Thursday, November 12, 2009

Train wreck…

Brahmas lose 5-1 at the AEC

There are no two words that better describe the Texas Brahmas’ performance against the Allen Americans on Wednesday night at the Allen Event Center. 3,156 (supposedly) came to see a good hockey game, and 3,139 of them (excluding about 17 Brahmas fans) were happy throughout.

With the loss, the Brahmas record goes to 4-5-2 (10 points) and the team is now in sixth place in the Southern Conference, just ahead of Corpus Christi and Arizona. Just for comparison, the 2007-08 Brahmas started their season at 6-5-0 (12 points) and the 2008-09 team was 7-3-1 (15 points) after 11 games.

Military vehicles were on display in front of the AEC and numerous active duty soldiers and veterans were on hand as Veterans Day was celebrated. Note: As fancy as the AEC is, they sure have a tiny American flag on display over the rink. In addition, Lord Stanley’s Cup was in attendance and was presented at center ice before the game.

Allen dominated play from the beginning and kept the puck in the Brahmas’ zone for the better part of the first 20 minutes. With scoring held off until the 13:18 mark, it was Allen defenseman Jason Seerey who gave his team the 1-0 lead after forcing in a rebound off of Brett Jaeger’s pads. Christian Gaudet and Erik Adams were in on the assist.

Just under three minutes later, rookie forward Tobias Whelan scored with the assist from Jarrett Lukin and Justin Bowers for the 2-0 lead. Note: Whelan (5 G, 3 A, +6) is second only to the Brahmas’ AJ Gale (7 G, 4 A, +1) in leading CHL rookie scorers.

The penalty-filled (9) period ended with a 15-5 shot advantage for the Americans.

The Americans continued their aggressive style of play in the second, but it was the Brahmas’ Jason Reese who scored an unassisted goal after he stole the puck from the American's Tyler Wooddisse and beat Chris Whitley to the back of the net at the 3:00 mark.

Allen answered soon after when defenseman Britt Dougherty sent the puck in past Jaeger (who managed to get a piece of it) to bring the score to 3-1 at the 4:38 mark. Ryan Fairbarn and Justin Bowers assisted.

At the 12:10 mark, Tobias Whelan scored his second goal of the night when he snuck one between Jaeger’s pad and the post to push the Americans’ lead to three. Immediately after the score, Dan Wildfong pulled Jaeger and sent out Joe Palmer.

Allen defenseman Brandon Straub (6’ 4”, 223lbs) picked a fight with James Hiebert (5’ 10”, 195 lbs) in front of the benches in the final minute of the period. Hiebert defended himself well, but it was Straub who emerged the victor. Both would receive five-minute Fighting Majors and Straub, for his effort, also received a two-minute (Fighting (Instigator)) and a 10-minute (Fighting (Instigator) Misconduct). I’ve mentioned before that Straub is Allen’s # 1 goon and leads the team in penalty minutes with 51.

Shots on goal were tied at seven in the period, but Allen led the count, 17-12 after 40 minutes.

At the seven-minute mark of the third, Allen forward Liam Huculak buried the puck off a pass from Bruce Graham on the power play to score the Americans’ final goal of the night. Nino Musitelli (love that name) also assisted.

The final shot count was 25-17; advantage Allen (in every way).

Brett Jaeger allowed four goals in 32:10 minutes, resulting in 12 saves on the night before he was pulled in the second period. Taking the loss, his record goes to 2-4-0. Joe Palmer played for 27:50 minutes and made eight saves on nine shots. Allen Goalie Chris Whitley made 16 saves on 17 shots and is now 3-0-1.

The Brahmas went 0 for 10 on the power play. Allen went 1 for 7.

The Brahmas were assessed 25 minutes in 11 infractions. Allen was called for 41 minutes on 15 infractions.

The stars of the game all went to the Americans. The 3rd Star was awarded to Jason Seerey, who a goal and an assist on the night. The 2nd Star went to Justin Bowers, who had two assists and the 1st Star went to Tobias Whelan, who had two goals, including the game winner and the coffin nail.

You can view the box score

You can view my game photos


• Would you have ever considered Brett Jaeger ranked 20th in the league in GAA (3.52) and 22nd in save percentage (.881)? Joe Palmer remains ranked 2nd in GAA (2.40) and is now 5th in save percentage (.916) with a 2-1-2 record.
• 0 for 10 on power play opportunities. ‘Nuff said.
• Luke Sellars looked pretty good for a player transitioning back to American hockey after three seasons in Europe. He’s a tough looking dude with obvious battle scars. Has Dan found his enforcer?

Every aspect of the Brahmas’ game reflected the amount of work Dan and Ronnie have before them in order to get this group into shape to be able to compete with the likes of the Odessa Jackalopes, who in my opinion, are best poised to win the championship this season.

Oh, I’m writing off the Brahmas chances to repeat after only 11 games. But anyone who has watched the progress of the Jackalopes since the hiring of Paul Gillis knows that they are poised to win it all this season. They have the team and they have the hunger. They also have the knowledge that it could have just have well been them holding the Cup last May. If Juha stays healthy, they’re obviously going to be the team to beat in the playoffs. OK, enough on that tangent.

I guess if we have to see it at all, I’d rather see the Brahmas struggling now than in mid-December, or at the end of the season. Let’s just agree that there’s a lot of work to be done but I have every confidence that our coaches will get it together. We’re in the midst of seven straight conference games and every point is golden. Amarillo is at NYTEX on Friday and Rio on Saturday, so with just a day and a half to prepare, the Brahmas are going to be busy.

Photo Credits: Robert Keith

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