prematurely ended his season. Mann played for one game with the Rochester Americans (AHL) before returning to the Jackals. During the next two seasons with Elmira, Mann played 137 games and netted 21 points (4 G, 17 A) and 484 penalty minutes.

Known for his aggressive style of play, Mann posted 168 penalty minutes last season, ranking him second among the Brahmas' roster (Robin Big Snake was 1st with 208 minutes in just 25 games).

Mann was suspended for four games for his actions against the Oklahoma City Blazers on January 5th. Mann drew a double minor for roughing after he broke the jaw of Blazers' forward Graham Dearle. Mann also squared off with Erick Lizon who landed a few punches before Mann took him down, earning a fighting penalty.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Former Texas Brahma Jordan Cameron with the EC Hannover Indians

Here are Some new photos from Hannover, Germany where Jordan Cameron is playing now. Jordan wears the # 41 for the EC Hannover Indians who are entering their 60th season this year. You can follow the team's season in photos here. I will add photos here as the season progresses.

At the season opening party - August 8

2008-09 Team Photo Jordan is in the middle row, fifth from the left

EC Hannover vs. Ravensburg - August 15 (Pre-season)

EC Hannover vs. Duisburg - August 24 (Pre-season)

EC Hannover vs. Tower Stars Ravensburg (Pre-season)

Photo Credits: EC Hannover Indians

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Kevin Korol returns to the China Sharks

Brahmas Forward to play in Asia League Ice Hockey this season

Kevin Korol has confirmed that he has signed with the China Sharks and will play in the Asia League Ice Hockey (ALIH) again this season. Korol played 27 games with the Sharks last season prior to joining the Brahmas, scoring 16 points (10 G, 6 A) with 10 penalty minutes served.

The 27-year-old left wing signed with the Brahmas on January 30th and played 27 regular season contests with the team. He tallied 14 points (5 G, 9 A) with 12 penalty minutes served. In 11 post-season games, Korol had four points on four assists with 18 penalty minutes served.

In April, Korol suffered a fractured jaw when he collided with teammate Justin Kinnunen during a playoff game against the Colorado Eagles.

A native of Choiceland, Saskatchewan, Korol previously played for four seasons at Acadia University in Nova Scotia. In 114 games for the Axemen, Korol tallied 63 points (11 G, 52 A) and served 74 penalty minutes. Before that, he played 6 games with the Arkansas RiverBlades (ECHL), the Regina Pats and the Kelowna Rockets (WHL).

The China Sharks, essentially a national team, are owned and operated by Silicon Valley Sports and Entertainment (SVSE), the parent company of the San Jose Sharks NHL franchise. They are the only Chinese team in the 7-team Asia League. The league has four teams from Japan and 2 from South Korea.

The club was the weakest team in the Asia League last season, winning just three games over the course of the 30-game regular season. The China Sharks finished 50 points behind the first-place Seibu Prince Rabbits, and scored just 63 goals for the season while allowing 159.

Regardless of their performance last season, the Sharks are looking forward to their second season and have signed several standout players to help them develop into a playoff caliber team.

I e-mailed Kevin recently to ask a few questions. He is currently in China attending training camp. The regular season for the Sharks begins on September 20th.

Q: How did you come to sign with the China Sharks last season?

A: Last summer a friend of mine from back home was in talks with the GM from the team about coming over here for the season and he asked if it was something I would be interested in. At the time, a deal of mine to go to Europe had fallen through so I was exploring a few options and this was something that was going to be a very unique opportunity so I decided to sign with the team.

Q: What drew you back to play in China this season?

A: This season coming back was a easy decision for me. The experience last year of being in Asia and seeing the development of Chinese hockey from the beginning to the end of the season was very promising.

Q: How do you compare the level of play in the ALIH versus college and the CHL?

A: The ALIH is tough to compare to the CHL. They are very different styles. There is very little physical play over here, with more emphasis placed on speed and skill. Although overall levels are pretty similar.

Q: Are there a lot of hockey fans in China?

A: The fan base in China is very small; as the season went on it did grow a little bit. Hopefully this year with the team moving to Shanghai there will be even more support.

Q: How do you feel about your performance with the Brahmas?

A: I felt my performance with the Brahmas last season was pretty good. Coming that late in the season, I was just kind of placed in a role that coaches wanted and needed at the time. I felt I fit in just fine.

Q: It may be a painful memory but can you describe the collision with Justin Kinnunen?

A: The collision with Justin was something that was just pure accident. We were both entering the zone and the puck turned over and we both turned to the puck at the same time and both going at a high speed there was no time for reaction at all.

Q: How do your Chinese teammates feel about you playing with the Sharks?

A: The Chinese players on the team are actually very welcoming to the import players. They are appreciative of us coming over and helping them as a team become better.

Q: How do you think the Sharks will do this season?

A: I think this season, it being our second, that we definitely have the potential to improve upon what we started last season. Our main goal is to make playoffs, and go from there.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Friday, August 22, 2008

Doug Krantz signs with the Wheeling Nailers

Rookie defenseman Doug Krantz has signed with the Wheeling Nailers (ECHL). Krantz, 25, signed with the Brahmas at the end of the regular season and played in 11 post-season games notching 2 points on 2 assists.

Krantz, 25, a native of Marysville, BC, played four seasons at Cornell University scoring 38 points (15 G, 23 A) and serving 73 penalty minutes in 131 games played.

The Nailers are the ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and the Philadelphia Phantoms of the American Hockey League.

"Doug is going to be a solid performer for us. He had a fine career at Cornell and he will provide the Nailers with excellence at both ends of the ice." Said Nailers Head Coach Greg Puhalski.
One on One - with the Texas Brahmas' Pete Rouleau

The Brahmas' newest member provides some background and talks about signing with the team

The Texas Brahmas recently announced the signing of former Michigan Tech star forward Pete Rouleau.

The 25-year-old native of Hancock, Michigan skated in 95 games and scored 61 points (19 G, 42 A) over three seasons with the Huskies. He earned the Gary Crosby Award as the team's leading scorer his junior and senior year and won the Huskies' MVP award last season.

Last March, Rouleau signed with the Idaho Steelheads (ECHL) but played just one game before being released on waivers. Coach Derek Laxdal said he would have liked to have kept Rouleau on, but players returning to Idaho from it's AHL affiliate Idaho Stars created a lack of space on the roster. Rouleau was then signed by the Pensacola Ice Pilots and played six games, scoring 3 points (1 G, 2 A).

Rouleau spent the 2003-04 season competing for Finlandia University, an NCAA Division III team. He played in 25 games with the Lions and was Findlandia’s leading scorer with 39 points (15 G, 24 A). Prior to that, he played for the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League in 2002-03. In 56 games played, Rouleau recorded 24 points (10 G, 14 A).

In high school, Rouleau led the Hancock Bulldogs in scoring for four consecutive seasons. He was the most valuable player of the Lake Superior Conference three years in a row and All-State his junior and senior years. He played on the 1998-99 State High School Championship team and the 1999-2000 State Runner-Up team. He remains the career point leader with 264 points.

I spoke with Pete by phone recently about his past, how he signed with the Brahmas and his eagerness to get back on the ice.

Q: After a great performance at Hancock High School, you were offered a full scholarship to Michigan Tech but you chose not to accept. Can you tell us a little about that?

A: I was offered a full ride but I always wanted to go to Northern Michigan University, their archrival. My girlfriend then, wife now, was going to NMU. I was trying to get into Northern so I didn’t sign. I went and played juniors and they watched me one game and said I didn’t really have the heart to play. So I ended up going to play for the Green Bay Gamblers (USHL) and then they didn’t want me so I was really stuck between a rock and a hard place. I ended up going to Finlandia then. I played one year there and then I decided to transfer over to Tech. I was skating there over the summer and the assistant coach told me I could walk on, so I walked on and I made it.

Q: At Finlandia, you were the leading scorer for the Lions, in 25 games, 39 points. Did you enjoy playing there?

A: Yeah, I did. I knew all the guys on the team. The only thing was they were independent; they weren’t in the league yet. So you were kind of playing for the fun of the game.

Q: When you had the opportunity to get back with Michigan Tech, you did very well, especially in your senior year. How did you like playing with the Huskies?

A: I had a blast. The first year, I sat out a year (due to the transfer) and then I got to play the second year. So I went a year without playing any games. You find out quick if you love the game or not, practicing very day, going through everything and then not playing any games. Down the stretch in my junior and senior year, I ended up leading the team in points. I wanted to get to 30 this year but I only got 29. But it was awesome. Guys that I played with, they were good. A couple of them have moved on to the next level. I had a pretty good year but I would have liked to have gone farther in the playoffs.

Q: After your senior year at Tech, you signed with the Idaho Steelheads (ECHL). How did that come about?

A: I had no intentions on going there. I was trying to go to Augusta, to play for the Augusta Lynx (ECHL), so my thought was that I was going to Augusta. Then Idaho called and they wanted to sign me, so I ended up going there. Jimmy Kerr on our team, our captain last year, he was going there and he got hurt so he didn’t go. So they asked if I’d go. And then I ended up going. I had four shifts in one game and then got released. It was a rough experience. I mean, you’d like to get more shifts, trying to prove yourself.

I ended up calling Cam Ellsworth, who was the goalie at Tech when I got there, and he hooked me up with the Pensacola Ice Pilots. So, I ended up going there and I loved it. And then I was all signed to go there next year and then they folded.

Then I started talking to the Texas Brahmas’ coach. Every time I talked to him he seemed like he was really excited and I was excited and I ended up getting ahold of Tyler (Skworchinski) and he was like “well, I don’t know if I’m going back,” and then he’s like, “I talked to coach and he asked if I was going back and I said I’m only signing if you’re signing.” He ended up signing so I was like “Alright, I’m coming then.” So I ended up signing. I’m excited to play. I hope I’m on his (Tyler’s) line.

Q: Are you familiar with the Central Hockey League?

A: Not really. Is it pretty close to the East Coast League?

Q: I’d say similar but you know, it’s very raw. It’s a hard-hitting, very aggressive, very physical game. Ho do you feel about that type of play and physically, do you feel up to it?

A: That doesn’t bother me at all. I mean I’ve played hockey for along time where there was hitting. I get around the ice and as long as I keep my head up and don’t put myself in a situation where I’m going to get hit hard…you know, move the puck before the guy’s coming. I’m used to it, I should be ready to go.

Q: On a personal note, I understand you got married last summer and have a baby on the way, due in January. Is your wife coming down with you or is she staying back in Michigan?

A: She’s coming down in late October.

Q: Do you know if it’s a boy or a girl?

A: We find out in September, just before I come down.

Q: In general, what is your level of excitement in getting down here to Texas to play some hockey with the Brahmas?

A: Well, I’m not looking forward to the drive but once I get there, I can’t wait to get on the ice. Hopefully we can get on the ice before we start right away…I’m excited. My brother Ross is going to drive down with me to try out. He’s excited as well so it’ll be a good time.

Ross Rouleau is a six-foot-one, 175-pound defenseman. He also played for Hancock High School and is currently on the roster at Finlandia University. He was on the 2007-08 squad that won the Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association Tournament Championship. His teammates, Josh Paquette and Ryan Sullivan have recently signed with the New Mexico Scorpions.

Photo Credit: Idaho Steelheads
My First Time...

Texas Brahmas fans recall their first Brahmas experience

Well, we all came from somewhere and we all have a story. I've asked fans of the Texas Brahmas to share their first experiences with the team.

I'll be adding fans' stories over the next several days. If you want to share yours, please send it to Please include your name, age and city of residence. If you have any amusing stories and/or photos, please send them in.

I'll start with my own story...

Name: Robert Keith
Age: 43
City: Bedford

I had recently moved to Texas and was visiting a friend in Austin who had bought us tickets to go see an Ice Bats game at the Travis County Expo Center. I had never heard of the CHL and had no experience with AA hockey at that point. She said I would love it.

We met up with several of her college friends outside of Luedecke Arena. I'll never forget the young man who, not knowing I wasn't from Texas, asked me if I listened to The Ticket. Confused, I held my ticket up to my ear. He wasn't amused and moved on.

I was still trying to wrap my head around this idea of hockey in Texas when two minutes into the game, a fight broke out. Then a couple of minutes later it happened again. I thought, "This is great!" The skating was raw, the fans were rowdy (understatement) and the beer was good.

When I returned to North Texas, I started attending Brahmas games and immediately became a fan. I bought my first jersey at the home opener on October 22, 1999 where I first laid my hands on the Stanley Cup which was won by the Dallas Stars the previous June. The Brahmas spanked the Ice Bats 6-2 even though the Brahmas were overly penalized by ridiculously poor officiating.

When the Texas Brahmas were reborn at NYTEX last year, I was thrilled to not have to make the drive to Fort Worth or pay for parking anymore. Sitting behind the goaltender in section T, I watched the best minor pro hockey I have ever seen last season.

Name: Gary Stallons
Age: Old
City: Roanoke/Keller

I bought two season tickets for the Brahmas' first year from Ernie Horn. I thought it was the worst hockey I had ever seen. My first hockey experience was as a rink rat in the late 40's at Aksarben Coliseum in Omaha. Gordie Howe, Marcel Prenovost and Terry Sawchuk were on the Knight's Team.

I moved back to Fort Worth in the late 50's and there was no hockey. Then Detroit moved their farm team from Memphis to Fort Worth. This was 1967 I believe. The players on the Fort Worth Wings were better than today's AHL and the play was only a notch below the NHL.

The Wings became the Texans, who won the CHL championship. However, because of NHL expansion there was noticeable drop in the quality of play. The Texans left and it was sometime before the Fire started up. Then the Brahmas opened up in direct competition with the Fire and the Fire pulled out. So you see, I compared the quality of play by the Brahmas with the old CHL and that's why I thought it was the worst hockey I had ever seen.

I worked in the locker room with Sparky during the 2003-04 season. My brother-in-law was the coach that year.

Last year's Brahmas team was the best I have seen since the Texans. I'm not sure they could have beaten the Texans but they would have made it interesting. No way could they have beaten the old Wings though!

Photo Credit: Randy Pittman

Name: Randy Pittman
Age: 47
City: North Richland Hills

I grew up in Texas, so hockey was very foreign to me as with all native Texans. In '79 I went to a Dallas Blackhawks game at Fair Park with my brother and some friends from Minnesota. I came away from it with no impression. I do remember a fight occurred, but like any Texan, it seemed on par as wrestling or roller derby.

The only reason I even started to appreciate hockey was playing NHL95 on PC and watching the Stars over the years. So I fall under the majority group of new fans. It would be interesting to know how many native Texans are season ticket holders. So many Texans still misunderstand hockey and the majority of Stars fans are casual fans.

I moved to North Richland Hills from Dallas County in '02 and about the same time, went to my first Brahmas game at TCCC and be honest I didn't follow the CHL or the Brahmas, so the enthusiasm wasn't there and the seats weren't great, but we did get puck for my grandson. So the true first Brahmas game would be last years' season opener at the Chapparal in Austin. We had about 12 Austin family and friends most of them cheering for the Brahmas.

The game was a see-saw battle with Manning assisting on 2 goals and under 4 minutes left,scored the 5-4 winning goal. I thought they showed a lot of character then and it was probably one the 5 best games of the year.

Name: Doug Werner
Age: Older than many, but not as old as Gary Stallons!
City: Mansfield

I came to Texas from Minnesota in 1981. Ah-h-h, you say, a Minnesotan who probably always had an interest in hockey. But you are wrong! Oh, I had a passing interest in the Minnesota North Stars and went to a couple games, but it wasn't until I moved to Texas that I developed my real interest in hockey.

The first game I attended in Texas was a Fort Worth Fire game. Then came the Fort Worth Brahmas, and I began to wish that I had season tickets. Finally during the 2003-2004 season I sprang for a "mini" season ticket...the one that lets you go to a few games of your choosing. That was enough! The next season I purchased a full season ticket for the Fort Worth Brahmas, selected my seat, and enjoyed more hockey. And wouldn't you know it...that was the season of the NHL lockout, with some of the NHL players signing with the CHL teams. Now I was really hooked, and went to as many games as I could during the next season.

The 2006-2007 season brought bad news....the Brahmas were going to sit it out. I felt as if I were going through withdrawal...I WAS going through withdrawal. I managed to contain myself by going to some USA Hockey games and watching the youngsters play, but it just wasn't the same.

Then I learned that the Brahmas were going to be playing again in the 2007-2008 season as the Texas Brahmas, in a new barn, with a new team and a new coaching staff. I was floating in the clouds with excitement.

Finally there came what I later viewed as a tremendous opportunity and experience for me. I was between jobs during the summer and fall of 2007, so I was able to attend most of the Brahmas practices and all of the home games, as well as some of the away games. I joined the newly-formed Texas Brahmas Fan Club and was elected its first president. I was able to meet and become known by all the team members as well as the coaches and the rest of the staff, and I developed many lasting friendships, as I watched and cheered on the Brahmas through the playoffs.

Because of my close involvement with the Hockey Club and the Fan Club, I was able to have, what I consider to be, a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and one I will never forget. Now I look forward to the current upcoming season with great anticipation. Who knows what it may bring?

Go Brahmas!!!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Hockey News ranks CHL logos

Vote online for the Texas Brahmas

Over the month of August, The Hockey News will rank the logos of 16 North American leagues as part of their Logo Rankings + Tournament. Included are the logos for the 16 active Central Hockey League teams.

Read about the event here.

About the Brahmas' logo, THN wrote:

"Sometimes the first goal of an emblem is to do no harm and Texas has a solid entry with no obvious faults."

I guess that's a positive. There's still time to submit your vote online for the Brahmas.

Read about THN's opinion of the CHL logos here, see the current standings and place your vote here.

Update: Poll results are in! Laredo Bucks 22%, Oklahoma City Blazers 15%, Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees 14%, Rocky Mountain Rage 11%, Tulsa Oilers 8%, Texas Brahmas tied with Amarillo Gorillas 7%, Corpus Christi IceRays tied with Odessa Jackalopes 6%, Rapid City Rush 4%

Image Credit: The Hockey News

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

One on One - with the Texas Brahmas' Tyler Skworchinski

The dynamic center talks about his rookie season and re-signing for the 2008-09 campaign

Tyler Skworchinski joined the Texas Brahmas last November after being released from the Stockton Thunder (ECHL) and had an impressive rookie season by any measure.

During the regular season, Skworchinski tallied 47 points (24 G, 23 A) with 43 penalty minutes in 55 games played. He scored 17 points (8 G, 9 A) in his last 12 games. He played in 13 playoff games, scoring 9 points (2 G, 7 A). On special teams, Skworchinski had five powerplay goals, ten powerplay assists, two short-handed goals and a team-leading three short-handed assists. He also led the Brahmas in shooting percentage.

In March, the 25-year-old from Marathon, Ontario was named to the 2007-08 CHL All-rookie team.

I spoke to Tyler recently about his rookie season with the Brahmas and his outlook on the coming season.

Q: Where did you begin playing hockey?

A: I grew up playing midget AAA actually, away from home. I went to a team in New Liskeard in Northern Ontario; they play in the Great North Midget League.

Q: How did you end up at Michigan Tech?

A: I played Junior in Manitoba my last two years, and the assistant coach of the Huskies came up to watch and ended up seeing me play. I guess he kind of liked what he saw and I flew down for a visit and I liked what I saw and I ended up at MTU.

Q: After graduating with a degree in business administration, was it your intention to go pro?

A: It was. Growing up as a kid, playing hockey, your dream is to go and play professional hockey, whatever level it is. I wanted to play at least one year, just to say that I did it and if it worked out and I played longer, great, that’s a bonus. One year was something that I definitely wanted to do just to say that I had done it and to reach that goal of mine. It went from one year to two years now.

Q: How was it that you came to be recruited by the Brahmas?

A: The Brahmas’ scout, Steve Papple, contacted me during the summer before last season. I talked to him and I talked to a few other teams and I ended up signing with Stockton in the East Coast League. I went there to start the season and that didn’t work out; I ended up getting released four games in. I didn’t really have too many options at that point and I was weighing what I wanted to do, whether I wanted to keep playing, look for another team or if I wanted to shut it down and uh, get a real job (laughing). Dan (Wildfong) called me and said they still wanted me down there and I ended up going down to Texas two days later.

Q: The season had already started when you signed with the Brahmas, correct?

A: Yeah, I came in, I think after the team had already played nine games. I came in on a Thursday night, I believe, and I practiced on Friday and then played that night.

Q: That’s kind of a tough situation, coming in to play on a team after the season has already started. Were you able to bond pretty quickly with the other players?

A: Oh yeah, everyone was great coming in. Like you said, it’s kind of a tough situation. All of the guys had been together for over a month and had gotten to know each other and had time to play together. You know, coming in and not knowing anyone, everyone was really great. They helped me out with whatever it took to get me on the same page as everyone else and I was fortunate to have the teammates that I did to help smooth that transition.

Q: Who was your roommate?

A: I roomed with Mark Cody until he was released and then I roomed with Doug Krantz when he came in after his college career was over.

Q: What was your first impression of Coaches Wildfong and MacPherson?

A: Coming in, the first time you see Dan, you’re kind of intimidated. Here’s a guy, you know, with the kind of resume he has as a player and you know, you kind of look at him – he’s an intimidating guy. I didn’t really know what to expect and a lot of the guys said he’s a great guy, very friendly, things like that, but he was an intense coach, he expected you to work hard. Coming in, in a situation like that, you know you want to make sure that you make a good impression, you know, they’d never seen me play before. They were very good, they took the extra time to show me the system, show me things that I needed to do to be on the same page. I can’t say anything bad about those two, they’ve been nothing but great to me. They helped me a lot as soon as I got down there.

Q: What was your impression of NYTEX and the fans?

A: I was very impressed by the fans; you can’t ask for better support. It was loud every night. For me the NYTEX Centre is a perfect fit. I grew up playing in smaller rinks with 2,000-3,000 fans. They’re right on top of you. That place is great. I was very comfortable playing there. It was always easy to get up for those games.

Q: On the road, you played in a lot of bigger arenas. As a player, do you prefer the larger or the smaller venue?

A: I really enjoy playing at the NYTEX Centre. I’d rather play there than at a bigger rink that’s half full. At the NYTEX, it’s always a good atmosphere. It’s always loud. You know, there are always fans there on top of you during the game. In college, we had the smallest rink and that was with 5,000 seats. I played in Wisconsin and Minnesota where there were 12,000 to 15,000 fans. You know, I’d have to say I’d rather play in front of 15,000 fans but I would definitely rather play at the NYTEX, sold out with 2,000 fans than at a 5,000 seat arena that’s half full.

Q: At NYTEX, the fans get really wild. For example, when the Brahmas score a goal, you have a group of guys that pull of their jerseys and swing them over their heads. As a player, do you feed off of that support from the fans?

A: Oh, absolutely. There’s no doubt about it. I don’t think you’ll find a player that doesn’t feed off the energy of the fans. You know, when were’ doing well and you maybe score a goal or two and the fans are just crazy wild you just keep that momentum because of them. Or if things aren’t going well and the fans are in it, they give you that extra energy, that extra motivation to pick up the game a little bit and try to get a win.

Q: It’s a lot of fun for the fans to get rowdy and razz the visiting teams…

A: Yeah, they have some pretty creative cheers and I think it’s great when the fans can do that. I think the fans are very good in that they don’t go over the line but they’re right on the line. They do a lot of things that get on the other team’s nerves, but they don’t do anything that’s offensive or in bad taste. It definitely adds to the atmosphere, that’s for sure.

Q: There’s been a great rivalry between the Brahmas and the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs for a number of years; of course this was Dan and Forbes’ old team. They have a great fan base that buses in and they sit in one section and make a lot of noise. Is that kind of fun to see as well?

A: When I came in, I heard a lot about Bossier. Other than Dan and Forbes, there were other players like Blair (Manning), (Craig) Minard and (Scott) Sheppard; they all played there and they talked a lot about it. When I got to see it, the back and forth between the fans, you know their section would chant and the whole rest of the rink would chant for the Brahmas…It was pretty awesome to see actually. It was kind of like they were having a game and we were having a game.

Q: Coming in as a rookie, you had an outstanding year. In college, you did very well but I think you really had a break out season with the Brahmas. How do you feel about your play and what do you think your main assets are?

A: I’m very happy with the way the year went. At the start, it was a bit of a transition, I didn’t score too much at the start but that came with adjusting to the league, adjusting to pro hockey and adjusting to a new team. You know, I felt good, it just seemed like I wasn’t getting too many points. But luckily was able to get put with Anders (Strome) and Jordan (Cameron) and I definitely benefited greatly from playing with those two guys; they’re great players and they definitely helped me out. I’m a pretty competitive guy, I don’t like to lose and I feel I work pretty hard. I’m not afraid to do whatever it takes whether it’s penalty killing or face-offs; I like to get some points if possible. I kind of pride myself on doing the little things right. I like to use my speed as an advantage. I think I have pretty good speed that I developed during my four years at school. I think overall, my competitiveness and my work ethic is over-and-above anything else.

Q: Speaking of Anders and Jordan, you know Anders signed to play over in Denmark and Jordan is going to be over in Germany. Some key players won’t be playing for the Brahmas this year. You’re going to have some new players this season and this time, you will have the benefit of going through training camp with these guys. How do you feel about coming in with a new squad this season?

A: It’s very exciting. It’s tough to replace guys like Anders and Jordan; they’re such great players. It’s tough to fill the hole that they left, but guys like myself, (Mark) Carragher and (Greg) McConnell I think have to take that next step and help fill the hole that they left. I think Dan and Forbes have done a great job bringing in the guys that they’ve brought in to improve on last years’ team with the hope of winning a championship. There’s a lot of turnover in professional hockey with any team. I think for myself, having the training camp this year is going to be helpful with getting some chemistry with the new players.

Q: How do you feel about the Brahma’s performance last season and were you surprised you made it as far as you did?

A: We definitely weren’t surprised. We knew all along we had a good team, a competitive team that could play with anyone in the league; that was proven throughout the year. We hit a tough stretch there around Christmastime where we could’ve gone either way. We ended up pushing through and had a really strong second half. I think when it comes down to the playoffs, at any league, at any level; anything can happen…it’s a new season. We were basically playing playoff hockey almost the whole second half; it was just a dogfight to get into the playoffs with our conference. We kind of benefited from that. We rode the momentum into the playoffs and I think the only surprise was that we ended up sweeping Bossier. We weren’t surprised that we won but we might’ve been a little surprised that it happened so quickly.

Q: What was your feeling about the series against Colorado?

A: That series, you know, coming in there against the defending champs…I think we played them once or twice during the season, and they had a really good team. They had a lot of good players and we knew that one was going to be a real battle. We heard about their record at home and that it’s a tough place to play, which we experienced. The first two games, they beat us pretty handily. We didn’t have our strongest two games and it is a tough place to play. I though we did very well as a team to re-group from that to come back and battle back to that seventh game. We gave them a three goal lead and just weren’t able to come back.

One or two goals away from the finals, I think that’s something guys this year will have in the back of their minds, that they were that close. It looks like there are a lot of guys returning from that team, so I think that’s going to be some motivation, to get back and improve upon that. I think it’s good that happened in the first year, to form a base for the kind of success that this organization wants to have…the kind of standard, the quality standard that they’ve set. We set the bar so high; it makes you want to work harder to exceed that.

Q: Maybe beat down by the Brahmas, they went on to face Arizona, and were swept in four games. Did that surprise you?

A: Maybe a little surprised that it was a sweep. Not having played them last season, it’s hard for me to say anything without having seen them play. You look at the stats and they guys that Arizona had, the numbers that they put up, it’s not hard to see how good of a team they had. I’m not surprised that they won, but the fact that they swept was a surprise, just knowing how difficult it is to play in Colorado. I don’t know if it had anything to do with us taking them to seven. Once you get into the finals, all bets are off about what it took to get there and I think you’re just so motivated and excited to be in the finals with a chance at a championship, the fact that you just played a seven-game series isn’t really that relevant.

Q: During the regular season, was there a particular team that was the toughest to play?

A: That’s a tough question. I always thought Bossier was pretty tough to play, they have a lot of skill, quick forwards, and they just work relentlessly so I thought they were pretty difficult to play. You’d think after playing them 13 times, or whatever we did, you’d find a way to beat them in the regular season. It just seemed that, the more we played them, the tighter the games got. I think because of their work ethic and their skill level, I think they’re a pretty difficult team to play.

Q: You’ll be playing them about the same number of games this season but you have a new rival now that you are in a different division and that’s the Laredo Bucks. Over the history of play between the two teams, the Bucks have dominated the Brahmas, but last season, the Brahmas met the call and did well. Do you have any thoughts on playing the Bucks this season?

A: It’ll be nice to see a different team more often and to get some more rivalries going. We went down there for one game and we ended up winning down there. They have a great team and a lot of great players. I think for me, the toughest part was going down there at the end of February and it was 95 degrees out (laughing). It was really hot and you don’t expect that. It was a little different from what I was used to. In February, we used to have several feet of snow and freezing temperatures. So that was a bit of an adjustment. But they have a good team and they’ve had a pretty good track record from what I understand with championships and winning that conference. I think it’s going to be a tough test and I think it’s one that we’re going to meet.

Q: I spoke to your former teammate, Pete Rouleau the other day. He’s excited about coming down and joining the team. Pete’s a small but dynamic forward who really hasn’t had a chance to do anything in the pros yet. Can you talk a little about how he came to the team’s attention?

A: We’d actually tried to get him down here before the playoffs after his season ended and he ended up going to the East Coast League instead. It didn’t end up working out. Dan had asked me about him and I could only give high praise for him. He’s a great player. He led the team in scoring my last year and led the team in scoring last season. He's just a great offensive player, real fast. For a small guy, he’s not afraid to get in there and mix it up. I wouldn’t recommend a guy that I didn’t think would be very successful at this level. I think that people are going to very happy with what they get from him. I talk to him quite often, I went to his wedding last summer, and I know him quite well. He was deciding on what he wanted to do. I thought for a while that he was going to go to Europe; I guess he decided not to do that. He wanted to go to the East Coast League with the team he ended the year with (Pensacola Ice Pilots, who folded in June)…and when that didn’t happen, he called me and asked about the team a little bit more. Dan was on me quite a bit. Dan really wanted him and wanted me to call him a few times. I think coming to a team, your first year pro, it’s nice to have someone that you’re familiar with and comfortable with to help that transition. Hopefully I’m able to do that with him. I’m pretty happy and excited to be back on the same team with him.

Q: I’ve spoke to a number of Brahmas fans in the off-season. Everyone was very impressed with your play and definitely looking forward to seeing you out again this season. Do you have anything in general that you want to say to the Brahmas fans?

A: I appreciate all the nice things they’ve done and all of the support they’ve given me and to the team. They’ve definitely made it easy for me to come in and be successful with the type of treatment and the support that I got, so thank you for all the support you’ve given and continue to give and we look to build on last season and reward them for all the hard work and support that they’ve given us.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Brahma Notes
  • The next General Meeting of the Texas Brahmas Fan Club will be Thursday, August 14th, at North Richland Hills Public Library Board Room, at 7:00 pm.
  • The date has been set for the Texas Brahmas' "Making the Cut 2008" prospect camp. The camp will take place on September 26-28th at NYTEX Sports Centre. For more information or to sign up, click here.
  • The annual Brahmas Kickoff Classic will be held on Saturday, October 4 at 1PM. The event will be held at the Lost Creek Golf Club in Aledo. This year a new event has been added to include young Brahmas fans, the Mini Golf Extravaganza. The miniature golf tournament will be hosted at Mountasia Fun Park in North Richland Hills for kids ages 4-17 on October 5th from 2-6 PM. All participants in the adult tournament will receive Brahmas preseason tickets and the chance to win various grand prizes. Proceeds from the golf tournament will benefit the Community Enrichment Center in North Richland Hills. Sign up here.
  • The Brahmas have some new additions in the front office. Chad Siewert is the new Corporate and Community Accounts Manager. Kelly Lanter is the new Box Office Manager.
  • Congratulations to Assistant Head Coach Forbes MacPherson and wife Amy. Amy gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Jewell Hayden MacPherson last week.
  • Happy birthday to three Brahmas defensemen, Craig Minard on August 18th, Mike Vellinga on August 19th and Doug Krantz on August 22nd!
  • Former Brahma Anders Strome is tying the knot on August 22nd. Congratulations Anders and Meagan!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

One on One - with the Texas Brahmas' Mark Carragher

Mark Carragher recently signed on for his second season with the Texas Brahmas. As a rookie center last season, Carragher notched 19 points (7 G, 12 A) in 63 games played during the regular season regular season. This season, the former University of Southern Maine star is focused on one thing: helping the Brahmas win a championship.

I spoke with Mark recently by telephone from Nova Scotia.

Q: Who influenced you the most early on in playing hockey?

A: Obviously, growing up in Canada, hockey’s a pretty big part of our lives and I started playing at an early age. I learned from my Dad. He played some university hockey and he coached me through my minor hockey days. He got me into hockey early, playing in the ponds and the backyards. He was the biggest influence on my career.

Q: Where did you play during your high school years?

A: I played minor hockey in Charlottetown up until I finished high school and then I went away to college after that.

Q: Did you consider staying in Canada for college or did you plan on heading for the states?

A: After I finished playing minor hockey, I could have played junior here at home but I went to play at prep school in upstate New York instead which opened the doors up for a few universities in the states. So, I thought that it would be a better experience for me. The university style in the states suits my game a little more, so that’s how I got to Southern Maine.

Q: You had a great career playing for the Huskies, especially in your senior year. As team captain, you set or tied several single season and career records and were the all-time leading scorer for the program…

A: Yeah, I had a pretty successful career there. I was lucky to play with a couple of good players. I started out with a pretty good season in my first year and I was able to improve each year and things worked out pretty well for me there.

Q: Did you intend to go pro after graduation or did you consider hanging up your skates and doing something different?

A: I kind of left the door open for any options. Obviously, I wanted to keep playing hockey and my ultimate goal was to try to move on to the next level, so playing pro was definitely a goal of mine…I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do but something I was definitely striving for was to play pro.

Q: How were you recruited to play for the Brahmas?

A: Shortly after I got home after my senior year at school, I was contacted by Forbes MacPherson, who was also from PEI (Prince Edward Island); I didn’t really know a whole lot about the league itself or the team but Forbie was great at selling the Brahmas to me and they made an offer and I was excited to jump on board.

Q: Once you made the trip down to Texas to attend training camp, what was your initial impression of coaches Wildfong and MacPherson?

A: Well, they both have different styles and coaching philosophies I guess you’d say but I liked what they were trying to do. I could tell right from the start that Dan wanted to win and he wanted guys on his team that wanted to win too. We knew right from the start what was expected of us.

Q: You came into a unique situation with the Brahmas having sat out a season in order to move into a new venue and changing the name of the team. Dan and Forbes had to put a team together pretty quickly. You had a lot of veterans coming in as well as a few rookies. Did you all bond pretty quickly?

A: Yeah, you know I think we had a pretty good mix of, like you said, some older veteran guys who have been around the league and we had a good group of young guys too. Dan and Forbes obviously worked really hard; they knew what players they wanted and they did a good job of getting a good mix of guys. I think our team got along pretty well. We all hung around each other a lot. It was tough to come together in such a short time like you said with being a new team and nobody playing on the same team the year before but I think overall, we came together pretty quickly.

Q: Did you find it helpful to have a couple of guys from your hometown there, Coach MacPherson and your teammate Greg McConnell?

A: Yeah, It definitely made it a bit more comfortable knowing that they were there, for sure.

Q: Having played the previous season in Portland, Maine and then coming down to North Richland Hills, Texas, there’s obviously a big difference in the towns, the weather and the people. What were your first impressions of the area and the NYTEX Sports Centre?

A: I didn’t really know what to expect because I’ve never been down south before last year. I have nothing but good things to say about the people, our fans and the way I was treated down there. Everybody was extremely friendly and extremely nice and willing to go out of his or her way to help you out. As far as that goes, I was pleasantly surprised with the hospitality that we received. The weather obviously is an added bonus; we got to do some golfing and stuff. As far as the rink, I like the atmosphere of our rink a lot. It’s not one of the biggest rinks in the league. It’s a rink that other teams don’t want to play at…that’s something we can definitely use to our advantage with the atmosphere that we have in there.

Q: When you say that other teams don’t want to play there, do you think that its because it is such an intimate atmosphere, with the level of the noise and the fan participation, it really affects the other teams’ play?

A: Yeah, for sure. Any time you go into another team’s rink, it’s an intimidating factor that’s going to play a role coming into the game. Our fans are great and it was a great atmosphere. We wanted to make sure that we played hard at home in front of our fans and we wanted to let other teams know that it was going to be a tough place to play in.

Q: How do you feel about your first season pro? You did pretty well; you had 19 points, seven goals, and twelve assists. You played 63 regular season games, twelve in the post-season. All in all you had a very good season for your rookie year.

A: I like to set high goals for myself. My first year was a great learning experience for me. It took a little while to get adjusted to the new style of play and the league itself. Once I got into a routine, I think I did pretty well. I didn’t put up a whole lot of numbers from what I’m used to in the past but I made sure that I played my role effectively and did whatever it took to help the team.

Q: The CHL is a pretty tough-hitting league; I don’t know if it’s rougher than what you experienced playing NCAA. Not being one of the larger forwards in the league, what did you think about the physical play?

A: It’s definitely a very physical league. There are certain teams that are more physical than others obviously and there are a lot of pretty big teams out there. With my size it’s really important that I don’t back down from anything and I make sure that whatever I lack in size, I can make up in other areas, whether it be getting to the puck first or whatever. I make sure that I don’t back down from any opportunities; I definitely have to play bigger than my size.

Q: Did you find it to be an advantage sometimes? You definitely had a speed advantage…

A: Yeah, there are some advantages. I’m not going to lie to you and say I wouldn’t take an extra foot in height or be a little bigger but there are definitely some advantages to it, to be a little quicker or to be underestimated, I guess you would say.

Q: What do you think is the biggest strength that you bring to the organization?

A: I’m a really competitive person so first and foremost I bring a strong work ethic to the team. I think that kind of work ethic, you know, the harder I practice or play in the games, that kind of rubs off on other players.

Q: Did you have any idea that the team could come together so well and as the season progressed, especially after December, that the team was able to accomplish all they did?

A: I knew we had the talent and the team to do it. It was just a matter or whether we could actually come together and put a little run together…once we started to come together in January and things started to fall in place, I think we had a lot of confidence going and we knew we could do some damage and end the season making the playoffs.

Q: Looking back now at the season, was there a particular highlight that you were most fond of?

A: I think the highlight of the year was when we beat Shreveport in the playoffs in four straight. The emotion going into that series was strong; there was a lot of hype going in and we were the underdogs, but we didn’t let that stop us. Finishing them off in four games was one of the highlights of my hockey career thus far and it’s something I’ll definitely remember for a long time.

Q: Can you describe your feelings on the series with Colorado?

A: Obviously it was tough starting out against them. We were still on a pretty big high from the series before and we didn’t start off the series the way that we would have liked. That might have made the difference in the end. But overall, it was tough because we were so close and a few bounces here or there and we would have won one of those games. Going away from the finals was pretty tough to take but I think we played pretty hard and I think we left it all out on the ice and that’s all you can do.

Q: You didn’t play Arizona last season but were you surprised that the Sundogs took the Eagles down so easily?

A: I was little bit surprised for sure. I hadn’t seen them play before. You have to give Arizona a lot of credit for going in to Colorado and beating them twice in their building, something that’s very difficult to do. I like to think that we might’ve wore down Colorado a little bit but momentum’s a big thing in the playoffs and once you get it, it’s tough to get it taken away from you.

Q: What are you personal expectations, coming in to this season?

A: I’m hoping to have a good year. I’m working hard in the off-season so that I come in ready to go once camp starts. Personally, I hope that I can have a break out season. I have a year under my belt now, my first year pro, so I’m kind of hoping to have a break out season.

Q: You’re going to have a different makeup of your team this year. So far the Brahmas have signed a few new forwards, Lance Galbraith from the Idaho Steelheads, Andrew Leach from the Trenton Devils and Pete Rouleau from Michigan Tech. What are your feelings on coming in and playing with some new guys?

A: It’s always tough to bring everyone back from the year before but I think we’ll have a pretty good core back for next season. I’ve heard a lot of good things about the players you mentioned and I’m sure Dan and Forbes have done their homework and are bringing in the right pieces to the puzzle and I’m sure that whoever they bring in is going to fit in fine.

Q: In closing, do you have anything you want to say to the Brahmas fans?

A: I just want to thank them for all their support last year and give thanks for everything they’ve done to go out of their way to help us out. I’m looking forward to next season and hopefully we’ll be able to improve on what we started last year.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Friday, August 8, 2008

Texas Brahmas sign Michigan Tech standout Pete Rouleau
Dynamic forward joins 2008-09 squad

The Texas Brahmas have announced the signing of former Michigan Tech star forward Pete Rouleau. Head Coach Dan Wildfong expects Rouleau will bring great energy to the team.

"It's always good when you can bring in a young player who has proven to be a playmaker. Pete had some great numbers in college and we have the same expectations now that he is a Brahma," said Wildfong.

Rouleau was bought to Wildfong's attention by his former Michigan Tech teammate Tyler Skworchinski.

The 25-year-old, five-foot seven-inch, 165 pound native of Hancock, Michigan skated in 95 games and scored 61 points (19 G, 42 A) over three seasons with the Huskies. He earned the Gary Crosby Award as the team's leading scorer his junior and senior year and won the Huskies' MVP award last season.

Last March, Rouleau signed with the ECHL's Idaho Steelheads but played just one game before being released on waivers. Coach Derek Laxdal said he would have liked to have kept Rouleau on, but players returning to Idaho from it's AHL affiliate Idaho Stars created a lack of space on the roster. Rouleau was then signed by the Pensacola Ice Pilots and played six games, scoring 3 points (1 G, 2 A).

Rouleau spent the 2003-04 season competing for Finlandia University, an NCAA Division III team. He played in 25 games with the Lions and was Findlandia’s leading scorer with 39 points (15 G, 24 A). Prior to that, he played for the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League in 2002-03. In 56 games played, Rouleau recorded 24 points (10 G, 14 A).

In high school, Rouleau led the Hancock Bulldogs in scoring for four consecutive seasons. He was the most valuable player of the Lake Superior Conference three years in a row and All-State his junior and senior years. He played on the 1998-99 State High School Championship team and the 1999-2000 State Runner-Up team. He remains the career point leader with 264 points.

I spoke with Pete Rouleau this evening and he said that he was very excited to be with the Brahmas.

Photo Credit: Michigan Tech