Monday, November 30, 2009

Rick Kozak tries to hook Matt Burto, to no avail

Brahmas stifle the Oilers

Tulsa’s high powered offense capped for second time at NYTEX

The Texas Brahmas earned their second win of the season against the Northern Conference leading Tulsa Oilers with a 3-1 victory at the NYTEX Sports Centre on Sunday afternoon.

Two third period goals by Anders Strome and a tremendous performance by Brett Jaeger in net put a stop to the Oilers’ run of nine straight games earning a point. The Oilers last loss in regulation had come on November 7th, also at NYTEX.

With the win, the Brahmas improve to 8-9-3 (.475) with 19 points and remain in fifth place in the Southern Conference, just two points behind Laredo and three points behind Rio Grande Valley. The Oilers go to 12-4-1 with 25 points and the Colorado Eagles at their heels with 23 points.

It was a high octane contest for the Brahmas, fueled by emotions left over from Friday night’s 6-2 loss to Tulsa at the BOK Center. There was also a tremendous (and loud) show of support from Brahmas fans, especially the “infamous 303 Rowdies” who led the cheers, chants and heckles, targeting not only the Oilers as a whole, but individual players as well. I had a good laugh late in the game after Strome’s second goal when Joe Palmer turned around and saw (apparently for the first time), the Rowdies with their hockey sweaters removed as they celebrated. I assured Palmer that they don’t do that for every goal and although a bit shaken, I think he gets it.

The first period was about as action packed as any we’ve seen thus far this season as both teams came onto the ice energized and motivated to tally the first goal. However, with an even 11 shots and two power play opportunities each, neither side could solve each others goalie, as Brett Jaeger and Marty Magers were solid in net.

The intensity of the game did not let up as the teams skated onto the ice to begin the second period. An aggressive Brahmas attack resulted in five consecutive penalties but special teams answered the call, killing all of Tulsa’s advantages.

A Hooking call on Luke Sellars and a Cross Checking call on Ross Rouleau gave Tulsa a two man advantage eight minutes into the second frame. What should have been a great opportunity for the Oilers ended up benefiting the Brahmas when Tyler Skworchinski intercepted a pass at his own blue line and then pulled away to score an unassisted short handed goal at the 8:29 mark. With this tally, the Brahmas once again lead the league in short-handed goals with six.

Moments later, a shot by Oilers defenseman Derek Eastman thought he had a goal but officials ruled his shot as having been deflected into the Brahmas’ net by a high stick.

The Brahmas had one power play opportunity later in the period but they were shut down by the Oilers’ penalty kill. The period ended with a 10-8 shot advantage for the home team and a 1-0 lead.

The shot count in the final frame favored the Oilers (14-9) but the scoring was all about Anders Strome who had two consecutive goals, eight minutes apart to give the Brahmas a 3-0 lead.

The first score came on a play from Luke Sellars to Grant Jacobsen. Jacobsen sent the puck to Strome, who was able to beat Marty Magers to set the 2-0 lead at the 9:02 mark.

The second came off a pass from Jason Reese at the near corner. Strome fired the puck past Magers, who never had a chance. Grant Jacobsen was also credited with the assist.

It looked like Texas would earn their second shut out of the season but former Brahma Aaron Davis made sure that didn’t happen. Davis scored at the 17:36 mark with the assist coming from Sean Erickson and TJ Caig but it was too little, too late and the Brahmas sent a frustrated Oilers team back North to ponder their lack of success at NYTEX.

Somehow, there were no penalties in the final frame. Tulsa had the 33-30 shot advantage in the game.

By the way, Tulsa scoring king Rob Hisey was held to one shot and a -1 rating.

Brett Jaeger made 32 saves on 33 shots and earned the win. His record goes to 4-6-1. Marty Magers made 27 saves on 30 shots and takes the loss. His record goes to 1-1-0.

The Brahmas went 0 for 4 on the power play. Tulsa went 0 for 6. The Brahmas were assessed 12 minutes on 6 infractions; Tulsa received eight minutes on four infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Tyler Skworchinski for short handed goal. The 2nd Star was awarded to Brett Jaeger for his performance in net and the 1st Star went to Anders Strome with two goals on two shots.

You can view the box score
here

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

Observations:

• Elias Godoy was suited up and on the bench, but did not have any shifts (that I saw). Jason Deitsch was still in street clothes. He joined James Hiebert upstairs in one of the suites.
• Kevin McLeod started but came off the ice after minimal shifts and joined the boys in the suite. McLeod’s ear actually looks pretty good despite having a puck slice it open at Allen. He confirmed 80-100 stitches. That’s got to smart.
• This may sound like a criticism (but it’s not). How many teams’ scoring leaders are defensemen? Marv holds that distinction with 16 points (9 G, 7 A, -3).
• Brett Jaeger looked great in net (as he did in Allen). I spoke with him after the game briefly and he seemed pretty pleased with getting the win. I told him if he’s going to have a rough time, it’s better to have it now and shake it off for when times are more crucial down the stretch. OK, this probably sounds corny, but I think it would pump up our net minders if a “Jaeger, Jaeger, Jaeger! or a Palmer, Palmer, Palmer! Chant were started (with vigor) at the beginning of each home game. Just a thought. How about it Rowdies?
• Anders Strome gets his first goal(s) and points since the season opener, when he scored the game winning power play goal. Good to see. No doubt Strome will find a groove soon. He currently leads the Brahmas with a .214 shot percentage.

The Brahmas have a few days to work on power play drills amongst other things. They will host Corpus Christi on Friday night and Bossier-Shreveport on Saturday night.

Note: Corpus is 0-7-2 against the Brahmas since Dan Wildfong became head coach. Corpus Christ’s last win against the Brahmas came on Feb. 11, 2006. Makes me smile.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hiebert Suspended for two games

League says hit on Effinger was intentional

Brahmas forward James Hiebert was suspended for two games by the Central Hockey League after league officials decided that Hiebert's hit on Allen Americans goalie Charlie Effinger was intentional.

I saw the collision from behind Effinger's net and I believe the league is way wrong in their assessment.

Hiebert took possession of the buck near center ice and was on a breakaway when Effinger came way out of the crease to challenge him. And I mean way out of the crease. As Hiebert approached with very little time to react to Effinger's journey, Effinger dropped his shoulder and the two met shoulder to shoulder. Effinger dropped to the ice in dramatic fashion and slipped off his helmet while Hiebert was molested by Ryan Fairbarn.

If Hiebert had intentionally hit Effinger, Effinger's season would probably be over.

Hiebert served his suspension during today's game against the Tulsa Oilers and will miss next Friday's game against the Corpus Christi Ice Rays.

I'll have the photos uploaded by tomorrow and you will be able to see the whole scene as and how it went down.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Insider Preview: Tulsa Oilers @ Texas Brahmas

Brahmas seeking win at NYTEX

The Texas Brahmas are hosting their third meeting with the Northern Conference leading Tulsa Oilers (12-3-1, 25 points) today at the NYTEX Sports Centre. The two teams met for the first time on November 7th, in which the Brahmas won 5-3. The Brahmas held a 4-0 lead before the Oilers had a strong third period rally, only to give up a power play goal in the final minute. Last Friday, the Brahmas traveled to the BOK Center where they were defeated handily, 6-2.

The Brahmas are coming off a 4-3 shootout loss on the road last night in Allen. They've lost their two previous games.

The Oilers have a 4-3-0 home record.

Tulsa's three top scorers include Rob Hisey (C) with 32 points (13 G, 19 A, +7), TJ Caig (RW) with 28 points (12 G, 16 A, +12) and former Brahma Aaron Davis (C) with 17 points (7 G, 10 A, +5). Davis is now averaging better than a point a game. Their leading defensive scorer is Derek Eastman with 13 points (3 G, 10 A, +14).

Their top goons are right wing (guess who?) Rick Kozak (62 PIM) and the aforementioned Derek Eastman (35 PIM). Kozak leads the league with 32 penalty minutes assessed against him in a single game (a 5-1 loss to Wichita on 10/23).

On special teams, the Oilers have the number three power play with a 20.75 percentage and the number seven penalty kill with an 84.27 percentage. They are also tied with the Brahmas for the league lead with five short-handed goals.

Kevin Armstrong (11-3-1) is expected in net for the Oilers. He is ranked 14th in the league with a 3.13 GAA and 16th in the league with a .897 save percentage.

Defensemen RJ Linder and Adam Bartholomay are out on the injured reserve and as of this writing are not expected to play today.

The Brahmas top three scorers are Kevin McLeod (D) with 16 points (9 G, 7 A, -3), AJ Gale (F) with 15 points (7 G, 7 A, -1) and Jordan Cameron with 15 points (4 G, 11 A, -2). McLeod is also the Brahmas’ leading defensive scorer.

On special teams, the Brahmas remain last in the league with a 10.53 percentage and 12th on the penalty kill with an 80.80 percentage.

I'm not sure who will get the start in goal. My bet would be Joe Palmer (4-3-2-1), who played in the last game.

As of this writing, there are no players listed out on injured reserve. Jason Deitsch and Elias Godoy were scratches in the last couple of games. It is not known if either will play tonight.

The game starts at 7:05pm and can be seen on CHL-TV if you can't be there.
Heart breaker in Allen

Brahmas win point, lose 4-3 in shootout

This was easily one of the best performances by the Texas Brahmas this season. Unfortunately, it ended in a shootout loss to the Allen Americans on Saturday night at the Allen Events Center.

First of all, a round of applause for Brahmas defenseman Kevin McLeod who scored his first professional hat trick with a goal in each period in regulation. McLeod now leads all defensemen in goals scored (9) this season. Then, in the overtime period, he was struck in the ear by a puck and would end up with over 80 stitches. Let's not forget that "Marv" was the Brahmas leading defensive scorer last season and was the number nine scoring defenseman in the league with 50 points (20 G, 30 A, +19).

The first period set the tone for the game - lots of action, physical play and great defense on both sides.

The Brahmas got on the scoreboard first after a High Sticking call on Mick Berge gave them a man advantage. Kevin McLeod, assisted by Craig Minard and Jordan Cameron, beat Charlie Effinger to the back of the net at the 8:56 mark.

The Americans, who would have five power plays in the first frame, capitalized on a tripping call on Tyrell Mason to score the equalizer at the 14:25 mark. Nino Musitelli and Erik Adams combined to set up a play for Justin Bowers who was able to beat Brett Jaeger with a shot from the right circle.

A couple of minutes later, a collision with Charlie Effinger would leave the Brahmas down a man for the remainder of the game.

James Hiebert took possession of the buck near center ice and was on a breakaway when Effinger came way out of the crease to challenge him. And I mean way out of the crease. As Hiebert approached with very little time to react to Effinger's journey, Effinger dropped his shoulder and the two met shoulder to shoulder. Effinger dropped to the ice in dramatic fashion and slipped off his helmet while Hiebert was molested by Ryan Fairbarn. After a few minutes with the trainer, Effinger regained his composure and continued in net. Hiebert was assessed a five minute Charging Major and a 10 minute Charging Game Misconduct. Fairbarn was given two minutes for roughing.

The Brahmas had the 10-8 shot advantage in the first. Although he finished out the period, Charlie Effinger went to the locker room and did not return to the game. Chris Whitley would finish out the game in net for the Americans.

Kurtis Dulle scored at the 1:48 mark of the second period to give Allen a 2-1 lead. He was assisted by Justin Bowers and Bruce Graham.

Kevin McLeod would net his second goal of the game off a pass from Jordan Cameron to tie the game at two at the 6:11 mark.

There would be no further scoring in the second frame and the Brahmas special teams would kill off the only Allen power play of the period. The Brahmas led the shot count again in the second, this time 12-8.

The third period was almost completely dominated by the Brahmas who had a 14-4 shot advantage but it was Allen's Nino Musitelli who struck first, giving the American a 3-2 lead at the 1:06 mark. Justin Bowers and Ryan Fairbarn were credited with the assist.

A little over six minutes later, Kevin McLeod would score his third of the night to tie the game again at the 7:17 mark. Ross Rouleau and Jordan Cameron assisted.

The game went into overtime but there was no scoring and the winner would be decided by shootout. Allen would score with their first three shots (Bruce Graham, Justin Bowers and Ryan Fairbarn. Jason Reese and then Anders Strome were unsuccessful but Jordan Cameron and Matt Burto beat Chris Whitley to get the Brahmas back into contention. It was up to Grant Jacobsen but Whitley slid across the crease to make the save and this one was over, 5-4 Americans. The Brahmas at least took home a point for their effort.

Chris Whitley made 26 saves on 28 shots and earned the win. His record goes to 8-2-1. Charlie Effinger finished the 1st period and made nine saves on 10 shots. Brett Jaeger had 18 saves on 21 shots and takes the loss. His record goes to 3-6-1.

The Brahmas went 1 for 4 on the power play. Allen went 1 for 7. The Brahmas were assessed 26 minutes on 7 infractions; Allen received 10 minutes on 5 infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Kevin McLeod for the hat trick. The 2nd Star was awarded to Chris Whitley for his efforts in goal and the 1st Star went to Nino Musitelli with a goal and an assist on the night.

You can view the box score here

You can view my photos from the game here

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Insider Preview: Texas Brahmas @ Allen Americans

Brahmas seek win after two tough losses

The Texas Brahmas are in Allen tonight for a show down with the expansion Allen Americans at the AEC. The Americans are coming off a physical 5-4 home ice win over the Odessa Jackalopes last night. They lost their previous game 3-1 at home last Wednesday to the Mississippi RiverKings.

The Brahmas have dropped their last two games in a big way. They were defeated by the Jackalopes 5-3 at NYTEX last Wednesday and were taken out by the Tulsa Oilers 6-2 on the road last night.

The two teams split wins in the pre-season and have thus far split wins in the regular season. The Brahmas won 3-2 at NYTEX on October 31st and Allen defeated the Brahmas 5-1 at the AEC on November 7th. There are seven more meetings after tonight (four at NYTEX, three at the AEC).

Allen's three top scorers include Justin Bowers (C) with 20 points (4 G, 16 A, +7), Bruce Graham(F) with 19 points (8 G, 11 A, +4) and Nino Musitelli (F) with 13 points (2 G, 11 A, +2). Their leading defensive scorer is Erik Adams with 7 points (1 G, 6 A, +3). Center Tobias Whelan is second in the league (behind AJ Gale) in rookie scorers with 12 points (8 G, 4 A).

Their top goons are defenseman Brandon Straub (61 PIM) right wing Liam Hukulak (48 PIM).

On special teams, the Americans have the number six power play with a 18.82 percentage and the number five penalty kill with an 84.85 percentage. They also have two short-handed goals.

Chris Whitley (7-2-1) is expected in net for the Americans. He is ranked seventh in the league with a 2.68 GAA a .915 save percentage.

Forward (and former Brahma) Mike Willemsen, center Jarret Lukin and defenseman Jordie Benn are out on the injured reserve and as of this writing are not expected to play tonight.

The Brahmas top three scorers are AJ Gale (F) with 15 points (8 G, 7 A, +1), Kevin McLeod (D) with 13 points (6 G, 7 A, -3) and Grant Jacobsen with 12 points (7 G, 5 A, -3). McLeod is also the Brahmas’ leading defensive scorer. Gale and Jacobsen have scored the majority of their points on the road (Gale: 6 G, 5 A, 0 and Jacobsen: 6 G, 4 A, -4).

On special teams, the Brahmas are last in the league with a 10.00 percentage and 12th on the penalty kill with an 80.51 percentage. They are tied with Tulsa for the league lead with five short-handed goals.


I'm not sure who will get the start in goal. It could really go either way against the Americans. My money is on Palmer though.

As of this writing, there are no players listed out on injured reserve. Jason Deitsch and Elias Godoy were scratches in the last game. It is not known if either will play tonight.

The game starts at 7:30pm and can be seen on CHL-TV. I’ll have a post game summary an photos posted tomorrow morning.


Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Friday, November 27, 2009

Joe Palmer about to take down Kevin Armstrong

A Series of Unfortunate Events...

Oilers score six straight goals to defeat the Brahmas, Burto scores two

Lemony Snicket couldn't have written a more woeful tale as the Tulsa Oilers scored six straight goals in 40 minutes to soundly defeat the Texas Brahmas tonight 6-2 at the BOK Center. 5,443 fans got their money's worth in a game that had it all - including 112 minutes worth of penalties and a goalie fight.

With the win, the Oilers extend their hold over the Northern Conference with a 12-3-1 record with 25 points. The Brahmas record falls to a dismal 7-9-2 with 16 points, remaining in fifth place in the Southern Conference.

Everything started out pleasant enough.

A group of Brahmas fans made it up to the BOK Center, including the gentleman I call "Flag Man" who waves the large Texas Brahmas flag up in section O at NYTEX.

Jason Deitsch, who is day-to-day with an upper body injury and Elias Godoy were the scratches for tonight.

What the first period lacked in excitement was made up for with solid play by the Brahmas with a shout out for Ross Rouleau and Lee Jubinville who were stand outs. Also, some notable efforts by former Blazer-turned-Oiler Marty Standish were witnessed.

The Brahmas committed three consecutive fouls (Burto - High Sticking, Jubinville - High Sticking, Sellars - Board Checking) in the first 10 minutes but the Tony's managed to kill off all three Tulsa power plays.

The Brahmas managed the only score of the first frame when Lee Jubinville sent a pass along the boards to Matt Burto, who sent the puck in under the right arm of Kevin Armstrong to notch his fourth goal of the season. It was 1-0 at the 8:45 mark.

Note: Both Armstrong and Palmer measure out at 6' 1" and 205 pounds and both are 21 years old.

The final seconds found Matt Burto being dropped along the boards by Oilers left wing Jake Riddle. Burto retaliated with a swipe of his stick to Riddle's ankles. No penalty was assessed for that action but the Oilers were assessed a penalty for delay of game due to a slow personnel change right before the buzzer.

At periods end, shots were even at 6 and the Brahmas had the 1-0 lead, an important fact as the Oilers have won all home games in which they led going into the first or second intermission. That lead would soon be doomed.

The second period opened with the man advantage for the Brahmas but it was Tulsa who scored the equalizer, a short-handed goal at the :17 second mark. Kevin McLeod lost the puck when his Sher-Wood stick broke (when does that happen?) and former Brahmas defenseman Derek Merlini took possession, sending it to center Rob Hisey. Hisey's shot trickled across the goal line when Palmer failed to squeeze the pads tight enough to make the save. This ties the Brahmas for the league lead with five short handed goals for each team (Hisey has three on his own).

Just over two minutes later, the Oilers took the 2-1 lead when TJ Caig corralled the puck shortly after leaving the penalty box after serving the delay of game minor. Caig rushed the net and took a shot which bounced off the pads of Joe Palmer but Aaron Davis picked up the rebound and sent it in to Palmer's left side as he skated in from the right circle at the 2:19 mark.

The Oilers would score their third consecutive goal at the 9:49 mark when Dan Riedel and Troy Riddle combined to get the puck to defenseman Tom Maldonado, who was coming in along the left wing boards. Maldonado's wrister from the edge of the face off circle flew past Palmer and just like that, Tulsa had a 3-1 lead.

Tempers flared when Marty Standish and Ross Rouleau got into along the right wing boards at the 14:19 mark. Standish would get a four minute Roughing Double Minor and Rouleau would get two minutes for Roughing. The Brahmas failed to convert on the resulting power play.

A Roughing call on Brahmas defenseman Tyrell Mason led to a power play goal by Tulsa captain Tyler Butler with a little help from Troy Riddle and Rick Kozak and a screened Joe Palmer at the 19:00 mark to make it a 4-1 game.

Shots favored the Oilers 12-7 in the middle frame and 18-13 after 40 minutes. Each team had four power plays up to this point with the Oilers converting once.

The Brahmas had the 13-10 shot count in the final frame and a 33-30 count in the game.

Wild and woolly was how the Oilers announcer described the third period and I couldn't agree more. Here's the Reader's Digest version.

To start things off, the Oilers scored goal number five at the 3:28 mark when Dallas Steward skated the puck along the boards and sent it to Marty Standish who was stationed at the right circle. Standish's centering pass was picked up by Jake Riddle who was waiting just outside the crease and he forced the puck past Joe Palmer to make it a 5-1 game.

15 seconds after play resumed, Aaron Davis nearly crashed the net and Joe Palmer took note and slashed Davis' ankles with his stick. Davis went nose to nose with Palmer but did not retaliate and was quickly subdued by two Brahmas defensemen. Meanwhile, Palmer and Kevin Armstrong exchanged words/gestures across the ice and both left their respective creases, skating to center ice for what looked like a goalie fight in the making. But it was not to be as linesmen Benjamin Dupuis and Cory Piche quickly separated the two. Davis was assessed two minutes for Unsportsmanlike Conduct and both Palmer and Armstrong were given two minutes (Goalie Leaving Crease) penalties.

At the 9:20 mark, Michel Beausoleil took a feed from Dallas Steward and sent his shot from the right circle pasts Palmer's right glove to make it a 6-1 game. Marty Standish was also credited with the assist.

11 seconds later, Ross Rouleau and TJ Caig got into it along the boards with Rouleau apparently getting the worst of a very quick scrape. Both would be assessed five minute Fighting Majors.

At the 13:42 mark, Tyler Butler took on the enforcer role after Jason Reese took down Dallas Steward with a particularly rough hit. Butler stormed in and absolutely flattened Reese with what looked like several blows to the face. Reese was given two minutes for Roughing and also the five minute Fighting Major. Butler, who was sent to the locker room was assessed a two minute Fighting (Instigator), a five minute Fighting Major and a 10 minute Fighting (Instigator) Misconduct).

While the two teams took a break in the fighting, Matt Burto scored his second goal of the game off the set up by Kevin McLeod and James Hiebert at the 16:53 mark. This set the final score at 6-2.

Tempers continued to run above the red line and just over two minutes later, Burto and Marty Standish exchanged blows which kept the linesmen busy while the two goalies decided to skate to center ice to finish up what they had started 15 minutes earlier. Joe Palmer came out the victor landing several blows and taking Kevin Armstrong to the ice. Burto and Standish were each assessed five minute Fighting Majors. Palmer and Armstrong each received two minute Goalie Leaving Crease, five minute Fighting Majors and the required 10 minute No Category Game Misconduct and each were sent to the showers. Joe Palmer had a few choice words (New York style) for a group of Oilers fans who heckled him on his way off the ice.

Marty Magers and Brett Jaeger came in for the final 1:01 of the game during which there were no shots and I believe both teams just wanted to end the game.

Shots in the final frame were 11-9, advantage Brahmas but Tulsa had the 27-24 final count and the 6-1 win in their pocket.

Kevin Armstrong made 22 saves on 24 shots and earned the win. His record goes to 11-3-1. Joe Palmer had 21 saves on 27 shots and takes the loss. His record goes to 4-3-2.

The Brahmas went 0 for 6 on the power play. Tulsa went 1 for 7. The Brahmas were assessed 52 minutes on 16 infractions; Tulsa received 60 minutes on 16 infractions. Joe Palmer had 19 PIM and Ross Rouleau had 11 PIM.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Kevin Armstrong for his efforts in net for Tulsa. The 2nd Star was awarded to Tyler Butler, who had the sole power play goal of the night and the 1st Star went to Troy Riddle who had two assists.

You can view the box score
here

You can view Les Stockton's photos from the game here and Mark Brummett's photos here

Observations:

  • Where do you go from here? Up hopefully. 'Nuff said.
  • Palmer's night resulted in him dropping from number one in the league to number five with a 2.65 GAA. He falls to number nine with a .908 save percentage. Gotta love a goalie fight though.
  • Matt Burto (5 G, 3 A) is a breath of fresh air lately. Not only one of the hardest working players, but a scoring threat now as well.
  • Jubinville and Burto were easily the stars of the night for the Brahmas.
  • Lots of fighting lately should prime the Brahmas for the Americans on Saturday night. Allen leads the league in penalty minutes now with 438. Arizona who?
  • The Tulsa announcer said it - tonight's game probably just sold a lot of tickets for Sunday's game at NYTEX.

The Brahmas travel back home tonight to prepare for tomorrow night's game against the Americans at the Allen Events Center.

Photo Credit: Mark Brummett

Insider Preview: Texas Brahmas @ Tulsa Oilers

Brahmas goaltending a key in second of six games this season

The Texas Brahmas (7-8-2, 16 points) are in Tulsa tonight for their second meeting with the Northern Conference leading Tulsa Oilers (11-3-1, 23 points) at the BOK Center. The two teams met for the first time on November 7th, in which the Brahmas won 5-3. The Brahmas held a 4-0 lead before the Oilers had a strong third period rally, only to give up a power play goal in the final minute.

Tulsa is coming off a Thanksgiving Day loss to the expansion Missouri Mavericks in a 5-4 shootout. The loss for the Oilers ended their quest to tie the franchise record for consecutive wins (eight) and forced the Northern Conference leaders to settle for seven straight wins (the team's longest winning streak since 2002 and second longest in franchise history). The CHL’s leading scorer, Rob Hisey, scored a goal in the loss extending his league-leading point streak to 13 games.

The Brahmas are coming off a 5-3 home loss on Wednesday night to the Odessa Jackalopes. I don’t know if this is any help, but the Brahmas have alternated wins and losses in their last seven games. It’s time to win (hopefully).

While the Oilers have the top two scorers in the CHL, Texas boasts the goaltender with the best goals against average. Rookie Joe Palmer has a 2.27 goals against average and is second in the league with a.922 save percentage.

The Oilers have a 7-0-1 home record and the league’s number one home penalty kill at 95.1%.

Statistically, the Brahmas need to lead or tie going into the intermissions as the Oilers at home are 7-0-0 leading after one and 6-0-0 leading after two.

The two teams will meet again on Sunday afternoon at the NYTEX Sports Centre.

Tulsa's three top scorers include Rob Hisey (C) with 31 points (12 G, 19 A, +5), TJ Caig (RW) with 27 points (12 G, 15 A, +11) and former Brahma Aaron Davis (C) with 16 points (6 G, 10 A, +4). Davis is now averaging better than a point a game. Their leading defensive scorer is Derek Eastman with 13 points (3 G, 10 A, +14).

Their top goons are right wing (guess who?) Rick Kozak (62 PIM) and the aforementioned Derek Eastman (35 PIM). Kozak leads the league with 32 penalty minutes assessed against him in a single game (a 5-1 loss to Wichita on 10/23).

On special teams, the Oilers have the number three power play with a 21.21 percentage and the number seven penalty kill with an 83.13 percentage. They also have four short-handed goals.

Kevin Armstrong (10-3-1) is expected in net for the Oilers. He is ranked 16th in the league with a 3.21 GAA and 18th in the league with a .895 save percentage.

Defensemen RJ Linder and Adam Bartholomay are out on the injured reserve and as of this writing are not expected to play tonight.

The Brahmas top three scorers are AJ Gale (F) with 15 points (8 G, 7 A, +3), Grant Jacobsen with 12 points (7 G, 5 A, 0) and Kevin McLeod (D) with 12 points (6 G, 6 A, -2). McLeod is also the Brahmas’ leading defensive scorer. Gale and Jacobsen have scored the majority of their points on the road (Gale: 6 G, 5 A, +2 and Jacobsen: 6 G, 4 A, -1).

On special teams, the Brahmas remain 14th in the league with a 10.58 percentage and 13th on the penalty kill with an 80.18 percentage. They still lead the league with five short-handed goals.

I'm not sure who will get the start in goal. My bet would be Joe Palmer (4-2-2), who has not faced the Oilers before. Palmer has allowed just seven goals in his last four games. Brett Jaeger (3-6-0), although successful against Tulsa in the first game, has had a rough start to the season and I think it’s time to give Palmer some more playing time (and experience).

As of this writing, there are no players listed out on injured reserve. Jason Deitsch and Elias Godoy were scratches in the last game. It is not known if either will play tonight.

The game starts at 7:05pm and can be seen on CHL-TV. I’ll have a post game summary posted shortly after the game ends.

Brahmas post-game skate photos posted
If you haven't already found them, my photos from Wednesday night's post-game skate with the Texas Brahmas have been posted to the Flickr site. You can view them here.
Photo Credit: Robert Keith
Former Brahmas assistant coach back behind the bench

Forbes MacPherson takes job with the University of Prince Edward Island

The following is from "Panther pride prompted MacPherson to take job" by Bill Hunt of dailygleaner.com, published on Thursday November 26th.

Juggling lines will be easy for Forbes MacPherson considering what he's already juggling as the new coach of the University of Prince Edward Island Panthers.

MacPherson is a little more than a week into his tenure as the sudden successor to Dylan Taylor, still working with the line combinations drawn up by captain Thomas Waugh, still getting to know his players both on and off the ice.

He's got a wife, two preschool age children, a full-time career with a Chicago-based food ingredient company that keeps him busy, recently became the Charlottetown franchise holder for Simply For Life, a nutrition clinic with locations in six provinces, and recently purchased a new house.

"So we had already been kind of burning the candle at both ends," he said.

But, as the head coach of the 5-5-2 Panthers, who come to town to face the St. Thomas Tommies Friday night at 7 p.m. at the Lady Beaverbrook Rink (The Wolf 95.7), he believes he's got the best of both worlds.

"It's like hitting a home run," he said. "I feel really lucky to be in this situation."

When the opportunity to take over the Panthers was presented last week following the resignation of Taylor and his three assistants, "I kind of snapped at it," he said.

MacPherson had applied for the opening before.

"I went after the position pretty hard," he said. "I more than threw my hat in the ring, I made it pretty common knowledge that I was excited about the opportunity at UPEI."

He was no less excited when the opening came up again last week. But he was a whole lot busier by then.

"My wife said 'You've got to go after that, this is your chance,'" he said. "With that push, I jumped at it. After that, we kind of said 'OK, how are we going to handle this?'"

So far, so good, obviously.

He enlisted Mark Rupnow, the former Tommie and his former teammate at a couple of professional stops, as his assistant coach - "it's closer to two associate coaches," he said - and suddenly, he has the job he's always wanted.

"I didn't sleep for a couple of nights after I made the decision. But it was one of those things where I had been out of hockey for about a year. The juices were flowing again. After I made the decision I was thinking 'Did I take on too much?" But opportunities like this don't come along too often. You have to take advantage of them while you can."

Officially, MacPherson is the 'interim' head coach, a tag he will carry through the end of the season. He and his family will decide then what the long term future might be.

"I can sit back at the end of the season and reflect whether it was a positive experience for my family and I," he said. "But if I didn't make that decision, then I wouldn't have that time to reflect."

He and athletic director Ron Annear will sit down again after the season. "We're both comfortable with that because of the way my situation is set up now," he said. "And of course, I have to do a good job. From both angles, we're both looking at it as 'Let's get through this year, finish on a positive note and let's see where interest might be at that time.'"

But he's jumping in with both paws, as it were.

"In order for me to do things the way I want them to be done, both short term and long term, I have to assume it as my team right now," said MacPherson. "You can't adjust the way you think to the situation. To me, pretty much every coach is interim. It's pretty much the least secure profession out there."

MacPherson got a taste of coaching as an assistant with the expansionist Texas Brahmas of the Central Hockey League in 2006-07, leading the team to the Northern Division finals. But he wanted to raise his children - son Owen, now three, and daughter Hayden, one - in his hometown. "We loved it in Texas," said MacPherson. "I had just finished the first year of a two-year contract and we went to Game 7 of the semifinals. But I had always been kind of looking for an opportunity that would get my family back to Charlottetown, and the opportunity with the food ingredient company came up. It was 100 per-cent a family decision."

MacPherson came off the Island as a youngster to play for Mike Johnston's UNB Varsity Reds circa 1991-92. But after two seasons at UNB, he returned to Charlottetown to play for the Panthers.

He parlayed his success there into an 11-year professional career, including six with the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs.

He and Johnston didn't get along over his two seasons at UNB, but in hindsight, MacPherson calls him the best coach he ever played for. "I was young," he said. "When I went to UNB, I still had two years of junior left. I was probably hoping to get more playing time. I wasn't ready to pay dues at that time. There were guys who had been there three or four years and it was their time, and I didn't understand that process. At the time I felt it was kind of a negative experience. But I've always said, looking back, that he was probably the best coach I've ever had."

MacPherson grew up on Panther pride.

"When I was growing up in Charlottetown, the Panthers were 'It,'" he said. "They were the UNB at that time...they were the team going to the nationals, and all their players were the big names in town. I grew up watching the Panthers. There was no major junior or anything. My early childhood memories at the rink were of the Panthers."

But, see above. Life happened.

He had been to "a couple" of games last year - "I took my son, but he was two, and you know how much you get to watch-" and none this season before he took over from Taylor. So it's not a cliche when he says every player starts with a clean slate.

"I can honestly look into every player's eyes in that dressing room and say it's as clean a slate as they can get," he said. "I didn't have any preconceived ideas about any player. I'm still learning guys. I'm still barking out the wrong names in practice. For me, that's the most frustrating part."

Nothing that winning won't fix though. They knocked off the Saint Mary's Huskies 2-1 in overtime last Sunday after a 2-0 loss to UNB in his UPEI coaching debut last Saturday. "When we came in, I couldn't even throw lines together," he said. "I didn't know which guys were wingers and which were centres. I basically got the captain to throw four lines together and they worked out well. We did a little bit of tinkering, but nothing major. We'll probably use that as a foundation for this semester at least. It's worked out well so far.''

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Odessa gets revenge against the Brahmas

Tyler Skworchinski leads Texas offense in 5-3 loss

The Odessa Jackalopes earned a rare win at the NYTEX Sports Centre last night with a 5-3 victory over the Texas Brahmas on Wednesday night.

With the loss, the Brahmas record falls to 7-8-2 (.471) with 16 points. They remain in fifth place in the Southern Conference; a point behind Laredo, four points behind Rio, five points behind Allen and 12 points behind Odessa.

The scoring started after a hooking call on Brahmas captain Craig Minard gave Odessa their first man-advantage of the evening. The league's number one power play got right to work and 39 seconds later, it was Sebastien Thinel who managed to pick up a deflection just outside the crease and slap the puck past Brett Jaeger to make it a 1-0 game at the 4:42 mark. Mike Lesperance and Jeff Pierce were credited with the assist. This was the the Jackalopes' 15th straight game scoring a power play goal.

Midway through the first frame, Matt Burto rushed the net and sent a shot in which bounced off the pads of Odessa net minder Joel Martin. Tyler Skworchinski was right there to pick up the rebound and send it though Martin's five hole to tie the game at the 11:06 mark.

What followed was a melee that resulted in 30 minutes worth of penalties on six players. Odessa defenseman Garret Gruenke, who failed to clear the puck from the crease to prevent the score, pounced on Skworchinski and drove into the boards behind the net. Line mates Burto and Hiebert came to his aid and it was Hiebert who jumped Gruenke like a cat climbing a tree and started wailing on him. Kenny Bernard pulled Hiebert (and Gruenke) down to the ice and them Skworchinski subdued Bernard. Brahmas defenseman Luke Sellars and Odessa forward Paul Kelly also mixed it up.

Hiebert and Gruenke would receive five minute Fighting Majors with Hiebert getting the bonus two minute Fighting (Instigator) and a 10 minute No Category Misconduct. Skworchinski and Bernard would each receive two minute Roughing calls. Sellars got two minutes for Interference and Kelly got two minutes for Unsportsmanlike Conduct.

Kory Karlander scored for Odessa with just 11 seconds left in the period to regain the one-goal lead. Kenny Bernard assisted. The Jackalopes had an 11-7 shot advantage and the 2-1 lead after the first frame.

The second period continued with aggressive play and both teams alternated men to the penalty box through the first half of the frame. Odessa needed only four seconds of its power play brought on by an interference call against Luke Sellars to increase its lead to 3-1 on a Colin Circelli goal (his 12th of the season) at the 12:57 mark. Mike Ramsay and Jeff Pierce were credited with the assist.

Just one minute later, the Brahmas made it 3-2 when Justin Kinnunen's wrist shot from the left circle trickled past Joel Martin along the left goal post at the 13:57 mark. James Hiebert was in on the assist.

The Jackalopes would regain a two-goal lead on Jeff Pierce's breakaway goal at the 18:12 mark. Pierce, who had just exited the penalty box after serving two minutes for Cross Checking, took a pass from Phiippe Plante and fired the puck over Jaeger's right shoulder to make it a 4-2 game.

The period would end with a 13-9 Brahmas shot advantage (even at 20 after 40 minutes).

5:39 into the third period, Dave Van Drunen scored a fluky goal after deflecting Colin Circelli's shot over Brett Jaeger's head. Patrick Mbaraga was credited with an assist.

Too little, too late in the period, Tyler Skworchinski scored his second goal of the game on a slap shot from the left circle to set the final score at 5-3 at the 18:43 mark. Justin Kinnunen and Craig Minard assisted.

The Brahmas had the 13-10 shot count in the final frame and a 33-30 count in the game.

Fort Worth native Joel Martin made 30 saves on 33 shots and earned the win. His record goes to 7-1-1. Brett Jaeger had 25 saves on 30 shots and takes the loss. His record falls to 3-6-0.

The Brahmas went 0 for 7 on the power play. Odessa went 2 for 6. The Brahmas were assessed 29 minutes on 9 infractions; Laredo received 21 minutes on 9 infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Justin Kinnunen for a goal and an assist on the night. The 2nd Star was awarded to Tyler Skworchinski, who scored two goals and the 1st Star went to Odessa's Colin Circelli who scored a power play goal and also had an assist.

You can view the box score
here

You can view my photos from the game
here

Observations:

  • Unfortunate night for Jaeger. After the loss, he ranks 23rd in the league with a 3.81 GAA and 24th with a .865 save percentage. He has six regulation losses compared to nine last season and six in 2007-08 (in which he played 22 games).
  • The three hardest working Brahmas on the ice were Justin Kinnunen, Matt Burto and Tyler Skworchinski. I saw some good defensive plays from Jordan Cameron also.
  • The ineffective power play is beyond getting old. 0 for 7 opportunities. I've said it before; if you can't score with an advantage, how do you expect to score enough on even strength? The penalty kill is also suffering. The Brahmas sit in 13th place with a 80.18 percentage.
  • The Brahmas have alternated wins and losses for the last seven games. Let's hope that continues for at least one more game for a win on Friday night.

The Brahmas will be in Tulsa on Friday night to take on the Oilers at the BOK Center. On Saturday night they play the Americans in Allen before returning to NYTEX for a Sunday afternoon bout against the Oilers.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Roster moves

Strome back, Cooper out

According to Pointstreak.com, Anders strome has been activated from Injured Reserve.

I received an-email from Bob Bakken at the Mississippi RiverKings saying that forward Kevin Cooper has been acquired from the Brahmas in a trade for future considerations. This transaction hasn't shown on Pointstreak but I assume it's true. The RiverKings are over in Allen tonight to play the Americans. Cooper had an assist in his five games with the Brahmas. This move is to make room for Strome's return, I assume.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Insider Preview: Odessa Jackalopes @ Texas Brahmas

Jacks in town to face an open can of NYTEX whoop-ass

The Texas Brahmas (7-7-2, 16 points) will host the Odessa Jackalopes (12-2-2, 26 points) for a pre-Thanksgiving bunny roast at the NYTEX Sports Centre on Wednesday night. This will be the second of four meetings between the two teams during the regular season.

The Jackalopes currently lead the league in wins (12), points (26), goals (75), power play percentage (33.63%).

The Brahmas embarrassed the Jacks at the Ector County Coliseum last Thursday with an unexpected 7-3 win which ended an eight game win streak. In their previous meeting in Game Seven of the Southern Conference Championship in April, the Brahmas smoked the Jacks with an 8-1 score that advanced them to the President’s Cup Final. That’s a 15-4 combined score in the last two games for the Brahmas. Let’s hope that trend continues.

The Jacks are coming off of a 4-3 road loss to the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees on Saturday night. They’ve lost two of their last three games. Odessa has a 6-1-1 road record thus far this season.

Last season, they only won one of five regular season contests and one of four games during the playoffs at NYTEX. That’s only two of nine games (22.22%) won on the road at NYTEX. They also lost the only shootout there. Only two of the games (on February 13-14th ) were decided by one goal.

The Jacks lost both games at NYTEX in 2007-08. That makes an 11-2 win record against Odessa for Dan Wildfong’s Brahmas at NYTEX.

The Brahmas have won two of their last three games, including a 2-0 shut out of the Laredo Bucks on Saturday night.

Although the season got off to a shaky start, the team has begun to find its stride, earning four of six points on its recent road trip through Odessa, Rio Grande Valley and Laredo.

Odessa's three top scorers include Dominic Leveille (F) with 26 points (6 G, 20 A, +4), Sebastien Thinel (F) with 21 points (3 G, 18 A, +2) and Colin Circelli (F) with 20 points (11 G, 9 A, 0). Their leading defensive scorer is Alex Dunn with 18 points (7 G, 11 A, +3).

Their top goons are defensemen Patrick Mbaraga (38 PIM) and Garrett Gruenke (35 PIM). I’m pretty sure that Gruenke has fought at least one Brahma in every game between the two teams in which he's played.

On special teams, the Jacks have the number one power play with a 33.63 percentage and the number four penalty kill with an 85.71 percentage. They also have three short-handed goals.

Juha Toivonen (6-1-1) is expected in net for the Jacks. He has fallen to sixth in the league with a 2.60 GAA and 10th in the league with a .912 save percentage.

Defenseman JR Bria is still out on 30-day injured reserve and is not expected to play as this writing.

The Brahmas top three scorers are AJ Gale (F) with 15 points (8 G, 7 A, +3), Grant Jacobsen with 12 points (7 G, 5 A, 0) and Kevin McLeod (D) with eight points (6 G, 6 A, 0). McLeod is also the Brahmas leading defensive scorer.

On special teams, the Brahmas are 14th in the league with a 11.34 percentage and 12th on the penalty kill with an 80.95 percentage. They lead the league with five short-handed goals.

I'm not sure who will get the start in goal. My bet would be Brett Jaeger (3-5-0) who's had a difficult start to his season but was successful in the first meeting between the Brahmas and Jacks this season. I’m curious to see if Fonger will start Joe Palmer (4-2-2), who has not faced the Jacks before.

As of this writing, Anders Strome is still out on injured reserve (foot) but the Brahmas are otherwise healthy.

The game starts at 7:05pm and can be seen on CHL-TV if you can’t make it in person.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Brahmas shut out Bucks at the LEC

Palmer, defense combine to ensure 2-0 win

The long bus ride home to North Richland Hills will be a positive one after the Brahmas shut out the Laredo Bucks tonight at the Laredo Entertainment Center. The Brahmas go home with 4 of 6 points during the three-game "On the Border" road trip through Odessa, Hidalgo and Laredo, Texas.

Joe Palmer made 33 saves to get his first pro career shut out ( a rare event at the LEC) and the Brahmas defense and penalty killing unit were solid tonight. The Brahmas record goes to 7-7-2, 16 points and are one point behind Laredo (tied with Rio Grande Valley, who defeated Odessa 4-3 tonight), who remain in third place in the Southern Conference despite the loss.

Fortunately for the Brahmas, the Bucks simply did not come out to play tonight, a point that was emphasized by head coach Terry Ruskowski, who would later apologize to the fans in a post-game interview with the Laredo Morning Times' Joy Lindsey.

It was a less than exciting first period with the exception of the first score of the game, which came on the Brahmas third shot of the game. Kevin McLeod received a feed from Grant Jacobsen, who had just won a face off, and sent in a slap shot from the left point to make it a 1-0 contest at the 6:37 mark. McLeod, who leads all CHL defensemen in goals, picked up his sixth of the season
.

Both teams had issues with puck control during the opening frame and although Laredo led the shot count 9-4, but were unable to solve Joe Palmer. There was only one penalty in the first 20 minutes, a hooking call on Lee Jubinville at the 14:50 mark, but the Brahmas penalty killers took care of shutting down the Bucks first power play.

The Brahmas took the ice late after the first intermission. James Hiebert and Bucks forward Justin Styffe opened the second period by dropping the gloves at the 0:02 mark while setting up for the face off. After dancing around a bit, the blows started landing with Styffe getting the final hit that took Hiebert down to the ice. Both received five minute Fighting Majors for their effort.

Hiebert was challenged by several Bucks during the game, including Styffe, Jeff Bes and Robin Richards.

The action otherwise stepped up in the middle frame with the Bucks on the attack from the opening minutes but discipline became a problem as they were called for three consecutive penalties giving the Brahmas two five-on-three advantages. That translated into the Brahmas second score of the night by James Hiebert. Kevin McLeod sent the puck to Jordan Cameron, whose shot from the point was stopped by Jean-Phillipe Levasseur but Hiebert was there at the bottom of the left circle to send it in for the 2-0 lead.

Joe Palmer was solid in net for the Brahmas, stopping all shots faced through 40 minutes. The Brahmas had the 16-13 shot advantage though the second frame.

Note: The Bucks have a 0-0-1 record when trailing at home after two periods. The Brahmas are 2-0-0 when leading on the road after two.

The third period would be a tale of futility for the Bucks as they threw everything they had in every way at Joe Palmer to no avail. The Bucks failed to convert on five consecutive power play opportunities and had no luck with the extra attacker when Terry Ruskowski pulled Levasseur with 1:20 left in the period. The Brahmas did a great job blocking shots throughout the period, which belonged to the Buck offensively.

Tyler Skworchinski got a chance to make it 3-0 early, when a turnover in the Bucks' zone gave him a wide-open opportunity, but his shot went high.

The Bucks had a couple of great scoring opportunities including an assault on an airborne puck by Mike Sgroi that was nearly swatted over the goal line (magnificent save by Palmer) and a mad scramble during a power play in which Grant Jacobsen threw his body in front of a loose puck to assist on a save by Joe Palmer.

Palmer was magnificent though out the game and defended his net with vigor, stopping all 11 shots in the final frame and 33 shots throughout the game. The shot count in the third period was 11-2, advantage Laredo and the final count would be 33-22 Laredo, with that being the only positive for the Bucks tonight.

Joe Palmer's record goes to 4-2-2 with the win. Jean-Phillipe Levasseur stopped 20 of 22 shots and takes his first loss in regulation this season. His record goes to 6-1-2.

The Brahmas went 1 for 4 on the power play. Laredo went 0 for 6. The Brahmas were assessed 17 minutes on 7 infractions; Laredo received 13 minutes on 5 infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game went to James Hiebert for his power play goal in the second period. The 2nd Star was awarded to Kevin McLeod who had the game-winning goal and an assist and the 1st Star went to Joe Palmer for recording the shut out.

You can view the box score
here

Observations:

  • Joe Palmer is making a case to become the Brahmas number one goalie with some solid performances in net for a rookie. He takes the number one spot in the league with a 2.27 GAA after tonight. He is number three in save percentage (behind Colorado's Andrew Penner and Allen's Charlie Effinger) at .922.
  • Outstanding work tonight by the Brahmas defensemen. Ross Rouleau continues to show improvement as he gains more experience with the team. McLeod and Kinnunen were as sharp as ever.
  • The penalty killers were on fire tonight, stopping all six Laredo advantages. Tony, Tony, Tony!
  • Both Jordan Cameron and Tyler Skworchinski made great efforts tonight as did Grant Jacobsen, whose play benefited the defense greatly.
  • The Brahmas improved to 5-0 when scoring first this season.

Honorable mention: Igor Agarunov played in his 300th professional game tonight, and is one game away from tying Steve Weidlich for third-place all-time in Bucks history with 301 games played.

The Brahmas will face the Odessa Jackalopes on home ice at the NYTEX Sports Center on Wednesday night. in the first game in their two game “Military Nights” series. The Brahmas will be donning their “Lady Liberty” jerseys in honor of the troops.

Insider Preview: Texas Brahmas at Laredo Bucks

Brahmas seek first win against the Bucks this season

The Texas Brahmas are in Laredo for the third and final stop on the "On the Border" road trip which has resulted in a 7-3 win over Odessa on Thursday night and a 5-2 loss to Rio Grande Valley last night.

The Bucks had their season-high four game winning streak snapped in Friday’s 4-3 shootout loss to Odessa, but picked a point to remain in third place in the Southern Conference (Laredo enters tonight two points behind Allen for second). The Brahmas (6-7-2, 14 points) are in fifth place (two points behind Rio Grande Valley for fourth place) in the Southern Conference.

Six of the Bucks last seven games have been decided by one goal, including the last five straight. Overall this season the Bucks are 4-0-3 in one-goal contests.

The Bucks went 4-4 against the Brahmas last season, winning three of the four games in either overtime or a shootout.

Tonight marks the return of former Buck James Hiebert, but the first time he has worn visiting colors in the LEC. Hiebert was a fan favorite in Laredo, and has played parts of six seasons in the Gateway City helping the Bucks win two President’s Cup Championships. Hiebert’s name is scattered across the Bucks record books, as he is third in Bucks history in goals (87), third in assists (164) and fourth in points (228).

"I'm definitely looking forward to it," Hiebert told the Laredo Morning Times' Joy Lindsay. "Any time you play against a team you played for, you want to get a win. Obviously, it's important for our team to do that and get on the horse to get into the race for first place. That's our goal right now...I'm not too sure how the fans will react. Hopefully they'll receive me well."

Get on the horse indeed. The Brahmas have generally had success after a loss this season. They can definitely use a win tonight, lest they fall further in the rankings.

The Bucks' three top scorers are Jeff Bes (F) with 17 points (5 G, 12 A, -2), Maxime Lincourt with 12 points (6 G, 6 A, +4) and Darryl Smith (F) with 11 points (5 G, 6 A, 0). Their leading defensive scorer is Mike Looby with eleven points (4 G, 7 A, -5).

Their leading goon is Robin Richards (F) with 39 penalty minutes.

The Bucks are ranked second in the league on the power play with a 27.69 percentage and fifth on the penalty kill with a 85.29 percentage.

I expect we'll see Jean-Phillipe Levasseur (6-0-2) in goal tonight.

Neil Trimm (F) is out on injured reserve but the Bucks are otherwise healthy.

The Brahmas’ top three scorers are AJ Gale (F) with 14 points (8 G, 6 A, +2), Grant Jacobsen (F) with 11 points (7 G, 5 A, -1) and Jordan Cameron (F) with 11 points (4 G, 7 A, -1). Their leading defensive scorer remains Kevin McLeod with 10 points (5 G, 5 A, -1).

They are ranked 14th in the league on the power play with an 10.75 percentage and 12th on the penalty kill with an 79.80 percentage. They lead the league with five short-handed goals.

Joe Palmer (3-2-2) is my guess to start for the Brahmas.

Anders Strome (F) is still out on injured reserve (foot) but the Brahmas are otherwise healthy.

Massey Ratings predicts a Bucks win. They were right last night about the Bees winning. They were wrong on Thursday about the Jacks winning. We'll see what happens tonight at the LEC.

You can watch the game on CHL-TV or listen on Internet radio here. Either way, you will get a great play-by-play by Bucks' media guy, Brian Benway.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Friday, November 20, 2009

Brahmas lose in Hidalgo

Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees earn second consecutive 5-2 win

The Texas Brahmas fell in a 5-2 match against the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees at the Dodge Center in Hidalgo, Texas tonight. It was a good effort for the boys, but they were simply outplayed for the second game in a row against the Bees. With the loss, the Brahmas record goes to 6-7-2.

In front of a very sparse Friday night crowd (despite a stated attendance of 4,002), the two teams came out playing less than exciting hockey, at least until the last five minutes of the first frame.

The Brahmas were unable to capitalize on two power play opportunities early in the period but that was not the case for the Killer Bees who scored two power play goals in 44 seconds.

The first goal, after a hooking call on Ross Rouleau, was sent in by Jesse Bennefield at the 14:02 mark with the assist from Joel Irving and Nathan Ansell.

The second goal, after a tripping call on Elias Godoy, came when Grant Goeckner-Zoeller stole the puck from a Brahmas skater, skated up through the Brahmas zone unmolested and forced the rebound into a wide open net as Jaeger was on his knees after stopping the initial shot. At the 14:46 mark, the unassisted goal made it a 2-0 game.

The Brahmas answered at the 18:30 mark after Justin Kinnunen sent in a soft shot from the right circle and had it re-directed into the net by Grant Jacobsen to cut the Killer Bees lead in half.

Shots were even at 11 in the first period with the score at 2-1, Killer Bees.

The second period opened up with special teams scoring from both sides beginning with a shorthanded goal by Killer Bee Aaron Lee after teammate Daymen Rycroft was sent to the sin bin for tripping. Zak McClellan assisted on the goal which came at the 3:53 mark.

The Brahmas responded with seven seconds left on the power play when AJ Gale beat Wylie Rogers to make it a 3-2 game at the 5:23 mark. Luke Sellars was in on the assist.

The game was delayed shortly thereafter when a piece of glass needed to be re-inserted after it came loose following a hard check on a Brahmas player by Killer Bees defenseman Nathan Ansell.

There was no further scoring and the period came to a close with the Brahmas leading the shot count 11-7 and 22-18 after 40 minutes. Note: The Brahmas are 0-6 when trailing after two periods this season. The Killer Bees are 5-0 when leading after two. Those stats would hold true in the final period.

Aaron Lee scored his second goal of the game at the 3:53 mark off a set up by Zak McClellan and Sean Muncy. Less than a minute and a half later, Daymen Rycroft would score to make it a 5-2 game. Grant Goeckner-Zoeller and Andrew Schembri were credited with the assist.

It was everything the Brahmas could do to mitigate the impending loss for the remainder of the period as the Killer Bees continued their attack. Despite the score, Jaeger made some tremendous saves in the third period, especially in the final minutes.

James Hiebert and Jason Seery dropped the gloves at the 15:21 mark and both were sent off the ice early as a result. Both would receive five minute Fighting Majors and Hiebert would receive a two minute Fighting (Instigator) and a 10 minute Fighting (Instigator) Game Misconduct.

The Killer Bees would get a five-on-three opportunity shortly thereafter due to a hooking call on Grant Jacobsen but the Brahmas penalty killer would prevail and the game would end with the score remaining at 5-3.

The Killer Bees had a 12-5 shot advantage in the final frame and a 30-27 shot count for the game.

Brett Jaeger had 25 saves on 30 shots to take the loss. His record goes to 3-5-0. Wylie Rogers stopped 25 of 27 shots for the win. His record goes to 4-2-0.

The Brahmas went 1 for 6 on the power play. Rio went 2 for 6. The Brahmas were assessed 27 minutes on 8 infractions; Odessa received 17 minutes on 7 infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Zak McClellan for an assist on the game-winning goal. The 2nd Star was awarded to Grant Goeckner-Zoeller who had a goal and and two assists and the 1st Star went to Aaron Lee who had two goals on the night.

You can view the box score here

Observations:
  • Another loss following a big win as the Brahmas continue to struggle with consistency. They've only has two consecutive wins this season (October 30th against the Mudbugs and the 31st against the Americans). It was a good effort, but the boys were outplayed by the Bees for the second consecutive game. You've got to play hard for 60 minutes if you want to win the game.
  • Discipline seems to be an issue for the Brahmas who were one of the least penalized teams in the league last season. Some of these fights are just unnecessary.

The Brahmas will travel to Laredo to take on the Bucks tomorrow night at the Laredo Entertainment Center.

Insider Preview: Texas Brahmas @ Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees

Second of three against the Bees this season tonight at the Dodge Center

The Texas Brahmas are in Hidalgo, Texas for tonight's game against the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees at the Dodge Center tonight. This is the second of three games against the Bees this season. The last game, as you probably remember, was a 5-2 win for the Bees at NYTEX last Saturday night. The Bees' fortunes have gone South since then with a 3-2 shootout loss to Laredo (on the road) last Sunday and a 3-2 loss to Corpus Christi (at home) on Tuesday.

The Brahmas are coming off last night's huge 7-3 win against Odessa. This is their second of three road game during their "On the Border" tour. They face the Laredo Bucks tomorrow night.

Saturday night's game at NYTEX saw some very aggressive play from a very good Killer Bee team. I don't think they are a better team than the Brahmas, but if they bring their A game, it should be a good contest tonight. The Brahmas definitely need to build off of the momentum created after last night's win. A strong 60 minutes will be needed with every shift played aggressively. Special teams improvement is a must. The Brahmas allowed three power play goals last Saturday. The Tony's need to be on guard tonight.

It's $1.50 beer night at the Dodge Center, so they should have a rowdy crowd.

The Bees' three top scorers are Jesse Bennefield (LW) with 17 points (8 G, 9 A, +2), Daymen Rycroft with 17 points (4 G, 13 A, 0) and Grant Goeckner-Zoeller (F) with 16 points (7 G, 9 A, 0). Goeckner-Zoeller had two goals last Saturday against the Brahmas. Their leading defensive scorer is Nathan Ansell with eight points (1 G, 7 A, -4).

Their leading goon is Daymen Rycroft with 19 penalty minutes and a lot of dirty play. Watch out for Jesse Bennefield also - he took away a nice gash on the cheek at NYTEX last weekend.

The Bees are ranked eighth in the league on the power play with a 16.67 percentage and 11th on the penalty kill with a 80.26 percentage.

I expect we'll see Andy Franck (3-3-2) in goal tonight but Chris Brooks started Wylie Rogers (3-2-0) in the last game against the Brahmas, so we'll see what happens.

Defenseman Stacey Bauman, left wing Justin Kanigan and center Matt Sweazy are all out on injured reserve and expected to be scratches tonight. Former Brahma Topher Scott is back from injury (didn't play last Saturday at NYTEX) and is expected to play tonight. Newly acquired defenseman Jason Seery (from Allen) is also expected to play tonight.

The Brahmas’ top three scorers are AJ Gale (F) with 13 points (7 G, 6 A, +2), Grant Jacobsen (F) with 11 points (6 G, 5 A, 0) and Jordan Cameron (F) with 11 points (4 G, 7 A, 0). Their leading defensive scorer remains Kevin McLeod with 10 points (5 G, 5 A, +1).

They are ranked 14th in the league on the power play with an 10.34 percentage and 10th on the penalty kill with an 80.65 percentage. They lead the league with five short-handed goals.

Brett Jaeger (3-4-0) is my guess to start for the Brahmas.

Anders Strome is still out on injured reserve (foot) but the Brahmas are otherwise healthy.

Massey Ratings predicts a Killer Bee win. They were wrong last night. I think they'll be wrong tonight.

The opening face off is at 7:35pm and the game can be seen on CHL-TV. You can also attend the watch party at Zuroma Bar and Grill at NYYEX or listen live on Internet radio here

Image Credit: Robert Keith

Brahmas take down the Jackalopes in Ector County

Spirited play leads to 7-3 road win

Paul Gillis and the Odessa Jackalopes were brought back down to earth after their recent eight game winning streak by the Texas Brahmas last night at the Ector County Coliseum. Forwards Grant Jacobsen, James Hiebert, Matt Burto and Jordan Cameron finished the night with three points apiece and Brett Jaeger stopped 15 of 18 shots for his third victory of the season.

The Brahmas record improves to 6-6-2 (.500) tying them with Rio Grande Valley with 14 points for fourth place in the Southern Conference. This was a huge win for the Brahmas and a huge loss for the Jackalopes (from a psychological standpoint, if not in the standings), who probably thought this was going to be their ninth consecutive win.

The Brahmas opened up the scoring when a wrist shot by Elias Godoy from the left circle deflected into the air and hit the body of Jason Deitsch. Deitsch sent the puck into the back of the net past a stunned Juha Toivonen for the 1-0 lead at the 5:27 mark.

James Hiebert made it 2-0 after his redirection effort bounced into the air and past Toivonen at the 16:22 mark.

The first period ended with a 8-5 shot advantage for the Brahmas. Odessa special teams killed off two power plays but their offense was unable to get anything going.

The Brahmas didn't take long to find the back of the net again in the opening minutes of the middle frame. AJ Gale and Grant Jacobsen set up a goal by Jordan Cameron to make it a 3-0 game at the 2:31 mark.

Defenseman Luke Sellars dropped the gloves with Odessa thug Garrett Gruenke eight minutes into the period. I'm wondering if it's a pre-requisite for Gruenke to fight a Brahma in every match up. Both would of course receive five-minute Fighting Majors for their efforts.

Odessa finally caught a break after a hooking call on Justin Kinnunen led to their first goal as Alex Dunn slapped a shot from the point through traffic and past Brett Jaeger to make it a 3-1 game at the 14:25 mark. Dominic Leveille and Kory Karlander were in on the assist.

A few minutes later, Odessa scored another power play goal off a wrister by Kory Karlander to bring them within one at the 17:52 mark. Mike Lesperance and Juha Toivonen were credited with the assist.

Odessa's surge would be cut short just 14 seconds later when a turnover picked up by Grant Jacobsen led to a quick strike by Jordan Cameron to make it 4-2 at the 18:06 mark. AJ Gale was also in on the assist. Less than a minute later, the Brahmas struck again when James Hiebert took possession of the puck and sent it to Kevin McLeod who took it up the ice. A pass to Matt Burto led to his second goal of the season and the 5-2 lead at the 18:57 mark.

Once again, the Brahmas led the shot count with a 11-9 advantage in the middle frame and 19-14 through 40 minutes. They failed to convert on several power play opportunities but that would soon change.

The Brahmas dominated the third period which saw aggressive play from the frustrated Jackalopes (who were called for three infractions in the opening minutes of the period), but the Brahmas didn't back down. Odessa defenseman Michael Grenzy took on James Hiebert at the 9:56 mark which led to a two-minute Fighting (Instigator), a five-minute Fighting Major and a 10-minute Fighting (Instigator) Game Misconduct. Hiebert received two minutes for Charging.

The resulting power play led to a Grant Jacobsen goal, his sixth of the year. Jordan Cameron and Kevin Mcleod assisted to give the Brahmas a 6-2 lead at the 10:31 mark.

An interference call on James Hiebert led to a power play tally for Odessa when Paul Kelly scored off the assist from Mike Ramsay and Alex Dunn at the 16:34 mark but it was too little, too late for the Jackalopes.

After Alex Dunn was called for slashing, the Brahmas scored the final goal on the power play when Matt Burto, assisted by Kevin McLeod and James Hiebert, sent the puck past Toivonen to make it a 7-3 final score and a decisive victory for the Brahmas.

The Brahmas had an astounding 22-4 shot advantage in the final period and a 41-18 final shot count to hand the Jackalopes their worst loss of the season.

Brett Jaeger stopped 15 of 18 shots for his third victory of the season. His record is now 3-4-0. Juha Toivonen made 34 saves on 41 shots and took the loss, his worst since facing the Brahmas in the Southern Conference Finals. His record goes to 6-1-0.

The Brahmas went 2 for 10 on the power play. Odessa went 3 for 5. The Brahmas were assessed 21 minutes on 9 infractions; Odessa received 40 minutes on 13 infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Odessa's Kory Karlander (crock)for a goal and an assist (big whoop). The 2nd Star was awarded to Grant Jacobsen who had a goal and and two assists and the 1st Star went to Jordan Cameron who had two goals and an assist on the night.

You can view the box score here

Observations:

  • Wow, now that's the Brahmas team we remember from last season. What looked like a difficult road trip now looks like a possible three win venture if the boys can feed off of the energy of that win and take down the Killer Bees tonight (they lost to Corpus Christi on Tuesday) and the Bucks (who have been off since Sunday night, when they won their second in a row against Rio) tomorrow night.
  • AJ Gale's two assists brought his point count to 13 (7 G, 3 A). He still leads all rookies in the CHL in goals, assists (tied with Rio's Sean Muncy) and points. He also leads in power play goals (2) and shots (39).
  • The Brahmas two power play tallies lifted them off the cellar floor (just above Wichita) to a 10.34 percentage.

Honorable mention - Rookie Mike Willemsen, who was picked up by the Allen Americans after being waived by the Brahmas on Wednesday, scored a hat trick against the Arizona Sundogs last night at the Allen Events Center. Way to go, Mike!

The Brahmas are at the Dodge Arena in Hidalgo, Texas where they will Take on the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees tonight with a 7:05pm opening face-off.

Fans can catch all the action pay-per-view through CHL-TV (Rio has a nice feed) or can attend the game watching party at ZuRoma Bar and Grill at the NYTEX Sports Centre.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Another ex-Mudbug joins the Brahmas

Elias Godoy in, Willemsen out

Rumors of another ex-Mudbugs forward joining the Brahmas roster came to fruition on Wednesday as the team announced the signing of Elias Godoy.

Godoy, 28, is in his fourth pro season. Last year, he played in Norway with the Frisk Tigers collecting 50 points (16 G, 34 A) and 155 penalty minutes in 43 games. Averaging over a point per game gave Godoy a tie for the team lead in points (10th in the league). Godoy put up impressive numbers on the power play with seven power play goals and a team leading 19 power play assists in the regular season (4th in the league).

In 2007-08, Godoy played for the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs. The 5-foot-11 forward posted 50 points (20 G, 30 A) and 76 penalty minutes in 56 games during the regular season. He had a heavy mark on the Mudbug's success on the power play with four power play goals and 17 helpers.

Prior to joining the Mudbugs, Godoy played his rookie season with the Muskegon Fury (UHL), registering 36 points (11 G, 25 A) in 24 games.

His collegiate career was spent at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell from 2002-2006. In 133 games Godoy had 121 points (42 G, 79 A) and 164 penalty minutes. After finishing his time there, he played in nine games with the Victoria Salmon Kings (ECHL) where he tallied five points (2 G, 3 A).

To make room on the roster, rookie forward Mike Willemsen was waived. As of this writing, the Brahmas have already previously waived two defensemen and six forwards after 13 games.

Godoy is expected to play in Thursday night’s game against Odessa. He will wear the number 16.

Insider Preview: Texas Brahmas at Odessa Jackalopes

First meeting since Southern Conference Finals

The Texas Brahmas (5-6-2, 12 points) and the Odessa Jackalopes (11-1-1, 23 points) will meet for the first time since Game 7 of the Southern Conference Semi-Finals on April 25th in which the Brahmas won 8-1 and advanced to the President’s Cup Final. Thursday night’s game at the Ector County Coliseum will also mark the first of four games between the two teams this season.

The Jackalopes have established that the Southern Conference is theirs to lose as the season progresses. Last season, the Jacks started off with a 7-6-0 record after 13 games but eventually won the Southwest Division with a 39-19-6 record and 84 points. They knocked Laredo out of the playoffs in six games and forced a Game 7 against the Brahmas before their season ended at the NYTEX Sports Centre.

With many of the same players in place for the 2009-10 season, the Jacks have everything they need to win the Cup next May. They are confident and they are hungry. They have scored 65 goals in 13 games. They have won eight straight and are 6-0-1 at home.

And then there’s the Texas Brahmas, current league champions, struggling with difficult task of defending the Cup with an ever-changing roster anchored by 10 members of last season’s team. The newest member of that roster is former Bossier-Shreveport forward Mudbug Elias Godoy who joined the team today. In the wake of his signing, rookie Mike Willemsen was placed on waivers.

A win against the Jacks on the road would be a tremendous feat. Yes, that's an understatement. But therein lies the challenge. Can the team come together and find the internal fortitude to make it happen?

There is no lack of talent on this current Brahmas team. There is no lack of heart or hunger. There is no lack of coaching. There is 60 minutes on the clock and what you do with it. And this is only the first game of a tough three night, three game road trip. Rio Grande Valley and Laredo follow on Friday and Saturday nights and the schedule doesn't get any easier after this.

Odessa's three top scorers include Dominic Leveille (F) with 23 points (6 G, 17 A, +4), Sebastien Thinel (F) with 19 points (3 G, 16 A, +3) and Colin Circelli (F) with 17 points (9 G, 8 A, +1). Their leading defensive scorer is Alex Dunn with 15 points (5 G, 10 A, +8).

Their top goons are defensemen Patrick Mbaraga (36 PIM) and Garrett Gruenke (28 PIM).

On special teams, the Jacks have the number one power play with a 32.99 percentage and the number two penalty kill with an 87.34 percentage. They also have three short-handed goals.

The red hot Juha Toivonen (6-0-0) is expected in net for the Jacks. Juha leads all CHL goalies with a 1.84 GAA and a .931 save percentage.

Defenseman JR Bria and forward Brian Swiniarski are both on 30-day injured reserve and are not expected to play as this writing.

The Brahmas top three scorers are AJ Gale (F) with 11 points (7 G, 4 A, 0), Grant Jacobsen with eight points (5 G, 3 A, -2) and Kevin McLeod (D) with eight points (5 G, 3 A, -1). McLeod is also the Brahmas leading defensive scorer.

On special teams, the Brahmas have the league’s worst power play with a 9.09 percentage and the number nine penalty kill with an 82.95 percentage. They lead the league with five short-handed goals.

I'm not sure who will get the start in goal. My bet would be Brett Jaeger (2-4-0) who's had a difficult start but is still the number one. I believe in Joe Palmer (3-2-2) but I think this game needs Jaeger's experience.

Anders Strome is still out on injured reserve (foot). I don't have any information that says he is expected to play at all during this road trip.

The game starts at 7:05pm and can be seen on CHL-TV. You can listen to the game on Internet radio at KFZX-FM here.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith