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!

  • 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

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