Friday, July 31, 2009

A few minutes with...Kyle Deck

The Brahmas' newest defenseman talks about his hockey career thus far, attending an NHL training camp and joining the team for the 2009-10 campaign

I had the opportunity to speak with Kyle Deck by phone today. We talked about his hockey career and his opportunity to come to North Texas to play for the defending CHL champions. Here is some of our conversation.

Q: Tell me a little about how you got your start playing hockey in Saskatchewan…

A: I started with a league in Weyburn - AA Pee Wee and then Bantam. Then from there, my last year in Bantam, I actually got called up to play AAA Midget in Saskatoon with the Blazers and that’s kind of where it all started. I got drafted to the Kamloops Blazers. I was there for a month and then got sent home...I was traded to the Regina Pats at Christmas. That was nice because the Pats are near my home town. It was a half-hour to the rink from our farm. My family got to come and watch whenever they wanted to, and all my friends.

Q: Did you always play defense?

A: I actually started out as a forward. It was weird, I played forward during my Bantam draft year and then I got drafted as a defenseman (laughing), so I’ve been playing defense ever since.

Q: Were you still attending High School in Sedley while you were with the Pats?

A: No, I attended High School in Regina where all the other guys went. I got to graduate at home, but no, I went to High School in Regina and played hockey there. I went home on the weekends when I could.

Q: After you graduated in ’04, you stayed with the Pats and captained the team for your last two seasons. Didn’t you end up getting pretty sick during the final season?

A: Yeah, I had Bronchitis for, I think it was two weeks or something like that, and then I had knee surgery. That was kind of crappy for my 20-year-old year, but that’s the way it goes.

Q: After the Pats, you decided to go to the University of Regina and played there with the Cougars. How was the transition for you after so many years of playing in the WHL?

A: It was different; it was fun. You know, when you move into the University, you’re on your own. You live by yourself. It was a lot of fun but I didn’t like the school part – I’ve always been more of a hands-on kind of guy, so doing books wasn’t my kind of thing. But you know what, I’m glad that I did it and I saw that it wasn’t for me.

Q: Did you play with the Thoring brothers there?

A: Yes, I played with Cody and with Clay.

Q: Do you keep in touch with those guys?

A: I talk to Clay every now and again but you know, not as much as I should. I’m so busy in the summertime with farming.

Q: And you said you don’t really use the Internet and it seems that’s how people keep in touch nowadays…

A: Yeah, exactly (laughing). Everyone is always talking about the Internet – yeah, I stay off of that stuff. I’ve always got something to do and so I don’t get on there that much.

Q: Tell me about how you hooked up with the Flint Generals…

A: It was through Al Dumba, who was our color guy for the Pats. His son was down in Flint and they had a bad year with injuries. I talked with Al at Christmas and told him I wasn’t enjoying the school part of University. So word got out and at the end of the season, he called and asked if I wanted to come down and I jumped on that opportunity right away.

Q: After finishing the regular season in Flint and getting some playing time during the playoffs, you had the opportunity to go to the Detroit Red Wings training camp. How was that experience?

A: That was once in a lifetime for me. I always wanted to go to an NHL camp. I got to skate with Franzen, Zetterburg, Datsyuk and Chelios was even there. That’s any kid’s dream and it was a dream come true for me. Especially to skate with those guys and work out and see what they do; see their commitment every day and you know, that’s why they won the Stanley Cup last year and were the runners up this year. It was a great experience. I’m glad I did it and I took a lot from it.

Q: Did that translate into a lot of your success with the Generals last season?

A: Oh, for sure it did. I wanted to get called up – that was my biggest thing. I wanted to do what I could to get up there – you know. I’d like to play in the NHL; every kid would like to play in the NHL one day, so I kept it in the back of my mind. I tried to do little things, you know, do what they (the Red Wings) do. One of my friends told me, when you go there (to the training camp), watch Nick Lidstrom. Watch what he does and I really did that…just watched the little things that he does and you know, you watch a player and you take what you learn to your own game and you’d be surprised what happens.

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

A: A scout had called and asked what my plans were for this year. I talked with him a bit and you know, I always wanted to go to Texas, so why not go down there to play hockey?

Q: Did you know much about the team or the league outside of what you may have heard from some of the guys that you played with before?

A: Not too much. I just know what I’ve heard from some of the other guys. It sounds like a good league and there’s a lot more teams than in the IHL so that’s kind of nice – you’re not playing the same guys every second night (laughing). I’m excited and I think it’s going to be a good time.

Q: The Brahmas have signed Jamie Carroll; are you familiar with him from Port Huron?

A: Yeah, he’s a great player. I played against him all year…quite a few times, actually.

Q: And now you'll be teammates…

A: Yeah, and that’s good. I had a player that came from Port Huron and he told me that he was a great guy…he has what you need to win championships.

Q: During the off-season, how are you staying in shape?

A: I’m working out every day; I’m running and actually this week coming up, I’m going to a conditioning camp and will be doing power skating…staying at it every day. That’s what you’ve go to do. Come September when it’s time to go, the legs will still be gone no matter how much you work out, so there’s nothing like skating.

Q: You’re coming on board with a truly fantastic team and a head coach who’s by and far, one of the best in the league. This team has had a lot of success in the past two seasons and is now the defending league champion. How excited are you to be joining a team in that situation?

A: I’m really excited, like I said. It’s going to be a great time…they’re coming off a winning season so the hardest thing is to defend it. I hope I can jump in there and be a good contributor to the team. I’m going to do my best. I’m looking to have some fun this year and see if we can get that championship again.

Photo Credit: Wendy Torello/Port Huron Times Herald
Texas Brahmas home opener set for October 24th

CHL Championship Banner to be raised at NYTEX

Ok, so not a usual source of information but according to the Jr. Brahmas website, the Texas Brahmas home opener will be on Saturday, October 24th at 7:05pm. We should know more when the league releases the official 2009-10 season schedule in the next week or so.

The Brahmas' President's Cup Champions banner will be raised at a special ceremony that night.

More info to come...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Brahmas sign defenseman Kyle Deck

Former Flint Generals standout joins 2009-10 roster

Dan Wildfong has added another solid blue liner to the Brahmas’ roster with the signing of second year defenseman Kyle Deck. Deck, 23, is coming off an impressive season of play in the International Hockey League.

The 6-foot-1, 201-pound native of Sedley, Saskatchewan played junior hockey in nearby Regina with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League. He played briefly with the Brahmas’ Grant Jacobsen during the 2002-03 season. During his time with the Pats, Deck tallied 106 points (25 G, 81 A) and 310 penalty minutes in 266 games played. He served as team captain during his final two seasons.

Once his time with the Pats was up and with no professional offers, Deck decided to go to college. During the 2007-08 season, he attended the University of Regina (CWUAA) and played hockey with the Cougars, scoring 9 points (1 G, 8 A) in 24 games played.

After the season was over and unhappy with the college experience, Deck took an opportunity to go pro and signed with the Flint Generals (IHL). He saw playing time in eight remaining regular season games as well as five games during the playoffs. Although he only managed an assist during his time with the Generals, he impressed his coach and earned one of their two spots at the Detroit Red Wings training camp.

"That was phenomenal," said Deck in an interview with "I had grown up watching those guys, the Nick Lidstroms, the (Pavel) Datsyuks, the (Henrik) Zetterbergs. It was a dream come true. I learned a lot there. Just going into Joe Louis Arena was phenomenal, seeing all the people who had been there. They treated you like were on the team. We went out for supper and they treated us great. I got to play with (Niklas) Kronwall, (Brad) Stuart, (Derek) Meech. The biggest thing about the NHL is their passes are on the tape every time and hard. That's the thing I'm trying to do here. I'm trying to get to the next level, too."

His two weeks with the defending Stanley Cup champions boosted Deck's confidence when he reported back to the team. Deck played in 45 games last season, notching 38 points (13 G, 25 A, -4) and 48 penalty minutes. On special teams, he scored 15 points (7 G, 8 A). In January, Deck was honored as the IHL Rookie of the Week after tallying 4 points (2 G, 2 A) in 3 games. He led the league in points (38) and assists (25) and was tied for second in goals (13) amongst all IHL defensemen.

After the season was over, Deck went overseas to play with Jesenice, a Slovenian hockey team of the Austrian Erste Bank Hockey League.

Dan Wildfong is looking forward to having Deck on board for the 2009-10 campaign.

"Our defense was one of the elite crew in the league last season, and we look for that same success. With Kyle on our blue line, we are sure to shutdown top lines this season," said Wildfong.

Photo Credit (top): Stuart Bauer/The Flint Journal

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Brahmas announce Jordan Cameron’s return

High-scoring forward re-signs for the 2009-10 campaign

The Texas Brahmas continue to re-construct their championship team with the announcement that Jordan Cameron will be back for a third season.

Last season, Cameron averaged over a point per game, notching 60 points (23 G, 37 A, +15) and 40 penalty minutes in 55 games regular season games played. His 37 assists led the Brahmas roster. On special teams, he registered 29 points (4 PPG, 25 PPA) He also did damage on the penalty kill last season setting a franchise record for shorthanded goals with seven (Tony, Tony, Tony!). During the playoffs, Cameron tallied an additional 13 points (4 G, 9 A) in 15 games played.

At 6’ 4” and 218 pounds, the Drayton Valley, Alberta native has been a fan favorite and a strong presence on the ice.

“Jordan is a unique player that uses his size and offensive play to his advantage and helps the team succeed," said Dan Wildfong.

Cameron joins Brett Jaeger, Craig Minard, Casey Russell, Jason Deitsch, Jamie Carroll, AJ Gale and Anders Strome on the 2009-10 roster as the Brahmas prepare to defend the President’s Cup.

More to come...

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A few minutes with…Jamie Carroll

The Brahmas' newest offensive threat opens up about signing with the Brahmas, his off-season workout and the advantages of playing in a smaller venue

I spoke with Jamie Carroll last week about signing with the Texas Brahmas. Thanks to a technical malfunction with my digital recorder (it was me, I'm sure), I lost a portion of the interview, so we re-recorded it yesterday. Here is our conversation.

Q: Other than the weather and the quality of the golf courses out here, what draws you to come to North Texas to play for the Brahmas?

A: Last Summer, I spoke with Dan quite a bit and he was trying to get me down there last year. I opted not to, something I maybe regret now because they won a championship...I came very close in my first year to winning a championship with Port Huron; we lost in Game Seven in triple overtime in the Final, so winning has been in the back of my mind since that game we lost in Game Seven. You know, I just wanted to go to a program where we’re going to have a good team and I know Dan is going to put together a championship caliber team every season. I got to know Ronnie Vogel quite a bit playing with him in my first year. He speaks very highly of the organization, the ownership and coach Wildfong, so I think those are the main things that drew my attention other than like you said, the weather and the golf courses – I think as a total package, it’s hard to beat at this level.

Q: You played with a number of guys in Port Huron with CHL experience. What’s your take on the league, from what you’ve heard?

A: Just from talking to guys that have played in the Central League before, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the caliber of hockey is pretty much the same. I’m looking forward to playing against more than, you know, the same five teams all season; that was kind of a drag after a while. So I’m excited about that.

Q: The Brahmas typically have a stacked offense with regard to the quality of their forwards. Work ethic and team play have driven their success. How do you see yourself fitting in to this model?

A: I like to think of myself as an offensive guy but I think I fit into team systems pretty well. Whatever Dan has us doing system-wise, I’ll work as hard as I can to put the team first…I’ve talked to Dan quite a bit over the past two summers and he wants me to come in and be offensive, whether it’s on the power play or even strength. Honestly, I feel that I’m going to be looked at to put up points. Obviously, the team system comes first - hopefully I’ll be out there in situations where I can set up line mates or shoot the puck myself. In my first two seasons pro, I was relied on to put up points – hopefully I can do the same for Texas.

Q: What are you doing during the off-season to keep in shape?

A: I’m working out four days a week with a hockey strengths coach. One of my good friends owns a gym here. He has a skating treadmill and synthetic ice, so I’m there four days a week with other professional hockey players; from NHL guys to East Coast guys. I’m doing my workouts and on top of that, we get a lot of ice time. The gym is connected to two sheets of ice, so we get out on the ice quite a bit. So far, I’m really starting to see that my strength and conditioning is improving. The next month or two are going to be huge for me in terms of getting my body ready for the long season but I’m confident that once October 1st comes around, I’ll be ready to go.

Q: Your home ice in Port Huron, McMorran Arena, with 3,400 seats, isn't much bigger than the NYTEX Sports Centre. What's your take on playing in a smaller venue versus some of the larger arenas?

A: When the fans are passionate and they’re right on top of you; that can create a huge home-ice advantage…It’s not necessarily the number of fans you have’s their intensity and their passion for the team. In Port Huron, we didn’t always have the most fans, but the ones who were there on a consistent basis were very passionate and they knew that they kind of had to make up for the lack of numbers. They were always loud and supportive, which was great. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the fans in Texas. It’s not the largest venue, but I’m assuming the fans that they have love the Brahmas and it sounds like they pack the rink on a consistent want teams coming in on the road thinking - we’ve got to play the Brahmas on their home ice and that’s not an easy thing to do. I can imagine after winning a championship, the fans are going to be that much more into it. At the same time, it will probably create more fans than they had last year based on winning a championship. Hopefully, the success will continue…I can’t wait to get down there.

We are looking forward to Jamie getting down here as well. All indications are that he will definitely be an impact player on the 2009-10 roster.

Photo Credit: Chris Campbell

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bye-Bye Banga

Brahmas forward signs with the IHL's Muskegon Lumberjacks

I don't think anyone is surprised to hear that Travis Banga will not be back in a Brahmas sweater this season. While Banga was a strong competitor and a contributor to the President's Cup win, it was clear that he may not have been a good match for Dan Wildfong's systems and expectations. Now, according to Banga's agent, it has been reported that the 29-year-old center from High River, Alberta has signed with the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the International Hockey League. He will join former Laredo Bucks goalie Sebastien Centomo for Muskegon's 50th Anniversary Season.

Banga joined the Brahmas on January 9th after being acquired from the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees in a trade for forward Topher Scott and future considerations from Wichita (center Matt Byrnes), Rocky Mountain and Rapid City. It was a controversial trade as it was the first in-season swap between Southeast Division teams in nearly five years.

As a Brahma, Banga put up 24 points (8 G, 16, A, +1) and 36 penalty minutes in 26 games played during the remainder of the regular season. On special teams, he scored four power play goals and four power play assists and also had a game winning goal (01/17/09 vs. Odessa).

During the playoffs, Banga scored three points (2 G, 1 A) in nine games played including the game winning goal in Game 3 of the President's Cup Final.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Friday, July 17, 2009

Saturday night - Catch Mike Barack on OurSports Central Radio

Brahmas GM to appear on ‘Puska on Pucks'

Be sure to make some time on Saturday at 5:30 pm CST to listen to ‘Puska on Pucks', a 30-minute Internet talk show that has been picked up by OurSports Central Radio. Host Denis Puska talks about the latest minor professional hockey news, covering the IHL, ECHL, SPHL, AHL, CHL and the EPHL with a new show every Saturday night.

This week, Puska will speak with Mike Barack, General Manager of your defending President Cup Champion Texas Brahmas about winning the CHL title, the recent news that Oklahoma City Blazers have left the league and the future of professional hockey.

A native of Kapuskasing, Ontario Canada, Puska has worked as a broadcaster for the Flint Generals in the International League, the Huntsville Havoc of the Southern Pro League, the Amarillo Gorillas of the Central League and the Pensacola Ice Pilots of the ECHL. He also called junior games before breaking into pro hockey.

You can listen to the show here. You can listen to archived episodes of the show “on demand” here

Image Credit: OurSports Central Radio

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Two from Stony Brook University to attend Brahmas prospect camp

The Texas Brahmas prospect camp will welcome two players from Long Island’s Stony Brook University this year. Seawolves team captain Angelo Serse will be joined by assistant captain Dan Capizzuto as they attempt to make the cut for a spot on the Brahmas’ 2009-10 roster.

The American Collegiate Hockey Association Division I Seawolves finished the season 21-11 and for the 11th season in a row were invited to the National Championship Tournament in Cleveland, Ohio but fell short in a heart breaker to Delaware 4-3. The team also went to the Eastern Collegiate Hockey Association championship game but lost to West Chester University by a score of 11-3.

Serse, a Health Science major from Monroe, New York stands 5’ 10”, 185 pounds and played junior hockey for the Boston Harbor Wolves (EJHL). During his three seasons at Stony Brook, Serse tallied 120 points (76 G, 44 A) and 164 penalty minutes in 81 games played. This past season, Serse scored a career high 50 points (31 G, 19 A) including six power play goals and six short-handed goals. He was also selected to the Eastern Collegiate Hockey Association All-Star Team.

"It should be fun and I am looking forward to get out there and skate with the team," Serse said. "I've been working hard this off season to make sure I am ready for the camp."

Capizzuto, a business major from Patterson, New York played for the Hartford Wolfpack (AJHL) before attending Stony Brook. At 6’ 0”, 175 pounds, Cappizuto scored 43 points (18 G, 25 A) and 42 penalty minutes in 78 games played during his three seasons at Stony Brook. He was moved from forward to defenseman this past season and was selected to the American Collegiate Hockey Association All-Star Team as well as the Eastern Collegiate Hockey Association All-Star Team.

Photo Credits: Alex Berkman

Monday, July 13, 2009

Brahmas add offensive firepower, sign Jamie Carroll

Former IHL standout joins 2009-10 roster

In preparation to defend the President's Cup, head coach Dan Wildfong continues to build his offense with the addition of dynamic forward Jamie Carroll.

Carroll, 25, spent the last two seasons with the Port Huron IceHawks in the International Hockey League, where he proved to be a "huge surprise" according to head coach and general manager Stan Drulia. “He controls the puck extremely well and has a knack for being in the right place at the right time," Drulia said.

The 6', 1" 200-pound wing played four seasons at The Berkshire School in Sheffield, Massachusetts, where he was the all-time leading scorer.

He played one season at Iona College (NCAA) during the 2002-03 season where he ranked third on the Gaels squad with 27 points (14 G, 13 A).

The following season, Carroll played for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (USHL) where he tallied 24 points (12 G, 12 A) in 44 games.

Carroll attended Providence College (NCAA), playing for three seasons (2004-05, 2005-06 and 2006-07). During his time with the Friars, he tallied 49 points (23 G, 26 A) and 97 penalty minutes in 104 games. He played with Texas Brahmas goalie David Cacciola during his first season.

Carroll had an outstanding rookie season with the Icehawks in 2007-08. He finished the regular season ranked second on the team and second among all IHL rookies in scoring with 70 points (30 G, 40 A) and 26 penalty minutes in 74 games played. He ranked second overall in the IHL in shots on goal with 318. During the playoffs, he tallied nine points (2 G, 7 A) and six penalty minutes in 12 games played.

He was named to the IHL All-Rookie team and was also Rookie of the Year at the Icehawks Booster Club’s annual awards banquet. He was called up to the American Hockey League twice during the season, practicing with the Grand Rapids Griffins and playing two games with the Rockford IceHogs.

His production improved during the 2008-09 season with a total of 80 points (28 G, 52 A) and 28 penalty minutes in 73 games played. He added an assist and two penalty minutes in six playoff appearances. Carroll played with former Fort Worth Brahma goalie Larry Sterling and Texas Brahmas assistant head coach Ron Vogel during his time with the IceHawks.

Head Coach Dan Wildfong is confident that Carroll will be a high-impact addition to the Brahmas roster.

"In the recruiting process we were looking for a strong player with an offensive background and great work ethic. These are the same qualities Jamie possesses and we look forward to seeing him don the Brahmas jersey next season," Wildfong said.

Photo Credit: Chris Campbell

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

It's North vs. South - CHL opts for two conference system

Brahmas remain in Southern Conference

I was surprised to see this so soon, but with 15 teams remaining in the Central Hockey League for the 2009-10 season, the Central Hockey League has announced today that it will revert to a two conference system, something they haven’t done since the 2000-01 season. The league also announced that the playoff format used last season will remain in place for each of the last two seasons with 10 teams qualifying for post-season play (the top five teams from each conference).

The seven-team Northern Conference will consist of the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs, Colorado Eagles, Mississippi RiverKings, Missouri Mavericks, Rapid City Rush, Tulsa Oilers and Wichita Thunder.

The eight-team Southern Conference or "The Texas Conference" (sorry Arizona) will consist of the Allen Americans, Amarillo Gorillas, Arizona Sundogs, Corpus Christi IceRays, Laredo Bucks, Odessa Jackalopes, Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees and Texas Brahmas.

Since there are no divisions, there will be no divisional rivalries. Hopefully, the schedule will be set up in a manner that will maintain some of the past conflicts between teams.

The Northern Conference will see five of its seven teams making the playoffs. This is before the first puck of the 2009-10 campaign is even dropped. Nice odds, eh? Tough break for Tulsa and Wichita.

As far as the Northern teams, I’m glad to see we will have the opportunity for a rematch against the Colorado Eagles. Bossier and Mississippi will remain the teams to beat as the Brahmas have always enjoyed fierce competition against both teams. Not sure what to think of the Mavericks, although based on the weight of their management and coaching staff, they may surprise people. Too early to tell though with one signing (Jeff Christian) announced but I think they may have a good opportunity to sign some former Blazers due to the Brad Lund connection. I’m not concerned with Rapid City (not sure we’ll play them again this season due to the travel distance and the fact we’ll likely travel to play Arizona), Tulsa or Wichita.

The Brahmas will have their hands full with stiff competition from its conference rivals. I’m not worried about Amarillo (2-5 against the Brahmas) or Corpus Christi (0-9 against the Brahmas). Don’t know what to expect from the Sundogs or the Dayton Americans. Arizona had a rough time last season and couldn’t defend the cup. I’m not impressed with the Allen organization so far, or their coaching staff (maybe back in the day, but not now). I think they’ll have a hard time adjusting to the CHL. I believe Rio will be the most improved team under sophomore head coach Chris Brooks and will be a tough competitor. Of course, Laredo and Odessa will continue to be the teams to beat in the South.

Not sure when the 2009-10 schedule will be released. Last year, it was released on Friday, July 18th. Looking forward to seeing it though...

Image Credit: Central Hockey League

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A few minutes with...Brett Jaeger

The Brahmas goaltender talks about re-signing, his work ethic and winning a championship

As you know, the Texas Brahmas have announced the return of Brett Jaeger for the 2009-10 season. I’ve been in touch with Brett during the off-season and we spoke a little bit more in depth yesterday. Here is our conversation.

Q: I know there’s been some talk about you going to a training camp at a higher level…

A: Yeah, we’re looking at things in other leagues; in the American League and an NHL thing - hopefully that happens, but if I go to that training camp and get sent back down, this is where I wanted to be – with the Brahmas. The best thing for me was to get it done (the re-signing); this way if I’m down at the AA level, I know where I’m going and it’s a place where we’re happy. That’s a huge thing for me.

Q: You have only been paired with David Cacciola during your time with the Brahmas. If in fact, Cash doesn't return next season, how will you feel about whoever the team signs?

A: It doesn’t really matter who they bring in. I push myself in practice. I try to be the hardest worker on the team...I’m the guy that pushes myself. I just focus on doing what I do every day. That’s coming to the rink and working as hard as I can in practice and preparing to play in games – how I can play and how I want to play and giving the team a chance to win. That’s where my focus has been over the last couple of years with the Brahmas. Whoever they bring in, I’ll help them out if I can; If it’s a younger guy, I’ll try and show him the ropes.

Q: You are well known for your work ethic and your attention to improving your game. Many people have commented about how you are always out early and stretching, getting yourself prepared for the game, physically as well as mentally. Did you always have that ethic?

A: Well, you know I’ve grown up with it. My family – we farm back in Alberta. We wake up at 6:00 am and work until the sun goes down...staying out an extra half an hour isn’t work to me – I enjoy it. It’s something that I have to do to be ready and to be at the top of my game. All the stretching and stuff is something I found that helps me prepare for games and it relaxes the body. You’ve got to do that stuff, especially when you play a lot. Last year, I played a lot and you have to take care of your body. It should take care of you. It pays off, especially with being the number one goalie. You’re playing pretty much every night and sometimes you’re playing three games in three nights and you have to look after your body. All the stretching helps me play that many games and stay away from injuries.

Q: You started 44 games in the regular season and all 16 games during the playoffs. You led the league in GAA and save percentage during the playoffs – after the win in Game 5 against the Eagles, did you think to yourself, wow, all the hard work paid off?

A: Yeah, it was a pretty awesome feeling. I was happy – you know you really don’t realize how big it is until a couple of days after when it really sinks in. I was just happy to do it with so many great guys around me and it’s something that the team and the coaching staff will never forget and no one can take that away from us. It’s an amazing feeling when you finally do it – all the hard work and all the things you do away from the rink, like the off-season training and stuff like that really pays off.

Q: What’s your outlook for this coming season?

A: Any time you’re coming into a new season, you want to do well; win a lot of hockey games. With the guys we have coming back and with what we’ve been through the last couple of years, we’re a pretty experienced team and that should help us. How our coaching staff approaches preparing us for games, we should be ready. For me, I mean, my job is the same as it was last year and the year before – to go out and make the saves I’m supposed to make and make a couple of unreal saves (laughing) during the game and keep the team in the game and give them a chance to win. Stop the pucks. Just go out there and work hard in practice and try and get better every day.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith
Who are you?

Just a few stats about the Insider readers

I didn't have a stat counter for the Insider until recently; don't know what I was thinking. I get e-mails from readers around the country and the world but I've never had a full representation of my readers.

Here's some info I've been able to put together recently. This is just for the last week, but it gives an idea of who you are.

We had 437 visitors in the last seven days. 364 were unique visitors. 228 were first time visitors. 136 were returning visitors.

87.6% of readers are from the United States - 51.4% from Texas (duh).

10.6% are from Canada, mostly from Ontario but visitors also came from British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.

In the last week, we've also had visitors from Finland, the UK, France, the Netherlands, Australia and Germany.

The majority of readers get here after a Google or Google Canada search.

Visits to the Flickr site where photos are stored have reduced greatly in the off-season, but we are nearing 100, 000 photo views.

I sure I don't say it enough, but thank you for coming! If you ever have feedback, if there's something you want to see, or if you just want to say hi, don't hesitate to drop me a line at

Photo Credit: Robert Keith
Vet rule change is official

...and other "news"

Thanks to Gary Stallons over at the Brahmas board for posting the following note from Bob Hoffman at the league office:

The veteran rule is now 300 games, so 301 or more games makes you a vet and teams can have four vets as has been the case in recent years.



OK, so this was expected but now confirmed. Remember, Goalies are exempt.

The Brahmas have already announced the signing of veterans Anders Strome (342 games) and Craig Minard (466 games). Mike Vellinga was the other vet on last seasons roster but he has retired. Jason Deitsch (292 games) would have been the fourth vet under the old rule but the new rule frees up his spot for someone else.

I know of one other vet that will be joining the team this season, but that name will be released when the Brahmas are ready to do so. That leaves at least one other spot open for Fonger to work with.

There's been a lot of speculation about the new divisional realignment that the league is working on. Lots of theories out there, but none of them matter until we hear what the league decides.

The last time the league was comprised of 15 teams was during the 2005/06 season. That year, the entire Southern Conference was made up of Texas teams with Odessa, Amarillo and Lubbock in the three team Southwest Division. The Brahmas were the lone Texas representative in the Northern Conference, occupying a spot in the Northeast Division.

I've spoken to several players from the Oklahoma City Blazers recently. Great group of guys. They've had a pretty good attitude about this whole thing with a lot of concern for their fans.

This from Simon Lambert today:

"I think it is really unfortunate that the team is ceasing operations for the fans first of all. They were really loyal, and some of the best in the CHL, no doubt about it. For us players, there are always other places to play, even though I will miss OKC, but the fans will not have their team anymore. I got to know some of the fans personally, and I cannot stop thinking about how saddened some of them must be."

You can read more here

Personally, I wasn't a big fan of the Blazers organization and I hate the way they handled this whole thing, especially for the fans and players sake, but what can you do? At least the players have lots of options and are in demand. I'm of the belief that several will move to Independence due to the Brad Lund connection. Like a lot of coaches, I know Fonger was on the phone right away when he got the news last Thursday. Hopefully, he can lure one or more of the guys down here.

We should have had the schedule for the new season by the end of next week, but due to the OKC announcement, we may have to wait a little longer for that and the new division map.

Until then, this reminder from John Blanding - we're approaching the 100 day mark until the start of next season!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Brahmas announce Jaeger’s return

Champion goalie in place for the 2009-10 campaign

Those who were concerned that Brett Jaeger would move on can breathe a sigh of relief as the Texas Brahmas have announced his return to the net for the 2009-10 season.

Jaeger, 26, led the Central Hockey League in goaltending during the 2009 playoffs with a 2.20 GAA and a .930 save percentage. He was the only goaltender to start all 16 games and more importantly, the only one with 12 victories for a championship win.

During the regular season, his career best, Jaeger broke three of the Brahmas’ single season franchise records: Goals Against (98), Save Percentage (.924) and Goals Against Average (2.36). He also managed a 2.36 GAA and a .924 save percentage and a 28-9-5 record in 44 games played.

He had two shutouts at the NYTEX Sports Centre against the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees (12/09/08) and the Arizona Sundogs (01/16/09) and his three assists accounted for his most offensive productivity in any season as a professional.

With just five more victories, Jaeger will become the Brahmas all-time winningest goaltender. Rob Laurie currently holds that honor with 45 wins.

A consummate professional, Jaeger spends a tremendous amount of time working to stay in shape and to improve his game, a personal ethic that has translated to victories on the ice for the Texas Brahmas.

"Brett has proven to be the top goaltender in the league, so we made it a priority to bring him back for another run. His work ethic and strong play between the pipes is what makes the Brahmas so successful," said coach Dan Wildfong.

On the personal side, Jaeger and his fiancee, Corinne Lieffering will be married this Friday, July 10th in British Columbia.

Photo Credits: Top - Robert Keith, Bottom - Brett Jaeger

Thursday, July 2, 2009

And then there were 15...

New Mexico suspends operations; Oklahoma City ends 17 season run in the CHL

It's a sad day for the Central Hockey League and its fans. Out of nowhere today, the news broke that the Oklahoma City Blazers has ceased operations and will no longer be a part of the CHL. The league also announced formally (although this was no surprise) that the New Mexico Scorpions were suspending operations.

Wow, what happened? At the end of the season, before the rumors about the Rocky Mountain Rage began, it appeared that the CHL would have 18 teams participating in the 2009-10 campaign.

First, we found out that things were not looking good in Broomfield, Colorado. Next came word that John Madden would either find a buyer for the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs or suspend operations. Dave Ellett followed suit in Rio Rancho.

At least the Mudbugs were saved at the last moment by a wealthy fan, much like what happened in Corpus Christi last summer. I don't think anyone believed that the Rage or the Scorpions would be in the mix next season but as of today, with the news that the Blazers were pulling out, the league is now down three teams for 2009-10 and will scramble to put together a new divisional alignment and a new schedule.

The news about the Oklahoma City Blazers is not altogether surprising. Everyone knew that they were probably moving to the American Hockey League at some point, taking the place of the dormant franchise owned by the Edmonton Oilers. What bites is the way they did it. Certainly this wasn't a last minute thing as league commissioner Duane Lewis indicated.

“We feel hurt by this late notice and surprising announcement,” said Lewis. "This decision did not happen overnight, and to continue to work on the schedule and wait until July to inform us is disappointing."

I spoke to Blazers defenseman Justin Sawyer tonight. He said that he received a phone call from assistant coach Chris Dashney today and was informed that the team had ceased operations.

"I was pretty shocked. Even with all the rumors going on, I definitely figured the Blazers would be on the ice next year."

But Sawyer doesn't have to worry about a job as he had already made a move for himself for next season.

"I wasn't able to sign a contract with the Blazers due to the negotiations on the lease," Sawyer said. "I decided to sign with Bloomington in the IHL...Their reputation was good from what I heard from (former Blazer) Marty Standish and after meeting with the coach Jarrod Skalde, it seemed to be a great fit."

I also spoke to Dan Wildfong tonight and he was just as blown away by the news as anyone.

"It's definitely sad anytime you lose any team," Wildfong said. "...Oke City is always looked up to, so it's a sad day."

On the up side, there are a lot of quality players available now, which will be helpful to the expansion Missouri Mavericks and Allen Americans. But Dan Wildfong isn't going to miss out on the opportunity to recruit some of the free agents who are now available.

"I would be happy to get a lot of their players because they play hard and they're a good young team."

Here's the story I wrote for (click here)

Image Credit: Central Hockey League