Saturday, October 31, 2009

Francois Lemay to play with the Allen Americans

Making the Cut 2009 alumni will travel to NYTEX tonight

I don't know whose face will have a bigger smile on it tonight - Cody Daniel or Francois Lemay. Lemay received a call from Dwight Mullins to come to the Americans' practice this morning at the Allen Events Center.

Lemay thought he did pretty well and apparently so did Mullins as Francois will back up Chris Whitley in tonight's tilt with the Texas Brahmas at the NYTEX Sports Centre. He will wear the #35.

After Matt Climie was called up to the NHL's Dallas Stars to take an ailing Marty Turco's place, the Texas Stars (AHL) called up Charlie Effinger, the Allen Americans' number one goalie. With Chris Whitley getting the start tonight for the Americans, Lemay gets his spot on the pine in relief.

The Americans will leave Allen at 4:00pm and should be arriving at NYTEX between 4:45 and 5:00pm.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith
There will be blood

Allen Americans return to NYTEX tonight

OK, let me explain myself. There will be blood and vampires and werewolves and princesses and all the other things one would expect to see on Halloween night as the Texas Brahmas and the NYTEX Sports Centre host the Allen Americans for the first of nine games between the two teams this season.

The undefeated Americans (4-0-0, 8 points) and the Brahmas (2-2-1, 5 points) met twice during the pre-season, splitting wins. The first game, with Joe Palmer in goal, was a 4-3 win for Texas. The second game, with Jaeger in net, was a 3-1 loss.

The Americans have won all four of their road games thus far, five if you include the pre-season game at NYTEX.

Thier top three scorers include center Justin Bowers (0 G, 5 A, +2), defenseman Jordie Benn (2 G, 2 A, +1) and forward Bruce Graham (2 G, 2 A, +1).

Their top penalty taker is defenseman Brandon Straub with 28 minutes including calls for High-Sticking, Cross-Checking, Unsportsman-like Conduct, No Category Misconduct and two Fighting Majors. Could be trouble.

Rookie goaltender Chris Whitley will face off against Joe Palmer tonight. Whitley has had one start, against the Laredo Bucks. He stopped 28 of 32 shots in the 5-4 win. He has a 3.93 GAA and a .875 Save Percentage.

The Brahmas' top three scorers include forwards AJ Gale, (3 G, 4 A, +3) and Grant Jacobsen (4 G, 1 A, +1) and defenseman Kevin McLeod (3 G, 1 A, 0).

Joe Palmer has a win and an overtime loss. He has a 2.73 GAA and a .917 Save Percentage.

Special teams and defensive play should be the key tonight. Prediction? A great game!

Photo Credit: John Ell

Friday, October 30, 2009

Rough night for Ken Carroll as the Brahmas hand him his second loss of the season

Brahmas win big in Bossier City

Defeat Mudbugs 6-4

Heart & Hustle were no match for the Texas Brahmas in an exciting game at the CenturyTel Center as the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs were defeated 6-4. Two goals in 35 seconds in the third period made the difference as the Brahmas improved to 2-2-1 and Joe Palmer recorded his first win.

Tyler Liebel gave the Mudbugs the early lead after receiving a feed from Joe Blaznek. His attempt to tip it in went wide but the puck came back in front and he was able to smack it past Joe Palmer to make it 1-0 at the 3:20 mark. Mark Johnson was also credited with the assist.

Watching the game on CHL-TV was horrible as it appeared a drunken monkey was given camera duty. Also the sound quality was terrible and the local radio station was not broadcasting the game. Foo!

After Joe Blaznek was called for Interference, it took less than a minute for the Brahmas to score their first power play goal since Anders Strome's game winner in overtime on opening night against the Eagles. Jason Deitsch, assisted by Craig Minard and AJ Gale, received the puck in the right circle and fired it right inside the elbow of Ken Carroll who wasn't able to get his glove up in time to make the save. It was 1-1 at the 9:22 mark.

The period was full of fast, physical play and tempers began to flare late in the period. Neil Clark nearly came to blows with Jason Reese in front of the Brahmas' net after the two collided at the end of a play. Wow, pick on someone your own size and age, Neil.

The Brahmas took the lead at the 15:26 mark on a crazy play when Dan Welch took a shot on net that hit one pipe, bounced off the other, and then just trickled past the goal line. I don't think Ken Carroll or any of the Mudbugs believed it was a goal, but the referee did and the Brahmas led 2-1.

The Brahmas were able to maintain the lead for the remainder of the period and narrowly out shot the Mudbugs 14-13 in the first 20 minutes. Joe Palmer looked a little uneasy at the beginning of the period but he made some great saves as time wore on.

Lots of action but little scoring and only one penalty in the second period. A shot from Jordan Cameron hit the pipes about three minutes in and then Cameron took a stick to the face, setting up the Brahmas' second power play opportunity of the game. Unfortunately, they failed to capitalize.

A tremendous effort by Joe Palmer was witnessed when Dave Pszenyczny made four consecutive attempts to beat the Brahmas net minder before the puck was finally cleared by Kevin McLeod.

The Mudbugs evened the score at the 12:34 mark when Brett Smith picked off a pass in the Brahmas zone and fired the puck over Palmer's left shoulder. I'm surprised Simon Mangos and Joe Zappala were credited with the assist because it was all Smith on that score.

The Brahmas were out shot 16-9 in the period and had a 29-23 shot advantage after 40 minutes.

The third period was a thriller as six goals were scored - fortunately for the Brahmas, four of those goals were on behalf of the purple and black.

Lee Jubinville tallied his first professional goal on a tremendous play in which Pete Rouleau sent a long pass to Justin Kinnunen who fed it to a waiting Jubinville just outside the crease. Ken Carroll was able to stop the first attempt but was unable to stop the rebound as he fell to the ice. The Brahmas had the 3-2 lead at the 4:57 mark.

The Mudbugs regained some momentum after Shawn Limpright scored a goal at the 7:37 mark to make it a 3-3 contest. After being knocked to his knees by Kevin McLeod, Joe Ori was able to get back up, keeping control of the puck he received from Dale Lupul and fed it to Limpright who fired it over the left shoulder of Joe Palmer.

Nearly five minutes passed with terrific defensive efforts by both teams to keep the score even. But the Mudbugs' aforementioned momentum was deflated by two Brahmas goals in a 35 second span which made the difference in the game.

Justin Kinnunen took a feed at center ice set up by Jordan Cameron and Grant Jacobsen and then made the play of the game. Ken Carroll came out of the net, apparently expecting Kinnunen to shoot the puck along the boards but instead, Kinnunen fired the puck into the top corner of the unprotected net, again, from center ice, to make it a 4-3 game at the 12:19 mark.


"He (Carroll) stopped a lot of plays because he wasn't in the net, and we were wondering why," Dan Wildfong told the Shreveport Times. "The guys picked up on it and tried it, and it worked. Obviously, it's luck, but it's being smart in seeing the play."

Then, at the 12:54 mark, AJ Gale did a great job of stick handling as he made his way past Dave Pszenyczny to score an unassisted goal to make it 5-3. Gale now leads all rookies in scoring in the league with seven points (3 G, 4A, +3)

But the Mudbugs weren't ready to lay down and die. After a Hooking call on Jason Deitsch at the 18:11 mark, Scott Muscutt pulled Carroll in favor of the extra attacker for a six on four advantage. It only took two seconds to score after Brett Smith won the ensuing draw and passed it to Joe Zappala, who immediately fired over the glove hand of a stunned Joe Palmer and all of a sudden it was a 5-4 game.

Unfortunately for the Mudbugs, the continuing six on four power play did not pay off as Tyler Skworchinski scored on the empty net to provide the final score of 6-4 at the 19:08 mark. He was assisted by Jason Deitsch and Joe Palmer. It was a great effort by Bossier-Shreveport, but those two goals were a nail strip in the road as the Mudbugs dropped to 2-3-0 and 0-3-0 at home.

The Brahmas had the 11-5 shot advantage in the final frame but the shots were even on the night with both teams at 34.

Joe Palmer stopped 30 of 34 shots faced to improve to 1-0-1. Ken Carroll stopped 28 of 33 and took the loss with his record now at 0-2-0.


The Brahmas went 1 for 2 on the power play. The Mudbugs went 1 for 5.

The Brahmas were assessed 10 minutes on five infractions. The Mudbugs were called for four minutes on two infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game was awarded to Justin Kinnunen who had a goal and an assist. The 2nd Star went to Bossier-Shreveport's Brett Smith who also had a goal and an assist and the 1st Star was given to AJ Gale a goal and two assists on the night.

You can view the box score here

Observations:

  • James Hiebert obviously wasn't going to see a lot of ice time tonight but he was quick to show his instigator skills. With Greg McConnell out, Hiebert will fill that role nicely.
  • A power play goal was nice to finally see again but the Brahmas are now last in the league with an 8.33 percentage (2 on 24). They are now 12th in the league on the PK at 80.00%.
  • AJ Gale not only leads all CHL rookies in scoring, but he also leads the Brahmas with seven points (3 G, 4 A, +3) including a power play assist, a short-handed goal and a game-winning goal.
  • Not a bad effort by Joe Palmer tonight considering four goals allowed. He had a truly acrobatic save in the first period and maintained his focus during Pszenyczny's onslaught in the second. A win is a win and he was even credited with an assist. He now sits fifth among active CHL goalies with a 2.73 GAA and fourth with a .917 save percentage with 131:56 playing time.

The Brahmas return home tonight to get some rest in order to prepare for tomorrow night's game against the undefeated Allen Americans (4-0-0) at the NYTEX Sports Centre.

Halloween activities begin at 6:05 PM and fans who attend wearing their costumes will receive a free ticket to an upcoming Brahmas game. The first 1,000 fans to enter the rink will be given a 2009-10 Brahmas magnet schedule featuring Jordan Cameron.

Photo Credit: Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs

Hiebert is with us, no longer against us

It’s official – Finally!

James Hiebert signs with the Brahmas

After being leaked by the press in Laredo earlier this week, the Brahmas finally made the announcement of the signing of left wing James Hiebert. Dan Wildfong had the following to say about the new addition to the roster.

"We look forward to James joining our organization and believe he will be a great fit. From experience, I know he is a tough opponent to face, so it will be nice to have him play for the Brahmas and not against us," Wildfong said.

Hiebert will wear the #25 and is listed on the Pointstreak roster for tonight's game against the Mudbugs.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith
Cody Daniel to back up Palmer

Euless goalie back in purple and black

The Texas Brahmas have once again called upon Cody Daniel as their back up goaltender. Daniel signed a contract with the team today. Joe Palmer remains in net for the Brahmas while Brett Jaeger is on loan to the Houston Aeros.

Daniel, , served as a backup for Sebastien Centomo with the Mississippi RiverKings during the 2007-08 season and for David Cacciola last season.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Will the Brahmas announce Hiebert signing tomorrow?

Former Laredo Bucks wing said to be headed for North Richland Hills

Well, the folks in Laredo are dead sure it's happening - James Hiebert joining the Texas Brahmas. Here's the latest from Brian Benway's blog:

"The only other bit of news that I'll pass along today is about
James Hiebert signing with....hold your breath.....the Texas Brahmas. Those of us who are close to the team heard rumblings about this last Thursday, but heard nothing concrete until this morning. As of this writing the Brahmas have not announced the signing, but I spoke to some people that told me it's close to being official. Just imagine the scene on November 21st when Hiebert and the Brahmas travel to the LEC to play the Bucks. How will he be received? Cheered? Booed? Only time will tell."

Only time will tell indeed.

Mason in, Chisholm out

Latest roster move bolsters blue line

The Texas Brahmas placed rookie defenseman Denis Chisholm on waivers today and signed rookie Tyrell Mason to effectively take his place.

Chisholm, 23, played in all four games thus far and had an assist in the Brahmas overtime loss to the RiverKings last Friday night.

Mason, who is 15 days older than Chisholm, was selected by the New York Islanders in the 6th round (#180 overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. A native of Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Mason played two years of junior hockey with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (BCHL) where he tallied 78 points (13 G, 65 A) and 150 penalty minutes in 110 games played.

He spent the last four seasons at Clarkson University (NCAA) where he was teammates with current Brahma Mike Willemsen.

In 2007-08, his junior year with the Golden Knights, Mason proved that he is a solid stay-at-home defenseman and played a key role in Clarkson’s stingy defensive effort. He was the second leading scorer from the Knights’ blue line with 10 points, including nine assists. He helped to set up Clarkson’s first goal in their 2-1 victory over St. Cloud State in the NCAA East Regional (3/28), and he set up a goal in each of their last two ECAC Hockey quarterfinal series games against Colgate (3/15-16). He posted a +8 plus/minus rating and led the team in penalties (30/60). He was named to ECAC Hockey weekly Honor Roll three times and was voted Team Captain for the 2008-09 season.

Here's a talent analysis from the Hockey's Future website:

Mason is an enthusiastic, mobile defenseman. He’s a defenseman who keeps things simple yet does it in a way that is quite effective. He plays with an abundance of energy and competitive spirit. One area where Mason’s game really matured over the course of the season was his on-ice awareness, particularly in the defensive zone. This was evident in reading and anticipating plays better. He is very smart and has excellent vision. Mason skates with nice long strides with good speed. He has demonstrated good poise with the puck and the ability to jump into plays. Mason can also be quite physical and can finish his checks. While he is still a project, Mason has already shown that he is a very solid and reliable two-way defenseman. With continued growth in his game and physical development, Mason could become a top-flight, dominating force as well.

"Ty is one of those guys who if you don't watch the game closely, you will not really notice him. That is a compliment. He is very strong defensively and does all the simple, little things that lead to success."

- Clarkson head coach George Roll

"I'm very impressed with how he can be shifty and agile with his skates. His skating ability is amazing with his size. What most people wouldn't notice about Ty, those that don't really know hockey, is the way he protects the puck in his defensive zone."
- Clarkson Co-Captain Phil Paquet

In July, Mason signed with the Idaho Steelheads (ECHL) but was released a couple of weeks ago just prior to the beginning of the season.

Photo Credit: photopresdigitation (Flickr)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Adios, Ryan

Former ECHL All-Star waived

What a difference a year makes. Last season, rookie forward Ryan Cruthers had signed with the Mississippi Sea Wolves (ECHL) and by the new year, he had been named to the American Conference team for the 17th Annual ECHL All-Star Game. Cruthers was leading all ECHL rookies as well as the Sea Wolves with 18 goals and was second among ECHL rookies with 35 points in 29 games and the future never looked brighter.

After scoring three points (1 G, 2 A) in the 11-5 American Conference win, Cruthers went on to finish the season in amazing form. He had been called up to the Lake Erie Monsters and the Albany River Rats of the AHL for a total of nine games with two assists and 10 penalty minutes tallied. With the Sea Wolves, he had scored 66 points (29 G, 37 A) with 72 penalty minutes in 65 games.

On March 30th, the Sea Wolves announced that the organization would be suspending operations again for the 2009–10 season. On September 18th, the Texas Brahmas announced that they had signed Cruthers for the upcoming season. It was an exciting prospect, having a young player of Cruthers' caliber on the team.

Cruthers played in all four games to begin the season with a net gain of seven shots, two penalty minutes and a -2 +/- rating.

On Monday, Cruthers was placed on team suspension. Today, he was waived. Cruthers had already left Texas and though the circumstances of his departure from the team are best left unsaid, it's a shame that this signing didn't bear the fruit that we had expected.

This situation brings to mind the Lance Galbraith signing last season. Sometimes it doesn't work out. Players have expectations. Coaches have expectations. In the end, not everyone is meant to be a Texas Brahma.

Cruthers will probably land back in the ECHL. The Brahmas will move forward. Life and hockey in North Texas go on. Good luck Ryan.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


A few minutes with...Dan Welch

The Brahmas newest forward talks about his career and joining the Brahmas

Shortly after getting word that he had been traded to the Texas Brahmas, Dan Welch was on the road to North Richland Hills to make today's practice at 10am. I spoke to Dan while he was driving through New Mexico. We talked about his career, the trade and his strengths as a player, among other things. Here is some of our conversation.

Q: So when did you find out about the trade?

A: I knew that they had to make some decisions. He (Kevin McLelland) said something after the game on Friday. I knew that they had to make some decisions and I knew I was probably one of the guys that I would have to make a decision about but I didn't get word until right before practice today (Monday).

Q: Were you surprised that you were going to the Brahmas?

A: I didn't know. I didn't really know who was interested; I didn't know if I would be traded; I didn't know if I'd be released...I was kind of going with an open mind, not knowing really what was going on.

Q: Not a bad deal, getting traded to the league champions though?

A: Yeah, you can't complain. If you're going to get traded, life could be worse.

Q: Have you ever been down to Texas before, outside of your time playing with the Wildcatters?

A: I haven't. I've been told it's almost like two different countries - Beaumont and the Dallas area.

Q: Yeah, that's for sure. Now, you've been around for a while; when I first heard that you had signed with Colorado, I was thinking that you were a newer player. I didn't realize how much pro experience you've had...

A: Yeah, there's a lot of stickers on the suitcase (laughing).

Q: This all started with the University of Minnesota, with the Golden Gophers?

A: I played three seasons there and then I went to Manchester for most of three years; I played a little bit, I think about 10 games in the East Coast League and then, I kind of saw the writing on the wall a little bit, where, you know, you weren't quite going to make it to the NHL, so I took a chance with Europe.

Q: How did you like that - you started out in England, correct?

A: Yeah, you know, people ask me what's the favorite place you've been. They're all so different. The hockey is different, the people are different, the food is different. England, to me, was the most fun. France had the best food, Switzerland had the best scenery. Denmark had the best nightlife. It's like - one thing or the other.

Q: That's a nice way to get to see the world, while playing hockey, eh?

A: Yeah, you know you can't complain. You get a chance to do this at a young age and see the world. You really don't know what you've done until people talk about going to Europe or you're watching a movie and you're like "Oh, I've been there." It's kind of surreal.

Q: You ended up down in Beaumont for a season with the Wildcatters. How did you like it down there?

A: I enjoyed it. We had a great rink down there. We had a really, really good team. Philip Shipp, the equipment manager was down there with me. We had a really good team; a lot of good players. It was too bad because they had a beautiful rink - they just couldn't quite support the team there.

Q: So you moved on to Idaho and played there for a bit before going out to Totempo in Denmark and you played there with a former Brahma, Brandon Benedict...

A: Oh yeah, me and Benny - we played in Texas together and then me and Benny and two other guys who played in Texas, Tim Cook and Scott Champagne, lived in a house together in Denmark, about 15 minutes from downtown Copenhagen.

Q: Things went South with the team declaring bankruptcy - any regrets about how that all went down?

A: Actually, it worked out beautifully for us. We got to go to Denmark; our team was OK and then we all got to come back. Because of the laws in Denmark, we all got our money because the team went bankrupt. Some teams just stop paying, but our team actually went bankrupt so the government had to pay you three months' salary. So what was nice about that was, we all got to go where we wanted to go, instead of worrying about money. I know Benny had friends down in Texas and I had a first cousin in Boise, which was the first thing I thought of. I heard Boise was a good place and my first cousin was there - our parents lived about five blocks from each other, so that's kind of how I made my decision.

Q: How did you end up getting recruited to Colorado?

A: Well, what happened was, I have an agent and we were looking in Europe. I kind of wanted to go places that were nice areas to be in and where people cared about their hockey. The CHL was more conducive to that compared to the ECHL, because of the call-ups and everything around that. It worked out too that, like when I came back from Denmark last year, I was considered a veteran and I think they changed the rule and all of a sudden I have this year and next year of not being a veteran. So, Colorado called and they were very enticing. Mr. Stewart and Mr. McLelland did a good job recruiting me. I thought at the time, it was the right place to be.

Q: So you started the season playing against the team you'll be playing with. What was your impression of the Brahmas in the games you played against them?

A: I think they're a good team. I think they are at the high end of skill. You can kind of see that they have systems...teams like the Brahmas, they might start out a little slower than other teams because they are more system-oriented and it takes a bit of time for teams to get accustomed to that. You can tell they have discipline, you know, within their systems...goaltending is plus plus. So, it's a good situation.

Q: Did you have much familiarity with the team before playing against them, or much familiarity with the CHL?

A: You know what? No. I knew not one person on my team in Colorado before going there, which was kind of weird. And I don't know anybody on the Brahmas team.

Q: For you as a player, what do you consider to be your strengths?

A: Well, I think I can skate. I think that's, you know, bread and butter's a little strong but I think, you know, that's where I still make my money - I can skate. I think I play the game right, if that means anything. I'm not going to take guys one-on-one all the time when we're up two to one or stuff like that. I think I know how to penalty kill, I think I know how to play with the lead; I think there's other stuff like that sometimes, maybe goes unnoticed. I think that's a strength of mine and I take pride in that.

Q: Are you excited about getting down here and getting right back on the ice?

A: Well yeah, as you can tell, I'm on my way down there to get to practice tomorrow morning (Tuesday). I'm excited. It's always a new adventure. It's always interesting. You always want to see where you fit in. It's a nervous energy type thing.

Dan made it here safe and sound and was on the ice for this mornings practice session. There was a lot of talk today about Brett Jaeger's call up to the Houston Aeros. The practice ended a little early and Dan and the boys headed over to the volleyball courts to get a work out of a different kind.

Welch is a very likeable young man and should have no problem fitting in. We'll look forward to seeing him play for the Brahmas, instead of against the Brahmas, this Friday night from Bossier City.

Photo Credit: Steve Stoner/Loveland Reporter-Herald
Jaeger recalled to the AHL

Will back up Wade Dubielewicz in Houston

Word is out today that Houston Aeros goalie Anton Khudobin got the nod (over veteran Wade Dubielewicz) to back up Niklas Backstrom for the Minnesota Wild (3-8-0, fifth in the Northwest Division), as Wild goalie Josh Harding is potentially out with what the team is calling “lower body soreness”.

According to Heather Galindo at The Third Intermission blog, Brett Jaeger, who attended the Aeros pre-season camp, has been called up from the Brahmas to fill in for Khudobin. Jaeger will sign a PTO and could be out for an extended period of time. Jaeger left for Houston last night. The Aeros (5-4-0-0) host the Hamilton Bulldogs (6-0-1-1) tonight at the Toyota Center at 7:05pm.

The news was confirmed by the Brahmas organization late this morning with comments from head coach Dan Wildfong.

"Brett has been a valuable asset to us and I believe he will do great in Houston. This is an incredible opportunity for him to showcase his talents at a higher level," Wildfong said.

The Aeros are headed for Michigan for a two game series against the Grand Rapid Griffins on Thursday and Friday.

Rookie goaltender Joe Palmer is expected to get the start in Friday night’s game against the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs. Palmer, 21, has played for 71:56 and has a 1.67 GAA and a .947 save percentage. His first regular season game ended in an 3-2 overtime loss (shootout) against the Mississippi RiverKings last Friday night. He stopped 3 of 3 shots faced in relief for Jaeger on Saturday night. Palmer’s first win as a Brahma came during the first pre-season game against the Allen Americans on stopping 23 of 26 shots faced in the 4-3 win.

Obviously,
for the interim, the Brahmas will be looking for a backup for Palmer.

I'm sure there will be more info forthcoming.

Photo Credit: Houston Aeros

Monday, October 26, 2009

New Texas Brahmas wallpapers available

The latest Russell Farris creations are available for download at the Texas Brahmas Fan Club website. You can get these and several other wallpapers here. Thanks Russell, for all of your great work!

Brahmas acquire forward Dan Welch

Former Colorado Eagle joins roster

The Texas Brahmas have announced that they have acquired forward Dan Welch from the Colorado Eagles on Monday afternoon. The terms were not disclosed but it is believed to be a future considerations deal.

A native of Hastings, Minnesota native, Welch played three games with the Colorado Eagles this season posting an assist this past Friday in Mississippi.

Welch played for three seasons at the University of Minnesota (NCAA) beginning in 1999-00 and was chosen by the Los Angeles Kings in the 8th round (#245 overall) in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft.

After being ruled academically ineligible for the 2000-01 season, Welch moved to Omaha, Nebraska to play for the Omaha Lancers (USHL) and attend junior college. He registered 57 points (30 G, 27 A) and 103 penalty minutes during the regular season and 22 points (9 G, 13 A) and 20 penalty minutes during the playoffs. Welch was also selected to Team USA in the 2001 USHL Prospects/All-Star Game, but due to academic conflicts he could not participate.

The following season, Welch played for seven games with the Lancers, scoring six points (4 G, 2 A) before returning to the University of Minnesota. During his combined three seasons with the Golden Gophers, he tallied 35 points (15 G, 20 A) and 55 penalty minutes in 73 games played and was a member of the 2002 NCAA Championship team.

In 2002-03, Welch began three seasons of play with the Manchester Monarchs, the AHL affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings (NHL). During his time in New Hampshire, he scored 37 points (12 G, 25 A) with 89 penalty minutes in 132 games played.

At the end of the 2003-04 season, he signed with the Reading Royals (ECHL) and tallied 15 points (8 G, 7 A) in the final 11 games of the regular season and registered an assist in one game during the playoffs.

Welch went to Europe for two seasons beginning in 2005-06. He played in England for the Coventry Blaze and the Nottingham Panthers of the EIHL, combining for 46 points (23 G, 23 A) in 47 games played. In 2006-07, he went to France to play for Morzine-Avoriaz, where he put up 40 points (14 G, 26 A) in 26 games played.

He began the 2007-08 season in Switzerland with Neuchatel Young-Sprinters but after four games, he returned to the U.S. to play for the Texas Wildcatters (ECHL) in Beaumont. He scored 62 points (21 G, 41 A) in 64 games during the regular season and one goal in four games during the playoffs.

Welch began the 2008-09 season with the Idaho Steelheads (ECHL), playing in 28 games and scoring 12 points (5 G, 7 A). He then left to play with several of his Wildcatters teammates, including former Brahma Brandon Benedict, in Denmark with Totempo HVIK. He tallied 33 points (11 G, 22 A) in 34 games before the club filed for bankruptcy.

Photo Credit: Allen Picard
James Hiebert a Brahma?

Rumours abound about the signing of the former Laredo Bucks player

Joy Lindsay from the Laredo Morning Times is reporting that veteran winger James Hiebert has signed with the Brahmas. Of course, this is just a rumour at this point. If it's true, we probably won't hear anything from the Brahmas until later in the week. I've been getting questions from all about including an inquiry from the local NBC affiliate in Laredo. I had to give the standard Sgt. Schultz (I know nothing, nothing).

Hiebert, 27, is entering his seventh pro season and has played with the Laredo Bucks to all or some extent during that time, winning two CHL Championships along the way.

“The signing has obviously not been made official yet, but Coach Ruskowski did say that Hiebert was released from any obligations he had to stay with the Bucks, and two people have confirmed that he will be suiting up with the Brahmas this season.”

- From the LMT Bucks Blog

The 5’, 10”, 195 pound native of Hay River, Northwest Territories, played junior hockey with the Swift Current Broncos (WHL) for four seasons (1999-2003). During his time there, he tallied 174 points (70 G, 104 A) and 502 penalty minutes in 242 games played. He also played in 29 post-season contests, adding 12 points (2 G, 10 A) to his numbers.

Hiebert went pro in 2003-04, signing with the Laredo Bucks and contributing to their first President’s Cup Championship. It was the first of four consecutive trips to the finals for Hiebert and the Bucks, who won it all again in 2005-06. That was arguably Hiebert’s best season as a pro with 75 points (23 G, 52 A) and 275 penalty minutes accrued in 59 games during the regular season. During the playoffs, he added nine points (5 G, 4 A) and 29 penalty minutes in 13 games.

Hiebert strayed to the ECHL for 55 games during the 2006-07 season, playing with the Reading Royals and the Phoenix Roadrunners. He was also called up to the AHL for six games with the Manchester Monarchs. He returned to the Bucks for the final six games of the regular season and contributed 19 points (9 G, 10 A) in 21 games during the playoff run that ended in a loss to the Colorado Eagles in the Finals.

Hiebert didn’t play during most of last season. He is the President of South Texas Solar Systems and has been devoting much of his time to growing that business. He signed with the Bucks on March 8th and played the remaining eight games of the season (2 G, 4 A) and contributed in the playoffs (1 G, 2 A).

If Hiebert is to join the Brahmas roster, we'll have to label it under "In Dan We Trust." Hiebert is definitely a talented player. Hopefully he's kept in shape during the off-season. He's been described as a "loose cannon" who sometimes takes unnecessary penalties. But he's also a tough kid, a fighter...something the team needs - a talented player who can also enforce.

Photo Credit: Laredo Bucks

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Video of the Brahmas' banner raising ceremony

Division, Conference and Championship banners raised at NYTEX prior to the home opener on Saturday night. Thanks to Devin Pipes for posting this on YouTube.

The RiverKings celebrate one of four special teams goals

Brahmas Lose in dramatic home opener

RiverKings win 5-3

“Man looks in the abyss, there’s nothing staring back at him. At that moment, man finds his character. And that is what keeps him out of the abyss,”

- Lou Manheim (Hal Holbrook), Wall Street

It’s a telling and provoking quote that is an expansion on the famous quote from Friedrich Nietzche: “When you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.” The Brahmas are by no means at the edge of the abyss after just four games, but there is a need for this group of young men to find the character they will need to succeed this season.

The Texas Brahmas were defeated by a score of 5-3 in a roller-coaster ride of a home opener on Saturday night at the NYTEX Sports Centre. The Mississippi RiverKings earned their second game in a row against the Brahmas after a 2 1/2 hour brawl on ice. 2,369 fans made the trip to North Richland Hills to celebrate the successes of last season, only to endure the reality of this one.

The night began on a very positive note. Brahmas staffers hustled around NYTEX, greeting fans and putting on the finishing touches for the night's celebration and banner raising ceremony. At the appointed time, the lights went dark and spotlights shined as the Ray Miron President's Cup was carried out by the Trazzera brothers and placed on display on a black draped table in the neutral zone. Then, the members of the 2009-10 roster were announced. Fire fountains erupted as the starting line-up skated out to center ice to form a line for the presentation of the 2009 Southeast Division, Southern Conference and Central Hockey League Championship banners.

Team captain Craig Minard addressed the crowd.

"It was an incredible journey, one we will never forget as players," Minard said. "I hope you don’t either as fans. They say that the hardest thing to do in sports is to repeat as champs. We are going to do our best to keep that cup in North Richland Hills."

After the ceremonial dropping of the first puck by North Richland Hills city councilman Tim Welch, the game was on.

Once again, and with a CHL officiating representative in attendance, the Brahmas were called for penalties, while the zebra stripes (inadvertently, I'm sure) turned a blind eye to fouls committed by the RiverKings. This was mostly a problem early in the first frame.

The RiverKings were able to take advantage of an extended five-on-three opportunity after a hooking call on Craig Minard and a double-minor roughing penalty on Jordan Cameron, both of whom entered the sin bin at the 6:46 mark. 13 seconds later, Mississippi forward Ryan Held scored his first goal of the night, beating Brett Jaeger with the assist from defensemen Dane Marshall and Derek Landmesser at the 6:59 mark. Just one minute and 25 seconds later, Held scored his second goal, this time assisted by Steve Makway and Bobby Chaumont at the 8:24 mark.

Not swayed by the 2-0 deficit, the Brahmas went on the attack. A little more than two minutes later, with Cam Severson in the box for holding, Kevin McLeod took a feed from A.J. Gale and sent a one-timer past Ray Jean to make it a 2-1 game at the 10:27 mark. Lee Jubinville was also credited with the assist.

Grant Jacobsen scored his team-leading fourth goal on an assist from Jordan Cameron during even-strength play to tie things up 2-2 at the 15:58 mark .

Ross Rouleau puts a hit on an attacking RiverKing

The RiverKings doubled the Brahmas' offensive production with a 12-6 shot advantage during the first frame.

The second period opened up with more physical play and mid-way through the frame, the RiverKings were able once again, to take advantage of the power play after a slashing call on Justin Kinnunen. Ryan Campbell scored his third goal of the season at the 10:43 mark. Bobby Chaumont and Ryan Held were credited with the assist. It would be the only score of the period. The Brahmas had the narrow 9-8 shot advantage but couldn't convert on two power play opportunities and were down 3-2 after 40 minutes.

2:35 into the final frame, Jason Deitsch got into it with RiverKings defenseman Adam Smyth after a scoring attempt by Deitsch was blocked by Ray Jean. Smyth attacked Deitsch for crowding his goalie and during the ensuing battle, the two managed to carry the net with them into the boards before officials broke the two up. Smyth received two minutes for roughing and two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct. Deitsch drew two minutes for roughing.

Brett Jaeger facing another RiverKings rush

Mississippi scored their fourth special teams goal at the 6:13 mark, just six seconds after Brahmas defenseman Luke Lucyk was called for tripping. This time it was Bobby Chaumont who got the tally with a little help from Steve Makway and Ryan Held.

Things continued to deteriorate for the Brahmas when Brett Jaeger was called for reportedly spearing a RiverKing player. This was out of my view from the bench and apparently no one got photos or saw exactly what happened (that I've heard anyway). Jaeger was given a five minute Spearing Major and a 10 minute Game Misconduct for his effort. Rookie goalie Joe Palmer entered the game at the 12:06 mark.

Darryl Stoddard, about to give Luke Lucyk the sting of a RiverKing

As play resumed, Luke Lucyk and Darrell Stoddard dropped the gloves and went to battle. Lucyk got the worst of it and both were assessed five minute Fighting Majors.

Down 4-2 late in the third, Kevin McLeod scored his second goal off of a feed from A.J. Gale and Lee Jubinville to make it a 5-3 contest at the 16:17 mark.

The Brahmas mounted a strong effort in the final minutes of the game (out shooting the RiverKings 17-7 in the period) but to no avail. After pulling Joe Palmer with less than a minute to go in favor of the extra attacker, Dan Wildfong looked on helplessly as Mississippi's Derek Landmessser scored an unassisted empty-net goal with 11.2 seconds left to seal the 5-3 win.

The Brahmas out shot the RiverKings by a 32-27 margin in the game, but were soundly defeated by the RiverKings special teams, while failing once again to score on their own man-advantage opportunities.

Ray Jean, a man I've come to respect, stopped 29 of 32 shots, picking up the victory in net for the RiverKings. His record is now 3-1-0. Brett Jaeger stopped 19 of 23, taking the loss for the Brahmas. His record goes to 1-2-0. There is speculation that Brett will earn a suspension from the league for his actions in tonight's game. Joe Palmer stopped three of three during his seven minutes in net.

The Brahmas went 0 for 7 on the power play. The RiverKings went 4 for 12.

The Brahmas were assessed a total of 44 minutes on 15 infractions. The RiverKings were called for 25 minutes on 11 infractions.

The 3rd star of the game was awarded to Justin Kinnunen, who was a +1 with four shots on the night. The 2nd star went to Kevin McLeod with two goals and the 1st star went to Mississippi's Ryan Held, who had an exceptional night on special teams with two power play goals and two power play assists.

You can view the box score here. You can view my photos from the game here.

There are few excuses to be made here and I'm sure few were offered up to Dan Wildfong in last night's extended team meeting after the game. Yes, the officiating was terrible last night. Yes, they faced a solid RiverKings team. Yes, it's only game number four and yes, the Brahmas have a tough schedule. Despite the adversity, these boys need to find what they need to win.

The downside after the first two weeks of the 2009-10 season:

  • The Brahmas have yet to win in regulation with a 1-2-1 record (0-1-0 at home, 1-1-1 on the road)
  • With one goal in 22 opportunities, the Brahmas are second to last in the league with a 4.55 power play percentage. They have allowed eight power play goals in four games including four tonight.
  • The RiverKings won in large part to their special teams play, scoring four goals in 12 chances and stopping all seven Texas opportunities.
  • We have no thugs, yet we are sixth in the league (2nd in the Southern Conference) in penalty minutes with 101 after four games. Penalty leaders include Jordan Cameron (17 PIM), Jason Deitsch (16 PIM) and Brett Jaeger? (15 PIM). Do we need an enforcer or do we need discipline?

The upside after the first two weeks of the 2009-10 season:

  • Dan Wildfong. 'Nuff said.
  • Joe Palmer is second in the league with a 1.67 GAA and first with a .947 save percentage (granted, he's only played for 71:56 minutes)
  • Four games in provides a lot of time to get the boys in sync, make personnel changes, work on special teams play, etc. As Gary Stallons said on the Brahmas board, "It's only game 4 of a long season. Have some faith in Dan, Ron, and the boys. GO BRAHMAS!"

The Brahmas will spend the week preparing for the trip to the CenturyTel Center to meet up with the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs (2-2-0) for the first game of the I-20 series on Friday night before returning home to the NYTEX Sport Center for a Halloween night game against the undefeated Allen Americans (4-0-0) in Saturday.

Photo Credits: Robert Keith

Friday, October 23, 2009

Brahmas lose again at the Desoto Civic Center

RiverKings win 3-2 in shootout

Well, the Brahmas earned a point but lost the first of two games against the Mississippi RiverKings tonight in Southaven. Texas has not had a win at the DCC since January 20th, 2008 and tonight, although they fought hard, it would take a shootout to decide the victor.

It didn't take the RiverKings long to get on the scoreboard as Kevin Jarman tallied his second goal of the season with the assist by David Simoes and Adam Smyth at the 2:21 mark. Joe Palmer looked on helplessly as the pucked rolled across the goal line. Palmer had a light period as the Brahmas dominated offensively with a 14-7 shot advantage in the period.

Ray Jean had a pretty good period in net for the RiverKings despite his reputation. He made a great save on a breakaway chance by Grant Jacobsen with just over six minutes left in the period.

Just seconds later AJ Gale got the Brahmas on the board after taking a feed from defenseman Denis Chisholm and shooting it past Jean's left and into the net at the 14:14 mark.

Lots of penalties in the first frame with two power play opportunities for the Brahmas in the first 10 minutes but special teams were unable to capitalize. Same story for the RiverKings who failed to score on three opportunities.

RiverKings defenseman Steve Makway and Jordan Cameron got into it twice in the period. First, a little pushing and shoving at the 16:48 mark. Both received Roughing penalties. With less than a minute left in the period, the two dropped their gloves to resolve their issue and both earned Fighting Majors. Makway got the upperhand on Cameron and had more blows connect before taking Jordan down to the ice.

The RiverKings got back on track offensively in the middle frame and had a 14-9 sot advantage in the period. Both Palmer and Jean were perfect and despite a lot of back and forth play, the score remained tied at one after 40 minutes. Once again, both teams were unable to convert on power play chances. The Brahmas looked a lot sharper and cohesive in the second period and the play became much more physical as the period wore on.

Dan Wildfong argued unsuccessfully with referree Steve Cruikshank for a penalty on Stephen Margeson after Margeson undercut Grant Jacobsen, taking him down against the boards and then dropping a knee into his back.

The RiverKings took the lead early into the third period when Cam Severson managed a back hander as he was skating by the side of the net, past Palmer's blocker (right) side. Margeson and Louis Dumont were credited with the assist. It was 2-1 at the :43 mark.

Later in the period, Grant Jacobsen scored the equalizer after Jason Reese brought the puck up between the circles and then lost possession as he fell in front of the crease. Jacobsen was there to recover and shot the puck past Jean to tie the game once again at the 10:33 mark.

The RiverKings dominated the period with a 12-5 shot advantage but Joe Palmer was solid and the game would end in a tie in regulation. The Brahmas had four shots turned away in the overtime period and despite a great effort, the matter would be settled by a shootout.

For me, it was a nail biter with the rookie goaltender in net. Unfortunately Palmer was scored on by Ryan Campbell, Louis Dumont and Derek Landmesser and the game would end with the RiverKings on top. Jason Reese had the only score for the Brahmas.

The RiverKings evened their season record to 2-2-0 with the win, while Texas fell to 1-1-1 with the loss.

Ray Jean stopped 30 of 32 and three of four in the shootout for the win tonight. Joe Palmer stopped 33 of 35 and one of four in the shootout for the loss.

There would be no special teams scoring tonight on either side. The Brahmas went 0 for 5 and the RiverKings went 0 for 6 on the power play.

The Brahmas were assessed 17 minutes on seven infractions. The RiverKings were called for 19 minutes on eight infractions.

The 3rd star of the game went to Grant Jacobsen, who had a goal on the night. The 2nd star went to Cam Severson who scored a goal on his only shot of the game and the 1st star went to goaltender Ray Jean, deservedly so.

Observations:
  • Jean performed high above my expectations in tonight's contest. A truly solid performance from a guy with a sketchy resume. Palmer did well too, but his professional inexperience shined through, especially on the goal by Severson.
  • I noticed several RiverKings players taking dives in front of their net to close passing lanes and to block scoring opportunities. Seemed a little more often than what you would ordinarily see, and it was very effective.
  • Where's the power play scoring? The Brahmas are 1 for 15 on the man-advantage so far this season. a 6.67 power play percentage after tonight's action has the Brahmas feeding off the bottom along with Tulsa.
  • Bob Bakken, the RiverKings media coordinator is a very professional broadcaster, but he kept referring to Joe Palmer as "Ross" Palmer. If they had it misprinted, you'd think somebody could have corrected him. It's a little thing, I know, but annoying nonetheless.
The Brahmas travel home overnight to rest up and prepare for tomorrow night's home opener at the NYTEX Sports Centre.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New players?

Two rookies appear on Brahmas roster

Lots of talk of new players being added to the Brahmas roster these days. First, an article on Tuesday by William Wilkerson of the Star-Telegram lists # 18 Matt Cook (F) and #22 Tyrell Mason (D) as new members of the Brahmas. No further word on them.

Then tonight, two different players, #17 Lee Jubinville (C) and #20 Jason Reese (LW) show up on the Brahmas website roster and Anders Strome and Mike Willemsen are listed as inactive.

Both Jubinville and Reese signed with the Florida Everblades (ECHL) but did not make the final roster.

I guess we'll find out tomorrow when Pointstreak is updated. In the meantime, here's some info on the latest two rookies who may be Brahmas.

Lee Jubinville (F) 5' 10", 165 Pounds, Shoots Left

Jubinville, 24, played for two seasons with the Camrose Kodiaks (AJHL) where he accumulated 95 points (47 G, 48 A) in 124 games before heading off to Princeton University (NCAA). In four seasons with the Tigers, the Edmonton, Alberta native tallied 99 points (36 G, 63 A) in 131 games.

In 2007-08, Jubinville was named both the ECAC and Ivy League Player of the Year after posting 39 points (12 G, 27 A) in 34 games to lead Princeton to their second ECAC Tournament championship and their first-ever outright Ivy League title. In addition to being named Ivy League Player of the Year, Jubinville was also one of only two players (teammate Mike Moore was the other) to be unanimously selected to the All-Ivy League First Team.

"I think every player on our team knows that he's probably a better defensive player than he is an offensive player. Lee is the fastest that we have ever timed. His speed is extreme. I think what people don't realize about him is what a powerful athlete he is. He might not be the biggest guy, but I don't know if there's a harder guy in our league to knock down."

- Princeton head coach Guy Gadowsky

"Lee is a good, solid skater. I believe he will have a tremendous impact on our forecheck and his speed will create power play opportunities for us," said. "His speed makes him dangerous in a lot of areas. He is well coached and plays consistently on both ends of the ice."

- Florida Everblades head coach Malcolm Cameron

Jubinville signed with the Florida Everblades (ECHL) last month, but did not make the final roster. He also attended the Rochester Americans (AHL) training camp.

Jason Reese (C) 5' 10", 177 Pounds, Shoots Left

Reese, 21, Reese appeared in 69 games with the Tri-City Americans of the WHL last season. He finished tied for first on the team in points, scored 81 points (31 G, 50 A) with 79 penalty minutes.

From 2007-09, Reese scored 163 points (55 G, 108 A) with 123 penalty minutes.

In total, Reese has appeared in 317 games (all in the WHL), scoring 273 points (97 G, 176 A) and 246 penalty minutes. He also has appeared in 46 WHL playoff games scoring 14 goals, 17 assists for 31 points and 31 penalty minutes.

In the 2005-06 Western Hockey League playoffs, Reese appeared in the WHL Championship with the Vancouver Giants winning the Ed Chynoweth Cup.
In 2007-08 playoffs, the Gresham, Oregon native appeared in 16 games for the Tri-City Americans. He registered 13 points (4 G, 9 A) with 18 penalty minutes, leading his team to the Western Conference Finals before losing in seven games to eventual league champions, the Spokane Chiefs.

“Jason is exceptionally skilled on the power-play and will add another unique dimension to our team. He plays well in traffic, he is willing to go into corners and works extremely hard off the ice.”

-Florida Everblades head coach Malcolm Cameron

Reese also signed with the Florida Everblades (ECHL) last month, but did not make the final roster. He also attended the San Antonio Rampage (AHL) training camp.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Return of "The Killer"

Texas Brahmas vs. Mississippi RiverKings Series Preview

The beginning of his second full season as head coach of the Mississippi RiverKings started with a 6-3 loss to a bulked up Tulsa Oilers, a 5-3 win over the Wichita Thunder and then a 5-2 loss to the Amarillo Gorillas. But as the original "Killer", Jerry Lee Lewis sang, "Life has its little ups and downs."

One of those ups was leading his team to a trip to the Northern Conference Finals, a brutal six-game series against the Colorado Eagles that looked like it would end in a sweep. But the RiverKings clenched their teeth and their sticks to force Game Five after a 6-5 double-overtime duel settled in the end by forward Matt Summers. Two games later, Mississippi's season was over, but Kevin Kaminsky was soon back at work planning for the 2009-10 RiverKings.

With the loss of their Northeast Division rivals, the Oklahoma City Blazers, and in fact, the loss of divisions overall, the RiverKings find themselves in a seven team Northern Conference and are almost assured a spot in the playoffs.

Dan Wildfong's Brahmas met Kaminsky's RiverKings five times last season with three home wins for Mississippi at the DeSoto Civic Center and two home wins for Texas at the NYTEX Sports Centre. The two teams will meet four times this season, beginning this Friday at the DCC. There will only be one game at NYTEX, on Saturday night.

So, it's really too early to have an opinion about either of these teams with what we've seen so far.

The RiverKings have four Returning defensemen (Landmesser, Lackner, Marshall and Simoes). Landmesser (back for his ninth season as a RiverKing) scored five points (1 G, 4 A) against the Brahmas last season. Simoes had two fights against Nathan Saunders (1-1)...expect him to go after Deitsch on Saturday (since every other thug has). Scoring machine Steve Makway is back in the turtle sweater after a season in the ECHL.

Returning forwards include Stephen Margeson, Darrell Stoddard, Adam Smyth, Matt Pierce, Matt Summers and Bobby Chaumont. Chaumont tallied five points (3 G, 2 A) against the Brahmas last season. Pierce has started the season on the 14-day injured reserve.

At goaltender, Kevin Beech returns, although he also begins the season on injured reserve. Tyler Sims is also back, but after allowing a dreadful six goals in a row against Tulsa, the Brahmas may expect to see Ray Jean in net this weekend. Jean, at 5' 7" and 175 pounds, leaves a lot of unprotected space open for scoring opportunities. He presided over the win at Wichita and the loss at Amarillo. Jean played NCAA hockey for two years at the University of Maine and two years at Bentley College. In 2007-08, he played one game for the Wheeling Nailers (ECHL) and allowed five goals. Last season, he played for one game with the Portland Pirates (AHL), allowing a goal in five minutes of play. I don't want this to sound mean, but if Kevin Beech isn't healthy by Friday, the RiverKings are F*%#@ed.

So, the Brahmas haven't won a game at the DeSoto Civic Center since January 20th, 2008. The RiverKings haven't won a game at NYTEX since the day before that. So what will happen this weekend? If I had to call it, I'd say Brahmas win both games. But don't quote me on that.

Here's an interview with Killer that was Broadcast on ESPN radio yesterday:

Friday night's game will begin at 7:05CST and will be broadcast on CHL-TV. You can also listen to it on Sports56 radio here. If you didn't pay for CHL-TV, ZuRoma Bar and Grill at the NYTEX Sports Centre will host a game watching party for all Brahmas road games this season.

It will be a night of commemoration Saturday at NYTEX when the Brahmas unveil the Division, Conference and Championship banners as the 2009 Ray Miron President's Cup Champions. If you're not there, there's something wrong with you.

Note: Jason Deitsch will serve his one-game league suspension and will miss the Brahmas' game at Mississippi on Friday.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith
Interview courtesy of ESPN 92.9FM

Monday, October 19, 2009

Rooneem, we hardly knew ye

First waive of the regular season, Deitsch suspended

News out today that forward Mark Roonem has been placed on waivers. Rooneem, 26, saw limited action in the Colorado series and had two shots and two penalty minutes recorded as a Brahma. He scored a goal in the second pre-season game against the Allen Americans.

The 6' 2", 191 pound native of Hinton, Alberta played for the last two seasons with the Mississippi Sea Wolves (ECHL). The 6th year professional shouldn't have a tough time finding somewhere to play. Good luck, Mark!

On another note, Brahmas forward Jason Deitsch has been suspended one game by the CHL for his actions in the Brahmas 5-2 loss at Colorado on Saturday. Deitsch is expected to miss the Brahmas game at Mississippi on Friday.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Where Eagles Dare

Colorado dominates Brahmas, win 5-2

The best thing I can say about tonight's game is that it's good that it didn't take place last night. In a mostly forgettable performance by the boys from North Richland Hills, special teams took center stage as the Colorado Eagles defeated the Brahmas by a score of 5-2.

As Dan Wildfong said the previous night, there's some things the Brahmas now know they have to work on and will do this week in preparation for a two-game series against the Mississippi RiverKings.

For the Eagles, they knew what they needed to do and they executed well.

“Guys went the extra mile tonight,” head coach Kevin McClelland told the Reporter-Herald. “We competed right off the bat, and we played well defensively. They knew we let a point slip away last night in our building.”

Without the fanfare of last night's banner ceremony and the retirement of Greg Pankiewiczs' number, the game began on time and terribly for the Brahmas with most of the action in their zone. Colorado's special teams managed two scores; a power play goal and a short-handed goal and the Brahmas were out shot 12-4 in the first period.

Taking advantage of a power play courtesy of a tripping call on Mark Rooneem, Riley Nelson sent a pass from the boards to Kevin Ulanski, who was stationed just outside the crease where Brett Jaeger was waiting. Unable to find a hole, Ulanski sent the puck along the crease to a waiting Ryan Tobler who was able to beat Jaeger's reaction time to take the 1-0 lead at the 6:29 mark.

Note: The Eagles were 36-3 when scoring the first goal last season.

The Brahmas got their first power play at 13:38 mark after a hooking call on Riley Nelson. But just eight seconds later, the Eagles penalty-killers netted the team's first shorthanded goal of the season on a blitzkrieg when Ryan McLeod won a face off in the left circle of his own end and Ed McGrane stormed up the ice with the puck. McLeod caught up and the two converted the rush when the rookie Eagle put home his own rebound just under the out-stretched legs of Jaeger. It was 2-0 at the 13:46 mark.

There was no scoring in a middle frame I found less interesting than the Angels/Yankees game, which got more of my attention on the second screen. Colorado thug Alex Penner tried to start a fight with Anders Strome but Strome appeared to explain to Penner that he was there to play hockey, not brawl. With a shot count of 9-8 to finish the middle frame, the Eagles had a 21-12 shot advantage after 40 minutes.

The Eagles scored in the first 21 seconds of the third period to take the 3-0 lead when Ryan McLeod tallied his second goal of the night by smacking home a loose puck at the left side of the net with Jaeger looking in the other direction. Ed McGrane and Jim Jackson were in on the assist.

At the 9:16 mark, an altercation between Eagles defenseman Felipe Larranaga and Jason Deitsch resulted in a 10 minute Attempt to Injure Match penalty on Deitsch. Larranaga, who wears a cage on his helmet, was jawing with Deitsch behind the Brahmas net after play stopped. Deitsch proceeded to grab the cage and shake Larranaga's head pretty violently, which resulted in the call.

What followed was a back-and-forth special teams scoring frenzy that provided the best entertainment of the game.

On the penalty kill, Kevin McLeod got a short-handed unassisted goal by snapping a shot high past the glove hand of Penner from atop the left circle. At the 10:47 mark, it was a 3-1 game.

Riley Nelson answered right back 18 seconds later with a power play blast from the high slot, giving him his 500th career point in his career with the Eagles. Just under a minute and a half later, AJ Gale cut the Colorado lead in half with another short-handed goal with an assist from Tyler Skworchinski.

The Eagles managed to hold off any further Brahmas attack and with just over a minute left in the game, Dan Wildfong pulled Jaeger in favor of the extra attacker but to no avail and the Eagles' Steve Haddon, assisted by Ryan Tobler and Jason Lundmark, tallied an empty net goal at the 19:38 mark to seal the win.

Andrew Penner found his game and made 17 saves on 19 shots for his first win of the season. Brett Jaeger took his first loss with 22 saves.

The Brahmas went 0 for 3 on their power play opportunities. The Eagles capitalized on 2 of 9.

Texas was assessed 24 minutes on eight infractions. The Eagles were assessed eight minutes on four infractions. 'Nuff said.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Ed McGrane, who had two assists on the night. The 2nd Star was awarded to Ryan McLeod with two goals and the 1st Star went to Riley Nelson with a goal and an assist.

Observations:

  • Two shorthanded goals and three in two games is a good number for the Brahmas penalty killers. One goal in 10 on power-plays, not so good.

  • This was a real special teams series. Of the 12 goals scored in the two-game set, eight came via special teams (four on the power play, four short handed).

  • Time on the ice this week should definitely help get guys on the same page.

  • On-ice officials did a great job this weekend. The multiple replays on the CHL-TV broadcast backed up every call.
The Brahmas will make the long bus ride home to prepare for the trip to Southaven, Mississippi for a game against the RiverKings before returning to the NYTEX Sports Centre for the home-opener against Mississippi on Saturday.

Photo Credit: Steve Stoner/Reporter-Herald

Friday, October 16, 2009

Grant Jacobsen scored two goals in the overtime win

Right where we left off...

Brahmas win season opener against Colorado 3-2

They say that when you reach the top, that’s when the climb begins. For the 2009-10 Texas Brahmas, that climb began at an elevation of 4,982’ tonight in front of a sell-out crowd at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, Colorado. The eyes of Texas were on the long-awaited rematch between the Brahmas and the Colorado Eagles and were not disappointed as the defending CHL Champions won their season opener with a 3-2 overtime victory.

I spoke with head coach Dan Wildfong shortly after the game. Here are his initial thoughts.

"I thought we did some good things and we did some bad things, but it's a new team and it's obviously nice to get a W and learn some things that we need to work on," Wildfong said. "I think guys were in a little bit of a learning curve and they knew that coming in, but it was a good test for us against this Colorado team that's pretty good. We've got our work cut out for us but once we get guys on the same page, we'll be fine"

During the pre-game activities, the Eagles unfurled their Northwest Division and Bud Poile Governor's Cup banners, followed by a tribute to former team captain and new assistant coach Greg Pankiewicz. With his two daughters by his side, a teary-eyed Panks watched as a banner with his #89, now retired by the team, was lowered from the rafters. He is the first Eagles player to earn that honor.

About 20 minutes after the scheduled start time, the game finally began with a face off between Grant Jacobsen and Riley Nelson. Both teams looked pretty sharp for the first game of the season. The Brahmas did a good job protecting the net and the three young Brahmas defensemen (Rouleau, Chisholm, Lucyk) showed some encoraging shifts early into the first period.

Jacobsen opened up the scoring for the Brahmas on a broken play after a turnover at the Colorado blue line. The puck ended up at the center of the zone where Pete Rouleau found Jacobsen stationed at the right side of the net for a one-timer past a collapsing Andrew Penner at the 6:51 mark. Jordan Cameron was also credited with an assist.

Cameron, wearing the # 91 this season, nearly added a second score minutes later when he worked the puck into the crease before it popped up and landed behind Penner, who was able to gain control of it before it could cross the goal line.

The Brahmas were able to defend the lead through the end of the period with a narrow shot advantage of 11-10.

The second period would see plenty of special teams action with eight penalties called.

The Eagles were able to get back into the game when defenseman Jim Jackson got the puck to Ryan Tobler, who found Riley Nelson in the slot. Nelson’s shot past Brett Jaeger's glove at the 7:38 mark tied the game at one.

But just 56 seconds later, the Brahmas got lucky and re-took the lead after Ed McGrane lost his footing behind his own net and sent a desperation pass up the slot. The pass was intercepted in front in between the circles by Grant Jacobsen, who shucked it behind Andrew Penner for an unassisted, short-handed goal at the 8:34 mark.

Both teams ended the middle frame with nine shots.

The Brahmas seemed to lose steam in the third and were on defense for most of the period.

Eleven minutes into the third period, Riley Nelson scored his second goal to tie the game back up at two when he tapped in his own rebound with a little help from Tobler and Kevin Unlanski who were on the attack. Neither team managed a score in the final nine minutes and the game headed into overtime.

The Brahmas caught an early break in overtime when Felipe Larranaga was called for holding 54 seconds into the extra frame. It took just 13 seconds for Kevin McLeod to take possession of the puck and drive it to Jason Deitch, who was stationed at the right circle. Deitsch’s pass to Anders Strome seemed to catch Penner off-guard and Strome literally swept the puck in past the Eagles’ netminder for the win.

The Eagles outshot the Brahmas 30 to 28 in the game. Brett Jaeger stopped 28 (1.96 GAA, .933 save percentage) for his first win of the season. Andrew Penner stopped 25 of 28 for his first loss. It was Penner's fourth consecutive loss and sixth loss out of seven against the purple and black since the beginning of last season. Yeah, that's gotta sting.

The Brahmas went 0 for 7 on the power play. The Eagles went 1 for 8. Texas was assessed 16 minutes on eight infractions. Colorado earned 13 minutes on six infractions. No fights tonight but I do want to call your attention to the Eagles newest goon, #29 Alex Penner, brother of the Eagle's goalie. At 6’4”, 226 pounds, this winger played Lyle Alzado on ice for the better part of the night. We’ll see you at NYTEX, Alex.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Grant Jacobsen for his two goals on the evening. The 2nd Star was awarded to the Eagles’ Riley Nelson who provided both Colorado tallies and the 1st Star went to Anders Strome who swept in the game winner in overtime. Welcome back Anders!

Observations:
  • 0 for 7 on the power play - not so good, especially on an Eagles squad who hasn't had especially solid penalty kill since the 2005/06 season. Two blown five-on-three opportunities certainly didn't please Fonger. Nonetheless, holding Colorado to 1 for 8 on their power play (first in the league last season) was a plus for the Tony PK and two shorthanded tallies, a Brahmas specialty last season, was nice to see.
  • Brett Jaeger had a very solid night at a tough venue. The two goals allowed happened without much help in front of the net and were certainly more respectable than the three Penner allowed in, at least two of which he should've stopped.
  • 10 skaters with at least a shot on goal and a solid performance by Jacobsen against a fast and physical opponent took the bag off the head of an ugly win.
  • The Brahmas lacked any effective offensive push in the third period against an Eagles squad but at least they didn't fall apart and were able to force an overtime decision.
  • Is it me or does it already seem like Deitsch has a target on his back? Thugs from Allen and the Eagles seemed to have been all over him.

The Brahmas and the Eagles will meet again tomorrow night at the Budweiser Events Center at 8:05pm CST. You can listen to the game for free on 107.9 The Bear’s Internet radio feed here or you can pony up some duckets and watch it on CHL-TV here.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith