Monday, August 31, 2009

Listen to coach Wildfong on Internet radio

Puska on Pucks Champions Edition online now

Week 14 of Denis Puska's Internet radio program is available for listening on blogtalkradio. If you haven't tuned in to Puska on Pucks before, give it a listen. It will be well worth your time.

This week's show includes an interview with Dan Wildfong as well as a talk with Mark Rogers, the new head coach of the SPHL's Knoxville Ice Bears.

Fans can tune in to Puska on Pucks at and at under the OSC Radio link page. You can also listen via the link found along the right-hand side of the Texas Brahmas Insider home page.

Image Credit: Robert Keith

Friday, August 28, 2009

Ring celebration scheduled

Brahmas to receive 2009 CHL Championship rings in special ceremony

The Texas Brahmas have scheduled a special ceremony in which the players from the 2008-09 team will receive their CHL Championship rings. The ceremony is tentatively scheduled to take place during the first intermission of the November 8th home game against the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs.

Several players have expressed anxiety about receiving their rings and I know November seems a long way off from a May championship but that's been the norm. Last year, the Arizona Sundogs received their 2008 championship rings on November 17th, six months after their four-game sweep of the Colorado Eagles.

The design of the Brahmas ring has not been revealed yet, but to give an example of what one of the coveted rings looks like, here is a description of the 2008 championship ring. The Sundogs' ring is made of white gold and features the Sundogs’ primary ‘S’ logo with a diamond representing each starburst. Fourteen larger diamonds to the left and right surround the ‘S’ logo at the top of the ring. One side of the ring depicts the player’s or staff member’s name, the CHL logo and a broom paired with the Sundogs’ 4-0 CHL Finals series record. The other side displays the Arizona Sundogs word mark logo, an image of the Ray Miron President’s Cup, the team motto, ‘Character is Everything’ and the Sundogs 12-5 playoff record.

The presentation of the championship ring will be the final chapter of the 2008-09 season. Remember, the raising of the Division, Conference and League Championship Banners will take place during the October 24th home opener against the Mississippi RiverKings.

Photo Credit: WRALFlicker1 (Not a CHL ring)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Texas Brahmas announce the return of a true all-star

Defenseman Justin Kinnunen back to defend the Cup in 2009-10

At long last, the Texas Brahmas have announced the re-signing of "the Juice", two time CHL All-Star Justin Kinnunen.

Kinnunen returns to the Brahmas for his seventh professional season, his third with Texas. Last season, he played 47 games for the purple and black, registering 33 points (12 G, 21 A, +19) and 59 penalty minutes, earning the honors of starting in his second consecutive CHL All-Star game. The Negaunee, Michigan native’s strong play caught the attention of the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League (AHL), resulting in an 11 game call up.

Kinnnunen’s speed and defensive soundness is not the only thing the 6-foot-1 blue liner is known for, but also his offensive contributions, intimidating goaltenders with his quick play making abilities. Last season, Laredo net minder Sebastien Centomo felt the wrath of Kinnunen’s offensive side as he posted the Brahmas first hat trick of the season in January in a 4-1 victory on the road.

Kinnunen's play in the postseason proved to be just as successful as the team’s Championship result as he had 11 points (4 G, 7 A) in 16 games and finished a +8.

During the 2007-08 season, Kinnunen played in all 64 regular season games, posting 43 points (11 G, 32 A, +16). He added 9 points (2 G, 7 A) in 14 games during the post-season.

Head coach Dan Wildfong believes the return of Kinnunen will keep the Brahmas winning tradition alive.

"Our defense was one of the toughest units in the league last season, so we went into the off- season with a goal to try and keep it intact. Justin has obviously been one of the top defensemen in the league, so it’s great to have him return next season," Wildfong said.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Join Brahmas coaches Dan Wildfong and Ron Vogel for Dinner

Event to benefit the Hoffen Foundation

Mark your calendar for next Wednesday, September 2nd for dinner with Brahmas coaches Dan Wildfong and Ron Vogel at the Coors Distributing Company in Fort Worth. The event benefits the Hoffen Foundation, an official charity of the Central Hockey League.

This is a great opportunity to dine and talk with Dan and Ron and help out a great charity as well.

Space is limited to 85 people and the cost is only $25, so sign up online today at

Image Credit: Texas Brahmas

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The The Hockey News ranks Central Hockey League jerseys

Vote for the Brahmas!

Last year, the ranked CHL logos. This year, the Hockey News ranks jerseys (what, no one calls them sweaters anymore?). In what counts for coverage of the "low minor leagues" as they call them (but we can be thankful for a short write-up about the Brahmas championship win in a June issue), the News ranked the jerseys in the following order, with the following comments:

  1. Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees - If you're from the Southwest, turquoise is a legit sweater color
  2. Laredo Bucks - Great logo and some nice flourishes on the side
  3. Wichita Thunder - We didn't like the logo last year but the striping here is excellent
  4. Tulsa Oilers - Cool color scheme with a bit of a throwback look
  5. Amarillo Gorillas - What can we say? We love that gorilla
  6. Mississippi RiverKings - Dark green and black works here
  7. Texas Brahmas - Logo is solid, as is the purple
  8. Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs - Blue and purple together somehow not bad
  9. Rapid City Rush - Has an NHL-in-the-80s simplicity to it
  10. Odessa Jackalopes - Jury divided on the mythical Jackalope
  11. Arizona Sundogs - Sundog 'S' a little too soft for hockey
  12. Corpus Christi IceRays - Nothing quite caught our attention here
  13. Colorado Eagles - Too generic for our tastes

See the article here for examples of the jerseys they used to judge. Both home and away jerseys were used to represent the teams. They took the one they liked best out of the two. Third or alternate jersey weren't considered.

Well, I guess number seven out of 13 isn't too bad. At least they knew that the Scorpions, Rage and Blazers were no longer playing.

If you're into this sort of thing, you can vote for your favorite jersey (maybe hit the button for the Brahmas) here. Perhaps it's a fluke or just "black helicopter" conspiracy, but the voting results matches the Hockey News' order of picks exactly.

The Hockey News Jersey Tournament will have a four-round tournament (September 10th through 27th) with a championship beginning on September 28th. The winner will be announced on October 3rd. The tournament covers 15 leagues including college conferences and you can follow the results here.

Image Credit: The Hockey News

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Insider Interview - Derek Merlini

The Brahmas' newest defenseman talks about his hockey career and joining the league champions as they defend the President's Cup

When Derek Merlini joins the Texas Brahmas' D corps this fall, he will be the second member of the Port Huron Icehawks (IHL) to have made the jump to the Central Hockey League's defending champions. Merlini will share an apartment with his former teammate, Jamie Carroll, and together, the two will work to help the Brahmas battle their way to another trip to the Finals. I spoke to Derek by phone yesterday. Here is some of our conversation.

Q: Where did you grow up?

A: I grew up in Clinton Township (Michigan), which is a suburb of Bloomfield Hills.

Q: I understand you knew how to skate but didn't start playing hockey until you were nine or ten. How did you get your start in hockey?

A: My Dad put me through skating classes when I was a little bit younger and I didn’t like it at all because I didn’t have a stick in my hand or anything like that; just pure skating classes. I got annoyed with it and I just quit. I grew up in a household that was surrounded…my Dad happened to be friends with a few of the Red Wings and it wasn’t uncommon to see guys like Bob Probert and Shel Kennedy hanging out around our house so, you know, hockey was always around me. So when I was about nine, I asked my Dad if I could go back and start playing hockey.

Q: Where did you start out playing organized hockey?

A: I started out in house leagues and stuff like that…I started so late and kids at my age were already a lot better than me who had been playing for three or four years. So I just started out playing in the house leagues…my summers were pretty much spent at hockey camps. I had my personal coaches, which I was lucky enough that my Dad could afford for me. That’s how I was able to play catch up for the next few years until I went to the (Michigan) Jaguars, but as far as one particular team when I was growing up, I didn’t really have one. I was always around with different teams and different leagues, especially because I moved up from house to AA to AAA as I got older.

Q: Was your Dad your biggest influence and supporter?

A: Oh, for sure. As I said, my Dad had a lot of friends in the hockey world, so he was pretty educated compared to a lot of other fathers, I’d guess you’d say. He was always very good at teaching me and understood what it took for me, so I always respected what he had to say…he was definitely my biggest influence in hockey.

Q: How did you like playing for the Erie Otters and under coach McQueen?

A: I enjoyed my time in Erie. I went there when I was 18. I actually could have went there a year earlier, but I didn’t believe that I was good enough to get playing time...I was on a real good team and I had already made a commitment to my AAA team back in Michigan, so I decided to stay back so I could get a lot more playing time and improve that way. How it turned out was, they had a ton of injuries that year and I would’ve ended up getting a ton of playing time in my first year. In the years that I did play there, I definitely enjoyed it.

Q: Then in your final season there, you were traded to the Plymouth Whalers, who were doing a little bit better than Erie and went into the playoffs that year. How was that experience for you?

A: For me, it was great actually because Plymouth was only about a half-hour from my house, so I was able actually to stay at home while I played. I was able to still have all my friends around me in the area and play at the same time. When they told me I was getting traded, it was great because we knew at the time there was only a three player over-age rule in the OHL and we were carrying four the entire season long, all the way up until the trade deadline, so all four of us over-age guys were waiting for it to happen – there wasn’t a clear-cut guy who was going to be traded or wasn’t going to be traded – It was all just a waiting game for us. But for me, it was good too, because I went from sitting every three or four games because they had somewhat of a rotation, so to go in there and play (in Plymouth), I enjoyed it a lot.

Q: After the OHL, you went on to the University of Windsor. How would you characterize your time playing college hockey?

A: I was actually done with hockey for a little bit and I just decided that I was going to try and go to school and get my degree and move on from hockey. Then I got the opportunity to possibly go over to the University of Windsor which, for me at the time, you know, Windsor was not very far from my home; I would have to live over there but that wasn’t a big deal. I was able to go there and get some of my education done while I kept playing.

Q: From what I've read and what videos I've seen on the Internet, you seem to be the kind of guy that will fight when it's called for but not so much an enforcer-type...

A: Yeah, I wouldn’t call myself an enforcer…I’m definitely there and I will stand up for my teammates but I’m not going to be a guy who is going to go out and fight every other game…I’m not out there looking for fights, in particular. I’m out there to play defense and help my team out more defensively, but at the same time, using my size to stick up for other players.

Q: You mentioned your Dad was friends with Bob Probert, who was a well-known enforcer in the NHL; as far as the physical side of your game goes, did you have any particular influences or did you learn to fight from other players?

A: When Probert was around, I was a lot younger at the time and as I got older and more involved with hockey, he and my Dad sort of lost touch a little bit. I’ve seen him once or twice in the last several years; I was re-introduced to him again as I got older. When I was in Plymouth, they had a guy who worked out of a boxing gym, but he worked out specifically for hockey and he was actually a hockey guy...I did some work with him during the summers.

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

A: I work out a couple of times a week; I have a trainer, and I also work out other days on my own. But I also lay cement and that job is...too tough. Other jobs, they've got machines, you know, to make everything easier...there's a lot of labor and a lot of work outside up here in the hot...oh, I know in Texas it's very hot, but here we have the heat and the humidity with it, so the humidity just kills you. I've tried working out on those days when I'm outside all day long - it just doesn't work. I actually haven't been working as much this summer because I've had a couple of classes for school that I've been taking, so I've been able to get on the ice a lot more and also work with a trainer, like I said.

Q: The cement laying brings to mind one of your new teammates, A.J. Gale who is up in British Columbia. His summer job is splitting firewood with an axe. He does that all day long and I asked him about his workout and he just kind of laughed and said, "I split firewood, eight hours a day...,"

A: And in the same sense, lugging around wheelbarrows and carrying stuff and all the shovelling...

Q: Anybody who saw Rocky IV knows there's a lot of ways to work out...

A: Oh yeah, it's not all the same (for everyone)'s not the exact work out I'm looking for - I'd much rather go into the gym and do a hard workout for an hour rather than working for 10 hours all day outside...

Q: You had a breakout season last year in Port Huron...named IHL Rookie of the Week a couple of times and named to the all-rookie team, not to mention your scoring...

A: Yeah, that's right; it was a good season for me. Coming back in, I was just hoping to improve on the year before because when I came in the previous season, the defense was a lot older and it was my first year...I came in half-way through the season and I was just getting used to pro hockey. When I came back last season, I had an increased role on defense and that's why I was able to be solid and I had a bigger role as a penalty also helped that I enjoyed my D partners and they helped me out a lot too.

Q: What do you think you can bring to the Texas Brahmas?

A: Well, I'm sound, defensively; that's something I pride myself on. I believe I can move the puck and pass the puck pretty well and you know my size too; I bring a physical presence...

Q: Do you have much familiarity with the CHL?

A: My familiarity is not the greatest. I just know what I have heard from other guys who played in the CHL (in Port Huron)...that's pretty much all I know for the most part. In the same sense that I really didn't know anything about the IHL before I got there. There are a lot of guys that are stats guys and stuff like that and they pay a lot of attention to everything. I'm kind of the opposite; I pay attention to what I've got going on and I don't really look at everything else.

Q: So this is a pretty good situation for you in your second season pro, to come on board with a league champion who will be defending the excited are you to come into camp and work with a team in that situation?

A: Oh, I'm excited. Everything I've heard about coming down was big. At first, when they told me about winning last year, and the fact that they had a lot of guys returning, core guys, I was really excited. I definitely want to come in and hopefully, win again because at Port Huron, the first year, we went all the way to Game Seven and lost in triple overtime, so that was a pretty big blow. Last year, we had a very solid team and we were in first place all year long. Then we started to fall a little bit at the end and we got knocked out in the first round. So, I definitely want to win it all...I'm definitely excited to come in and be with a top contender this year.

Photo Credit: Hartford Whalers
Blacktop Brahmas coming to NYTEX on Wednesday

The Texas Brahmas will be hosting their free inline hockey clinic known as Blacktop Brahmas on Wednesday, August 19 from 10:00 am - noon at the NYTEX Sports Centre. The clinic, which is coached by Brahmas coaches and players, is open to children aged 6-16. The Brahmas will provide sticks, street hockey balls and helmets for participants to use at the event.

"This is the sole opportunity for a free inline hockey demonstration featuring members of the 2008-09 Champions right here at the NYTEX Sports Centre and in the heart of North Richland Hills," Brahmas General Manager Mike Barack said.

Participants are asked to please arrive early with their tennis shoes or inline skates at the NYTEX Sports Centre for registration. Blacktop Brahmas is sponsored by Reliant Energy and North Hills Hospital. For more information please contact the Brahmas offices at (817) 336-4423.

Image Credit: Texas Brahmas

Sunday, August 16, 2009

For those who wanted to know if the new guy can fight...

From what I hear, Derek Merlini is not a thug and probably not anybody's definition of an enforcer, but the big man can definitely hold his own.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Texas Brahmas sign defenseman Derek Merlini

Former Port Huron Icehawk adds size, toughness to roster

For those of you who wanted to see some size on the roster, meet Derek Merlini, the 11th player signed by the Texas Brahmas to the 2009-10 roster. The 6' 6", 245 pound defenseman from Clinton Township, Michigan played with the Port Huron Icehawks (IHL) last season alongside forward Jamie Carroll, who was added to the Brahmas roster last month.

Merlini, 24, spent 2 1/2 seasons (2003-04 to 2005-06) with the Erie Otters (OHL), tallying 48 points (12 G, 36 A) and 240 penalty minutes in 152 games played. In 2004, Merlini was invited to attend the Phoenix Coyotes (NHL) rookie camp.

He had two playoff runs with the Otters. In 2003–04, the Otters defeated the Sarnia Sting four games to one in the conference quarter-finals but were swept by the London Knights in the conference semi-finals. Merlini notched seven points (1 G, 6 A) in nine games played. In 2004–05, the Otters lost to the Kitchener Rangers four games to two in the conference quarter-finals. Merlini had one assist in six games played.

He finished the 2005-06 season with the Plymouth Whalers (OHL) where he added seven points (2 G, 5 A) and 90 penalty minutes in 34 games played. In the playoffs, the Whalers defeated the Windsor Spitfires four games to three in the conference quarter-finals before losing to the Guelph Storm four games to two in the conference semi-finals. Merlini had two assists in 13 games post-season games played.

The following season, Merlini joined the University of Windsor Lancers (CIS) hockey team where he had four points (2 G, 2 A) and 18 penalty minutes in nine games played. He had limited playing time in 10 games the following season.

In January of 2008, Merlini joined the Port Huron Icehawks (IHL) as a defenseman and finished the campaign with five points (2 G, 3 A, +5), including a power play goal in 43 regular-season games. He also had one assist in eight playoff games.

Last season, Merlini notched a career best 30 points (9 G, 21 A) and 114 penalty minutes in 73 games played. He added an assist in six games played during the post-season. Merlini was named to the IHL's All Rookie Team after finishing the season with a campaign with a +29 rating, which ranked him first among rookies and tied for second in the league in plus/minus. He was also named IHL Rookie of the Week in Weeks 13 and 22.

"This is a great signing for us this off season," Wildfong said. "We obviously were looking for some size, and I believe Derek will be just the player for us to use his size, strength and skill to his advantage."

Photo Credits: Hartford Whalers, Port Huron Icehawks

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Brahmas, President's Cup at NRH2O this Sunday!

Texas Brahmas players will be on hand with the Ray Miron President's Cup at the NRH2O Water Park this Sunday afternoon from 1-7pm. The players will be available for autographs, photos and to visit with fans throughout the day.

Scheduled to appear:

1-3 PM: Craig Minard and Justin Kinnunen
3-5 PM: Matt Burto and Coach Ron Vogel

5-7 PM: Tyler Skworchinski and Jason Deitsch

The Brahmas' booth will be located just inside the park's main gate. If you've never been there before, you're guaranteed a great time. The park is huge and there are lots of attractions, including three huge body slides, three double-rider innertube slides, a 5,300-square-foot pool at Beachside Bay which includes a huge beach for relaxing and also a sand volleyball court. Other attractions include the Frogstein's Splashatory, the NRH2Ocean and much more. There will be even be a fireworks show at 9:00pm. Add all this to a visit with the Brahmas and your day will truly be complete.

"This is a great chance to see the Brahmas as the 2009-10 season fast approaches while also supporting a tremendous local entertainment partner, NRH20," said Mike Barack, Brahmas General Manager. "We look forward to seeing our great customers while also meeting new potential fans of the team."

You can visit the park's website here where you can get directions, buy tickets online and even get a half-ff coupon if plan to visit later in the day.

Image Credit: NRH2O Family Water Park

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Insider Interview - Ron Vogel

The Brahmas' assistant coach talks about his role with the team, winning the Cup and preparing to defend it

Ron Vogel is entering his season season as assistant coach of the Texas Brahmas. I spoke to Ron Vogel at length recently about his role with the team, the learning process for a new coach and what it was like winning the President's Cup. Here is our conversation.

Q: Do you miss goaltending?

A: I miss it, but I enjoy the challenges of what everyday coaching brings to being part of this organization. Dan’s been unbelievable to learn from; just his presentation in the locker room, his systems, the way he sets everything up from year to year, his passion for the game – he’s a great guy to learn from. Goaltending is definitely a huge part – I miss it, I’ll probably always have that itch, that drive…but I welcome the new challenges. I’m at that part of my life where I was looking for something new. I probably could have played a couple of more years. You know with a family now, I’m looking to pursue higher things in the coaching levels.

We had great goaltenders here last year. They made my job a lot of fun because of their willingness and eagerness to learn and to improve themselves. It was fun to work with them on a daily basis; working on extra things that we didn’t always accomplish in a practice plan. I was really motivated to pass on what I’ve learned to our goaltenders and I’m looking forward to it again this year.

Q: Do you still play at all?

A: I still get out in the men’s league once in a while. I play with a couple of old friends that I know here in the area. It’s fun. I still like to play with competitive shooters...if not, I just become a defenseman or forward that doesn’t like the corners (laughing).

Q: Speaking of goaltending, let’s talk about Brett Jaeger, who has a tremendous work ethic. Compared to other goaltenders I’ve had the opportunity to watch preparing before a game, I’ve never seen someone with the focus or his determination to get out there and do the best that he can. What are your thoughts on him as a goaltender, from a goaltenders’ standpoint?

A: He did an amazing job for us last year. He really stepped up at key times. He played a lot of hockey for us, especially in the playoffs. He’s a true professional, through and through. When he leaves the rink, his job isn’t over. When he’s at home, he studies the game; he works on all the aspects, like you said – preparation; you know, being mentally and physically prepared. That’s where he gets a lot of his success from along with the hard work. He’s willing to put in the extra time on the ice. To be honest, a lot of the time it’s not me asking him to go out, it’s him asking if I’ll go out with him and work with him and he’s just eager to improve every day. Whether it’s mentally or physically; he’s always looking for that edge and his hard work and determination paid off last year. He had a great year and he’s a guy that, coming back, we’re expecting big things and I’m sure he’s expects the same from himself. We go through games that he’s had and he’s like, I could’ve done this and I’ve could’ve done that, where a lot of people would just be like, well, you know, my defenseman was standing in front of me so I couldn’t see the puck. But he’s like, I could’ve done this, I could’ve done that. He’s always looking for ways that he could’ve stopped the puck which, you’re not going to stop every one, but he feels he can do things to stop every puck, and that illustrates the determination in him; that drive to be the best goalie out there.

Q: Yeah, I’ve found that you can go up and congratulate him after a win but pretty much the first thing he’ll say is, well, you know, I had some good blocks, but…there’s always that but. He’s always seems to be thinking of what he could’ve done better…I don’t know if that’s unique but he doesn’t seem like he would ever pat himself on the back, ever.

A: You can tell him that he’s done a great job a bunch…you can’t even count how many games where he made the big save for us, kept us in it…you know, just little things he was doing and you can say great game and all that and he’s still, what could I have done on this and what can I have done on that. He’s always looking for that way to improve and that way to make the next stop and that says a lot about him and his character. A lot of goalies and a lot of people in life in general are like, this is my situation and nothing could be done so I’m just going to deal with it. You know, you can take something and try and learn from it and build on that experience. Mentally, he’s focused but you know, at the end of the game, that’s where he recaps everything and goes through it in his mind, seeing what he saw, whether it’s himself, myself or on the video. He’s always learning, always willing to find that edge to get one step ahead of the next guy.

Q: He was easily one of the top three, maybe top four goalies in the league last season. Does that make it difficult to find another guy to come in when they know they’re going to be the number two to Jaegs?

A: Yeah, it is in a sense but we’re also if we’re looking to bring in a younger guy to compete. You know you’re going to get a guy who’s hungry and wanting to work for those games. Brett’s done a fantastic job; he was unbelievable last year. His expectations of himself and what we expect are going to be the same thing. A lot of things can happen in a season. It is tough to get a commitment from some goalies that think they’re going to be a starter right out of junior hockey or college hockey, which is never the sense. Every team has their go-to guy. They’re looking at him to carry the work load. But a lot of things can happen. Brett can get called up, you know, those kinds of situations where you need a guy who can step in to play. The way that Brett played last year, and if he starts off well again this year, who knows how long is he going to be here or what his situation’s going to be? Our big thing with recruiting is bringing in a guy who will compete and will work on improving himself and the team every day.

Q: I would think that’s a selling point if you’re looking at having a younger guy come in who doesn’t have a lot of experience. The fact that he will have an opportunity to work with one of the best to help him develop…

A: Definitely. From being a goaltender, I know from personal experiences and dealing with other goaltenders, you know between partners and now coaching, that your first year is never smooth as you’d like to be, You’re going from, you know – you’re the big fish in a little pond when you’re playing juniors or in college; you’re a senior, you’re the go-to guy; they’re counting on you. Now you’re coming into the pro ranks and everything’s new – the hockey’s different and you’re stepping up a level. Bringing a young goalie in, you’re behind one of the best, you’ve got a great team in front of you, you’re only going to be able to put up good numbers in a great situation if you’re willing to work with the way that the situation is. You’re not going to play a lot, but when you get your games, you’re going to have to show what you can do and you’ve got a great guy to learn from. As a young guy, that’s an ideal situation, other than if you’re going to a team where you’re going to play every game. Who knows how that teams built around and that’s one thing we like to offer the goalies we’re bringing in – we’re going to expect a lot out of you but you’re going to have a good team in front of you and we’ll go from there.

Q: You came into a situation where Dan had an assistant who was an old friend, a line mate who he played alongside for years and then decided to go in a different direction with his career. From Dan’s account of it, you were able to come in and it was a really smooth transition and he has had great things to say about you. From your standpoint, coming in to that situation, how was it for you coming in and filling the role of assistant coach?

A: Your first day of anything, you’re nervous, you’re anxious; you’re excited about coming in. Dan made my transition easy. He knew a lot about the game and we’re definitely still learning as we go but he knew a lot; he’d been through it for a year as a head coach. He also had the expectations of where he’s bringing in another new guy, whereas it was a learning process for me all over again and now he’s kind of showing me the ropes. He made my transition easy but I was nervous. I was anxious about how the guys would receive me – the expectations, how I’d take everything in. It couldn’t have been a better time for
me to leave, playing the game and to get into coaching. The opportunity to work with Dan, I couldn’t pass it up. He’s a phenomenal guy and he’s a great coach; he just knows how to get his message across to guys and he demands a lot of respect. Again, it was a nervous time in my life because I didn’t know what I was getting into 100% and I hadn’t dealt with a lot of administrative work. When you play, you just go out and you play and you travel and all that but you don’t really know what happens behind the scenes. I think with his help and his patience with me and the million questions that I had throughout the year, we got it done and hopefully it’s a smooth ride again this year.

Q: So, good cop/bad cop…

A: Oh, did he mention that (laughing)?

Q: Yeah, you know I think from the outside, as a new player coming in, you get the impression that Dan is very intense and very intimidating when they first meet him and I think Ronnie Vogel’s the guy you want to go and bar-b-que with and have the kids play by the pool (laughing). You know, if you’ve been around an angry Dan, it’s not a great place to be (bad cop). Ron Vogel may be the good cop who can and present things in a different way, to get what you need out of a player. Tell me a little about how that dynamic works for you guys.

A: Well, in regards to how we deal with the players – he is an intense guy. He’s very passionate about the game and he wears his heart on his sleeve. You can basically tell what kind of mood Dan’s in by looking at him. Back when I played and as a coach, I also have that passion and intensity for hockey. Being a goaltender, I think with a goaltenders frame of mind, you’ve got to let things go a lot quicker. Let’s say you let in a goal – I’ve got to let it go. You basically have to immunize yourself to different situations and then react to what’s happening next. Dealing with players, he does a great job. One of the big things I learned was that he got to know his players, inside and out. Not just how they played for him, but outside the rank. He wanted to know about their families, what makes them tick; what gets guys going…

Q: Is that uncommon, as a player?

A: Yeah, well he’s still young enough where he has that relationship with his players. He gets it; he’s not been out of the game for that long. He gets what they’re going through and he really understands. You don’t always have a perfect situation. You have family issues, you have kids; he gets that. He can relate to that. He relates to the guys on a personal level and he gets to know them. But when its time to crack the whip, he’s great at that. He doesn’t do it a lot but when it has to be done, he does it. You may call it the bad cop but that’s his job – to get the most out of his players. He lets them know when he’s disappointed in them and he lets them know when he’s proud of them. That’s one of his great assets because he does wear his heart on his sleeve. He let’s guys know how he feels.

Getting to know his players, some guys react different to different ways of teaching and to learning. When he has to be hard on some guys, that’s basically where I would say he’s the bad cop and that’s where I come in and try and build the guy back up. If a player was having a tough shift, not working hard enough or not doing the little things right, Dan will let him know. Some guys react differently to certain comments or the way things are said…some guys will take that and say, OK, I’m going out there and going to do this the right way and some guys will be like, well, now Dan’s all mad at me, I don’t know what I’m going to do. That’s where I come in and I’ve got to build them up. You’re doing a great job, you know, let’s keep going here. Some players, he related better to than others and he knew what he could get away with them and how they would respond and then other guys, he had no idea. There are times when the roles were reversed…not too many, but you know, where I got on a guy. I didn’t have to do it very often but when I did, hopefully it hit its mark and I got through to the guy.

When it comes down to it, our job is to get the most out of our guys; to get them to where they want to be. Our guys have a ton of potential and our expectations are high and really, the good cop/bad cop is just the way we relate to them and how we try to get that message through to them where they realize in their own mind what they have to get done and what their job is. There’s a lot of scenarios we could go through, I’m sure (laughing). We talked about it after the fact, after the season and some of them, we had to laugh about. I think it was great. We had great relations with the players and I think Dan really takes his time to get to know the guys as individuals. You don’t always get that from your coaches.

Q: You’re learning a lot and you’re learning from a great teacher. Now that you see what it’s all about, and you see what Dan does, do you think you would like to take on the role of head coach at some point?

A: Yeah definitely. I’m not closing any doors to the future. I don’t know what to expect come next year, tomorrow or next month, but I’m excited to be on board again this year. I think that my learning process isn’t over as a coach and hopefully it will never be over because I’m always looking to learn. Dan’s a great guy to learn from. I feel that if I had to, could I? Probably, but I’m not looking for that right now. I think we have a great thing here together. I really enjoy what I do and working with him. You know, if he decides one day that it’s time for him to move on, I think I’d look for that but for now, I enjoy our chemistry in the office here. If the opportunity came up and it was the right situation at the right time and it was right for my family, I think I would definitely like to experience it. I enjoy teaching. I enjoy passing on what I’ve learned; but I also like what I do as an assistant. I like a lot of my responsibilities. It’s not that I wouldn’t want to take on more but I enjoy doing a lot of the administrative work. I enjoy having the player/assistant coach relationship where sometimes I’m the middleman in between different things. I’m not closing any doors and I definitely would like the challenge to, in the right situation, become a head coach.

Q: Along the same lines, do you think of Craig Minard would make a good assistant coach?

A: Craig definitely would. He knows the game real well. He has that passion. You can see in the locker room the way he leads the team and you know, from my transition too, from a player to a coach, he was great to run things off of. I felt that with him being an older, experienced player…he helped with my transition too. I could run things off him; the D Corps and what we were thinking and that kind of stuff. He’d answer me truthfully and tell me how he felt. It didn’t always go the way – whether he’d agree or disagree – it was our decision at the end of the day, but he’s great to run things off of. He does such a great job in the locker room, helping out with the other players; making sure guys are prepared. He steps up and talks at the right situations and with his knowledge of the game, I can definitely see him as a coach after he’s done playing, but I think he still has that passion (to play). Last year was huge for him, you know, he got that championship. He worked so hard for it …I think he wants to experience it again as a player.

Q: So you have good cop and you have bad cop and then you have Deputy Minzy. Here’s a guy that you, as coaches, can depend on, where maybe you need to send a player in to talk to a guy or maybe he’s going to take care of a situation that comes up on his own. Is that true?

A: Yeah, that’s true. Sometimes we don’t know what goes on in that locker room. What is said, what is done. With all our systems implied and with all the team building we do, I feel that every player in that room has to hold each other accountable for their actions on the ice and off the ice. That’s part of being a part of a team. The things you do doesn’t only affect yourself. You have to think of the bigger picture as a team and the team’s goals. I find that our older leaders are not afraid to say things when they need to be said or they’re not afraid to point the finger back at themselves and hold themselves accountable…a lot of them are great leaders and have been through a lot. We didn’t have any issues last year – they dealt with the locker room just great. We had our points where we had to step in…but as a group, our guys held each other accountable day in and day out. They had expectations of a guy and if a guy wasn’t working hard in practice, they’d let him know. Not in a bad way but just to let him know that hey, he probably had a little bit more to give. Let’s turn it up a notch. Let’s get going here or something like that. Our guys were great at communicating like that. I think bringing in the right guys helps you control that situation too.

Q: I was beside the bench in the final moments of Game Five against Colorado. Mike Vellinga and Ross Rouleau were back there and I was watching the end of the game on your faces rather than on the ice. Give me a sense of what was building up inside of you as the clock ticked down and you were seeing all of your efforts as a coach and as a part of this organization come to fruition?

A: Being my first time of winning a championship, there was a lot of mixed things going through my head. You know, there was still a minute-and-a-half to play and time wouldn’t go quick enough. There was so
many things that I was thinking, but most of all I was happy for the guys around me. They worked extremely hard…you know even the families that are involved; my wife, my daughter – a lot of people sacrifice a lot to have a successful season. Our fans deserved it. We had great support all year. You know, a lot of mixed emotions but I was just watching that clock and making sure I had the right guys out there at the right time. We had our two older guys playing out there and I think it was really special for them.

It was really all kind of surreal because I didn’t quite recognize what we had accomplished. I think it was a couple of days after and we were already hard at work for the upcoming season. You always think you’re going to win this but actually winning it, it’s like pinch me – it’s so surreal. We’d just accomplished what we had set out for from day one. It just doesn’t set in right away. The other thing was, I didn’t know what to do. I’ve never been a champion, what do you do (laughing)? The Cup’s coming and you do all that and then it’s like, you’ve got to get this done and this done. I really enjoyed that night and we can recall a ton of memories from that night thanks to your pictures. It was great. Now you look back on it through photos and you’re like, wow, that was something else.

Looking back, I don’t know if everyone enjoyed it as much as they should have…for me being a first-time winner at this level, a first-time champion, it was like, how do you react? We just did it, I’m pumped, I’m jumping up and down and then you just sit back and you kind of…you know, I caught myself…I think it was with Jacobsen’s goal and I usually, you know after a goal, I’m like OK, what do we need to do in the next shift, but that was one of the times I sat back and just listened to the crowd. That’s one thing, being in the zone and all that, we’re on the bench getting things ready and you don’t hear those things. You know, you can hear the crowd when they get going but you’re focused on what are job is, what our goal is – when you really sit back to listen to the reaction from everyone, the fans, the players – it was unbelievable. It was something I was excited to be a part of; its something that you know, you’ll take with you for the rest of your days.

Q: So the day after winning the championship, you go from being the league champion to being the defending champion. Now you’ve got to defend this Cup that you guys have worked so hard to obtain. The team that you are putting together, the guys that you have coming back and the new players that you are bringing in, is truly a team that could win it again. What are your feelings on defending the cup and with the guys that you have coming back and makeup of the league now that you can defend this Cup?

A: You know, we have a great group of guys returning. You don’t know 100% how things are going to work out but we can’t control that between injuries and players and all that. We’ve got a group right now – if we have to make changes we will – that will try and defend the cup. If we weren’t happy with what we have coming in right now, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here, I’d probably be on the phone. Dan’s worked extremely hard and I think that’s one of the things I got from him too is that our job started for the next season the night we finished. We’ve just got to take it from the first day of training camp to the last game of the year and make the proper adjustments along the road. We’re definitely confident with the guys we have and how the guys prepare through the summer and what they do to get themselves into shape. The great thing about bringing the core group back is they know how hard it was to win it. Once you know and realize how much you have to do to be successful – it doesn’t come easier, it gets harder. If you’ve been there, you want to keep that. You want to keep the Cup. We might have slipped by teams last year; in the first year, I know Dan talks about slipping by teams because you’re unknown, but now we’re going to be out getting everyone’s best game. Everybody’s going to look and think, we’ve got the Brahmas tonight – they get geared up to play top teams…It’s just the nature of an athlete when you’re playing against a top team, you’re going to prepare differently from playing a bottom of the pack team.

This year, I feel the league is going to be strong. We’ve lost a couple of teams and we gained a couple, but I think it’s going to be strong – there are a lot of players still available out there. There are a lot of good players at this level. I just feel our league is still building to be a successful league. I think every team, talent-wise is just getting stronger. You see some of the players other teams are signing and you’re like, oh man, you know, there are just a lot of good players out there. It’s going to be a real competitive season. That brings a lot of excitement and we do have a lot of expectations.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Friday, August 7, 2009

Texas Brahmas games to be shown on INSINC's CHL-TV

Pay-per-view, limited-term and season passes available

The Central Hockey League announced today that it has teamed up with INSINC to broadcast the league's games via the Internet during the 2009-10 season.

Fans will get an opportunity to experience CHL-TV free of charge during the league’s opening night on Friday, October 16th featuring such match-ups as a Ray Miron President’s Cup Finals re-match with the Texas Brahmas visiting the Colorado Eagles. Other opening night games will include Allen at Arizona, Missouri at Rapid City, Tulsa at Mississippi, Laredo at Bossier-Shreveport, Amarillo at Wichita and Corpus Christi at Odessa.

And yes, you will have to pay for the service during the season. Surprised? You shouldn't be. It had been widely reported that the league was not renewing its relationship with Nifty-TV, so we knew something new was coming. Besides, there were lots of technical issues with Nifty's CHL-TV so a change will probably be for the better.

"Technology of this nature evolves each year,” said the CHL's Kevin Huhn. “We wanted a company that had a strong history of delivering good quality, an in depth knowledge of live streaming and recognized as a leader in the industry, so our fans could have a better experience each game. After nearly a year of research we believe this partnership is one that has everyone win - fans, sponsors, teams and the league."

As far as having to pay for the service - did you really think the broadcasts would continue for free? Made no sense last season and it would make no sense this season. This stuff costs money and somebody's got to pay for it and anyone providing it deserves to make a buck. I don't know about you, but I have no problem with paying for something I can't live without.

You'll have the choice of purchasing a season pass, a limited term pass or you can pay to view on a game-by-game basis. The programming will offer interactive functions including a chat page, live in-game stats and scoreboards. In addition, you'll be able to browse and stream games from the archives of all CHL games or download games and play them at your convenience.

What will it cost? Don't know. The pricing structures have not been announced yet.

From what I hear, the picture quality is excellent. INSINC’s streaming platform services are currently employed by major sports leagues and media and entertainment companies including the Canadian Football League, the Ontario Hockey League, the Western Hockey League, RDS (French Language Broadcaster of the Montreal Canadiens), the Canadian Television Network (CTV), Business News Network (BNN), Rogers Sportsnet, and TVG Interactive Horseracing.

We are delighted to be in a position to partner with the Central Hockey League in delivering their games to the Internet,” said INSINC President Hugh Dobbie. “Good hockey content is increasingly in high demand and we look forward to bringing a new level of broadcasting quality to CHL fans”.

You can visit the CHL-TV site here

By the way, if you are jonesing for some CHL hockey, as of today, Nifty's broadcasts were still available to stream for free.

Image Credit: INSINC, Central Hockey League

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Brahmas' 2009-10 schedule released

Open season on the road against the Colorado Eagles

The Texas Brahmas' 2009-10 season schedule was released by the Central Hockey League today. The Brahmas will open their 12th season (third as the Texas Brahmas) on the road Friday, October 16th with a two-game series against the Colorado Eagles. The Brahmas defeated the Eagles four games to one to win the 2009 Ray Miron President's Cup championship in May.

The home opener at the NYTEX Sports Centre will be on Saturday, October 24th against the Mississippi RiverKings.

"We look forward to another exciting season, our first to defend the title," general manager Mike Barack said. "We also look forward to our home opener when we unveil our championship banners for the league championship as well as our division and conference titles".

The league has been split into a Northern and a Southern Conference with no divisions this season as a result of the realignment announced last month.

The Northern Conference consists of the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs, the Colorado Eagles, the Mississippi RiverKings, the Mavericks, the Rapid City Rush, the Tulsa Oilers and the Wichita Thunder.
The Southern Conference includes the Brahmas along with the Allen Americans, the Amarillo Gorillas, the Arizona Sundogs, the Corpus Christi Ice Rays, the Laredo Bucks, the Odessa Jackalopes and the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees.

The Brahmas went 22-5-5 against the current Southern Conference teams and 15-7-1 against the current Northern Conference teams last season. This season, they will face Southern Conference teams 36 times (18 road games, 18 home games) and Northern Conference teams 28 times (14 road games, 14 home games).

The Brahmas will play against all 14 teams this season and Brahmas fans will see every team at NYTEX at least once.
The following is the list of teams in order of the number of times they will meet:

Allen Americans – 9 games (4 road, 5 home)
Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs - 8 games (4 road, 4 home)
Laredo Bucks - 7 games (4 road, 3 home)
Corpus Christi Rays - 6 games (2 road, 4 home)
Tulsa Oilers - 6 games (2 road, 4 home)
Arizona Sundogs - 4 games (2 road, 2 home)
Mississippi RiverKings - 4 games (3 road, 1 home)
Odessa Jackalopes - 4 games (2 road, 2 home)
Amarillo Gorillas - 3 games (2 road, 1 home)
Colorado Eagles - 3 games (2 road, 1 home)
Rapid City Rush – 3 games (2 road, 1 home)
Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees - 3 games (2 road, 1 home)
Wichita Thunder - 3 games (1 road, 2 home)
Missouri Mavericks – 1 game (home)

The 64-game schedule features 28, count 'em, 28 Friday, Saturday and Sunday games at the NYTEX Sports Center. All but four home games will be held on Friday, Saturday or Sunday (The four are Wednesday evening games).

There will be no holiday dates at home this season. The Brahmas will play in Tulsa the day after Thanksgiving and in Odessa on New Year's Eve. The day after Christmas will be in Allen and the following day will be at home against Wichita. Not really a holiday, but the Brahmas will host the Americans on Halloween.

The Brahmas will have a five-game home stand on November 29th – December 11th and a four-game home stand on January 15th – 23rd.

The longest road trip will be a four-game journey in December. The boys will head North to play the Tulsa Oilers and then South to Prescott , Arizona for two games against the Sundogs. On the way back, they will play the Allen Americans before returning home to NYTEX. Technically, the longest (distance) road trip will be for a two game series against the Rapid City Rush on March 16-17th before closing out the season at home against the Mudbugs. They will have three three-game road trips occurring in October, November and January.

A new conference rivalry is born as the Brahmas and the Allen Americans meet nine times this season. Those who wish to brave Wednesday night traffic on November 11th will get an opportunity to see the new Allen Events Center.

The old I-20 rivalry remains alive and well as the Brahmas and the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs will meet eight times this season.

The Brahmas have been blessed with six games against the Tulsa Oilers and six against the Corpus Christi Ice Rays.

The first seven games of the season will include games against the Colorado Eagles, the Mississippi RiverKings and the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs - all tough opponents.

This will be a(nother) season to remember!

Image Credit: Central Hockey League

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

2009-10 schedule to be released tomorrow

The wait is almost over

At long last, according to the Central Hockey League website, the 2009-10 league schedule will be released on Thursday afternoon. As we all know, the league has had numerous issues to deal with that has delayed the release until this week.

I'll have a breakdown on the Brahmas' schedule posted by Thursday evening.

Image credit: Central Hockey League

The Insider Interview - Dan Wildfong and Ron Vogel

Texas Brahmas coaches share insight into recruiting

I had the opportunity to spend a couple of hours yesterday with Dan and Ron at the NYTEX Sports Centre. We talked about a number of topics, one of which was recruiting. I thought it might be interesting to get an insight into the the recruiting process, which is well under way. From what I know, the Brahmas look to have another championship caliber team this season - just what is needed to defend the President's Cup.

Here is part of our conversation, starting with Dan Wildfong.

Q: After the championship win, how quickly did you go into recruiting mode?

A: I got a question the other day about what was the difference of winning a championship as a player and winning a championship as a coach. If you win as a player, you’re kind of done. Once we won, we enjoyed that night but Ronnie and I were discussing the fact that we were behind already because other teams had already started recruiting. So, it started right when we were done but we try and make contact with players – like college players – a lot earlier than just the end of the season. We try to get a good database and then we just work on trying to build relationships with them.

Q: I know you have a lot of resources but are there any out of the ordinary ways to get in touch with prospects?

A: We use a lot of 411 sometimes (laughing). But now we’re getting a pretty good database of players so we’ll call a player that’s played with them and we’ll get a hold of them that way or use Facebook – it’s a resource because all the kids are on that now. We just try and use as many connections as possible.

Q: As well, I’m sure you are using your existing players as a resource to get in touch of some of your prospects…

A: Yeah, that’s for sure. Obviously, you go to and see someone that Kinnunen’s played with then call Kinnunen and he’ll try to get in touch or get a number. Our scout up in Canada helps us out a lot – getting numbers through…I don’t know how (laughing). He knows everyone and seems to have everyone’s number. It’s obviously one of the tough things to do, is tracking the guy down.

Q: This off-season, with the number of teams that have suspended or ceased operations, there are a lot more quality players and especially players with experience in the Central Hockey League available. Have you found that to be a benefit or is the competition for those guys pretty fierce?

A: I think our league’s going to be – I think you’re going to see the best hockey because there’s not as many guys going to Europe and there’s not as many teams, so the quality of players that every organization signs is just outstanding. I think this is going to be a wonderful year for the CHL. I think you’re going to see really tight games; I can tell you, I guarantee there’s going to be a smaller difference if there was much of a smaller difference this year. It’s going to be an exciting year, I think. Lots of talented players are going to be playing in this league and hopefully we see a lot more movement too with guys getting called up.

Q: Do you run into situations where you think you’ve got a guy on the hook and then he turns left and decides to go a different way?

A: All the time.

Q: And how frustrating is that?

A: Very frustrating. But that’s part of the job. You’re going to have your highs and lows. It’s just like playing in the season. This is our recruiting season. We talk to our players about it. It’s one day at a time; one phone call at a time. You can’t worry too much if you lose a guy, there’s always a new player around the corner. We try and stay real positive. We know we’re going to lose guys to other teams. We’re going to lose guys to other leagues. But I feel like we’re getting a lot of younger players coming to camp this year as well. Good quality players, so I’m excited to see what they’re about. This is their time to come in and showcase their talent at the pro level. They put up great numbers in college but its a little different game in the pros and I expect them to do well and have a good transition.

Q: How is Making the Cut shaping up at this point?

A: We’re a little lower in numbers but I kind of expected that just because our first year, it was a new franchise and a new team, basically. So a lot of guys are looking and they do a lot of research on the computer and they say oh wow, a new team, I can try out for that team; I can make that team – they have no players. Well, after you win, then they’re thinking OK well, I’m just on a bubble of not getting calls from coaches but I’m not going to be able to go to a team that’s already won it all because they probably have a lot of guys coming back.

I did it originally when he had a lot of guys locally – they were asking me Dan, can I try out for your team? My dream was always to play professional hockey. Our original thought was yes, let them try out. Let them come to Making the Cut and we’ll get two positions but I think now it’s definitely different.

I think later on in the summer; I know it’s getting late but in another two weeks, we’ll see more sign ups…it’s a coaches market where before it was kind of a players market. Spots are filling up quick. There’s not many spots out there left. A lot of coaches are done doing a lot of their signing. I think players are going to start panicking a little bit more and maybe this is their only shot. If we can find a diamond in the rough, it’ll serve its purpose. I think it did last year with Ross (Rouleau). It’s kind of an inspirational story – someone coming in from Making the Cut, he came in, made the team, got cut and then came back and won a championship.

Q: Do you think having the Allen Americans just down the highway is making the local player market a little bit more competitive as well?

A: I think it’s great; it’s going to be a great little rivalry between us. I think you could have five teams in the Dallas Metroplex. It really wouldn’t affect us that much.

And now, the conversation continues with Ron Vogel.

Q: When you joined the Brahmas as an assistant coach, it was pretty much beyond the recruiting phase. This off-season is your first experience going at it full throttle. Describe to me what the experience has been like for you.

A: It’s been a great experience. I’ve been through it as a player on the other end. Last year, I didn’t deal with it very much. I really enjoy the process. There’s some things you don’t like and there’s some things you don’t like dealing with like negotiating – when it comes down to money, that’s one of the things you don’t enjoy but getting to know someone and doing your homework on a player, calling coaches…you get to network with a lot of people and its funny how small the world is because it always comes back to everybody knows somebody – it’s like the six degrees of separation. But its’ great finding out, like character traits of guys you’re going after. What kind of people they are in talking to their families, their coaches and professors – whatever we can do to find the little things that separate them from the other guy. We do make a ton of calls – you know it’s not just calling players and saying hey, we want you. We really do our homework.

Q: For any given player, how many kinds of people are you trying to get information from?

A: In so many cases, we’re talking about players that we’ve never seen play before. You can tell by their stats or not even that; some guys have good years and you know, they feel they should have played better, other people think they weren’t playing up to their potential; you’ve got guys that have had poor years. You can call a coach and they say he was the hardest worker day in and day out but it just wasn’t his year. But on character basis, you’re talking to coaches, players, teammates…you know, what kind of teammate are they? As a coach talking to another coach, how did he play for you? His preparation…did he show up at every practice? Did he work hard? Did he work on improving himself? Just a ton of questions we ask, trying to find out who that player is along with their skill. What kind of role they played with the team. What their assets are, what things they can work on…that’s pretty much to find out their character and the way they play their position. You know, talking to family too. It’s not always a key ingredient. Especially when you played against someone; you might hate playing against him but as a teammate, he might be the perfect teammate and you don’t see that all the time. Normally word travels fast enough and enough people know players out there from our current player and past players where we get great references on the guys we bring in.

Q: Do you run into the situation where statistically, you have a player who you would like to have but then when you are looking into his background, you think this is a player we don’t want to bring on board due to character issues?

A: There are certain players I guess…it’s in different categories. You do your homework, you know, you hear one thing once and you give the guy the benefit of the doubt. Then you have to dig a little bit deeper and if the guy shows some character traits that we’re not happy with, then we go to another reference and if it’s the same thing, then yeah and if we’ve been talking to a player – you have to be honest with the guys because this is their living and we want to bring in the best guys and you just have to let them know that we don’t feel that they’ll fit into our program. But there are guys that do get a second chance that we do bring in that might not have otherwise had that chance and they do well. Every body has a history and background and people do mess up when they’re younger and make bad decisions…but on the benefit of the doubt, that’s one reason we’re doing our homework. We try to find out their best qualities and what their goal is and if it’s a common goal that fits within our system.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
It's really amazing to consider the amount of work that goes into the off-season; another season of competition in and of itself, with coaches around the league competing for players to build and re-build their teams. From what I've seen and what I know, the Brahmas organization continues to improve and this season's roster will be better than ever.

Be patient about signing announcements. There are many reasons behind the timing of such things. We're just over 10 weeks away from the season opener - seems like an eternity but it will be worth the wait!

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Monday, August 3, 2009

Brahmas re-sign top defensive scorer

Kevin McLeod returns to the blue line for 2009-10

The Texas Brahmas announced the return of their top offensive defenseman, Kevin McLeod, in a press release today.

McLeod, 24, led all Brahmas defensemen in scoring last season with 50 points (20 G, 30 A, +19) and 89 penalty minutes in 61 games played. On special teams, he tallied 25 points (12 PPG, 13 PPA) and one short-handed assist. He also had 6 game winning goals. McLeod played in all 16 post-season contests, adding 12 points (4 G, 8 A, +2) and 24 penalty minutes.

He was tied for first among all CHL defensemen in goals scored and was fourth on the Brahmas roster in the goals, assists and points categories.

This will be McLeod’s third season as a professional. Before going pro, McLeod, 6-foot-3, 238 pounds, spent time at Cornell University (NCAA) and played Junior Hockey in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL).

During his two seasons as a Texas Brahma, McLeod has accumulated 84 points (32 G, 52 A) in 125 regular season games. He is sixth all-time in franchise history in game winning goals with nine, seventh in power play goals with 17, ninth in games played with 125 and 11th in plus/minus with a +18 all time.

"Kevin plays well in the Brahmas system and has a very strong role on this team. We expect a leadership role from him and another productive year," said head coach Dan Wildfong.