Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Brahmas celebrate on the ice after Scott Sheppard's OT goal

Brahmas win another thriller in overtime!

Bulls defeat the upstart Tulsa Oilers 5-4

For the second night in a row, the Texas Brahmas won in overtime in dramatic fashion. This time it was the Tulsa Oilers who went home in defeat. It was the sixth straight win for the Brahmas and the sixth straight loss for the Oilers. With the win, the Brahmas improved to 30-10-4 and 64 points, leading the Laredo Bucks by 12 points in the Southeast Division and tying the Odessa Jackalopes for first place in the Southern Conference.

The Brahmas have now won 17 of its last 20 games and have finished January with a 12-1-1 record and won its league-high eighth in a row at home and sixth overall. They are now 5-1 in overtime matches this season.

"We are getting lucky right now," Sheppard said of consecutive overtime wins. "We definitely don’t want to keep doing it, though."

There was no scoring and only two penalties (a minor for each squad) in an aggressive first period. Tulsa outshot the Brahmas 11-9 in the first 20 minutes (Tulsa took 11 shots in each period in regulation).

The Oilers' leading scorer, Jeff Christian, took advantage of a double-minor called against Mike Vellinga to open the scoring in the second period. Christian deflected a powerplay shot from Brendon Hodge past David Cacciola at the 3:15 mark to make it 1-0. Michel Beausoleil was also credited with the assist.

The Brahmas answered with a powerplay goal of their own 72 seconds later when Tyler Skworchinski was set up by Nathan Saunders and Jordan Cameron and drove the puck past Kevin St. Pierre to make it 1-1.

Tulsa scored two more times in the period. The first, an even-strength goal at the 10:03 mark was scored by left wing Jake Riddle. Kevin Hansen and Brendan Hodge were credited with the assist.

The next goal came at the 13:08 mark. Center Bobby Reed, who has the distinction of being the only member of the Oilers to play in every game this season, scored the only short-handed goal against the Brahmas this season. Kevin Hansen and Cody Hamilton were in on the assist and the Oilers took a 3-1 lead.

The Brahmas rallied before the end of the period and scored on a powerplay at the 16:28 mark to narrow the Oilers lead to 3-2. This time, it was defenseman Kevin McLeod who found the back of the net with the assist from Grant Jacobsen and Tyler Skworchinski.

The Brahmas led the shot count in the middle period at 17-11.

Scott Sheppard scored his first of the evening 5:43 into the third period to tie the game at 3-3. Jordan Cameron and Pete Rouleau assisted. Grant Jacobsen gave the Brahmas their first lead of the night when he took a feed from Tyler Skworchinski and Kevin McLeod and slapped the puck past Kevin St. Pierre to make it 4-3.

There was still a lot of hockey left to play with 8:31 left in the final period. Brendon Hodge managed to force the game into overtime after beating David Cacciola to get his 16th goal of the season at the 16:42 mark. Kevin Seibel and Jake Riddle were credited with the assist. Once again the Brahmas lead the shot count at 13-11 in the period and 39-33 in regulation.

It only took the Brahmas two shots to win it in overtime. Scott Sheppard’s second goal came at the 3:59 mark, giving the Brahmas their second OT victory in as many nights.

David Cacciola got the win, stopping 32 of 36 shots. His record improved to 9-5-0-1.

The Brahmas were assessed 10 minutes on five penalties. The Oilers were assessed 16 minutes on 8 penalties. The Brahmas went two for seven on the powerplay. The Oilers went one for four.

You can view the box score here

You can view my photos from the game here

The Brahmas will host the Colorado Eagles on Friday, February 6th at the NYTEX Sports Centre. It is the only game scheduled between the two teams during the regular season and is their first meeting since game seven of the Northern Conference finals on April 23rd of last year.

The game begins at 7:05pm and will be broadcast on Nifty-TV but you are nuts if you don't make this one in person.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith
The Insider Preview - Texas Brahmas vs. Tulsa Oilers

It's hockey night in North Richland Hills!

The Texas Brahmas (29-10-4, 62 points) host the Tulsa Oilers (11-25-5, 27 points) tonight at the NYTEX Sports Centre. One can't help but feel sorry for the Oilers who have lost five in a row and now have to face the Brahmas on the road. But hey, you never know. Sometimes the craziest things happen during the season. If the Brahmas still have their legs under them after last night's hard fought victory against the RiverKings, then this game should be no problem.

This will be the first trip to the NYTEX Sports Centre for new Oilers head coach Tony Martino. Martino can expect a warm welcome from the section 303 rowdies tonight. Just a note to you Tony - Nathan Saunders is ready and waiting.

David Cacciola (8-5-0-1) is expected to be in net for the Brahmas. My guess is that Kevin St. Pierre (6-16-4) will get the start for the Oilers.

The top three scorers for the Oilers are Jeff Christian (RW) with 53 points (19 G, 34 A), Michel Beausoleil (RW) with 44 points (13, G, 31 A) and Brendon Hodge (C) with 38 points (15 G, 23 A). On special teams, the Oilers are ranked 14th in the league overall on the powerplay at 14.9% and 13th on the road at 13.4%. On the penalty kill, they are ranked 15th in the league overall at 76.5% and 16th on the road at 74.2%.

The top three scorers for the Brahmas are Scott Sheppard (F) with 50 points (24 G, 26 A), Grant Jacobsen (F) with 44 points (17 G, 27 A) and Jordan Cameron (F) with 41 points (16 G, 25 A). On special teams, the Brahmas are ranked 3rd in the league overall on the powerplay at 21.0% and 5th at home at 20.4%. On the penalty kill, they are ranked 11th in the league overall at 81.3% and 2nd at home at 88.6%.

The Brahmas sat out Marc Belanger last night and Matt Burto the night before, apparently in order to keep the roster at the right number.

The Oilers may be without defensemen Peter Kennedy and Kelly Sickavish and forwards Mike Carmody and Sean Collins.

The game starts at 7:05pm and can be seen on Nifty-TV or you can listen on Internet radio here.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Friday, January 30, 2009

Jason Deitsch celebrates seconds after scoring the game winning goal

Brahmas defeat the RiverKings 3-2 tonight at NYTEX!

Jason Deitsch scores game winner 29 seconds into overtime

The Texas Brahmas provided another thrilling victory tonight in front of a sold out crowd at the NYTEX Sports Centre with a 3-2 overtime win against the Mississippi RiverKings.

With the win, the Brahmas improved to 29-10-4 with 62 points and remain 10 points ahead of the Laredo Bucks in the Southeast Division (Laredo also won, defeating the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees 3-2). The Brahmas have now won 16 of their last 19 games.

David Simoes decides to take on Nathan Saunders four seconds into the game...see why it wasn't a good idea in the photo section

RiverKings defenseman David Simoes and Brahmas enforcer Nathan Saunders had words for each other during the pre-game warm-ups. Whatever was said translated to dropping the gloves four seconds into the game to set the tone for the battle that was to come. Saunders, at 6' 3" and 228 pounds easily took Simoes, wrapping his sweater over his head and laying down the law of NYTEX, if you mess with the bull, you'll get the horns. Both earned five-minute majors for their effort and the sold out crowd loved it.

After Craig Minard was called for hooking at the 4:00 mark, the RiverKings went to work, with Derek Landemesser getting the first goal on the powerplay, assisted by Stephen Margeson, at the 4:44 mark to establish the 1-0 lead.

The Brahmas scored the equalizer at the 16:31 mark, when Matt Quinn took possession of a loose puck and forced it past RiverKings’ goaltender Kevin Beech for his eighth goal of the year. Pete Rouleau was credited with the assist.

The period ended at 1-1. The RiverKings out shot the Brahmas an astounding 18-3 in the period giving an early testament to the night Brett Jaeger would have.

The RiverKings got on the board first again in the second period when Jeff Nelson deflected a pass from Derek Landmesser into the net. Matt Pierce was also in on the assist at the 5:59 mark for the 2-1 lead.

Travis Banga gets the tying goal on the powerplay

It was former RiverKing Travis Banga who tied the game during some four-on-four play after Matt Quinn and David Simoes were sent to the penalty box for getting into a skirmish behind the net. Banga was set up by Craig Minard and Justin Kinnunen and sent the puck flying past Beech at the 16:43 mark. The middle period ended at 2-2 with the RiverKings again dominating the shot count at 15-9.

With a little over three minutes left in the third period, the RiverKings drove to the net and had a centering pass deflect in off a skate giving them what looked like it might be the game-winning goal. As the Mississippi players celebrated and the crowd was hushed, Brett Jaeger was making the kicking motion with his pad, trying to indicate that the puck was kicked in. Referee Ryan Hersey had already allowed the goal but after conferring with the linesman, he overturned his decision, and ruled that it was kicked in. No doubt a controversial call, but nonetheless, one that let the air back into the room and opened the door for another chance for the Brahmas to find a way to win.

The period ended on a Brahmas powerplay after Matt Summers received the only penalty of the period for high-sticking with 18 seconds left. For the third period in a row, the RiverKings outshot the Brahmas, this time 13-6.

It didn't take long, 22 seconds to be exact, before Jason Deitsch was set up by Jordan Cameron and Scott Sheppard and coming in from Beech's left, found the back of the net to give the Brahmas a 3-2 victory.

The RiverKings outshot the Brahmas 46-19 but Brett Jaeger had a stellar performance, stopping 44 for his 21st win of the season. His record now stands at 21-5-4-2.

The Brahmas were assessed 13 minutes on five penalties. The RiverKings were assessed 35 minutes on eight penalties. The Brahmas went two for four on the powerplay; Mississippi went one for three.

The third star went to Mississippi's Derek Landmesser who had a goal and an assist on the night. The second star went to Jason Deitsch for his game-winning goal. The first star went to Brett Jaeger for his performance in the net.

You can view the box score here

You can view my photos from the game here

The Brahmas will host the Tulsa Oilers tonight at the NYTEX Sports Centre. The opening face off is at 7:05pm. Be there or risk missing another example of hometown hockey at its finest!

Photo Credits: Robert Keith
The Insider Preview - Texas Brahmas vs. Mississippi RiverKings

"The Killer" returns to NYTEX

The Texas Brahmas return home after a thrilling victory last night to face their most formidable opponent this season, Kevin Kaminski's Mississippi RiverKings.

The Brahmas (28-10-4, 60 points) defeated Mississippi (25-14-1, 51 points) 4-2 in their first meeting at the NYTEX Sports Centre for the home opener on October 18th. Since then, the Brahmas haven't been able to get much going against the RiverKings, losing three games in a row (7-2, 4-3 SO and 4-1) at the DeSoto Civic Center.

The difference tonight may be the barn as the Brahmas have a 15-3-1 home record and have won seven in a row at NYTEX, undefeated there since losing a 2-1 shootout against the Laredo Bucks on December 6th. Throw in the best fans in the league and the Brahmas have the edge.

Brett Jaeger (20-5-4-2) is expected to be in net tonight against Kevin Beech (20-10-1-2) in a contest between two of the leagues best goaltenders. Jaeger is ranked 2nd in the league with a 2.39 GAA and 4th with a .923 save percentage. Beech is ranked 3rd with a 2.41 GAA and 13th with a .906 save percentage.

The RiverKings three top scorers are Louis Dumont (C) with 40 points (13 G, 27 A), Bobby Chaumont (RW) with 39 points (23 G, 16 A) and Garrett Larson (LW) with 36 points (17 G, 19 A).

On special teams, the RiverKings are 5th in the league overall with a 18.6% powerplay and ranked 10th on the road at 15.9%. On the penalty kill, they are 8th in the league overall at 84.2% and 6th on the road at 83.2%.

The Brahmas top three are Scott Sheppard (F) with 49 points (24 G, 25 A), Grant Jacobsen (F) with 44 points (17 G, 27 A) and Jordan Cameron (F) with 40 points (16 G, 24 A).

On special teams, the Brahmas are 3rd in the league overall with a 20.6% powerplay and are ranked 5th at home at 19.6%. On the penalty kill, they are 12th in the league overall at 81.4% and 1st at home at 89.2%.

The Brahmas may be without forward Matt Burto again tonight. Burto sat out last night's game in Corpus Christi for undisclosed reasons.

The RiverKings may be without forward Dallas Costanzo who has been out on the injured reserve.

The game starts at 7:05pm and can be seen on Nifty-TV if you have a reason not to be at NYTEX tonight. Remember, the first 1,000 fans will receive a free Brahmas cap, courtesy of NYTEX Sports. Also, ZuRoma Sicilian Kitchen will be opening their doors for the first time to Brahmas fans tonight. The new restaurant is located inside the NYTEX Sports Centre and will be open before, during, and after the game with a limited menu.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Texas Brahmas pull off another third period comeback!

Score four goals in the third period for the 4-2 win tonight in Corpus Christi

The Texas Brahmas won with another third period comeback tonight at the American Bank Center, defeating the Corpus Christi IceRays 4-2. After trailing 2-0 to start the period, the Brahmas put up four goals and improved to 28-10-4, becoming the third team to reach 60 points on the season.

It was the third of five meetings between the two teams and for the Brahmas, it was their 700th game after entering the league 11 1/2 years ago.

A high-energy first period was dominated early by the IceRays. Just 28 seconds into the game, the Rays went on the powerplay after drawing a hooking call on Craig Minard. They capitalized on the opportunity 10 seconds before the man advantage expired when Jeremy Leroux and Chris Richards set up a play for Adam Powell, who was able to beat David Cacciola to make it a 1-0 game. It was Powell's first goal since playing the Brahmas at the NYTEX Sports Centre on January 2nd. He scored the first two goals in that IceRays loss.

The Brahmas were held shotless for most of the first half of the period. It was a physical game from the start with the intensity building as time wore on. The IceRays' penalty killers stopped the Brahmas only powerplay of the period and their defense held the Brahmas scoreless after one. Corpus Christi outshot the Brahmas 10-8.

The second period saw the physical contact continue to elevate as both teams fought hard. The IceRays made it a 2-0 game at the 4:55 mark on a beautiful play set up by Bob Rapoza and Mark Tobin. After receiving the puck from Rapoza, Tobin was able to break away from Eric Lundberg and skated right up to Cacciola leaving the puck in front of the crease for Chris Richards who was in stride on his right and able to put it right between Cacciola's legs.

The Brahmas were unable to solve Kris Tebbs, who had 22 saves through two periods. Texas outshot the IceRays 14-9 in the second but once again, were unable to put together any sustained offense.

A telling statistic at this point : This season, the Brahmas were 3-8-0 overall and 1-6-0 on the road when trailing after two periods. The IceRays on the other hand, were 8-0-0 when leading after two periods at the American Bank Center. But once again, statistics meant nothing to the Brahmas, who managed another third period comeback, the third in as many consecutive road games.

Justin Kinnunen, who has been aggressive all night, managed a pair of goals 89 seconds apart to tie the game up. The first goal came at the 2:56 mark on a powerplay with Scott Sheppard assisting. The second came on a rebound at the 4:25 mark with the assist by Sheppard and Travis Banga after all three crowded in front of the crease.

Kinnunen got his third point of the period, and the Brahmas took their first lead of the night at the 12:19 mark. Jason Deitsch had taken a shot from the right circle. The puck bounced off the pads of Tebbs and then after a mad scramble resulting in a rolling puck in the crease, Deitsch was able to get the rebound at the right post, beating Tebbs to make it a 3-2 game. That goal would end up the game-winner as the Brahmas and Cacciola managed to shut down the IceRays for the remainder of the game.

Scott Sheppard put the nail in the coffin with 54 seconds left, scoring on an empty net after Kris Tebbs left in favor of the extra attacker.

Another great win for the Texas Brahmas in a game where they found momentum when it counted most.

Outshooting Corpus Christi in the third period 13-8, the Brahmas won the shot total in the game 35-27.

David Cacciola improved to 8-5-0-1, getting the win after saving 25 of 27 shots faced.

The Brahmas special teams went one for three on the powerplay. The IceRays went one for five. The Brahmas were assessed 10 minutes on 5 infractions. Corpus Christi received 6 minutes on 3 infractions.

Mark Tobin of the IceRays received the third star for his two assists. Scott Sheppard received the second star for his three point (1 G, 2 A) performance and Justin Kinnunen earned the first star for his own three point performance (2 G, 1 A).

You can view the box score

You can read the Corpus Christi Caller-Times' Greg Rajan's article and blog entries on the game here and here

The Brahmas return home tonight to get ready for a pair of home games this weekend at the NYTEX Sports Centre. On Friday night, the Brahmas will host the Mississippi RiverKings. On Saturday night, the Tulsa Oilers come to town.

CHL Player Chat Log - Jordan Cameron

Texas Brahmas star forward answers your questions

Jordan Cameron recently answered questions submitted to the Central Hockey League web site's chat room. Here are the questions submitted by CHL fans and Jordan's answers.

I was told you love tattoos. How many do you have? - Gary in Roanoke, TX

I have four tattoos so far and more to come. My most recent being my daughters name on my ribs. It was done only a week and half ago.

What is it like playing for Dan Wildfong? Are you enjoying wearing a "A" this year? - John in Shreveport, LA

Personally I really enjoy playing for Fonger. We get along really well, and I consider him one of my good friends. Being an assistant captain this year is something new for me. Not yet in my career have I been in this kind of leadership role. It’s definitely something different for me and I am embracing it and just trying to help out however I can in leading this team. For me, most of the leadership I am doing is on the ice. What I mean by that is that I try to lead by example. this is done, I think, by going out there and working as hard as I can every shift. But mostly just never giving up no matter what the outcome or state of the game might be.

Who is the toughest team that you played so far this season? - Kevin in Oklahoma City, OK

I would say the RiverKings. They play a very aggressive game and it makes it hard to get any offense going.

What team in the CHL has the best defence in your opinion? - Colton in Edmond, OK

The Best Offensive D probably the Eagles- their D-men seem to be putting up good numbers. The Best Defensive D would probably be the Blazers since they have the lowest amount of goals against. But as a whole, I have to say our Defense is the Best in the CHL. I believe we have a great balance of skilled and stay at home D. And with one of the lower goals against in the league, I think it might be hard to argue with me.

How is this years team better than last years? - Danny in Arlington, TX

Well I think the fact that we have so many returning guys from last year. Most notably on the back end. Starting with our goalies who both have proved themselves to be legitimate starters. And with five of our six D from last year returning, our systems are already known by those guys, and Dan doesn't have to preach to a whole new D core. I think the forwards are fairly comparable, but now with our new big gun Travis Banga thrown in with Shep and Deitsch, I believe it gives us a more potent first line than last year.

First of all, congrats on all of your success this season, I can't wait to see what you will have in store for the second half of the season! If you had to create a line with your current teammates, who would you like to see as your line mate and why? - Jessica in Roanoke, TX

I think all the guys on this team are great players and I am proud to play with them all. To single out to guys is pretty hard, I’ll say Grant Jacobsen and Kevin McLeod. I enjoy playing with Jake; we have played together a lot over the last year and a half. McLeod you might wonder why I say this but he used to be a forward and was one of the top ones on his team in junior. He has a lot of skill, but I think is afraid to show some of his Chazzle Dazzle!!! He would surprise a lot of people I think.

What is your pregame ritual - Doug in Fort Worth, TX

I am not much of a ritual guy, but I eat chicken alfredo and nap before every game. I also like to play some video games before my nap. At the rink I always kick a soccer ball around with some of the guys to warm up a bit. That's about it. Well I guess it is sort of a ritual to make the guys think I'm not going to be dressed in time for warm up(start getting ready with like 7 or 8 minutes), but I always make it.

What out of town place is the hardest to play at ? - Brionna in Wichita, KS

For sure the Budweiser Events Center. The eagles always have a great team so you know you have to play your best game when you go into that building. Plus if you look at there record in that building, you don't see many numbers in the loss column. But it also is one of the most fun places to go because it is a beautiful building and it is always sold out. The fans get all jacked up to watch the eagles, that makes a special atmosphere.

What is your most memorable moment from last season with the Brahmas? - Janet in N. Richland Hills, TX

For a team moment it would be in the playoffs and sweeping the Mudbugs in four straight games. For a personal memory it would be Sheppard batting the puck out of the air into the net in overtime of game five of the conference finals against the eagles. Thus making it possible for us to take it back to Colorado and force a game seven.

While not playing hockey or practicing, what are some hobbies or activities you do away from the ice? - Valerie in Fort Worth, TX

I am usually at home playing with my daughter who turns 2 in May and hanging out with my wife. But I do enjoy playing video games and have already gave Banga a few bad beatings. Also another reason why I love being in Texas so much is cause on any given day you can usually get in a round of golf!!!!

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Insider Preview – Texas Brahmas vs. Corpus Christi IceRays

Brahmas travel for Inter-divisional match on the Gulf Coast

The Texas Brahmas make their way to Corpus Christi for their third meeting with the IceRays this season at the American Bank Center tomorrow night. The Brahmas won the first two games on December 31 st (5-2) and January 2nd (4-3) at the NYTEX Sports Centre. The Brahmas (27-10-4, 58 points) have won their last three games in a row and are 12-7-3 on the road.

The IceRays (17-9-4, 38 points) are coming off a four-game road trip with three wins (against Rapid City, Rocky Mountain and New Mexico) in a row before suffering a 7-2 loss to the conference-leading Odessa Jackalopes on Tuesday. They are 10-10-0 at home this season. The IceRays are competing for one of the last two playoff berths in the Southern Conference.

The Brahmas' top three scorers remain Scott Sheppard (F) with 46 points (23 G, 23 A), Grant Jacobsen (F) with 44 points (17 G, 27 A) and Jordan Cameron (F) with 40 points (16 G, 24 A).

The top three for the IceRays are Chris Richards (C) with 54 points (23 G, 31 A), Justin Quenneville (C) with 47 points (13 G, 34 A) and Ryan Bennet (RW) with 44 points (21 G, 23 A).

On special teams, the Brahmas are ranked third on the powerplay (20.5%) and 12th on the penalty kill (81.5%). Corpus Christi is ranked 11th in both the powerplay (16.3%) and penalty kill

The Brahmas are expected to be at full strength with Mike Vellinga and Pete Rouleau back on the roster.

The IceRays are expected to be without defensemen T.J. Reynolds (IR) and Jozef Sladok (granted leave by league), forwards Patrick Steinmayr (IR), Brett Connolly (IR) and left wing Jonathan Trottier (IR).

David Cacciola (7-5-0-1) is expected in net for the Brahmas. Kris Tebbs (13-11-3) is the likely choice for the IceRays.

Though not a crucial game for the Brahmas, a victory would bring them back within a point of the Jackalopes and depending on the outcome of the Bucks-Killer Bees contest, anywhere from eight to 12 points ahead of Laredo.

For the IceRays, all remaining games on the schedule are must-wins as they fight an uphill battle for a spot in the playoffs.

Tonight's game will mark former IceRay and current Brahmas Assistant Coach Ron Vogel's first time in the American Bank Center since April 2007. (Thanks to Greg Rajan for that fact)

The game starts at 7:05pm and will be broadcast on Nifty-TV.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mike Vellinga returns this week

Veteran defenseman back after a month on the IR

The Texas Brahmas have announced that veteran defenseman Mike Vellinga will return to the blueline this week. The Chatham, Ontario native last played on December 27th in a home game against the Oklahoma City Blazers. The Brahmas won that game 4-3 in dramatic fashion with Vellinga scoring the first goal on a powerplay.

Vellinga, 30, had minor surgery on his hip but recovered quickly and has been awaiting medical clearance to return to the ice.

In 29 games played this season, he has tallied 14 points (1 G, 13 A) and 16 penalty minutes.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith
Matt Hanson traded to Arizona

Brahmas defenseman to join the Sundogs in Prescott Valley

The Texas Brahmas announce today that they have traded the rights of defenseman Matt Hanson to the Arizona Sundogs for a future consideration.

Hanson, 26, appeared in 41 games for the Southeast Division-leading Brahmas this season, tallying one goal, four assists and 31 penalty minutes before being acquired by Arizona. The 5-foot-11, 215-pound blue-liner recorded a goal and an assist during a three-game set against the Sundogs at Tim's Toyota Center in mid-December.

Other than a two-game stint with the ECHL's Bakersfield Condors last season, the Penticton, British Columbia native has spent his entire professional career in the CHL. In 151 contests with the Wichita Thunder, Youngstown SteelHounds, Tulsa Oilers and Texas Brahmas, Hanson has recorded 48 points (18 G, 30 A) and 123 penalty minutes.

His best pro season came during the 2005-06 campaign while with Wichita and Youngstown, where he set career-highs in goals (11), assists (16), points (27) and PIM (48).

Hanson joins Jason Lawmaster, acquired yesterday from the Tulsa Oilers on the Sundogs' new defensive corps as they make their case for the Southern Conference's fifth and final spot in the playoffs. The two will shore up a defense that includes Jon Landry, Chris Bartolone, Rob Lehtinen, Kyle Hood and Matt Suderman.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith
Longtime friends share ownership in minor league hockey team

Article in focuses on Stuart Fraser and Mike Barack

WestNewsMagazine featured the following article by Warren Mayes about two friends since childhood, who also happen to be owners of the Texas Brahmas. Here is the article in its entirety.

Two good friends from Parkway Central, Mike Barack and Stuart Fraser, who have known each other since the fifth grade, remain tied together after all these years.

They own a minor league hockey franchise. The Texas Brahmas play in a state-of-the-art facility in North Richland Hills, Texas, which is between Fort Worth and Dallas. The Brahmas play in the Central Hockey League, which is two steps from the National Hockey League (NHL), with several players tied to the NHL.

Fraser was the principal owner since he joined Andy Moog in 1998 and has been the majority owner since the 1999-2000 season. Barack joined the ownership group this year and is the general manager and a partner in the ownership group.

The friendship between Fraser and Barack dates back to their meeting in the fifth grade when both of them moved into the Woods Mill Park subdivision. They met attending elementary school in Creve Coeur at River Bend.

"We have been friends ever since," said Fraser, who is 47.

The duo graduated from Parkway Central in 1979 and from the University of Missouri in 1983. Fraser earned a degree in history, while Barack, 48, picked up a broadcast journalism degree. Both also played sports while at Parkway Central.

"I tried to play high school hockey and was an early cut but (I) lettered in tennis," Barack said.

I played a lot of roller hockey but no ice hockey," Fraser said. "I played some tennis in high school and football in junior high."

After college, the two began working in their chosen fields.

Fraser lives in Armonk, N.Y., which is just outside New York City. He works for Cantor Fitzgerald LP and has spent his entire career in the financial business.

Fraser is the vice chairman at Cantor Fitzgerald and has managed the company's fixed income brokerage business for 15 years. Fraser created the first Electronic Trading System for bonds and holds 17 U.S. patents for trading systems and supporting applications.

Barack worked in broadcasting, public relations and sales prior to his position with the Brahmas and previously spent time in the International and American Hockey Leagues in Cincinnati, Salt Lake City, Indianapolis and Springfield, Mass.

Barack also worked for the St. Louis National Football League (NFL) Partnership, the 1994 United States Olympic Festival and the St. Louis Ambush of the National Professional Soccer League. He wrote one record album, "The St. Louis Blues 1980-81 Year of Records" and broadcasted one season with the St. Louis Vipers of Roller Hockey International.

In early 1998, Barack said he was offered a chance to manage a team that was starting from scratch in Fort Worth, Texas.

"I jumped at the opportunity," Barack said. "The team was looking for investors from the start, and based on Stuart's business knowledge from his position as vice chairman at Cantor Fitzgerald, I asked for his advice. The next thing you know we received a check and he has been an owner ever since. I joined the ownership group within the past year."

When Barack went into the business, Fraser said he was a constant "advisor" to him.

"It eventually developed into ownership interest in the Brahmas," Fraser said. "Then it grew into me becoming a majority owner soon afterward. As the team owner, I'm responsible for being the financial backstop, which forces me to take a strong interest in everything we're doing on the ice and off. Mike runs the show, but we both decide on the direction and focus."

Fraser said he did not jump into owning a minor league hockey team as a way toward riches or fame.

"You don't have a minor league hockey team to make your fortune," Fraser said. "However, it is a blast and it is even better when you're working with one of your best friends. The key is to remember that winning is great, but it's more important to give the fans a wonderful experience at a fair price. The hard part is getting people to come check out the games and to appreciate the value it offers for a family night out. Once they do, they typically return, but it's no gimme."

Because Fraser lives in New York, the two "correspond regularly." Barack said Fraser follows the team closely although cannot make it to as many games as he would like. Fraser said he tries to catch at least one Brahmas game a year in person, but with the Central Hockey League (CHL) showing games over the Internet, he is able to watch most of them.

The two said they get back to St. Louis as often as they can.

"My son, Scott, is a freshman at Washington University, so we visit a few times a year," Fraser said. "But I usually get back a couple of times a year. I made the last two Cardinals' World Series in St. Louis and I've been to a couple of Parkway Central reunions and our 30th is coming up this summer. I visited Mizzou a number of times as a member of the Strategic Development Board of the School of Arts & Sciences. And I still have some of my greatest friends living in St. Louis, so it's always great to come home."
Both still follow the local sports teams.

"Stuart and I attended some World Series games in 2004 and 2006, so we follow all the St. Louis teams very closely," Barack said. "The Blues are still dear to my heart. One day the team will win a Stanley Cup and it will be a dream come true. The team currently has some very exciting young players, and unfortunately this season all of the injuries have been devastating."

Fraser agreed.

"I will always be a Blues fan and follow the team today," Fraser said. "(Blues President John Davidson) J.D. lived in my neighborhood in New York and he's a great guy. It's funny that he also lived in Woods Mill Park when he was the Blues' goalie."

The future looks good for their franchise. At press time, they were in first place in their division.
"I'm looking forward to the Brahmas winning the Presidents Cup this spring and growing the success of the franchise with Mike," Fraser said.

That is Barack's dream as well.

"My first goal is to help us win a championship," Barack said. "Just like the Blues, it would be a dream to help manage our franchise to a CHL title. We have all the ingredients this season with a great young coach (Dan Wildfong) who is on his way up."

Photo Credit: Texas Brahmas

Monday, January 26, 2009

Pete Rouleau set to return to action

Standout rookie forward looking forward to return

Out of the action since being granted leave by the league on January 9th, the Texas Brahmas' Pete Rouleau is expected back in action for Friday night's home game against the Mississippi RiverKings.

Rouleau and his wife Maren welcome a baby daughter into the world on January 15th. Kaelyn Marie Rouleau weighed 6 pounds, 14 ounces.

Rouleau has notched 23 points (9 G, 14 A) and 14 penalty minutes in 29 games played this season.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Jordan Cameron about to score the Brahmas' fourth goal against Rio Grande Valley goaltender Christian Boucher

Brahmas defeat Killer Bees, take firm control of the Southeast Division

Win gives Texas 10-point lead over the Laredo Bucks

The Texas Brahmas won their third straight game in a 4-1 victory over the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees on Sunday afternoon at the NYTEX Sports Centre. With their sixth home win in a row, the Brahmas took a 10-point lead over the Laredo Bucks in the Southeast Division and are now just one point behind the Conference leading Odessa Jackalopes.

You can view the box score here

You can view photos from the game here

My day job, other writing commitments and family life are keeping me away from the blogoshere for a day or so. I will be adding my own write up of the game soon as well as a preview of the upcoming Corpus Christi game. I will also be posting some recent interviews. In the meantime, here is William Wilkerson's story from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS — It’s the smallest home arena in the Central Hockey League by nearly 2,500 seats. But the NYTEX Sports Centre has proven itself to be one of the big boys all season.

With Texas Brahmas faithful packed in every nook and cranny, the quaint arena has helped the Brahmas establish the second-best home record in the Central Hockey League. Of course, it helps to have Brett Jaeger in the net, too.

Jaeger, the reigning CHL goalie of the week, improved to 20-5-4 by stopped 34 of 35 shots to help Texas defeat Rio Grande Valley 4-1 on Sunday. It was the Brahmas’ third win in less than 72 hours.

Texas (27-10-4) has won 14 of its last 17 games, with its only home loss during that stretch coming 3-0 at the hands of the Killer Bees (19-17-4) the day after Christmas.

Tyler Skworchinski had two goals and Grant Jacobsen added three assists to help Texas improve to 15-3-1 at home.

"We got in pretty late last night and didn’t have much rest," said Skworchinski. "We came out and got the lead so we didn’t have to press too much."

Skworchinski put the Brahmas up 1-0 at the 11:00 mark of the first period with a deflected even-strength goal off a Kevin McLeod slap shot. McLeod let the puck fly from just outside the top of the left circle and Skworchinski, positioned just outside the crease, bounced the puck in for his 11th goal of the season. It was McLeod’s 15th assist and the 25th assist for Jacobsen.

Texas needed just 6 minutes, 10 seconds to add to its lead. This time Travis Bunga, who was playing against his former team for the first time since coming over in a trade on Jan. 5, found a cutting Jason Deitsch all alone in front of net for his seventh goal in 14 games in a Brahmas uniform.

It took Texas 27 seconds into the second to take 3-0 lead. Again, it was a Skworchinski’s deflection that did it. The Marathon, Ontario, native was again in the right place to finish a shot by Jacobsen. Jordan Cameron also assisted.

Evan Rankin got the Killer Bees on the board 14:22 into the second with the primary assist credited to former Brahma Topher Scott. Matt Burto and Jacobsen assisted on a Cameron goal at the 17:21 mark of the third.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Insider Preview - Texas Brahmas vs. Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees

Chris Brooks looking for 20th win and two-point gain on Laredo

The Texas Brahmas host the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees today for a 3:05pm face-off. The Brahmas are coming off a three-game road trip that took them to opposite ends of the state, losing a 5-4 shootout against the Laredo Bucks and winning consecutive 4-3 contests against the Amarillo Gorillas.

The two teams have met twice this season, splitting shutouts at the NYTEX Sports Centre. The Brahmas won a 2-0 match on December 9th and the Killer Bees won a 3-0 decision on December 26th.

The Brahmas are 14-3-1 at home this season and have a 26-10-4 record overall, including last night's 4-3 road win at Amarillo. At 56 points, they are third in the league and second in the conference, just three points behind the Odessa Jackalopes.

The Killer Bees had a bit of bus trouble (fire) on the way to Shreveport yesterday but made it to CenturyTel where they soundly defeated the Mudbugs 4-1. Their road record is now 6-11-2. With an overall record of 19-16-4, the Bees are chasing the Laredo Bucks and a playoff spot with 23 games left in the regular season.

After a 16-41-7 record last season, the Bees have already shown marked improvement under new head coach Chris Brooks.

The Bees' three top scoring players are Jesse Bennefield (LW) with 43 points (22 G, 21 A), rookie Nicolas Dumoulin (D) with 32 points (11 G, 21 A) and Evan Rankin (RW) with 29 points (14 G, 15 A). Bennefield is on a franchise record 12-game scoring streak.

The Brahmas top three remain Scott Sheppard (F) with 46 points (23 G, 23 A), Grant Jacobsen (F) with 41 points (17 G, 24 A) and Jordan Cameron (F) with 38 points (15 G, 23 A). Jacobsen still holds the highest league shooting percentage at .315.

On special teams the Brahmas are number three overall in the league with a 20.72 percentage and fifth at home with at 20.1%. The Bees are number seven overall with a 17.84 percentage and sixth on the road at 18.1%. The Brahmas are ranked 12th overall on the penalty kill with a 81.18 percentage and third at home at 88.8%. The Bees are just ahead overall at 11th with a 81.92 percentage and ninth on the road at 82.1%.

Wylie Rogers (12-8-2) is expected in the net for Rio Grand Valley. The starter for the Brahmas has not been named, but my money is on Brett Jaeger (19-5-4-2).

The Bees will be without defenseman Jesse Perrin and left wing Trevor Weisgerber, both out on injured reserve.

The Brahmas will be without defenseman Mike Vellinga, out on injured reserve and forward Pete Rouleau, out on personal leave.

An observation by Joy Lindsay on the LMT Bucks Blog: The game between the Brahmas and Killer Bees is kind of a lose-lose situation for the Bucks. If the Brahmas win, they move to 10 points ahead of the Bucks in the standings. But, if the Killer Bees win, they'll be only four points behind the Bucks with a game between the two teams at Dodge Arena looming. And, of course, the Bucks have yet to win at Dodge Arena this season.

The game starts at 3:05pm. The Brahmas will be testing out their own CHL broadcast today on Nifty-TV with Cody Eastwood making his first professional game announcing debut.

Amarillo goalie Mike Gorman dives to block a shot as Scott Sheppard moves in for a possible rebound opportunity

Brahmas make it two in a row in Amarillo

Score three goals in less than three minutes to win 4-3

The Amarillo Gorillas have a new head coach, new sweaters and a new attitude, but none of those factors helped them against the Texas Brahmas this weekend. Although they fought hard and played well, the Gorillas suffered another loss; their eighth in a row (longest losing streak in the CHL this season) after collapsing in the third period tonight in front of 2,789 fans at the Amarillo Civic Center. Amarillo is now 1-2-1 against Texas, with all four games decided by a goal.

With the win, the Brahmas improved to 26-10-4 with 56 points and with a loss by the Laredo Bucks, they now hold an eight-point lead in the Southeast Division.

The Brahmas had two goals refused by officials in the first period. Scott Sheppard found himself with a wide open net after Mike Gorman batted the puck out of mid-air in front of the crease. Sheppard's shot went into the net just after it came off its moorings. Referee Kevin Graber ruled that Gorman had dislodged the net and Sheppard was awarded a penalty shot. Sheppard's shot went wide and flung off the side of the net.

Later, Jason Deitsch got hold of the puck after it hit the broken stick of John Snowden. Deitsch came in on a short-handed breakaway and skated right into Gorman before his shot went into the un-moored net. Deitsch was called for Goalie Interference and served two minutes on the minor instead of getting the score.

The Brahmas did score at the 10:13 mark after Greg McConnell was pushed by a Gorilla defenseman and laid out Mike Gorman in front of the net. Gorman was slow in getting up and without his stick, left the net unguarded just long enough for Jordan Cameron to shoot the puck past him to make it 1-0. Grant Jacobsen was credited with the assist.

Brett Jaeger was perfect in the first 20 minutes, stopping 10 shots. Gorman stopped 8 of 9. The Brahmas went 0 for 1 in their powerplay opportunity. The Gorillas went 0 for 4 on the man-advantage. The Brahmas remain unbeaten this season after leading after one period.

The second period was a defensive battle with few scoring opportunities for each team. The Gorillas managed to tie it up at the 12:08 after John Snowden tipped the puck to Travis Lisabeth at the right circle as a Brahmas defender found himself out of position. Lisabeth rifled his shot past the gloved hand of Brett Jaeger to make it a 1-1 game. Alex Grieg was also in on the assist for the Gorillas.

The Gorillas held the Brahmas scoreless in the middle period for the second night in a row, although the Brahmas outshot them 14-7.

Neither team was able to capitalize on the powerplay through 40 minutes of play. That changed at the start of the third period. The Gorillas had 1:11 left on the man-advantage on an interference call on Tyler Skworchinski. They came out attacking and scored after only 20 seconds. Former Brahma Stuart MacRae got his ninth goal of the season, forcing a deflected puck past Jaeger to give the Gorillas their first lead of the night. John Snowden and Sam Ftorek were in on the assist.

Less than four minutes later, Amarillo scored another powerplay goal after Jake Morrissette made three attempts in front of the crease, successful on the final try to give the Gorillas a two goal lead at the 4:15 mark. This time, Stuart MacRae and Sam Ftorek were in on the assist.

Like last night, the action really intensified in the final period. The Brahmas finally scored a powerplay goal of their own at the 11:12 mark, just 22 seconds into the man-advantage after Amarillo forward Michael Handza was called for elbowing. Kevin McLeod scored the goal with the assist from Nathan Saunders and Travis Banga to make it 3-2.

Less than two minutes later, the Brahmas scored again; this time an even-strength goal by McLeod with the assist from Nathan Saunders and Scott Sheppard at the 13:40 mark to tie it at three.

The Gorillas third period collapse continued just 38 seconds later. Tyler Skworchinski took control of the puck, splitting two Gorillas defenders in the Amarillo zone and skated in on a breakaway, scoring on Gorman to give the Brahmas the 4-3 lead and ultimately the win.

"I was kind of ahead on the play. Somehow I squirted between the two d-men. They ran into each other and I saw an opening on the glove-side," Skworchinski told the Amarillo Globe-News. "Maybe there was a little frustration on their part, I don't know. They battled hard both nights. It could have went either way both nights."

Amarillo could not recover after giving up three consecutive goals in less than three minutes.

The Brahmas had a 18-10 shot advantage in the third period and went 41-27 in the game.

Brett Jaeger earned the win and improved to 19-5-4-2. Mike Gorman was fantastic in goal tonight for Amarillo in the first two periods but took the loss. His record falls to 8-14-1.

The Brahmas were assessed 22 minutes on 11 penalties tonight. Amarillo received 18 minutes on 9 infractions. The Brahmas went 1 for eight on the powerplay. Amarillo went 2 for 10.

Tyler Skworchinski earned the third star for his game-winning goal. Amarillo's Sam Ftorek received the second star for his two assists and Kevin McLeod was awarded the first star for his two third period goals that brought the Brahmas back into the game.

You can view the box score

The Brahmas travel back to North Richland Hills tonight and will prepare for an early game against the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees at the NYTEX Sports Centre. The game starts at 3:05pm. The Brahmas will be testing out their own CHL broadcast on Nifty-TV. Cody Eastwood will be the Brahmas broadcaster in his first ever professional game broadcast.

Photo Credit: Michael Norris / Amarillo Globe-News

Friday, January 23, 2009

Gorillas head coach Brian Pellerin looks on as the Brahmas spoil his home coaching debut

Brahmas win 4-3 in overtime!

Mark Carragher scores two but the bulls provide the seventh loss in a row for the Gorillas

The Texas Brahmas came back from a 2-0 deficit after two periods to score three goals in the third and win the game in overtime at the Amarillo Civic Center tonight. The win marked the Gorillas' seventh loss in a row and Brian Pellerin's first home loss as head coach.

The teams had split wins in their first two meetings this season. The Brahmas won a tough 4-3 game on October 24th and the Gorillas beat them 2-1 in overtime on October 30th.

The Cal Farley Coliseum was filled with the largest crowd of the season with 2,817 fans in attendance thanks to a "Buddy Night" promotion that gave a free ticket for each purchased.

Former Brahma Mark Carragher scored the only goal of the first period, tipping a shot from defenseman Sam Ftorek past his former teammate David Cacciola at the 11:51 mark for the 1-0 lead. John Snowden was credited with the assist. The Brahmas held off the scoreboard in the first, after hitting the post three times and being stopped 13 times by Amarillo goaltender Mike Gorman in the first 20 minutes.

Both teams had several scoring opportunities in the second period but were held off by strong performances in the net by David Cacciola and Mike Gorman. Once again, the only score of the period came from Mark Carragher at the 17:31 mark, this time on the assist from Austin Sutter.

Carragher hadn't scored a goal in 22 games played with the Brahmas this season. His only two-goal performance was in his rookie year, last season against the Wichita Thunder.

Shots were 12-9 in the second period in favor of Amarillo. Shots were even at 22 between the two teams after 40 minutes.

The Gorillas controlled the action in the first five minutes of the third period with Cacciola making five saves to hold off the Amarillo attack. The Brahmas managed to get on the board at the 6:28 mark when Travis Banga and Scott Sheppard set up Justin Kinnunen who took it in the high slot and rifled a wrist shot past Mike Gorman to make it a 2-1 contest.

Less than three minutes later, Travis Banga received a pass from defenseman Nathan Saunders and took a shot from the point that deflected off of the skate of Jason Deitsch. Deitsch took possession and scored at the 9:26 mark to tie it up at two. It was an impressive comeback for the Brahmas, scoring two goals on three shots after having a tough time in the first period.

The action remained fast-paced and physical as both teams fought for the win. The Brahmas were poised for victory after Kevin McLeod scored an unassisted goal on an opportunity shot in front of the crease. The puck wobbled under Gorman’s blocker and into the back of the net, giving the Brahmas their first lead of the game at 3-2 with 1:29 left to play. It looked like the goal might get called back after Amarillo argued that the puck was offside but after consulting with his linemen, Referee Mark Lemelin ruled it good.

Mike Gorman left the ice in favor of an extra attacker with a minute left in the period resulting in nothing short of a miracle goal by Michael Handza with seven seconds left in the game to send it into overtime. After the Gorillas applied pressure in the Brahmas' zone, Sam Ftorek smacked a bouncing puck towards the front of the Brahmas’ net. With just 7.9 seconds remaining in the third, Mike Handza batted the puck out of mid-air and behind Cacciola, tying the game and ultimately sending the game into overtime. The shot count was 15-11 in favor of Amarillo in the third.

A Too Many Men Bench Minor provided a powerplay opportunity for the Brahmas at the 2:57 mark in the overtime period which proved fatal for the Gorillas. Scott Sheppard scored his 23rd goal of the season to win the game just nine seconds into the man-advantage with the assist coming from Jason Deitsch and Jordan Cameron.

The Brahmas improved to 25-10-4 with 54 points, now six points ahead of the Laredo Bucks in the Southeast Division. David Cacciola earned the win, despite a rough night, stopping 35 of 38 shots. His record improved to 7-5-0-1.

The Brahmas were assessed 16 minutes on 8 penalties. Amarillo was assessed 20 minutes on 10 infractions. The Brahmas went 1 for 8 on the powerplay. Amarillo went 0 for 6.

Travis Banga received the third star for his two assists. Scott Sheppard was given the second star for his game-winning goal and an assist and Amarillo's Mark Carragher was given the first star for his two goals on two shots tonight.

You can view the box score

The two teams will go at it again tomorrow night at the Amarillo Civic Center with the opening face-off scheduled for 7:05 PM. You can watch it on Nifty-TV.

Photo Credit: Michael Norris / Amarillo Globe-News

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Insider Preview - Texas Brahmas vs. Amarillo Gorillas

Two-game series expected to be hard fought

The Brahmas head for Amarillo to take on the Gorillas for a two-game series on Friday and Saturday nights. The Brahmas (24-10-4) are coming off a 5-4 shootout loss on the road at Laredo but maintain a four point lead in the Southeast Division.

The Gorillas (10-25-1) have the worst record in the league and at 20 points, sit at the bottom of the Southwest Division rankings. They have lost their last six games in a row. They are however, 14-3-1 at home this season and new head coach Brian Pellerin is looking for his first win in his home coaching debut.

This is the third meeting between the two clubs this season and the third game to be played at the Amarillo Civic Center. The Gorillas have been a formidable foe for the Brahmas thus far. The teams had split wins in their first two meetings. The Brahmas won a tough 4-3 game on October 24th and the Gorillas beat them 2-1 in overtime on October 30th.

The Brahmas will face their former teammate, forward Mark Carragher, who was placed on waivers on January 16th and signed by Amarillo on the 20th. He replaces another former Brahma, Brad Bonello, who left the Gorillas to sign with the Edinburgh Capitals in the British Elite league (EIHL).

Amarillo's top three scorers are defenseman Sam Ftorek with 32 points (12 G, 20 A), center Stuart MacRae with 33 points (8 G, 25 A) and Jake Morrissette with 23 points (9 G, 14 A).

The Brahmas' top three scorers are forwards Scott Sheppard with 43 points (22 G, 21 A), Grant Jacobsen with 40 points (17 G, 23 A) and Jordan Cameron with 36 points (14 G, 22 A).

On special teams, the Brahmas are third in the league on the powerplay at 20.9%. They are ranked 12th on the penalty kill at 81.2%. Amarillo is 16th in the league on the powerplay at 12.6% and 14th on the penalty kill at 77.5%.

Mike Gorman (8-13-0) is expected in net for the Gorillas. David Cacciola (7-5-0-1) will take the ice for the Brahmas.

The Brahmas will be without defenseman Mike Vellinga who remains on the injured reserve. Forward Pete Rouleau remains out on personal leave. Amarillo will be without forward Joe Guenther, also out on injured reserve.

The game starts at 7:05pm and can be seen on Nifty-TV.

Image Credit: Amarillo Gorillas

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Laredo Bucks victorious in "must win" game at home

Sheppard gets hat trick but Bucks mount huge comeback, win in shootout

The Texas Brahmas lost a nail biter tonight against the Bucks at the Laredo Entertainment Center with a final shootout score of 5-4. The win gives the Bucks 48 points, now four points behind the Brahmas who came away with a point tonight.

The Bucks started the game with 15 skaters with All-Star rookie center Darryl Smith out again as well as defensemen Jaye Judd and Steve Weidlich. It was a good defensive showing in the first period with a low shot count through the first 10 minutes. The Bucks looked just a bit sluggish and the Brahmas stayed just a step ahead.

Penalties started mounting for the Bucks with three minors called in the first five minutes giving the Brahmas a couple of early five-on-three opportunities. Terry Ruskowski threw his hands up in the air at one point.

Scott Sheppard capitalized with a powerplay goal at the 4:46 mark with the assist from Grant Jacobsen and Craig Minard. Sheppard's shot from the far circle went right past the stick side of Ryan Gibb and the score was 1-0. It was Sheppard's team-leading 20th goal of the season.

Sheppard scored again just over seven minutes later after taking a pass from Jason Deitsch just after the two skated into the Bucks' zone. His slapshot from the far slot rang loudly as it hit the crossbar and went into the net. Eric Lundberg was also credited with the assist. At the 11:56 mark, it was 2-0 Brahmas.

A bit of a scare came up when Bucks forward Matt Miller collided with Brett Jaeger. Jaeger winced in pain and received a net call from athletic trainer Tom Hart but Jaeger shook it off and continued play.

The Bucks scored on their first powerplay opportunity after a roughing call on Jason Deitsch. Brahmas cleared the puck right off the faceoff, but the Bucks got it back in the zone and Rick Kozak circled around with it, then sent it to Igor Agarunov in front of the net and he was able put it past Jaeger to make it 2-1 at the 17:32 mark. Bobby Russell was also in on the assist.

The Bucks were fired up for the remainder of the period but Jaeger held steady and the period ended with a shot count of 9-6, Laredo advantage.

The second period was highlighted by a third goal from Scott Sheppard, who took advantage of a loose puck after a shot by Grant Jacobsen, rifling it over the shoulder of Ryan Gibb. It was the second consecutive hat trick by a Brahmas player in as many trips to the LEC. A hat trick in less than the first half of the game - fantastic! At the 6:38 mark, the score was now 3-1.

The Brahmas scored again at the 12:43 mark when Tyler Skworchinski took a laser pass from Matt Quinn and deflected it past Gibb to make it 4-1.

The Brahmas only took four shots in the middle period, scoring on two. The Bucks made it interesting with their eighth shot of the game, scoring on the powerplay with 9.8 seconds left in the period. Bobby Russell set it up from behind the net, finding Ryan Salvis who passed it to Matt Miller who got the score.

After two periods, Laredo led in the shot count 17-10 but it was the Brahmas with the lead at 4-2. One of my favorite stats is the fact that the Brahmas have not lost a game this season when leading after the first (14-0) or second periods (17-0), a stat the Bucks would later ruin for me.

The third period was hard-fought but uneventful until the 9:26 mark when Laredo scored again with their third powerplay goal of the night. After trailing 4-1 at one point, the Bucks brought it back within one with Rick Kozak's goal, batted home to the glove side of Brett Jaeger. Adam Rivet and Matt Miller were credited with the assist after all three Bucks players took potshots at the puck in front of the net. The game was now 4-3 Brahmas.

The Bucks, after starting the game with sluggish play, gathered steam like a locomotive and played their best hockey in the third period tonight. They kept up an aggressive attack in the final three minutes with Brett Jaeger making some amazing saves but Jaeger was eventually beaten when Alex Goupil tied it up with 1:33 left in the third, assisted by Jeff Bes and Jason Dixon and the crowd went wild.

Tied at 4-4, the play remained tight for the final 93 seconds. Gibb stopped two shots in the final 20 seconds including a shot in the final second that nearly won it for the Brahmas.

The Bucks once again dominated the shot count, this time 17-5.

You couldn't ask for better action in the third period and into overtime and I must say, young Ryan Gibb was fantastic and saved the game for the Bucks several times. Neither team was able to score in the overtime period with the shots 6-0 Brahmas.

Going into the shootout was a scary proposition for Bucks fans as Gibb was 0-2 in shutouts before tonight but he managed to make four consecutive saves on shots by Deitsch, Sheppard, Cameron and Banga and with two goals by Mike Gooch and Jeff Bes, the game was over.

Laredo managed an amazing comeback to win this one, down 4-1 in the second period, they scored three in a row to tie it up and then win the game in a shootout. The final shot count was telling with a 35-21 advantage for the Bucks.

Gibb gets the win with 17 saves on 21 shots. His record goes to 9-2-2. Brett Jaeger takes the loss, saving 30 of 34. His record is now 18-5-4-2.

The Brahmas were assessed 12 penalty minutes on six infractions. Laredo was given 14 minutes on 7 infractions. The Brahmas went 1 for 7 on the powerplay and the Bucks went 3 for 6.

Alex Goupil received the third star for his game-tying goal. Scott Sheppard got the second star for his hat trick and Mike Gooch received the first star for his game-winning shootout score. Ryan Gibb deserves an honorary star for his play in the final 30 minutes of the game.

You can view the box score here

The Brahmas will head home tonight and will get a day of rest before they head up to Amarillo for a two-game series against the Amarillo Gorillas on Friday and Saturday nights.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Insider Preview - Texas Brahmas vs. Laredo Bucks IV

The Brahmas travel to the Laredo Entertainment Center for a Wednesday night face off

In a huge divisional match-up, the Brahmas and the Bucks meet up for the fourth time this season tonight at the Laredo Entertainment Center. The Brahmas have won two games in a row (4-1, 6-2) against their newest rivals. Game one of the series at NYTEX ended in a 2-1 shootout loss. Obviously, a win by the Brahmas and the seven point lead in the division that would go with it would be priceless at this point in the season.

The Brahmas at 24-10-3 have become the third team in the league to reach the 50-point mark (Colorado 59, Odessa 53) with 51. They are currently five points ahead of the Bucks in the Southeast Division and just two points behind Odessa in the Southern Conference.

All-Star defenseman Justin Kinnunen will be back with the team tonight after being released from his PTO contract by the San Antonio Rampage (AHL). Defenseman Mike Vellinga is still on injured reserve. Not sure if Pete Rouleau will be back for this one.

The Brahmas will have the upper hand at goaltender as Laredo goaltender Sebastien Centomo was granted leave by the league on Monday. He and his wife Amanda welcomed their first child, Jaxson Cruz Centomo at 8am this morning in Oklahoma City. Ryan Gibb (8-2-2) will start in net in his place and Equipment Manager Matt Brayfield will serve as Gibb's backup. It will be Gibb's first start against the Brahmas.

Brett Jaeger (18-5-3) is tied for the number one save percentage in the league (With Oklahoma's Doug Groenestege) at .924. He is tied for number two in wins (with Mississippi's Kevin Beech) and is number three with a 2.36 GAA. Jaeger went 2-0 last week and has won nine of his last 10 games. He has gone 9-1-0 over his last 10 decisions. On Friday night, Jaeger stopped all 37 Arizona shots he faced earning his second shutout of the season. The 5-10, 190-pound goaltender followed that up with a 27 save performance in the Brahmas 6-2 win over Laredo on Saturday night.

The Bucks are 4-5-3 in their last 12 games with three of their four wins coming against Corpus Christi. They are 15-4-1 at home this season which is a good record but they have played some unstable hockey lately and are facing a red hot Brahmas squad that has more weapons than they need to pull off another win at the LEC.

On the positive side for Laredo, All-Star forward Darryl Smith is expected to play on Wednesday night. Smith sat out Saturday's game with a minor injury. He leads all CHL rookies in scoring with 44 points (21 G, 23 A).

Defensemen Steve Weidlich and Devin Featherstone were both banged up in Saturday night's game. Weidlich got his bell rung thanks to a head-on collision with Tyler Skworchinski against the boards. He hasn't attended practice and is doubtful for Wednesday's game. Featherstone received stitches in his mouth after taking a stick in the face but was able to practice.

Center Ryan Salvis and defensemen Jaye Judd and Vincent Zaore-Vanie are all questionable.

After Wednesday's game, the Bucks and Brahmas will meet four more times this season, twice at the LEC, and twice at the NYTEX Sports Centre.

The game should be broadcast on Nifty-TV. If that fails, you can listen on Internet radio here

Photo Credit: Robert Keith