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
- 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.