Saturday, February 28, 2009

Brahmas lose again in Bossier City

Fall a point behind the Colorado Eagles in Governor's Cup race, Mississippi gaining

The Texas Brahmas lost their second game in a row against the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs at the CenturyTel Center tonight by a score of 4-2. Despite erasing one goal deficits in the first two periods, the Brahmas special teams were ineffective and a four man defensive unit was unable to halt the Mudbug advance in the third.

With the loss, the Brahmas record goes to 37-13-5 and they remain at 79 points. The Colorado Eagles lost in a shootout with the Mississippi RiverKings but earned a point to re-take the lead in the Governor's Cup race with 80 points. The win was Mississippi's eighth in a row. The RiverKings are now within three points of the Eagles and two points of the Brahmas with 77 points. With their win, the Eagles claimed their sixth Northwest Division title in six seasons as a franchise.

After placing defenseman Danny Force on waivers this morning, the Brahmas (without Justin Kinnunen, Nathan Saunders and Eric Lundberg) tried to make do tonight with Craig Minard, Mike Vellinga, Kevin McLeod and Ross Rouleau, with a little help from forward Tyler Skworchinski. The result showed in the score. Frankly, it could have been worse.

The Brahmas went 0 for 9 on the powerplay against the best penalty killers in the league and their own PK unit (12th in the league) allowed three goals on four powerplays by the Mudbugs.

The first period started out pretty even with the Brahmas and Mudbugs matching shots and playing physical from the get go.

After shutting down two Brahmas powerplays, the Mudbugs scored 36 seconds into their first man advantage after Jason Deitsch was called for holding. Defenseman Simon Mangos shot the puck from the bottom of the circle, finding an open spot between Brett Jaeger’s blocker side and the goalpost to make it 1-0 at the 10:38 mark. J.J. Martin and Chris Brassard were in on the assist.

A bit of a scary moment occurred when Kevin McLeod went down hard in the corner of the Brahmas defensive zone. He lay on the ice for a short time but shook it off and was able to return to play.

Thanks to some sloppy play in the Mudbugs defensive zone, the Brahmas managed to create a turnover and tie up the game with just 57 second left in the period. Brandon Benedict’s cross-ice pass was blocked by a Mudbug defender, but bounced right back to him and he neat Jon Horrell with his second chance to make it 1-1 at the 19:03 mark.

The Brahmas outshot the Mudbugs 10-9 in the first 20 minutes.

The Mudbugs re-took the lead 3:16 into the second during a 5-on-3 powerplay opportunity. Dale Lupul’s centering pass to the front bounced off Tyrel Lucas’ skate and right to Travis Clayton, who fired it past Brett Jaeger to give the ‘Bugs a 2-1 lead.

The Brahmas were able to tied it up again just 32 seconds later when Matt Burto and Kevin McLeod set up the play from the corner that led to Pete Rouleau’s shorthanded goal, making it a 2-2 game. Rouleau’s goal was the Brahmas' league-leading 17th shorthanded goal of the season.

The Brahmas out shot the Mudbugs 17-13 in the middle period but the Mudbugs killed off three straight Texas powerplays to keep the game even after two periods.

The Brahmas began the third period with 59 seconds left on the powerplay but were unable to capitalize once again. The scored the game-winner at the 13:58 mark after Kevin Cooper intercepted a pass from Quade Lightbody in the Brahmas’ zone and then wrapped around the net before sending a pass in the low slot to Joe Blaznek, who sent it in at the top corner on Jaeger’s glove side to make it 3-2.

Blaznek nearly scored again about 30 seconds later but his shot hit the post. Jordan Cameron also had a shot hit the post shortly thereafter.

After a late penalty call on Grant Jacobsen for high-sticking, Neil Clark intercepted a pass at neutral ice and raced in on a breakaway, beating Jaeger with a backhander to mark the 4-2 victory. Chris Brassard was credited with the assist.

The Brahmas outshot the Mudbugs 11 to nine in the final period and 38-31 in the game.

Brett Jaeger saved 27 of 31 shots to take his second loss at CenturyTel this season. His record goes to 25-7-4-2.

The Brahmas served just eight minutes on four infractions, but that was enough to change the course of the game. The Mudbugs were assessed 18 minutes on nine infractions and it didn't change a thing.

The third star of the game went to Brandon Benedict and deservedly so. Benny put up a good fight as usual both offensively and defensively. He scored his third goal in just 10 games as a Texas Brahma. He has nine points thus far. The first and second stars went to Mudbugs, so that's all I'll say about that.

You can view the Box score here

The Brahmas will return home to North Richland Hills to prepare for their next game on Friday, March 6th against the Corpus Christi IceRays at the NYTEX Sports Centre.

Photo Credits: Howard Cooper
The Insider Preview - Texas Brahmas @ Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs

Brahmas on the road for last regular season match-up at CenturyTel

The Texas Brahmas (37-12-5, 79 points) are in Bossier City tonight to take on the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs (33-15-4, 70 points) for the fifth and final meeting between the two clubs at the CenturyTel Center, where the Mudbugs have had the most success (2-2, if you can call that success) against the Brahmas this season.

The 'Bugs won the season opener at home on October 17th by a score of 5-1. They lost the next meeting there on November 29th by the same score. On December 23rd, the Brahmas won 4-3 and then finally, the Mudbugs snapped a six-game losing streak against the Brahmas with a 4-1 win on February 7th. The Brahmas have won six of eight games overall in the I-20 series this season.

The Brahmas are coming off of three straight wins and have won six of their last seven. They are 14-9-4 on the road this season. The Mudbugs are coming off of two losses in a row but have won four of their last six since they last faced the Brahmas. They are 18-7-0 at home this season.

The Mudbugs' top three scorers are Joe Blaznek (F) with 48 points (18 G, 30 A), Dale Lupul (D)with 44 points (12 G, 32 A) and Travis Clayton (F) with 41 points (16 G, 25 A). On Special teams, the Mudbugs are ranked eighth in the league overall on the powerplay at 18.3% and 14th at home at 15.6%. On the penalty kill, Bossier-Shreveport is ranked second in the league overall at 86.1% and first at home at 89.1% (yikes!).

The top three scorers for the Brahmas are Scott Sheppard (F) with 63 points (31 G, 32 A), Jordan Cameron (F) with 54 points (30 G, 24 A) and Grant Jacobsen (F) with 52 points (20 G, 32 A). On special teams, the Brahmas are ranked third in the league overall on the powerplay at 20.42% and third on the road at 20.3%. On the penalty kill, they are ranked 12th in the league overall at 81.2% and 14th on the road at 76.2%.

Both David Cacciola (12-6-1-1) and Brett Jaeger (25-6-4-2) have losses against the Mudbugs at CenturyTel this season. I think Brett Jaeger will get the nod tonight. Jon Horrell (10-3-2-1) is the likely starter for the Mudbugs.

The Brahmas waived defenseman Dan Force today. Defenseman Nathan Saunders was placed on a two game league suspension for leaving the bench to fight last night against the Amarillo Gorillas. They will be without forward Travis Banga tonight. Forward Matt Quinn and defenseman Eric Lundberg have been practicing, but neither are expected to start.

The Mudbugs will be without forward Evgeny Saidachev, center Brett Smith and defenseman Clay Thoring who are out on injured reserve.

Note: Bossier-Shreveport’s Chris Brassard needs just four points to become the 20th player in CHL history to hit the 500-point plateau. In his career, Brassard has scored 190 goals with 306 assists in 508 games played. Let's hope he doesn't get those points tonight.

Massey Ratings says the Mudbugs will win tonight. Let's hope they're wrong.

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

Photo Credit: Robert Keith
Jason Deitsch catches Amarillo goaltender A.J. Bucchino out of position and takes the shot

Brahmas win 14th in a row at NYTEX!

Defeat the Amarillo Gorillas 5-3

The Texas Brahmas proved they just can't be stopped at home as they won their 14th straight game in front of a sold out crowd of 2,369 at the NYTEX Sports Centre, defeating the Amarillo Gorillas 5-3. The Brahmas have not lost a home game since December 26th (3-0 versus the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees). Before that they had not lost at home since December 6th (2-1 shootout against the Laredo Bucks). Their home record is now a league best 23-3-1. Their overall record improved to 37-12-5.

The Brahmas would get on the board first when Scott Sheppard received a drop pass from Jason Deitsch and wristed the puck by Amarillo goaltender A.J. Bucchino from the slot, giving the Brahmas an early 1-0 lead at the 3:17 mark. Brandon benedict was also in on the assist.

Deitsch would score next, with the Brahmas on a 5-on-3 powerplay. After taking a cross-crease pass from Jordan Cameron, Deitsch beat defender Sam Ftorek and fed the puck past an out of position Bucchino to make it 2-0 at the 7:38 mark.

The Brahmas outshot the Gorillas 11-7 in the period.

With the Brahmas leading 2-0 to begin the middle period, Amarillo would battle back to within one with thier first goal coming at the 8:11 mark. Gorilla's defenseman Jamie McKinven took a shot from the right point, with center Stuart MacRae tipping it past David Cacciola to make it a 2-1 game. Joe Guenther was also credited with the assist.

Scott Sheppard scores his second of the game on the powerplay

After Gorilla's defenseman Alex Grieg was called for tripping, the Brahmas rallied with a powerplay goal from Scott Sheppard at the 16:27 mark, on assists from Jason Deitsch and Jordan Cameron. The score was now 3-1.

Matt Burto watches his first of two goals in the making

Matt Burto would follow with another Brahmas less than two minutes later, after tipping a feed from Pete Rouleau past Bucchino to take a 4-1 lead.
The Gorillas would battle back before the period was over. John Snowden took a pass from Stuart MacRae and broke in on Cacciola. Despite losing the puck off the front of his stick, the puck's inertia carried it past the Brahmas' netminder and behind the goal line at the 19:05 mark to make it 4-2.

Amarillo led the shot count in the second period at 13-9.

The Gorillas would close to within a goal at the 8:32 mark of the third period, when former Brahmas forward Mark Carragher beat a screened Cacciola for his fifth goal of the season.

Just over a minute later, the Gorillas received their fifth power play of the night on a Kevin McLeod cross-checking minor. The man-advantage would work against Amarillo, however, when Matt Burto scored a short-handed goal off a feed from Tyler Skworchinski at the 10:17 mark. It was the Brahmas' league-leading 16th short-handed goal of the season and the score was now 5-3.

Nathan Saunders motions to Amarillo defenseman James Jernberg that he's ready to go again

The Gorillas' frustration grew until things reached a boiling point at the 11:20 mark, when a melee broke out near the Brahmas bench. Nine penalties were called as a result, four coming on Brahmas enforcer Nathan Saunders (five minute fighting major, 10 minute fighting (instigator) misconduct, 10 minute leaving the bench game misconduct, two minute fighting (instigator)) who alledgedly left the bench to go off on Amarillo defenseman James Jernberg. He was ejected after the smoke cleared. Jason Deitsch and Grant Jacobsen were each given minors for roughing. Jernberg received a five minute fighting major. Jonathan Ornelas and Gordon Bell each received minors for roughing.

Despite the resulting 5-on-3 power play, the Gorillas failed to get on the scoreboard once again.

The game ended with the Gorillas outshooting the Brahmas 12-10 in the third and 32-30 in the game but leaving with their fifth road loss in a row.

David Cacciola stopped 29 of 32 shots for his 12th win of the season. His record stands at 12-6-1-1.

The Brahmas went 2 for 6 on the powerplay. Amarillo went 0 for 5. The Brahmas ended up with 41 penalty minutes on 11 infractions. Amarillo tallied 23 minutes on 10 infractions.

First Star: Matt Burto

Second Star: Scott Sheppard

Third Star: Jason Deitsch

You can view the box score
here

You can view photos from the game here

The Brahmas travel to Bossier City to take on the Mudbugs tonight at the CenturyTel Center. The game is set for 7:05pm and can be viewed on Nifty-TV.

Photo Credits: Robert Keith

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Insider Preview - Texas Brahmas vs. Amarillo Gorillas

Brahmas seek 14th home win tonight

The Texas Brahmas (36-12-5, 77 points) host the Amarillo Gorillas (15-33-3, 33 points) tonight at the NYTEX Sports Center. The Brahmas have won 13 in a row at NYTEX and will try to keep the league best home streak alive with a win tonight. The Gorillas, with the worst record in the league are 7-17-1 on the road, but have given the Brahmas trouble in each game played this season. This will be their first and only visit to NYTEX this season.

The Brahmas have played the Gorilla's four times this season and won three of those games, all by a score of 4-3. Their only defeat took place on October 30th in a 2-1 overtime loss. It is notable that all the games were decided by a point.

Tonight marks the return of two former Brahmas to NYTEX since being released this season. They are forward Mark Carragher and defenseman Alex Grieg.

The Gorillas' top three scorers are Sam Ftorek (D) with 53 points (16 G, 37 A), Stuart MacRae (C) with 48 points (16 G, 32 A) and Jake Morissette (C) with 41 points (20 G, 21 A). On Special teams, the Rays are ranked 15th in the league overall on the powerplay at 14.5% and 15th on the road at 13.9%. On the penalty kill, Corpus Christi is ranked 13th in the league overall at 77.4% and 12th on the road at 78.4%.

Sam Ftorek (D) is the danger man today, having scored seven points (1 G, 6 A) against the Brahmas this season. In the last 10 games, he has put up 12 points (3 G, 9 A). He has scored 25 points on the road this season (7 G, 18 A).

The top three scorers for the Brahmas are Scott Sheppard (F) with 60 points (29 G, 31 A), Grant Jacobsen (F) with 52 points (20 G, 32 A) and Jordan Cameron (F) with 52 points (20 G, 32 A). On special teams, the Brahmas are ranked third in the league overall on the powerplay at 20.2% and fifth at home at 20.1%. On the penalty kill, they are ranked 12th in the league overall at 81% and fourth at home at 86.5%.

Kevin McLeod (D) is the man to watch for the Brahmas. In the last 10 games, Marv has scored 16 points (6 G, 10 A) and is a +8. He has scored five points (3 G, 2 A) against the Gorillas this season and is a +1 against them. Scott Sheppard leads the home guard this season, having scored 32 points (11 G, 21 A) at NYTEX.

Brett Jaeger is back but I think David Cacciola (11-6-1) will get the start for the Brahmas. I'm guessing Mike Gorman (8-14-1) will be in net for Amarillo. If not, A.J. Bucchino (5-11-2) will get the nod.

The Brahmas will be without forward Travis Banga may be without defenseman Eric Lundberg. Forward Matt Quinn practiced today but may be a game time decision. The Gorillas appear to be healthy and at full strength.

Massey Ratings shows the Brahmas as the likely winner today - let's hope they're right!

The game begins at 7:05pm and is a sellout. Get there early as the parking lots will be crowded! Also, tonight is puck night at the NYTEX Sports Centre. The first 1,000 ticketed fans will receive a free Texas Brahmas puck.

Image Credit: Amarillo Gorillas
Texas Brahmas host meet and greet at Hooters

Food, fun and broomball

The Texas Brahmas were out in force tonight at the Hooters on Highway 26 in North Richland Hills. Fans participated in a game of broomball in the parking lot and also enjoyed food and quality time with the players. All-Star defenseman Justin Kinnunen made an appearance while on a break from the San Antonio Rampage, who are off this week.

Photo Credit: Walt Tenery

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Scott Sheppard battles Chris Green for control of the puck

Brahmas win big in Corpus Christi

Defeat IceRays 6-3, overtake the Eagles in points race for Governor’s Cup

In front of a “Kids Day” crowd of nearly 4,000 at the AmericanBank Center, the Texas Brahmas defeated the Corpus Christi IceRays in a physical, late-morning game.

Although the Rays put up a good effort through two periods, the Brahmas pulled off another of their third period runs, outscoring Corpus Christi 4-1 in the final period. In four games this season, the Brahmas have outscored the IceRays 12-2. Dan Wildfong’s record against the IceRays as a coach is now 8-0.

"They play us hard every time we play them,” Wildfong told The Corpus Christi Caller-Times’ Greg Rajan. It's not an easy game by any means. We just stuck with it. We have three pretty deep lines and when you keep going to the net and keep shooting, things are gong to happen."

Rajan sums up the Brahmas this way in his blog,
In the Crease:

“Pencil the Brahmas into the finals. No team in the South will beat them in a playoff series.”

The win puts the Brahmas at the top of the league in points at 77; a lead they hold at least until we know the outcome of the Colorado Eagles game against the Tulsa Oilers tonight. In addition, the Brahmas now have a seven point lead over the Odessa Jackalopes in the race for the Southern Conference title. The Brahmas already have a reasonable lock on the Southeast Division title with a 15 point lead over the Laredo Bucks.

The Brahmas capitalized on the first IceRays penalty (on Chris Richards for tripping) of the game when Grant Jacobsen scored on Kris Tebbs with 38 seconds left in the man-advantage. Pete Rouleau and Kevin McLeod were in on the assist. The score was 1-0 at the 9:09 mark.

Corpus Christi fired back less than four minutes later on a powerplay of their own when Jeremy Leroux beat David Cacciola to tie it up at the 13:08 mark. Ryan Bennett and John Adams were credited with the assist.

The IceRays outshot the Brahmas 19-9 in the first 20 minutes.

Corpus Christi scored first in the second period on another powerplay opportunity after Grant Jacobsen was called for high sticking. This time, it was Justin Quenneville who beat Cacciola with the assist from Curtis Huppe and Ryan Crane at the 3:59 mark.

Greg McConnell got the equalizer on an even-strength goal, re-directing the puck over the gloved hand of Kris Tebbs at the 17:41 mark with an assist from Jordan Cameron.

The Brahmas outshot the Rays 11-7 in the middle period but Corpus Christi had the shot lead at 26-20 through 40 minutes. The score was tied, 2-2.

The Brahmas took control in the third period, scoring three goals in less than five minutes. They began on their first powerplay opportunity of the period after Adam Powell was called for interference. It only took 47 seconds for Jordan Cameron to beat Kris Tebbs after receiving a pass from Grant Jacobsen and Mike Vellinga. The Brahmas had the 3-2 lead at the 5:48 mark.

Less than four minutes later, the Brahmas extended their lead by two goals when Kevin McLeod scored on Tebbs with the assist from Jason Deitsch and Scott Sheppard at the 9:34 mark.

Jordan Cameron put the nail in the IceRays’ coffin with his second goal of the period, an even-strength effort with a little help from Greg McConnell and Grant Jacobsen. The goal accounted for the third point for both Cameron and Jacobsen in the game. At the 10:40 mark, it was a 5-2 game.

Corpus Christi’s Adam Powell managed a late goal at the 18:57 mark, assisted by Ryan Bennett and Chris Richards to make it 5-3 but Grant Jacobsen and Jordan Cameron connected again 28 seconds later to put the icing on the cake with Jacobsen’s second goal and fourth point of the game at the 19:25 mark. Jacobsen and Jordan combined for four points each on two goals and two assists each in the game; three points each in the third period alone.

The Brahmas outshot the Rays 12-8 in the final period but Corpus Christi led the shot count in the game by two at 34-32.

David Cacciola saved 31 of 34 shots to get his second win in a row. His record goes to 11-6-1-1.

The Brahmas went 2 for 4 on the powerplay. Corpus Christi went 1 for 7. The Brahmas were assessed 16 minutes on 8 minors. The IceRays were assessed 10 minutes on 5 infractions.

The third star was awarded to Greg McConnell for a goal and an assist. The second star went to Grant Jacobsen for two goals and two assists. The first star went to Jordan Cameron, also for two goals and two assists.

You can view the box score
here

The Brahmas will return to base in North Richland Hills today and get ready to prepare for Friday night’s game at home against the Amarillo Gorillas. The game will feature the return of former Brahmas Mark Carragher for the first time since he was placed on waivers on January 16th. After 13 straight wins at NYTEX, the Gorillas will see if they have what it takes to stop the running of the bulls.

It is also Puck Night at the NYTEX Sports Centre. The first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive a Texas Brahmas puck.

Photo Credit: Michael Zamora
Insider Preview - Texas Brahmas @ Corpus Christi IceRays

Brahmas lead the series 3-0

The Texas Brahmas (35-12-5, 75 points) travelled on Monday to Corpus Christi where they will take on the IceRays (22-26-4, 48 points) later this morning at the AmericanBank Center. The Game will mark the first meeting between the Brahmas and a Brent Hughes coached team since the final game of the 2007/08 season when the Austin Ice Bats won a 4-1 match at the Chaparral Ice Arena.

Hughes, who was named head coach of the Rays on February 17th after rookie coach Sylvain Cloutier was dismissed, went 1-1 in his first two games this past weekend. The Rays defeated the Oklahoma City Blazers on Friday night (2-1) but lost to the New Mexico Scorpions on Saturday night (5-3). They are 13-14-1 at home this season.

The Rays are still in the hunt for the fifth and final playoff berth in the Southern Conference, trading places frequently with the Arizona Sundogs for the position in the standings. They currently have a one point lead.

The Brahmas are coming off a 5-3 win over the Oklahoma City Blazers on Sunday. They have beaten the IceRays three times this season; twice at the NYTEX Sports Center and once at the AmericanBank Center. They are 13-9-4 on the road this season.

If the Brahmas win and the Colorado Eagles lose on the road against the Tulsa Oilers (the Oilers lead the series 2-1) tonight, they will take the first place position in the race for the Governor's Cup. The Brahmas can take a seven point lead in the Southern Conference with a win this morning and a loss by Odessa tonight against the Mississippi RiverKings.

IceRays' top three scorers are Chris Richards (C) with 65 points (26 G, 39 A), Justin Quenneville(C) with 57 points (16 G, 41 A) and Ryan Bennett (RW) with 50 points (22 G, 28 A). On Special teams, the Rays are ranked 11th in the league overall on the powerplay at 16.1% and 9th at home at 17.7%. On the penalty kill, Corpus Christi is ranked 11th in the league overall at 81.6% and 11th at home at 82.2%.

Adam Powell (LW) is the danger man today, having scored four points (4 G, 0 A) against the Brahmas this season. Watch also for Justin Quenneville (C). In the last 10 games, he has put up 10 points (3 G, 7 A) and is a +2. He has scored 30 points at home this season (8 G, 22 A).

The top three scorers for the Brahmas are Scott Sheppard (F) with 59 points (29 G, 30 A), Grant Jacobsen (F) with 48 points (18 G, 30 A) and Jordan Cameron (F) with 48 points (18 G, 30 A). On special teams, the Brahmas are ranked third in the league overall on the powerplay at 19.9% and fourth on the road at 19.7%. On the penalty kill, they are ranked 12th in the league overall at 80.9% and 14th on the road at 75.9%.

Scott Sheppard is the man to watch for the Brahmas. In the last 10 games, Shep has scored 10 points (5 G, 5 A) and is a +2. He has scored six points (3 G, 3 A) against the Rays this season and is a +3 against them. Sheppard is the lead road warrior this season, having scored 27 points (18 G, 9 A) while travelling. Keep an eye on Kevin McLeod also. McLeod has scored 14 points (5 G, 9 A) and is a +8 in the last 10 games.

David Cacciola (10-6-1) will get the start for the Brahmas. Kris Tebbs (18-17-3) will be in the net for Corpus Christi.

The Brahmas will be without forward Matt Quinn and defenseman Eric Lundberg. The IceRays will be without forwards Patrick Steinmayr and Brett Connolly, left wings Mark Tobin and Jonathan Trottier and defenseman Jozef Sladok.

Massey Ratings shows the Brahmas as the likely winner today - let's hope they're right!

The game begins at 11:00am this morning and will be broadcast on Nifty-TV.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Monday, February 23, 2009

Jason Deitsch named Oakley/CHL Player of the Week

Texas Brahmas star forward honored by league

The Central Hockey League announced today that Jason Deitsch has been named the Oakley/CHL Player of the Week for the period ending Feb 22nd.

Deitsch scored five goals with three assists during the Brahmas three games last week and had a +6 rating. Two of his goals served as game winners for the Brahmas, who have taken a firm grip of the Southeast Division, leading the Laredo Bucks by 13 points.

"Jason played really well this week when we needed him most," said Brahmas Head Coach Dan Wildfong. "As the regular season comes to a close, we will continue to look to him for his leadership and playmaking skills."

The Cincinnati, Ohio native started the week in style with four points (2 G, 2 A) and a +4 rating in the Brahmas showdown with Bucks (a 5-2 Brahmas win). He then scored a goal in Saturday’s shootout loss to Odessa and had two goals and an assist in the Brahmas win on Sunday versus the Oklahoma City Blazers.

On the season, the 6', 0", 195-pound forward has 16 goals and 18 assists in 24 games played with the Brahmas. He has also played in 28 games with the AHL’s Houston Aeros, totaling 15 points (4 G, 11 A).

Photo Credit: Robert Keith
Insider Behind the Scenes with...Tom Hart

Athletic Trainer

Tom Hart is in his first full season as athletic trainer for the Texas Brahmas. Along with coaches Dan Wildfong, Ron Vogel and equipment manager Philip Shipp, Hart is a regular fixture behind the Brahmas bench on game day.

I thought it would be a good idea to speak with Tom and learn a little bit more about him and his duties with the team. Here is our conversation.
Q: How did you happen to come on board with the Brahmas?

A: Well, it was kind of by accident. I was doing a lot of contract athletic training for a friend of mine that works for Baylor Sports Care last year. When Alan Reid, who was the Brahmas trainer last year, interviewed and took a job with FC Dallas, the Brahmas had ended up going farther in the playoffs than anticipated and so when he had to leave, they were without a trainer. My friend Bill Borowski with Baylor knew that I had worked with junior hockey in Omaha for 10, 15 years. When Alan asked him if they knew anybody that could cover for him, he said, yeah, I know exactly the guy. So they called me and I was on board in about 24 hours. That’s how I got started last year.

Q: What is your background in sports medicine?

A: I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Doane College, a small private college in Nebraska. I went to graduate school down in Alabama at a school called the United States Sports Academy, and I spent a year at the University of Wisconsin -Whitewater, a Division III school, where I had an internship. So, I got my Master’s in Athletic Training/Sports Medicine.

Q: You came on board with the Brahmas at a pretty exciting time. How did it feel, to all of a sudden be in the middle of a playoff run with a championship caliber team?

A: It was pretty different because I didn’t know a lot about them. My wife and I had read about them, and had thought about maybe coming over to a game or two. So when they called, I thought it would be interesting. It was right in the middle of the series with Bossier-Shreveport and I had no idea about the rivalry between the two teams. The first two games I worked were games three and four of that series. It kind of reminded me of my days in juniors, with the Omaha-Des Moines, Omaha-Sioux City rivalries. I got a taste of that and then we went to Colorado, which was a pretty intense series. I kind of got thrown right into the fire, but it was pretty interesting and I really enjoyed it.

Q: The Brahmas have built upon their success of last season and are actually doing better this year. There’s another playoff run coming and the hope of making it to the championship series. How does it feel being a part of a successful hockey club like this?

A: Interestingly enough, the junior team that I worked with in Omaha never had a losing season. We only missed the playoffs once and we won a couple of national championships and various league championships, so it was nice for me to step in to a team that was really doing well because that’s really all I have been used to. I mean, fortunately I’ve never had to train, with hockey anyway, for a team that wasn’t successful. It helped me out. I think I was able to help them out a little bit with my experience. Obviously, as a professional team versus the amateur teams, it’s a little bit different. You have to handle the guys a little bit differently. All in all, they’re just hockey players. They’re pretty good guys. They’ve really treated me well since I’ve been here.

Q: For those who may not understand the scope of what your job is, can you, in a nutshell, break down your responsibilities as the team’s athletic trainer?

A: We always talk about the fact that our biggest job is the prevention of injuries and that all comes back to helping Dan and Ron and the coaching staff with some ideas as far as stretching, flexibility, conditioning, proper rest, proper nutrition, proper hydration; all of those things. If we can prevent the injury before it happens, we don’t have to deal with it.

But, there are things that happen on the ice; the bumps and bruises and flying pucks and flying fists…those things we can’t really prevent but we manage those injuries and help the guys get through that injury. Dr. Millican, Geoff Millican, our orthopedic guy that helps us out, is a really good resource for us. So, it’s mainly just managing those kinds of things; getting the player to the proper person to help them get rehabilitated through whatever that injury might be – sprains, strains, broken bones, fractures, things like that.


Once they’re able to get back on the ice, we try to get them back in physical condition, and just make sure it’s safe for them to come back from injuries. We try to help educate them on what their injury is; also a little bedside psychology, I guess you might say, to help them to cope with different things. That’s pretty much the scope of what I do.

Q: In your career, what’s been the worst on-ice injury you’ve had to contend with?

A: Probably the most serious on-ice injury I’ve had to deal with was actually a player from an opposing team. This was back several years ago, back when touch-icing was still the norm, and two guys were racing for a puck and got tangled up. He went feet first into the boards at full speed and actually fractured his femur, the big thigh bone; just snapped it in two. I’ve seen a lot of pretty serious face cuts, some pretty significant eye injuries from high sticks, things of that nature. No real bad concussions or really worrisome things.

Q: With the success of the team this season, how excited are you about the possibility of making it to the championship series?

A: I think it would be fantastic. Watching Dan and Ron put the team together this summer and knowing some of the guys that were coming back and meeting the new guys that are coming in…it’s been a really interesting process to watch this team come together and the additions we’ve made. You know, the veteran leadership that we have…it’s really, really just a good bunch of guys. It really is and they work hard. Dan works them hard and they buy into it. It’s really gratifying to watch them…the camaraderie and the behind the scenes things on the bus and in the locker room. They’re putting the effort into it, and in my opinion, they deserve everything they’re getting.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Brahmas celebrate Kevin McLeod's third period powerplay goal

Brahmas defeat the Blazers 5-3!

Three powerplay goals highlight 13th straight home win

The Texas Brahmas defeated the Oklahoma City Blazers in a penalty-filled slug fest at the NYTEX Sports Center today. With the win, the Brahmas moved within a point of the Colorado Eagles in the race for the Governors Cup. The win also put the Brahmas up five points over the Odessa Jackalopes (Thanks to their loss to the New Mexico Scorpions today) in the race for the Conference Championship.

I'll have more later including some fantastic photos!

In the meantime, you can view the box score here

Photo Credit: Robert Keith
Insider Preview - Oklahoma City Blazers @ Texas Brahmas

Final regular season meeting between the two teams today at NYTEX

The Texas Brahmas (34-12-5, 73 points) host the Oklahoma City Blazers (30-14-6, 66 points) this afternoon at the NYTEX Sports Centre. The Brahmas are coming off a hard-fought road shootout loss last night against the Odessa Jackalopes. A win today would deliver the Brahmas to within one point of the Colorado Eagles (who don't play today) in the hunt for the Governor's Cup.

The Blazers are coming off a 3-2 road win against the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees at the Dodge Arena last night. They are still looking to clinch a playoff berth, following The Mississippi RiverKings and the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs, who have already done so. Knowing the Walrus, he expects a win today.

The Blazers have won four of six games played between the two teams this season; three at the Ford Center and one at NYTEX. The Brahmas have won two; one at home on December 27th and one at the Ford Center (in OT) on January 7th. This will be their final meeting in the regular season.

The Blazers' top three scorers are Bill Vandermeer (RW) with 49 points (22 G, 27 A), Brian Passmore (C) with 39 points (16 G, 23 A) and D.J. Jelitto (LW) with 38 points (20 G, 18 A). On Special teams, the Blazers are ranked 10th in the league overall on the powerplay at 17.1% and 10th on the road at 15.8%. On the penalty kill, Oklahoma City is ranked first in the league overall at 86.8% and first on the road at 89%.

Jeff MacDermid (C) is the danger man today, having scored nine points (2 G, 7 A) and is a +3 against the Brahmas this season. Simon Lambert (RW) and Chad Hinz (F) have each scored eight points (4 G, 4 A for Lambert +4, 1 G, 7 A for Hinz +1). But watch out for D.J. Jelitto. In the last 10 games, he has put up 11 points (6 G, 5 A) and is a +8. He has scored 23 points on the road this season (11 G, 12 A) and is a +10 when traveling.

The top three scorers for the Brahmas are Scott Sheppard (F) with 58 points (29 G, 29 A), Grant Jacobsen (F) with 48 points (18 G, 30 A) and Jordan Cameron (F) with 46 points (17 G, 29 A). On special teams, the Brahmas are ranked third in the league overall on the powerplay at 19.5% and fifth at home at 19.4%. On the penalty kill, they are ranked 12th in the league overall at 81% and fourth at home at 87.1%.

Scott Sheppard is the man to watch for the Brahmas. His overtime goal gave the Brahmas their last victory against the Blazers. In the last 10 games, Shep has scored 11 points (6 G, 5 A) and is a +5. He has scored seven points (4 G, 3 A) against the Blazers this season and is a +2 against them. Sheppard and Grant Jacobsen are leaders of the home guard this season, each having scored 31 points (11 G, 20 A) at NYTEX. Sheppard is a +14 at home and Jacobsen is a +13.

I expect Doug Groenestege (17-5-3-2) will get the start in net for the Blazers. He has won three of his last five starts, including the 4-2 win over the Brahmas on February 10th. Groenestege has proven to be a consistently high caliber goalie and leads the league with a 2.04 GAA. He is fourth in the league with a .922 save percentage.

David Cacciola has three losses in three starts against OKC but will get the start today with Brett Jaeger out on a personal matter. Watch for Cody Daniel, the Brahmas' new relief goalie, who will be on the bench today.

The Brahmas will be without forward Matt Quinn and defenseman Eric Lundberg. Oklahoma City is healthy and expected to be at full strength.

Massey Ratings shows the Brahmas as the likely winner today - let's hope they're right!

The game starts at 3:05pm and can be seen on Nifty-TV. You can listen to it on Internet radio here

Oklahoma City fans will be making the trip to NYTEX via the Heartland Flyer train and buses from Fort Worth to NYTEX. They will occupy two complete sections at the rink in the end where the Blazers shoot twice. After the game, they will have dinner with the Blazers players and coaches at Zuroma before returning to Fort Worth for the train ride home. Not sure how many OKC fans are coming, but it should create a fun atmosphere as we haven't had a large group of opposing fans (except for Mudbug fans) this season.

According to the Brahmas' website, there will be another game worn jersey auction after today's game. This is the first I've heard of it - that's all I can say about that.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Playoff bound!

Despite loss in Odessa, Brahmas clinch playoff berth

The Texas Brahmas are heading to the playoffs again after earning a point in tonight's shootout loss to the Odessa Jackalopes. They join the Colorado Eagles, Mississippi RiverKings and the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs as post-season participants in the race for the Ray Miron President's Cup.

A total of ten of seventeen Central Hockey League member teams will qualify for post-season play, consisting of five clubs from each conference.

The playoffs will consist of four (4) rounds. Opening Round (#4 vs #5 seeds only in each conference) (Best of 3) Conference Semifinals (Best of 7) Conference Finals (Best of 7) Ray Miron President’s Cup Finals (Best of 7) Each of the 4 division regular season champions (Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, Southeast) will be seeded either 1st or 2nd in their conference for the opening round of the playoffs. The next 3 teams highest in each conference regular season standings, regardless of division, will be seeded 3rd, 4th, and 5th in each conference and will also qualify for post-season play.

The opening round will feature the #4 and #5 seeds in a best of three series in each conference, with the winners advancing to join the #1, #2 and #3 seeds in the Conference Semifinals.

The Ray Miron President’s Cup Finals will consist of the victorious two teams remaining from their respective Conference playoffs. Home ice advantage in the Ray Miron President’s Cup Finals will be awarded to the club with higher regular season point totals, regardless of any earlier playoff seeding. -The higher seeded club in each playoff meeting will receive home ice advantage -The opening round #4 vs #5 seed series will use a best of three game format - The subsequent three playoff rounds will use a best-of-seven game format -Any contests tied after regulation play will not use the shootout to determine a winner as in the regular season.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith
Brahmas lose a wild one in Odessa

Jackalopes victorious in 10 round shootout, Brahmas clinch playoff berth

In the only game to be played with the Brahmas at the Ector County Coliseum this season, 4,011 Jackalope fans watched their team rally three times to erase Brahma leads. In the second shootout in as many games between the two teams, the Jacks would emerge victorious after 10 rounds, to celebrate a 4-3 win.

On the up side, the Brahmas earned a point and clinched a playoff berth as a result of a loss by the Corpus Christi IceRays. They remain three points ahead of Odessa in the Southern Conference standings with 73 points. A loss tonight by the Laredo Bucks gave the Brahmas a 13 point lead in the Southeast Division. They remain just three points behind the Colorado Eagles in the hunt for the Governor's Cup.

The Brahmas got on the board first tonight when Craig Minard made a wrist shot from the near side point. The puck deflected off a body, went over Juha Toivonen's shoulder, then hit the post and went into the net. The score was 1-0 at the 8:17 mark. Greg McConnell and Tyler Skworchinski were in on the assist.

Brian Swiniarski leveled Ross Rouleau at the 10:17 mark, earning a trip to the penalty box for interference. Later, Juha Toivonen took a stick to the face mask, resulting in a high-sticking call against Travis Banga at the 16:20 mark. However, in the period, neither team capitalized on two powerplay opportunities each.

Odessa outshot the Brahmas 11-8 in the first 20 minutes but went into the locker room down a goal.

The second period started out tame enough but soon turned into a wild one, resulting in powerplay scores from each side.

The Brahmas had an uncharacteristic five penalties in the period including four in a row. A Too Many Men Bench Minor created a 5-on-3 for 1:16 at the 8:39 mark. The Brahmas' penalty killers stopped five shots until it went to 5-on-4, then stopped two more shots to kill the penalty. Unfortunately, Scott Sheppard would almost immediately receive a four minute high sticking double minor at the 10:25 mark.

59 seconds later, Mike Lesperance cashed in on the power play with 8:36 left in the period. Sebastien Thinel started the play with a feed to Colin Circelli in the right corner. He waited patiently for Lesperance to gain an advantage in the left circle. The moment he did, Circelli fired the pass to Lesperance's tape and the rookie forward quickly one-timed it behind Cacciola to even it up at 1-1.

The Brahmas regained the lead less than four minutes later when Brandon Benedict was credited with a powerplay goal, the result of some quick passes with Scott Sheppard and Nathan Saunders in a triangle formation. Like the first goal, the puck deflected off someone in the crowd in front of the crease before dropping behind Toivonen at the 15:13 mark.

The Brahmas outscored the Jacks 16-13 in the middle period to even the shot count at 24 through 40 minutes.

The Jacks began the third period with 1:20 left on the powerplay, but were unable to capitalize.

But Mike Ramsay managed to tie the game with 10:29 left to play when his wrist shot from the left circle hugged the ice and split the pads of Cacciola. Karlander started the power-play goal by waiting behind the net to the left of Cacciola and then firing the cross-ice pass to Ramsay. Philippe Plante also assisted.

Just under two minutes later, Jason Deitsch took a feed from Brandon Benedict and Kevin Mcleod after he skated into the crease. He scored after faking Toivonen to the ice, then lifted the puck under the crossbar to make it 3-2 at the 11:28 mark.

Paul Gills pulled Toivonen with 1:47 left in regulation in favor of the extra attacker. It payed off when Colin Circelli, after two tries by Sebastien Thinel, finally pushed the puck inside the right post to send the game into overtime. Jeff Pierce was also credited with the assist.

The Brahmas took the only four shots in overtime, but were unable to beat Toivonen and the game went into the shootout.

Brian Swininarski, Sebastien Thinel and Colin Circelli scored for Odessa, only to be matched each time by Jason Deitsch, Jordan Cameron and Craig Minard. Then, Philippe Plante skated into the zone through the right circle and snapped the shot before Cacciola was set in the crease, scoring what would become the game winner. Tyler Skworchinski got the Brahmas' final chance but was unable to beat Toivonen and just like that, the game was over.

The Brahmas outshot the Jacks 36-35 in regulation and 4-0 in overtime.

The Brahmas fought hard but it was costly penalties (if not the ineffective penalty kill) that hurt the Brahmas the most. Anyone who watched the game saw an Odessa squad that would not give up and certainly earned their win in more areas than just the shootout.

The Brahmas record goes to 34-12-5.

David Cacciola takes the loss tonight with 31 saves on 31 shots in regulation. His record goes to 9-6-1-1.

The Brahmas went 1 for 5 on the powerplay and were assessed 23 minutes on 11 infractions. The Jacks went 2 for 10 on the man advantage and were assessed 12 minutes on five infractions.

All three stars went to Odessa players so that's all I will say about that.

You can view the box score here

The Brahmas return home tonight in order to rest up for tomorrows game against the 30-14-6 Oklahoma City Blazers. The opening face off will be at 3:05pm. Be there!
Insider Preview - Texas Brahmas at Odessa Jackalopes

The Brahmas are on the road for game five of the regular season series tonight

The Southern Conference-leading Texas Brahmas (34-12-4, 72 points) are at the Ector County Coliseum for the first time this season tonight to take on the Odessa Jackalopes (31-13-6, 68 points). The Brahmas are coming off three straight wins, including last night's dominant 5-2 victory over the Laredo Bucks.

The two teams have met five times at NYTEX this season. The Brahmas won the first game, a pre-season exhibition, 3-2 in overtime. In the regular season, the Brahmas won by a score of 7-3 on October 25th but lost 5-2 on November 8th. The Brahmas then won two in a row on February 13th (3-2) and February 14th (4-3 shootout).

After tonight, the two teams will play once more this season, on March 7th at NYTEX.

The Jackalopes, down four points in the race for conference champion won their first game since January 30th last night, rallying in the third period for a 6-3 win at home against the Amarillo Gorillas. They had lost the previous six games including two in a row against the Brahmas last weekend.

Odessa is 14-5-3 at home this season. They are 7-1-0 when leading after one at home and 11-0-0 when leading after two at home. This season, the Brahmas are 8-0-1 when leading after one on the road and 9-0-1 when leading after two on the road. I'd like to see the Brahmas get the first goal tonight; how about you?

The Jackalopes' top three scorers are Dominic Leveille (F) with 73 points (23 G, 50 A), Sebastien Thinel (F) with 71 points (30 G, 41 A) and Kory Karlander (F) with 56 points (26 G, 30 A). On Special teams, the Jacks are ranked 2nd in the league overall on the powerplay at 22.2% and 2nd at home at 23.8%. The Jacks are first in the league with 87 powerplay goals for. On the penalty kill, Odessa is ranked fourth in the league overall at 85.5% and 9th at home at 83.7%.

Dominic Leveille is the player to watch on the Jackalopes squad. In the last 10 games, Leveille has scored 15 points (7 G, 8 A) and is a +5. At home, he has scored 34 points (9 G, 25 A) this season and is a +2.

The top three scorers for the Brahmas are Scott Sheppard (F) with 57 points (29G, 28 A), Grant Jacobsen (F) with 48 points (18 G, 30 A) and Jordan Cameron (F) with 46 points (17 G, 29 A). On special teams, the Brahmas are ranked third in the league overall on the powerplay at 19.5% and fifth on the road at 19.7%. On the penalty kill, the Brahmas leave something to be desired as they are ranked 12th in the league overall at 81.0% and 14th on the road at 75.6%. The Brahmas remain the league leaders with 14 short-handed goals.

Jason Deitsch is the man to watch on the Brahmas squad. In the last 10 games, Deitsch has scored 11 points (7 G, 4 A) and is a +6. He has scored 30 points (13 G, 17 A) in total and is a +14 this season. Another to watch is Scott Sheppard, who leads the road warriors this season with 26 points (18 G, 8 A) and is a +3 when travelling.

If overtime is necessary, it is notable that the Jackalopes are 0-3 in OT and the Brahmas are 5-1. The Jacks are 3-2 in shootouts and the Brahmas are 2-3.

Juha Toivonen (10-4-2-1) is likely to get the start in net for the Jackalopes with Alexandre Vincent out on goaltender IR since February 7th. Toivonen is 10th in the league with a 2.83 GAA and 13th with a .901 save percentage. He has one win against the Brahmas this season.

David Cacciola (9-6-0-1) will be in the net for the Brahmas tonight. Watch for relief goaltender Cody Daniel on the bench tonight.

The Jackalopes will be without forward Marc Rechlicz and defenseman Dave Van Drunen, both still out on the 30-day injured reserve. Goaltender Alexandre Vincent also remains listed on the IR.

The Brahmas will be without forward Matt Quinn and defenseman Eric Lundberg. Brett Jaeger will also be off the ice tonight. He did not travel with the team to Odessa in order to tend to a personal matter.

This should be a good one. The game starts at 7:05pm and will be broadcast on Nifty-TV.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Meet the newest Texas Brahma

Goaltender Cody Daniel signs five-game contract

The Texas Brahmas signed 23-year-old goaltender Cody Daniel to a five-game contract today according to Pointstreak.com. Daniel will be on the bench as a relief goalie. He traveled with the team last night to Odessa.

Daniel was signed as an emergency goaltender with the Mississippi RiverKings, replacing Larry Sterling last season, but was placed on waivers when they signed former Mudbugs goalie Adam Hanna in November 2007.

He serves a goalie coach for the Dallas Scots Hockey Association.

The 6', 1" goaltender played Junior B Hockey with the Dallas Titans and Junior A with the Central Texas Marshalls.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Friday, February 20, 2009

Jason Deitsch celebrates after scoring his first goal on Sebastien Centomo

12 straight home wins!

Jason Deitsch, Brahmas defeat the Bucks 5-2

Buried in the first period by four straight goals, the Laredo Bucks became the Texas Brahmas latest victims at the NYTEX Sports Centre as the Brahmas posted their league best 12th straight home win. The Brahmas record improves to 34-12-4 and with 72 points are just three points away from the lead for the Governor's Cup, thanks to the Colorado Eagles fourth straight loss last night.

The win also gave the Brahmas a 3-2 season-series lead and a 12-point standings lead over second place Laredo in the Southeast Division. Three remaining games between the two teams are scheduled for March 14th at NYTEX and March 18-19th at the Laredo Entertainment Center.

The Laredo squad looked out of sorts throughout most of the game. Unable to develop any momentum, the game went South for them very quickly. The Brahmas attack was led by the Sheppard-Deitsch-Banga line. Forward Jason Deitsch, whose two goal, two assist performance in the first period, earned the first star of the game.

No doubt the incredible fans at NYTEX also were a factor in the win.

"It’s great when you have this much fan support," Dan Wildfong told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "We just need to continue to take this on the road with us."

The Brahmas scored the first goal on their first shot of the game. Nathan Saunders fed the puck to Jason Deitsch who spun full-circle to avoid a defender and found Scott Sheppard heading for the net. Sheppard took the pass and fired the puck past Sebastien Centomo at the 3:51 mark for the 1-0 lead. The goal was Sheppard's team-leading 27th of the season.

Less than five minutes later, Sheppard matched his goal total from last season at the 8:48 mark on a last second pass from Deitsch right in front of the crease. Shep drilled his shot past Centomo for the 2-0 lead. Travis Banga was also in on the assist.

Deitsch continued his assault on Centomo, sending a long pass from Kevin McLeod behind the Bucks' goaltender. It appeared that Centomo kicked the puck in as he skated back into his net. Brandon Benedict was credited with the assist. The score was now 3-0 at the 13:02 mark.

With only :23 seconds remaining in the period, Deitsch ended the night for Sebastien Centomo with his second goal, again off a pass from Kevin McLeod, at the 19:37 mark. The Bucks actually outshot the Brahmas 8-7 in the period but with four of seven shots resulting in points for the Brahmas, coach Roscoe pulled his 'tender.

The second period lacked the excitement of the first but the Brahmas' penalty killers proved why they lead the league in shorthanded goals. After Nathan Saunders was called for tripping, the PK unit went to work. With just 13 seconds left in the Bucks' powerplay, Grant Jacobsen sent a pass from the left circle to Jordan Cameron, who shot the puck past Bucks reliever Andrew Martin, giving the Brahmas a five goal lead at the 13:30 mark.

The Bucks outshot the Brahmas in the second period 13-6 and 21-13 through the first 40 minutes but found themselves down by five goals after two.

Laredo ended Brett Jaeger’s bid for a shutout with goals from Ryan Salvis and Josh Bonar in the third period. Salvis scored at the 6:30 mark off a feed from defenseman Jaye Judd after Jaeger slipped and watched helplessly as the puck slid past him and into the net. Bonar's first goal of the season came on the powerplay with a little help from Salvis and Brent Cullaton at the 15:35 mark. The Bucks would not score again and the game would end with a 5-2 score.

All things considered, Brett Jaeger had a fantastic night, earning his 25th win of the season, stopping 24 of 26 Laredo shots to improve to 26-6-4-2 for the Brahmas. Andrew Martin played well in relief of Centomo in net, setting aside 16 of 17 Brahmas shots.

Laredo outshot the Brahmas for the game 26-24.

The Brahmas went 0 for 4 on the powerplay. Laredo went 1 for 7.

The Brahmas were assessed 16 minutes on 8 infractions. Laredo was assessed 10 minutes on five infractions.

The third star of the game went to defenseman Kevin McLeod, who assisted on the two Deitsch goals in the first period. The second star went to Scott Sheppard with two goals of his own in the first. The first star was awarded to Jacon Deitsch for a four point performance in the first period.

You can view the box score here

You can view my photos from the game here (not edited yet)

Laredo coach Terry Ruskowski was sullen after the game but after a short talk with his players in the visiting locker room, Roscoe came out to spend some time with fans and well-wishers.

The Brahmas left for Odessa after the game for a Southern conference showdown with the Odessa Jackalopes tonight with a 7:05pm start.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Insider Preview - Texas Brahmas vs. Laredo Bucks

Series tied at 2-2, teams set for fifth meeting this season

The Texas Brahmas (33-12-4) host the Laredo Bucks (28-16-4) for a Friday night face-off at the NYTEX Sports Centre. The Brahmas lead the Bucks by 10 points in the Southeast Division and hope to extend their four point lead over the Odessa Jackalopes in the Southern Conference with a win. The Jackalopes also play tonight, hosting the Amarillo Gorillas (14-30-3).

The teams each have two wins in the series thus far. The Brahmas won 4-1 at the LEC on January 3rd and 6-2 at NYTEX on January 17th. The Bucks won 2-1 (Shootout) on December 6th and 5-4 (Shootout) at the LEC on January 21st. Yeah, you probably noticed that when the Brahmas were on, it was a big win. When the Bucks were on, they pulled off their wins by a hair. After tonight, the two team's will meet three more times, all in March.

The Brahmas have a league best 20-3-1 home record and a league best 11 straight wins at home. They have not lost at home since December 26th, when they were shutout 3-0 by Rio Grande Valley. They are coming off a two-game series at NYTEX versus the Odessa Jackalopes. As you know, they won both games. Prior to that, they had losses on the road at Bossier-Shreveport (4-1) and Oklahoma City (4-2).

The Brahmas have outscored their opponents 51-25 during their 11-game home winning streak. In addition, the Brahmas have lost just two regulation games this season when scoring the first goal. Overall, the Brahmas are 21-2-2 in the 25 games they have scored the first goal.

The Bucks are 9-10-3 on the road and are coming off of a two-game road series against the New Mexico Scorpions (19-28-2). They won both games at the Santa Ana Star Center. The Bucks had not won back-to-back road games since November 28th-29th, when they swept a two-game set at Arizona. Prior to the wins against New Mexico, the Bucks were defeated 5-4 by the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees (25-20-4) at the LEC on February 10th. The Killer Bees are six points behind the Bucks in the standings and trying to catch up.

As Bob Hoffman mentioned in Shots From the Point today, a loss by the Bucks could put the nail in the coffin with just 15 games remaining after tonight and a potential 12 point difference. A win for Laredo gets them right back into the swing of things with three big games versus Texas remaining (two in Laredo) during the final seven days of the regular season. The Bucks and Head Coach Terry Ruskowski are not used to being in this position as far as the division crown goes as they have won five straight Southeast Division titles.

The Brahmas have a tough, three-game weekend in front of them (understatement). After Friday night's game against Laredo, they leave for a Saturday night game at Odessa and then return home for a Sunday afternoon match against the Oklahoma City Blazers. The Brahmas hope to clinch a playoff spot sometime this weekend but all three games will be fast and physical and it will take an incredible amount of fortitude to pull off any number of wins.

Short two defensemen with Justin Kinnunen with the Rampage in San Antonio and Eric Lundberg recovering from a ride into the boards during the Odessa series, the Brahmas will be relying on two rookies from the "Making the Cut" prospect camp to fill the gap. Dan Force was signed last Saturday but had minimal ice time in the game against Odessa. In addition, Ross Rouleau (Pete's younger brother) has been called on to re-join the team. Ross, if you remember, was signed after the "Making the Cut" camp and played in the first two games of the season before being placed on waivers. Both are capable young men and you just have to trust Fonger's judgement.

The Bucks' top three (active) scorers are Darryl Smith (F) with 54 points (28 G, 26 A), Alex Goupil (F) with 45 points (19 G, 26 A) and Rick Kozak (F) with 41 points (20 G, 21 A). On Special teams, the Jacks are ranked 7th in the league overall on the powerplay at 18.9% and 14th on the road at 13.8%. On the penalty kill, Odessa is ranked third in the league overall at 85.9% and sixth on the road at 83.7%.

The top three scorers for the Brahmas are Scott Sheppard (F) with 55 points (27 G, 28 A), Grant Jacobsen (F) with 47 points (18 G, 29 A) and Jordan Cameron (F) with 45 points (16 G, 29 A). On special teams, the Brahmas are ranked fourth in the league overall on the powerplay at 19.7% and fifth at home at 19.8%. On the penalty kill, they are ranked 12th in the league overall at 80.9% and fourth at home at 87.1%.

Brett Jaeger (24-6-4) is expected in net for the Brahmas. Sebastien Centomo (17-11-2) will be in net for the Bucks.

The Brahmas will be without forward Matt Quinn and defenseman Eric Lundberg.

The Bucks will be without center Jeff Bes, and forwards Bobby Russell and Rick Kozak are question marks. Defensemen Jaye Judd and Steve Weidlich have been taken off the injured reserve as of Wednesday. Both are expected to play tonight.

The game starts at 7:05pm and will be broadcast on Nifty-TV if you have an excuse not to be there in person. Immediately following the game is a game worn jersey auction for the Reliant Energy jerseys the Brahmas will be wearing.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Brahmas Notes
  • Enjoy a dinner and pick up broom ball game with your Brahmas next Wednesday, February 25, as they host a meet and greet with the entire team at Hooters on Grapevine Highway (7669 Grapevine Hwy, NRH 76180). All Brahmas players will be on hand at Hooters from 6-8 PM to sign autographs, mingle and play broom ball in the parking lot.
  • Enjoy a day of golf with your Texas Brahmas Sunday, March 1 as the Brahmas host their Spring Classic at Iron Horse Golf Club in North Richland Hills. Check-in is at 12:30 with a shotgun start beginning at 1 PM. To register as an individual, team or sponsor a hole, please contact Tom Hart at thart@brahmas.com or 402-598-3713.
  • Following the Brahmas game on Friday, March 6th fans will have the opportunity to participate in a Casino Event in the Tejas Volleyball Arena. Tickets are available for $40 and can be purchased at the special Casino Night table at the NYTEX Sports Centre lobby at all Brahmas home games prior to March 6th. A special package is also available for $50 and includes one (1) Brahmas game ticket.
  • The Brahmas game on March 20 in Laredo has been rescheduled for a March 19 at 7 PM. The change is due to scheduling conflict with the Laredo Entertainment Center.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Insider Behind the Scenes with...Naomi DeuFriend

Game Operations

She is a familiar face at the NYTEX Sports Centre. If you don’t know of her, you haven’t been around the Brahmas long enough. Naomi DeuFriend is one of the longest-serving members of the Brahmas organization. She was a part of the original Fort Worth Brahmas in their first season of existence. The next season, under a new ownership team, she joined the staff in July of 1998.

DeuFriend has previously served as Director of Operations and Community Relations. During her time with the organization, she has performed many functions including, but not limited to, overseeing and implementing all of the Brahmas community relations programs, including the Blacktop Brahmas Summer Tour and the JPS Hospital Healthy Goals events. She also coordinated and executed Brahmas’ player appearances. In addition to her role with the Brahmas' community events, DeuFriend has previously been responsible for all of the Brahmas box office operations, including season ticket distribution and group ticketing functions.

She left the Brahmas as a full-time employee after the 2005-06 season when the Fort Worth Brahmas took a one-year hiatus as the organization looked for a new venue to play in. Now with the Brahmas on a part-time basis, Naomi works in game operations and can usually be found in the "tunnel" at the Brahmas bench entrance on game nights.

I spoke with Naomi recently about her time with the Brahmas organization. Here is our conversation.

Q: You’ve been with the Brahmas organization since day one; how did you come on board?

A: I had worked with the (Fort Worth) Fire and the ownership group that had come over with the Brahmas was kind of not happy with the Fire. They liked what I did, they liked my work ethic or whatever, I’m not exactly sure and they asked me to come on board with them. When they had problems after the first year, the league asked me to stay along to kind of create a sense of oneness, at least at some point, and I’ve managed to stay on with it ever since.

Q: So on board comes a guy named Mike Barack. What did you think of Mike when you first met him?

A: Intense (laughing). Intense, and he had a lot to learn about Texas culture and he still does, and he’s trying very hard to learn. I think that his wife, Michelle is helping him kind of subdue things a little bit. There’s one thing you can say about Mike, is he’s very, very passionate about hockey and he does not understand why everybody doesn’t love it as much as he does.

Q: He’s very passionate about his people too. A couple of things I notice about Mike’s management of the Brahmas is number one, he wants to provide a great fan experience and number two, his people are gold…

A: He’s very loyal to his people. He’s very, very nice. He will do whatever he can for you. He’ll help you out in every way he can and any way the organization can help you out. He’s good to work for, again, he may drive you a little crazy from time to time. He does the fans, he does the staff, that’s just him, that’s just his personality, but he’s got a heart as good as gold and God bless him and Stuart for keeping this all going.

Q: Like the fans, you’ve been through a lot with the Brahmas organization over the years, certainly a lot of ups and downs. I’m sure it’s been a pretty good ride. Now comes the NYTEX group and new head coach Dan Wildfong. In the history of the Brahmas, the team and the organization are probably at its best. Would you agree?

A: I would. We’ve been very fortunate. Along the way we’ve had some really great coaches. Now you’ve got a young coach who’s come in; he’s got the fire, he’s still got the tenacity, he’s still got that playing spirit. He hasn’t been coaching so long that he hasn’t lost touch with what it’s like to be a player. So he still has the intensity of a player; he still wants to win. He can’t go out there and play, but he’s going to try and motivate his guys as much as possible. He’s hungry, very hungry, and that makes his guys want to work for him a little harder, too. It’s a good fit, I think. He’s hungry, Mike is hungry and it’s worked out really well. I know people were really nervous about Fonger coming in but it’s worked out really, really well.

Q: Is there any thing you miss about the Fort Worth Convention Center and Will Rogers?

A: I liked working with the people that were at the (Fort Worth) buildings. The people here are really, really good to you. You ask them to help you out and the nice thing about NYTEX is because we’re all owned by the same people, they’re all for the same thing, they YOU to succeed, they want your organization to succeed because if the Brahmas succeed, they’re going to succeed and if they’re doing good with the Brahmas, they can bring these other organizations in. So, it bodes well for everybody. The more we can all work together, the better package deal we have, the more we can bring in for everybody to make this WHOLE facility a more family-oriented thing than just all about the Brahmas.


Q: Would you say that working with all of the people throughout the Brahmas and NYTEX organizations is more like a family thing?

A: It probably is because you know you’re going to see the same people every time. You don’t have shows moving in and out and not knowing who’s going to work with you. You know you’re going to be working with the same people the whole time, because again, we’re all here at the same time. This is their full-time job, they’re not subbing in and out with different events, and you know that you always have staff at this arena to help whenever you need help, versus the convention center and Will Rogers where they would do whatever they could, but because they had other events going on, you weren’t the only thing there. Here, because we’re all for one and one for all, you know that we’re all going to be working together.

Q: What do you think of the fans here at NYTEX, you know, most of the Brahmas fans are the same Brahmas fans who have been around for a long time, the 303 Rowdies go back forever…but what do you think of the fan atmosphere here versus in Fort Worth?

A: Because it’s a more intimate arena, you feel more a part of the action because you’re so much closer. There are no nose bleed seats; every seat here is a good seat and everybody gets a chance to be involved. It’s so much more intimate. The guys can hear you more here and the fans can create more of an awareness that’s positive for our team and hopefully, you know, helping to negate the good things going on for the other team and bring them down. It gives us a positive attitude and keeps us winning. So the team aspect, the fan aspect, it’s all a good thing because it’s so much closer to you.

Q: As far as the Brahmas last season, nobody knew what to expect, we were all just happy that the Brahmas were back. Yet, it turned out very well; it was quite an incredible ride and we were really a game away from the big show. This year, it’s actually getting better…

A: I know; it’s a nice thing…

Q: You can look back at last year, and assume the same thing is going to occur, in that a strong team is going to go into the playoffs and knock on wood, it’s going to go at least as far as it went last year. How do you feel after all these years with the Brahmas, being on board, while all of this is happening? It’s a pretty exciting time really…

A: It is and it’s like a re-birth, just like when the Brahmas came in the first time. They took a year off so it’s all new again. Again, you’ve got the fire, you’ve got the determination, and you want to see things go well. And this time actually, we are doing well at the very beginning and not having a rough season. It’s been very nice having a few guys come back, which helps a lot because the fans can identify with them and they’re considered the home guys now versus “Oh, I remember them from the other team, yeah, yeah, yeah.” Now, they’re their guys again, so it comes back to be more of a family thing and it’s much easier for the fans to come and support someone that they know.

It’s definitely looking good sitting here in first place right now. You know I’m sure the guys are a little bit looser, and so they’re having a little bit more fun with it now. It’s still a game, it’s still their job but maybe they can take a half-breath and enjoy it, which is good.

Q: In the old says, I would have said if the Brahmas can get to and/or win a championship, but now I say when the Brahmas get to and/or win a championship. When it happens, how are you going to feel, personally?

A: Anytime you’re with an organization, we’re not out on the ice, but we’re still a part of it, it all been a very positive thing and for the fans, they’ve stuck in though thick and thin… (Tearing up) so it’ll be very, very good for them.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith