Sunday, November 8, 2009

Unable to win at home, Mudbugs take fourth straight road game at NYTEX

Championship ring ceremony marred by 2-1 loss

For the second time in a row, a celebration of last seasons’ championship win has coincided with a loss for the Texas Brahmas. The home opener on October 24th, the date of the banner ceremony celebrating the Brahmas’ division, conference and championship wins ended in a 5-3 loss to the Mississippi RiverKings. On Sunday afternoon, after the ring ceremony, the Brahmas lost to the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs, 2-1.

The Brahmas had a 32-27 shot advantage and six power play opportunities but couldn't get any offnesive momentum going against the Mudbugs, who have the league's best road record at 4-0-0.

A near capacity crowd was on hand to watch the pre-game presentation of the 2009 CHL Championship rings. Greg McConnell made the trip out from New Hampshire, where he is currently working. Once the rings were handed out, the game was delayed for about 10 minutes while the lighting system in the rink powered back up.

The Mudbugs had most of the offensive momentum in the opening frame, but it took the better part of the period before the first goal was scored. When the time came, it was Tyler Liebel and Joe Blaznek who teamed up to send a long pass through traffic to Neil Clark. Clark was able to beat Brett Jaeger to make it a 1-0 game at the 14:32 mark.

The Brahmas struggled through the first 20 minutes and had a difficult time keeping the puck out of their zone. They only managed five shots compared to 11 for the Mudbugs.

The second period would bring a parity in shots (11) and in scoring. The Mudbugs' Travis Clayton benefited from a miscommunication between Craig Minard and Justin Kinnunen that led to a loose puck in the crease. Clayton struck once and was stopped but fast reflexes allowed him to beat Jaeger on the rebound giving the Mudbugs a 2-0 lead at the 5:02 mark. Justin Aikins and Shawn Limpright were credited with the assist.

The Brahmas' leading scorer, AJ Gale was able to cut the Mudbug lead in half at the 11:05 mark with his seventh goal of the season. Jason Deitsch sent the puck to Gale, whose shot appeared to deflect high into the air, over John DeCaro's back and into the net.

Penalty killers on both sides did their jobs well but unfortunately, the Brahmas, recipients of three consecutive power plays in the final frame, were unable to turn their advantages into a score. A 16-5 shot advantage did them no good either as DeCaro was like a brick wall in net and managed to preserve Bossier-Shreveport’s one-goal lead for the win.

John DeCaro stopped 31 of 32 shots faced for the win. His record goes to 4-2-0. Brett Jaeger stopped 25 of 27 and takes the loss. His record goes to 2-3-0.

Both teams went 0 for 6 on the power play. Both teams were assessed 12 minutes on six infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game went to the Mudbugs' Neil Clark who scored the first goal of the game. The 2nd Star went to AJ Gale who scored one for the Brahmas and the 1st Star went to John DeCaro for an outstanding night in net.

You can view the box score here

You can view my photos from the game here

  • AJ Gale remains the Brahmas' leading scorer with 11 points (7 G, 4 A, +2) including two power play goals. He also continues to lead all rookies in the CHL in points, goals, power play goals, shots (30) and shot percentage (.233). All without a single penalty.
  • Geez, even I'm getting tired about talking about the power play but 0 for 6 didn't help the overall picture. The Brahmas remain three notches from the bottom with a 10.17 percentage. They are eighth in the league on the penalty kill at 83.82%. They do however lead the league with four short-handed tallies. Dare I say, we are really missing Scott Sheppard on special teams. A little birdie (actually a big Mudbug) told me we have some help coming (not Sheppard).
  • Joe Palmer sat this one out but remains number two in the league in GAA (2.43) and save percentage (tied at .918) with the sixth most time played (321.28).

The Brahmas will make their first-ever visit to the Allen Events Center for a 7:30 pm face off on Wednesday.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

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