Thursday, December 31, 2009

Brahmas overwhelmed by Odessa shots, lose 4-2

Texas takes third consecutive loss

The Texas Brahmas were soundly defeated by the Odessa Jackalopes tonight at the Ector County Coliseum by a score of 4-2. Odessa controlled the tempo of the game throughout and out shot the Brahmas in each period with a 40-21 advantage in the game. It was the second win for Odessa out of the three games played between the two teams so far this season. It was also their eighth win in a row.

With the loss, the Brahmas record goes to 15-11-5 with 35 points. They remain in third place in the Southern Conference.

It was pretty slow paced start for the two teams who have not met since Brett Jaeger looked sharp early in the period as he made some excellent saves.

The CHL-TV broadcast was dark and grainy and hard to watch. Brien Rea did a great job (with his incredibly biased) broadcasting on the Jack-FM simulcast. The Jacks were wearing ridiculously ugly tuxedo sweaters tonight - they looked like a bunch of tall penguins a la Tennessee Tuxedo for you readers old enough to remember that cartoon (guess who would be Chumley).

The Ector County Coliseum looked nearly empty except for a few pockets of fans in attendance. Attendance was claimed at 2,567 but I think 2,000 people had other things to do. It looks like the boards have been re-surfaced and covered with new advertiser banners - a good sign. Those boards looked horrible last season.

Scott Thauwald skated in on a breakaway, weaving through traffic on his way to the net. He took a shot which Juha Toivonen stopped and then was hooked as he went for the rebound that appeared to cross the goal line. However, referee Jon McIssac waived it off because there was a player in the crease and goaltender interference. Now, I never saw another player in the crease and I suppose you can call goalie interference on Thauwald for falling on Toivonen after being hooked by a Jackalope defender, but maybe I'm just making Brien Rea-style excuses.

Odessa got the first score at the 14:44 mark when Alex Dunn's wrister from the right circle bounced off the end boards in front of the crease where Kory Karlander was waiting to send it past a diving Brett Jaeger, who found himself out of position to make the save. Sebastien Thinel was also credited with the assist.

Less than two minutes later, Dominic Leveille scored his ninth of the year with a wrist shot that hit the cross bar and went right over the shoulder of Jaeger. Kenny Bernard and Dave Van Drunen assisted.

Odessa was called for four successive penalties but the Brahmas were unable to capitalize on the ensuing man-advantages. Odessa had one power play opportunity but also failed to score. The period ended with a 10-6 shot advantage for Odessa who took the 2-0 lead into the locker room.

With Tyler Skworchinski in the penalty box for Hooking, Brahmas on the board when he took possession of a deflected puck along the boards. Burto skated it up the middle unassisted, firing from between the circles past Toivonen to make it 2-1 at the 7:35 mark.

James Hiebert and Jean Bourbeau mixed it up in front of the Odessa bench just over four minutes later. Hiebert got the best of Bourbeau, who seemed unwilling to defend himself for the most part. Both would receive five-minute Fighting Majors. Bourbeau also received two minutes for High Sticking. Hiebert received two minutes for Roughing.

Later, Alex Dunn forced a turnover and sent the puck to Mike Ramsay whose centering pass was picked up by Collin Circelli. Circelli redirected the puck past Jaeger to give the Jacks a two goal lead once again at the 13:40 mark.

I'm not sure what started it, but Nathan Perrott and Patrick Mbaraga wrestled briefly in front of the net and both were sent into the sin bin for two minute Roughing calls at the 15:43 mark. Mbaraga appeared to be bleeding from the mouth (or maybe he was wearing lipstick, I couldn't tell).

Odessa had a 16-6 shot advantage in the middle frame and once again, went into the locker room with a two goal lead.

Scott Thauwald scored the second short-handed goal of the night off a feed from Jason Deitsch 1:08 into the third period to make it a 3-2 game.

The Jacks would capitalize on a four minute penalty on Deitsch (two minutes for Hooking; two minutes Unsportsmanlike Conduct) when Kory Karlander, fighting for position in front of the net, fired a shot past Jaeger to make it 4-2 at the 7:53 mark. Alex Dunn and Kenny Bernard assisted.

Dan Wildfong pulled Brett Jaeger in favor of the extra attacker, but to no avail. Jason Deitsch (Cross Checking) and Dave Van Drunen (Roughing) were sent to the locker room 10 seconds early after a pile up behind the Odessa net.


The shot count was 14-9 in favor of Odessa in the final frame

With the loss, Brett Jaeger’s record goes to 7-8-1. Juha Toivonen made 19 saves on 21 shots and earned the win. His record goes to 11-3-1-1.

The Brahmas went zero for six on the power play. Odessa went one for nine. The Brahmas were assessed 27 minutes on 12 infractions. Odessa was assessed 23 minutes on 10 infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Collin Circelli for game-winning goal in the second. The 2nd Star was awarded to Alex Dunn who had three assists and the 1st Star went to Kory Karlander who had two goals on the night.

You can view the box score
here

Observations:
  • The Brahmas were without defensemen Craig Minard, Justin Kinnunen, Kevin McLeod and Tyrell Mason as well as forward Lee Jubinville.
  • The loss was mitigated somewhat by a 5-3 Corpus Christi win over the Laredo Bucks. Allen beat Wichita, so they now have a seven point lead over the Brahmas for second place.
  • The Brahmas continue to lead the league with 11 short-handed goals.

The Brahmas return home tomorrow to prepare for Saturday night's home game against the Colorado Eagles.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

The Insider Interview - Nathan Perrott

The hard-hitting right wing talks about getting back on the ice; boxing and his role as an enforcer

Brahmas fans have been wishing for an enforcer to fill the role vacated by Nathan Saunders after the championship win. They got their wish on Wednesday night with the addition of Nathan Perrott to the roster. Perrott, who played the last two seasons in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League (their NHL equivalent) has done some heavyweight boxing on the East Coast as of late but has returned to the ice to help the Brahmas defend the President's Cup.

He scored a power play goal in his first game as a Brahma and overall, made a good impression for a guy who hasn't played for a while. It shouldn't take long for Perrott to get acquainted with the CHL and his new teammates and especially those players on other teams who think they can push the Brahmas around. Are you listening Brandon Straub?

I spoke with Nathan in the locker room last night after the 4-3 shootout loss to the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs. Here is part of our conversation.

Q: How was your first game as a Texas Brahma?

A: It was good. Fast paced; guys worked hard. The skill level was good – it was fun. It’s too bad that we kind of let up in the third period. We had a two-goal lead going into the period but you know, those things happen. You’ve got to learn from them and move on and don’t let it happen again.

Q: Was this your first game since playing in Russia?

A: Yeah.

Q: And how did it feel scoring a goal in your first game back?

A: Oh, it was nice…I hadn’t scored in a couple of years (laughing). Since last time I was in Dallas (laughing). I was playing with the Stars the last time I scored. It was nice, you know…I can score goals, but I’m not a goal-scorer, you know (laughing). My job is to be the first guy on the fore-check, you know, get your hits, try to run around and hit guys (laughing) and be intimidating.


Q: You delivered some brutal hits tonight. You’ve played in several different leagues. What do you think of the competitive level here?

A: Oh, it was good, really good. I can’t say it’s as good as the American League but it’s really close, right on par with that. There are a lot of good players here. Most of the guys here could play in the American league if they were given the chance but that’s just the way it goes; there’s only so many guys you can have on a team, right? But I was really impressed with them, speaking of the game.

Q: You came back from Russia to do some boxing. How did you come to join up with the Brahmas?

A: Dan and I played together in Junior B and he had talked to me a couple of years ago. I had a contract to go back to Russia, so I told him I was going back to Russia in the KHL. He said if you’re ever interested, give me a call. I talked to him this summer a bit and I told him I was boxing. I really enjoy the boxing and I wish I could still do it but it’s hard, really hard. Financially, it was really hard on me. I was living in New Jersey, so it was hard being away from family all the time and you know, I’m a hockey player – I like to fight on the ice (laughing).

Q: Let’s go back in time a little bit – you’re 15 years old and you’ve taken up boxing. In fact you’ve said at that time, your two loves were boxing and hockey. Then at 18, you make the decision to go play with the Oshawa Generals. How did you decide which path to take?
A: Well, it came down to time…I played all sports – I was really good at Lacrosse. I played junior Lacrosse in Canada and that was easy because you could do that in the summers. But boxing, it’s really serious. You go in there well-trained and you can get hurt bad. If you’re kind of doing it half (the time) it’s a tough business. It’s the same thing with hockey, you’ve got to be fully committed. And I grew up in Canada right? (laughing). I liked to box too, but obviously in Southern Ontario, hockey is number one, right?

Q: Growing up, were there any particular role models for you in hockey?

A: I always enjoyed watching Rick Tockett and Cam Neeley…they played a good game. I always tried to play like that…I liked their physical style and their skill…

Q: You put up some pretty good numbers when you with Oshawa and in various pro seasons. At some point the physical side of your game overtook and you were eventually labeled an enforcer. How do you feel about that role?

A: I scored some goals too, while in the minors. I think the most I had was 16, when I was in the AHL. I’d score 14, 12, somewhere around that number but I mean, it’s part of the game. Guys are playing hard; it’s intense, and it happens. I have always enjoyed it, you know what I mean? I’ve always been somewhat of an honest player. I don’t always try and fight guys that don’t want to fight. If you’re going to do stupid things, you’re going to be held accountable. It kind of polices itself sometimes. It’s good. If you take that out of the game, sometimes guys get stuck doing cheap, dirty plays…so you out that element in there and guys are a little more aware of what they do if they’re going to be held accountable. The alternative is taking a beating or at least having to fight.

Q: Do you think you can use some of your background in boxing and hockey fights to pass on some of the boys who may be interested in learning how to better defend themselves and each other on the ice?

A: Oh, I’m always willing to help out a teammate anytime, they just have to ask. Fighting on ice – a lot of it’s experience. You work on core strength, balance and that kind of stuff, which really helps. There’s little tricks you can learn, but really, you develop a style after you fight so much. You get more comfortable, the more you do it.

Q: So you’re coming in nearly halfway through the season. What do you think you’ll be able to do for the team?

A: Just work hard every night…hopefully get my skill level back quickly. I haven’t played in a while, so, I mean, I haven’t played a lot of hockey in the last two years.,,you have three lines and you’re going to get ice time, so I’m going work hard to get back to where I was when I was younger (laughing); maybe get back to those OHL days and put up some big numbers (laughing), who knows? I just want to do whatever I can to help the team win.

Photo Credits: Robert Keith

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Justin Aikins' rebound of a Simon Mangos shot gave the Mudbugs an early lead

Brahmas blow 3-1 lead, Mudbugs rally in shootout win

Texas earns point in home loss; Perrott scores first goal as Brahma

A point in the standings is better than nothing at all but don't tell that to Dan Wildfong. The Brahmas coach was livid after the 4-3 shootout loss to the visiting Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs tonight at the NYTEX Sport Centre. Wildfong made it clear on the bench that the team needed these two points and the look on his face was one of disgust as that extra point slipped away in the third period, to be lost in the shootout.

The Brahmas streak of six wins at home was snapped by the heart and hustle of a motivated Mudbugs team that came back from a 3-1 deficit midway through the third period to score two goals in the final 8:12 in regulation, forcing the game into overtime. The Mudbugs would take the comeback victory with a 2-1 goal advantage in the shootout.

With the point earned, the Brahmas’ record goes to 15-10-5, with 35 points. They remain in third place in the Southern Conference, three points ahead of Laredo and five points behind Allen. The Mudbugs improved to 16-11-1 with 33 points and are in third place in the Northern Conference, two points ahead of Tulsa and six points behind Rapid City.

The ‘Bugs drew first blood with their third shot of the night when Justin Aikins picked up the rebound of a Simon Mangos shot and tucked it past goaltender Joe Palmer to give the Mudbugs a 1-0 lead at 6:16 mark. Brett Smith also assisted.

The only penalty on the Mudbugs would be a costly one. The Brahmas were able to even the score with a power play goal, thanks to a Tripping call on David Rutherford. With 14 seconds left in the man-advantage, Mark Kolanos chipped a rebound chance over Ken Carroll’s shoulder at the 13:56 mark. Luke Sellars and James Hiebert were credited with the assist.

There was no further scoring in the period and the Brahmas went into the locker room leading the shot count 11-8 with the game tied at one all.

The Brahmas came out firing in the middle frame and took the lead with two special teams goals just over two minutes apart.

A High-Sticking Double Minor on Shawn Limpright at the 7:16 mark led to the first goal 56 seconds later when Nathan Perrot tipped a long Jordan Cameron shot into Carroll’s five-hole to put the Brahmas on top 2-1. Grant Jacobsen was also credited with the assist.

Short-handed after Perrott was called for Interference, a shot by Ross Rouleau from the point went wide but Jordan Cameron managed to redirect it into the net at the 10:23 mark. Grant Jacobsen was credited with his second assist of the night on that one.

The Brahmas would take the two-goal advantage into the locker room after out shooting the Mudbugs 18-5 in the middle frame, with a 29-13 shot advantage after 40 minutes.

Things went South early in the third period as the Brahmas were unable to put together any kind of offense. The Mudbugs on the other hand roared back to life after the second break, out shooting the Brahmas 18-3 and scoring twice to send the game into overtime.

A Charging call on Jason Deitsch and a subsequent hooking call on Jordan Cameron set up a power play strike by Jeff Kyrzakos, who sent a shot over Palmer’s right shoulder and into the net during the 5-on-3 power play, cutting the lead to 3-2 at the 12:48 mark. Shawn Limpright and Chris St. Croix were in on the assist.

In the final minute, with Ken Carroll pulled in favor of the extra attacker, Travis Clayton’s wrister beat Joe Palmer to the glove side with 49.8 seconds remaining in regulation.

After a scoreless overtime period in which the ‘Bugs held a 7-0 shot edge, Shawn Limpright was the first player to score in the shootout. Jordan Cameron answered to tie it for the Brahmas before Mark Johnson converted as the last shooter in the fifth round to clinch the 4-3 win.

With the loss, Palmer’s record goes to 8-3-4-2. Ken Carroll made 29 saves on 32 shots and earned the win. His record goes to 7-5-0-1.

The Brahmas went two for six on the power play. Bossier-Shreveport went one for six. Both teams were assessed 12 minutes on six infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Nathan Perrott for his power play goal in the second. The 2nd Star was awarded to Jordan Cameron for his shorthanded goal and an assist and the 1st Star went to Bossier-Shreveport’s Mark Johnson for scoring the game-winning goal during the shootout.

You can view the box score here

You can view my photos from the game here

Observations:

• Through 40 minutes there were some real positives by the Brahmas. Special Teams accounted for all scoring with two power play goals and a shorthanded goal. This makes six power play goals scored in the last four games. The worm has turned on that one.
• A power play goal from enforcer Nathan Perrott was nice to see. There is more to his game than just two fists. Perrott saw numerous shifts and looked really good on the ice, despite not having played since last season and not having played in the states for two seasons. He made some tremendous hits tonight and looked like he might get into it with Neil Clark after the two got tangled up at the end of a play. Clark got lucky. I spoke with Nathan after the game and will be posting his interview on Thursday night.
• Another goal, another assist for Jordan Cameron who at 32 points (9 G, 23 A, +4) is on pace to break both of his scoring marks for the past two seasons.
• The Brahmas are 1-4 in shootouts this season.
• I thought Kevin Seibel worked into the defense pretty well for a guy who just got here. He had three shots on the night as well.
• Kudos (I hate that word) to the group of Mudbugs fans who made the drive from Shreveport and got to see their team rally for a win. I saw that guy with the Mudbugs sweater and the Yankees ball cap again – I still can’t handle that combination for some reason. Am I wrong here?

The Brahmas loaded up the bus and began the drive to Odessa, where they will face the league-leading Jackalopes (23-4-3, 49 points) on Thursday night at the Ector County Coliseum.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Insider Preview – Texas Brahmas vs. Bossier Shreveport Mudbugs

Game four of the I-20 Series at NYTEX tonight

The Texas Brahmas (15-10-4, 34 points) host the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs (15-11-1, 31 points) tonight at the NYTEX Sports Centre. This will be the fourth of eight games scheduled between the two clubs this season. The Brahmas lead this season’s series 2-1 with wins on the road on October 30th (6-4) and at home on December 5th (4-2).

The Mudbugs are coming off Sunday night's 4-3 shootout loss on the road to the Allen Americans.

The Mudbugs have continued to struggle with injuries and inconsistent play at all positions so far this season but they always play hard against the Brahmas. One of their notable problems is on the penalty kill. The two teams are very well matched and it should be a good game tonight.

The Mudbugs are 9-4-1 on the road thus far this season. The Brahmas are 9-4-0 at home.

The Mudbugs' top three scorers include Joe Blaznek (F) with 24 points (11 G, 13 A, -4), Travis Clayton (F) with 22 points (9 G, 13 A, +6) and Brett Smith (C) with 20 points (7 G, 13 A, -1). Blaznek is their leading road warrior with 16 points (6 G, 10 A, +1). Their leading defensive scorer is Simon Mangos with 17 points (3 G, 14 A, +3).

Their top goons are forward Neil Clark (36 PIM) and defenseman David Pszenyczny (35 PIM).

On special teams, the Mudbugs have the number seven power play with a 16.33 percentage (ninth on the road at 14.50%) and the number 13 penalty kill with an 81.05percentage (eighth on the road at 83.8%). They have scored three short-handed goals this season.

Goaltender duty has been split between Ken Carroll (6-5-0-1) and John DeCaro. (9-6-1-0). Carroll is ranked fourth in the league with a 2.41 GAA and second with a .927 save percentage. DeCaro is ranked 12th with a 3.02 GAA and 14th with a .902 save percentage. Carroll is expected to start tonight.

The Brahmas top three scorers are Jordan Cameron (F) with 30 points (8 G, 22 A, +4), Grant Jacobsen (F) with 20 points (12 G, 8 A, +1) and Kevin McLeod (D) with 19 points (10 G, 9 A, 0). Cameron leads the home guard with 15 points (3 G, 12 A, +3). McLeod is the Brahmas' leading defensive scorer.

On special teams, the Brahmas remain are ranked 13th in the league with an 11.73 percentage (12th at home at 11.10%) and eighth on the penalty kill with an 83.96 percentage (12th at home at 81.90%). They are second in the league in short handed goals with eight.

Joe Palmer (8-3-3-2) had the last two starts and is ranked third in the league with a 2.37 GAA and fourth with a .920 save percentage. He is expected to get the start tonight. Brett Jaeger (7-7-1-0) is ranked 14th in the league with a 3.05 GAA and 18th with a .892 save percentage.

The Mudbugs have struggled with injuries all season and have three players currently on injured reserve including defenseman Dale Lupul and forwards Joe Zappala and Tyler Liebel.

For the Brahmas, forward Lee Jubinville and defensemen Justin Kinnunen, Kevin McLeod and Tyrell Mason (30days) are all out on injured reserve.

Defenseman Kevin Seibel signed a contract today and is expected to see some shifts tonight.

The game begins at 7:05pm and will be broadcast on CHL-TV if you can't be there.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

For Neil Clark, Garrett Gruenke, Adam Smyth, Alex Penner and the like...

Meet Nathan Perrott , Texas Brahma

Videos courtesy of YouTube
Brahmas sign enforcer Nathan Perrott

Expected to start on Wednesday; Rights to Seibel acquired from Tulsa

When I learned this past weekend that right wing Nathan Perrott was joining the Texas Brahmas after a brief stint in Russia, all I could think about (besides what an amazing addition to the team at this time of the season) was how great a recruiter Dan Wildfong was. The “if we need it, I’ll get it” continues to hold true for the Texas Brahmas head coach.

There’s no doubt that the Brahmas have been in need of an enforcer since the season began. Some thought it might be Derek Merlini. Some thought it might be Luke Sellars (who is doing a great job on defense). Nathan Perrott will fill the role nicely.

The Brahmas announced today that Perrott has been signed to the roster and will start in Wednesday night’s game against the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs.

Dan Wildfong believes the addition of Perrott will make a big difference at this point in the season.

"Nathan will give us that extra edge we have been searching for this season,” Wildfong said. He is a proven leader and is tough as nails; his game will elevate our game on the ice for the remaining stretch.”

Perrott, 33, has been known in his professional hockey career as “Rock”, which perfectly describes the 6’ 1”, 235 pound right wing’s physique; solid as, with nary an ounce of fat on him.

As a young man growing up in Ontario, Perrott had two dreams – to be a professional hockey player and a heavyweight boxer. He started boxing when he was 15 years old but left home at 18 to pursue a hockey career.

Perrott played junior hockey with the Oshawa Generals (OHL) for two seasons (1994-95, 95-96) where he tallied 108 points (48 G, 60 A) and 391 penalty minutes in 122 games played. Perrott was drafted by the New Jersey Devils in the second round (44th overall) of the 1995 NHL Entry Draft. He had a four-game call up to the Albany River Rats (AHL) during the 1995-96 season but saw little playing time.

He was traded five games into the following season to the Sault Saint Marie Greyhounds where he scored 41 points (18 G, 23 A) with 120 penalty minutes in 37 games played.

For the next 10 seasons, Perrott played in the ECHL, IHL, AHL and NHL, where he played in 89 games with the Nashville Predators, Toronto Maple Leafs and Dallas Stars.

After four games with the Toronto Marlies (AHL) in 2007-08, Perrott went to Russia to play for Chekhov Vityaz (KHL) and remained with the team through last season.

Perrott, who has never forgotten his dream of being a boxer, believes he’s had about 350 fights during his hockey career.

During his time in Russia, Perrott struck up a friendship with former Olympic gold medalist and currant IBF number-one ranked heavyweight Alexander Povetkin. Perrott returned to the U.S. to New Jersey, settled in New Jersey and hooked up with trainer Joe Grier. On September 11th, Perrott made his debut as a professional boxer, winning his first bout with a fourth round TKO.

Now, Perrott will bring both his hockey and boxing skills to the NYTEX Sports Centre to help the Texas Brahmas defend the President’s Cup. He fills the roster spot recently opened when Anders Strome was placed on waivers.


The Brahmas also announced that they had acquired the rights to defenseman Kevin Seibel from the Tulsa Oilers. The transaction completes the trade that sent Derek Merlini to Tulsa prior to the 2009-10 regular season. Seibel played 36 games with Tulsa last season collecting 14 points (3 G, 11 A).

Photo Credits:

Nathan Perott - Dallas Stars, Toronto Maple Leafs
Kevin Seibel – Les Stockton

Monday, December 28, 2009

A few minutes with…James Hiebert

The Brahmas forward talks about joining the team, the hit on Charlie Effinger, the aftermath and the season so far

After six seasons in Laredo, many fans were surprised to see James Hiebert land in North Richland Hills to play with the Brahmas. The 27-year-old wing from Hay River, Northwest Territories, has been a welcome addition to the roster. Tough as nails, Hiebert has been a target for many opponents and has served five games worth of league suspensions due to scrapes with the Allen Americans alone.

Hiebert has tallied 11 points (3 G, 8 A, +8) and 98 penalty minutes in 18 games played. I spoke with James on Sunday afternoon. Here is our conversation.

Q: After so many seasons in Laredo, how did it feel to come up and join the Brahmas organization?

A: It feels good. Everything is a change and an adjustment but I’ve really enjoyed my time here. North Richland Hills is a beautiful place and I’ve got a lot of great teammates so it’s made the change easy.

Q: How was it, integrating with these guys, after playing against so may of them after so many years?

A: Ah, there’s been a lot of laughs, a lot of jokes about some of the dirty things I did, to Minard mostly (laughing) and maybe Fonger, because he and I had our bouts, but other than that, it’s been pretty smooth. We had a rocky start when I first got here but lately, heck, the team’s been playing great and we’ve been winning games.

Q: One of the things Dan told me about you was how tough you are and some of the scrapes you guys had gotten into and how he hated the prospect of fighting you. You’ve had quite a few scrapes since you’ve joined the Brahmas. Do you see yourself in an instigator role?

A: Well, our team has to be team tough and we try to go out there and do that. Sometimes, certain guys have to fight. I would consider myself, maybe not an instigator, but someone who is definitely worried about what’s going on with his teammates…I think everyone on the team is worried about that. We’ve got a great group of guys with a lot of chemistry and we all want to take care of each other.

Q: Now you’ve been fighting for a long time. You’re not the biggest guy but you’re tough as hell. Any boxing experience; anything in your background that’s been a help?

A: Well, obviously, I hit the heavy bag…I haven’t had any formal training or anything like that. I’ve done a little bit of boxing and a little bit of Tae Kwan Do, but I’ve never taken more than say 15 classes each. But you know, you practice it and you practice when you’re young and just through experience and a lot of getting beat up, you get better (laughing). When I was young, I’ll tell you, I got beat up a few times. It taught me how to protect myself (laughing). So, a little bit of experience there and probably experience is the most important thing other than staying in shape and being able to take care of yourself.

Q: I was in Allen and I watched from behind the half boards as Charlie Effinger skate way out of the crease to meet you. I saw him drop his shoulder and plant his feet, seemingly expecting to take a hit, taking you head on as you approached the net. What’s your take on how all that transpired? What I saw was you going after a loose puck on a breakaway.

A: Yeah, you know, the goaltender’s off limits, so anytime you do that, it’s a possible suspension, but he came pretty far out of the net. He was out by the top of the circles, so…I did make that check, so it’s my fault. I didn’t think I should’ve gotten suspended for it. He wasn’t hurt.

Q: From where I was watching, it didn’t really look like you had a lot of time to react, considering how far he skated out to meet you. Now, you didn’t intentionally take him out, did you?

A: No, I didn’t intentionally, but sometimes when you’re moving that fast, you don’t really think. The puck’s right there…it’s kind of the route you’re taking…he’s in your path…it just happens.

Q: Now obviously, you were going to be a target here at NYTEX when Allen came out. Did you expect them to go after you in the pre-game warm-ups?

A: No, not at all. I wanted to continue playing. They kind of fully instigated that. I was disappointed in my suspension there but you know, that’s the league and their in control and you’ve got to respect that. At the same time, I got hit pretty hard; I got my bell rung pretty hard. I had a headache for a couple of weeks…it’s a little frustrating there, because those guys outweighed me by 40 or fifty pounds, so I was at a disadvantage right off the bat. It is what it is and it’s a long season.

Q: Speaking of the season, it hasn’t been the easiest for the Brahmas with a real tough schedule for the first six weeks or so – it seems like you guys had a little bit of trouble finding your groove but you seem to be in it now. What’s your take on the rest of the season?

A: We got to keep going hard and working our tails off. Nothing comes easy in professional hockey, so if you want to win, you’ve got to stick to the systems and work hard every game or you end up losing games. I think at the beginning of the season, we were just inconsistent. There were a lot of new faces and they had just won a title. We did have a lot of player movement and that doesn’t ever help for chemistry. Now we’ve kind of gotten our lines stabilized – I think we’re playing really good.

Photo Credits: Robert Keith
A few minutes with…Jason Deitsch

After over a month on Injured Reserve, the 2009 Playoff MVP talks about getting back into the game

He was the 2009 Playoff MVP, scoring 26 points (11 G, 15 A, +9) in 16 games culminating in the Ray Miron President’s Cup Championship win in May. Last season, Jason Deitsch tallied 44 (20 G, 24 A, +18) points in 36 games played, including 15 points (7 G, 8 A) on the power play and seven game winning goals and 71 penalty minutes. He was called up to the Houston Aeros (AHL) for 28 games where he contributed 15 points (4 G, 11 A).

This season, Deitsch has scored 12 points (3 G, 9 A) in 16 games, including a power play goal in Saturday night’s loss to the Allen Americans. Out for almost five weeks with a shoulder injury, he has returned to the active roster and is ready to make a run for the playoffs.

I spoke to Jason after Sunday’s win against the Wichita Thunder. Here is our conversation.

Q: You’ve been out for almost five weeks; how did it feel getting back into the game on Saturday night?

A: It felt really good to get back out on the ice. Five weeks is a lot of time off. I just did what I could to stay ready and I thought I had a good game…It feels good to be able to be back out on the ice with the team and help them battle through the stuff we’ve been going through, so it’s good to be back.

Q: You scored one of the Brahmas rare power play goals…how did it feel to get that score in your first game back?

A: Oh, it felt really good. To get the power play goal, which is something we need to do…for me to get one in my first game back was good for my confidence.

Q: It’s been a rough season for the Brahmas thus far with player changes and a really tough schedule for the first six weeks. It seems like the guys are getting on the same page and back in the groove. How has it been in the locker room for all the guys just trying to get through this part of the season?

A: It’s been good. I think the Christmas break helped, giving guys a little time off. Some guys got to go home and see their families. We’re starting to come together as a team and we’re a little more stable with the guys here now; there’s not so many guys coming in and out. It’s good and if you have a new guy come in, we’ll just welcome him with open arms and make sure he does his part to help us get on the right track to get back to where we want to be like we were last year.

Q: You seemed to be a target for other teams in many of the early games this season. It seemed like guys were going after you left and right. Then Hiebert comes in and all of a sudden, the target’s off your back. Am I right there – did you notice that?

A: Uh, I noticed it early in the year. I don’t know – it felt like I had a target on my back tonight (laughing); it’s probably because I was on a line with Hiebert. I don’t know, I mean, obviously if I’ve got a target on my back, it means I’m doing my job. It comes with the game and I enjoy that part of the game. You’ve just got to battle through it and do what you can to help the team win.

Q: They say the tougher thing than winning the cup is defending it. So far this year, again, it’s been rough. You guys seem to be on a good track. What’s your outlook for the rest of the season?

A: Our ultimate goal is first off, to get to the playoffs and then battle our way back to win a championship. I think over the last few weeks when I was injured, we made some strides in the right direction and I think we just have to continue to build on that. We have a big week this week. We just played two games and we have four more games in the next seven days, so we just have to stay focused. We have to just take it one game at a time and one shift at a time and keep this thing going in the right direction.

Q: Let’s talk a minute about the Allen Americans. It’s been a hell of a rivalry so far and it’s split down the middle in wins and types of wins. They’ve been a tough opponent. Are you surprised that they came out of the gates as an expansion franchise with such a good and such a tough team?

A: No, not really. It’s really no surprise. The assistant coach there, Bill McDonald has been around for a long time. I knew with him there, that he would have some connections and know a lot of players. You know, it’s all about just finding the right players and finding players that play well together. They do a great job playing well together. They have a big, strong team, so it’s been a good battle between us. It’s a good cross-town rivalry. We just have to keep it going.

Q: On a personal side, you’ve got a new baby at home. How’s it going – are you getting any sleep?

A: She’s been wonderful. The first eight weeks or so, we’ve been up a little bit in the middle of the night but for the last four or five weeks, it’s been perfect. She sleeps through the night. It’s been really good...I hope I don’t jinx myself with that (laughing). She’s been unbelievable; a blessing.

Photo Credits: Robert Keith
Strome claimed by Mississippi
Former Brahma may move to the Northern Conference

Anders Strome has been claimed off of waivers by the Mississippi RiverKings, it was announced today. It is unknown whether he will choose to sign a contract or weigh other options.

The RiverKings (14-12-2, 30 points) are in fourth place in the Northern Conference behind Bossier-Shreveport, Rapid City and Colorado.

Strome tallied six points (5 G, 1 A, -4) in 12 games played this season. The native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada is a seventh year professional who has playing experience in the CHL with Wichita, Lubbock, Rocky Mountain, and Texas, ECHL experience with Long Beach, Florida, and South Carolina. Strome also has international experience, having played in 36 games last season in Denmark with Odense.

Mississippi will be looking for its third straight win in Tuesday's game at home against Missouri. That would be the team's first three game winning streak of the season. The RiverKings have fashioned two-game winning streaks on four separate occasions this season, including the current streak.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith
Post-game skate with the Brahmas
Photos from Sunday's team event posted

Well, I didn't get as many photos as I thought, and I had quite a few that didn't come out (photographer error), but what I have has been posted here. Enjoy!

Photo Credit: Robert Keith
Brahmas defeat Wichita 2-0

Joe Palmer stops 39 shots, gets second shutout of the season

What do you do when your best just isn't good enough? We saw it firsthand on Sunday afternoon when the Wichita Thunder came to town to take on the Brahmas for the first time this season. It was painful watching interim coach Jason Duda’s expressions on the visiting bench. It was more painful seeing a group of pretty talented players give it there all just to find out once again (for the 15th straight game), their all wasn't enough. With 36 games remaining and only three wins in the books, how do you find the fortitude to go on? With the 2-0 loss to the Brahmas, Wichita now sits at 3-22-3; good for last place in the Northern Conference (and the league) with nine points.

Wichita Interim player/coach Jason Duda

The Brahmas on the other hand, seem to have put many of their struggles behind them and are battling toward a new year and another playoff run. Sunday's game was their first at home in 16 days and the win was their sixth in a row at the NYTEX Sports Centre dating back to November 29th. Their 15-10-4 record puts them in third place in the Southern Conference with 34 points.

The Brahmas record for December is now 7-1-1 with two games remaining. By comparison, they went 7-4-2 last year and 5-8-0 in 2007-08.

The Brahmas opened up the scoring with Tyler Skworchinski’s power play goal 4:28 into the first period. With just eight seconds left on the man-advantage, Jordan Cameron wrestled control of the puck from a Wichita defender and sent a pass to Elias Godoy who was stationed behind the net. Godoy alertly slapped the puck to Skworchinski, who beat a diving Scott Campbell with a one-timer from the slot for his 10th goal of the season.

Wichita battled hard and managed to prevent any further scoring in the period but were unable to beat Joe Palmer who stopped all 10 shots faced. Shots were in fact even through the first frame and the Brahmas took the 1-0 lead into the locker room.

Mark Kolanos extended the Brahmas’ lead when he fired a puck that squeezed under the left corner of the net past Campbell at the 5:24 mark. Jason Deitsch and Craig Minard assisted. It was Kolanos’ third goal in six games with the Brahmas. He also has three assists.

Matt Burto and Jay Henderson mix it up

Later in the period, a rumble erupted deep in the Brahmas’ zone after Wichita thug Chris Kovalcik got a little rough with Ross Rouleau. Rouleau and Kovalcik got into it, followed by Matt Burto and Jay Henderson. Kovalcik received two minutes for Roughing. Both he and Rouleau received five minute Fighting Majors. Burto and Henderson received five minute Fighting Majors and 10 minute Fighting (Secondary) Game Misconducts, earning them both an early exit from the game. Craig Minard was also called for Unsportsmanlike Conduct – I didn’t see him do anything that would warrant this except for maybe razzing the officials for not stopping the second fight when it was clearly over. Dan Wildfong also gave an earful to referee Steve Cruickshank, who defended his decision to allow the fight to continue.

The Brahmas were outshot 17-6 in the middle frame and 12-10 in the third, but the defense held and Joe Palmer remained perfect stopping all 39 shots faced, earning his second shut out as a professional.

With the win, Palmer’s record goes to 8-3-3-1. Scott Campbell made 24 saves on 26 shots and takes the loss. His record goes to 2-14-1.

The Brahmas went one for eight on the power play. Wichita went zero for six. The Brahmas were assessed 36 minutes on 11 infractions. Wichita was assessed 48 minutes on 13 infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Tyler Skworchinski for his power play goal in the first. The 2nd Star was awarded to Mark Kolanos for the game winner and the 1st Star went to Joe Palmer for his performance in net.

You can view the box score here

You can view my photos from the game here

Observations:

• Joe Palmer moves up to number three in the league with a 2.37 GAA and number four with a .920 save percentage. He remains in the lead of all CHL rookies and number five overall in Star Points with 26.
• I’m no fighter, so who am I to talk, right? But I’d like to see the Brahmas sign someone with some boxing skills to come in and not only act as an enforcer, but train the boys on how to defend themselves a little better.
• There were some otherwise hard hits taken by the Brahmas in what turned out to be a pretty physical game. Elias Godoy, Justin Kinnunen and Tyrell Mason all went down hard, with Mason taking the worst hit against the boards. He returned to the bench in obvious pain and seemed to be favoring his left shoulder. I’d be surprised to see him play on Wednesday against Bossier-Shreveport.
• The Brahmas are in fifth place in the league in points (34) and six points behind Allen and 15 points behind Odessa in the Southern Conference.
• There’s lots of talk about the new right wing that the Brahmas are reportedly bringing in this week to take the roster spot vacated when Anders Strome was waived. I can’t divulge his identity, but this signing will bring some notice in the league. Stay tuned – an announcement is eminent.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Insider Preview - Texas Brahmas vs. Wichita Thunder

First meeting of season at NYTEX today

Now in their 17th season, the Wichita Thunder has never had to suffer through a season like this. With a record of 3-21-3 and 9 points, they are mired at the bottom of the Central Hockey League standings. I can go on an on about the tribulations of the Thunder, but I won't because I think the whole situation stinks and I hate to see any team going through all the things they are going through.

There are no cake walks in professional hockey and although one might think today's game was a given, sometimes it's the teams that you least expect, that pull out the win. You can be sure Dan Wildfong is telling his boys that today is not the day to take off.

The Brahmas are 8-4-0 at home. The Thunder are 1-10-1 on the road.

The Brahmas are coming off last night's 3-2 overtime road loss against the Allen Americans. They have won seven of their last 10 games. The Thunder are coming off a 6-2 road loss to Missouri (last night). They have not won a game since November 20th at home against Arizona. That's 14 straight losses. 'Nuff said.

Wichita's top three scorers include Glenn DeTulleo (C) with 22 points (4 G, 18 A, -4), Marc Belanger (F) with 15 points (9 G, 6 A, -2) and Jim Jorgensen (D) with 12 points (4 G, 8 A, -3). Jorgensen is also their leading defensive scorer. DeTulleo is their leading road warrior with leads the home ice scoring with 11 points (2 G, 9 A, +2).

Allen’s top goons are defensemen Chris McAllister (100 PIM) Chris Kovalcik (72 PIM).

On special teams, the Thunder have the worst power play with a 9.21 percentage (worst on the road at 6.60%) and the worst penalty kill with an 78.29 percentage (worst on the road at 72.0%). They have scored three short-handed goals this season.

Scott Campbell (2-13-1) is expected in net for Wichita.

The Brahmas top three scorers are Jordan Cameron (F) with 29 points (8 G, 21 A, +4), Grant Jacobsen (F) with 20 points (13 G, 7 A, +1) and Kevin McLeod (D) with 19 points (10 G, 9 A, 0). McLeod is the Brahmas' leading defensive scorer.

On special teams, the Brahmas remain are ranked 13th in the league with a 11.70 percentage and eighth on the penalty kill with an 83.43 percentage. They are second in the league in short handed goals with eight.

I'm unsure as to who will start in net for the Brahmas. Joe Palmer (7-3-3-1) played last night. He is ranked fifth in the league with a 2.54 GAA and sixth with a .913 save percentage. Brett Jaeger (7-7-1) is ranked 11th in the league with a 3.05 GAA and 17th with a .892 save percentage.

As of this writing, left wing/coach Jason Duda is not expected to play.

For the Brahmas, Kevin McLeod and Lee Jubinville remain out on Injured Reserve.

The game begins at 4:05pm and will be broadcast on CHL-TV if you can't be there.


Photo Credit: Robert Keith
Ryan Fairbarn's game winning goal slips past Joe Palmer

Brahmas collect point, fall 3-2 in overtime

Allen takes game one of the North Texas Vintage Series

Two power play goals and a tremendous effort by netminder Joe Palmer were not enough to stop the Allen Americans in the first game of the North Texas Vintage Series at the Allen Events Center on Saturday night. The Brahmas lost 3-2 in overtime and their record goes to 14-10-4. They earned a point and are now in fourth place in the Southern Conference, tied in points with Laredo at 32. With the win, Allen (18-7-2) remains in second place in the conference behind Odessa with 38 points.

It was the first of two games in the North Texas Vintage Series. Allen wore red Dallas Black Hawks jerseys, while Texas donned white and red Fort Worth Wings sweaters in a night commemorating DFW’s old rivalries. Former Dallas Black Hawks Duane “Whip” Wylie, Curt Ridley and Doug Shelton participated in the ceremonial puck drop before the game started.

Justin Bowers gave the Americans an early lead when he shoved a rebound in the net just 34 seconds into the game. Bruce Graham and Jarret Lukin assisted. It would be the only score of a dull first period. Shots were even at nine and Allen headed into the locker room with a 1-0 lead.

The action picked up in the middle frame and fresh off his return from over 30 days on Injured Reserve, it was Jason Deitsch who put the Brahmas on the board with a power play goal at the 2:23 mark, tying the game at one apiece. Jordan Cameron and Mark Kolanos were in on the assist.

The Brahmas then took a 2-1 lead on another power play goal, this one coming from forward Grant Jacobsen at the 9:10 mark. Jason Deitsch and Ross Rouleau were credited with the assist.

The period ended with shots even again, this time at six and the Brahmas has the 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.

The Americans battled back in the third period, and newcomer Sean Perkins scored his first goal in Allen nine minutes into the third period to tie the game at two. Jarret Lukin and Bruce Graham assisted.

Defenseman Ryan Fairbarn scored at 4:11 of overtime to give the Americans the home win. Bruce Graham, who was in on all three Allen goals assisted along with Nino Musitelli.

Joe Palmer made 28 saves on 31 shots and takes the overtime loss. His record goes to 7-3-3-1. Charlie Effinger made 20 saves on 22 shots and earned the win his first game since November 28th. His record goes to 5-2-0-1.

The Brahmas went two for six on the power play. Allen went zero for five. The Brahmas were assessed 10 minutes on five infractions. Allen was assessed 12 minutes on six infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Charlie Effinger for his performance in net for Allen. The 2nd Star was awarded to Joe Palmer for his performance and the 1st Star went to Allen defenseman Ryan Fairbarn who scored the game winning goal.

You can view the box score here

You can view my photos from the game here

You can view Big D Hockey's John O'Neill's photos here

Observations:

• I was surprised to see Effinger back in net for this game. It was his first start for the Americans since going out on Injured Reserve on November 28th following the collision with James Hiebert. I think it was a “statement” start to have him come back (and earn the win) against the Brahmas.
• That was a horribly boring first period outside of the goal at the 34 second mark. Joe Palmer did his best but even with the help of Matt Burto and Tyler Skworchinski (inside the crease), he couldn’t prevent Justin Bowers shot from crossing the line (with some help from Jarret Lukin).
• Nice to see Jason Deitsch back on the ice tonight. Scoring the first Brahmas goal must’ve been nice after almost five weeks on IR.
• Allen center Tobias Whelan crashed the net late early in the second period taking down Palmer and dislodging the net. It appeared to be accidental, but running into goalies is now a sensitive issue at the AEC. There was no retaliation.
• Two Brahmas power play goals in a row, let alone in a period, let alone in a game!
• Allen coach Dwight Mullins must have issued a “no abuse of Hiebert” directive to his players. Hiebert probably had his least physical game of the season tonight.
• Defenseman Luke Sellars took an inadvertent stick blade to the throat near the net when Mark Kolanos tripped on Palmer’s stick inside the crease (See photos 289 through 298). Sellars went down briefly and then made his way back to the bench. It looked like it hurt but he was OK and was able to return to the game.
• All in all, a pretty clean game. This one could’ve gone either way. Palmer was in top form but had some bad luck on the first and last goals. He had no chance on Fairbarn’s game winner. Palmer truly earned that 2nd star of the game. He still leads all rookies with 26 star points.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Strome Waived

Deitsch back; McLeod and Jubinville placed on Injured Reserve

There's hardly any surprises left to be had this season. If Dan Wildfong needs to make a change, he will. There's no doubt that Anders Strome was a big pick up for the 2009-10 roster. There's also no doubt that Strome, 28, did not live up to expectations thus far. In 12 games played, Strome put up six points (5 G, 1 A, -4), including a power play goal and two game winning goals.

The 12 games played was probably a factor. Had he played all 27 games, things may have been different. But Strome had a non-hockey related injury to his foot at the beginning of the season and was on injured reserve from October 17th through November 25th. A long time to be out during a difficult stretch for the Brahmas.

Strome was one of my favorite players in 2007-08. We kept in touch while he was playing in Europe. There was a chance that he would be back in time to play with the Brahmas at the end of last season and through the playoffs, but the timing didn't work out. I'm sorry to see him go. But I'm not sorry to see him go when it comes to Dan making the moves he has to make in order to make this team a contender in the playoffs. The Brahmas have to make every effort to retain that cup and sometimes that means making the difficult decisions. I don't envy Dan for having to make the call. But I respect it.

As Dan said in William Wilkerson's article in Friday's Star-Telegram, "We’re still not where we need to be. We are still a work in progress."

As for Strome, he'll land on his skates in another town. He's a talented player and has a lot of hockey left to play.

Other roster moves announced today include the return of Jason Deitsch, who has been out on Injured Reserve for a month (shoulder). Justin Kinnunen has been activated from his league approved leave. Kevin McLeod and Lee Jubinville have been placed on 14-day Injured Reserve. McLeod took an elbow to the head and Jubinville caught a puck on the cheekbone last week during the series in Arizona.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Friday, December 25, 2009

Insider Preview: Texas Brahmas @ Allen Americans

North Texas Vintage Series begins at the Allen Events Center

Back to the scene of the "crime" as they say. The last game at the Allen Events Center (November 28th) was a pivotal event in the short history of the Brahmas newest rivalry.

16:48 into the first period with the score tied 1-1, James Hiebert went after a loose puck on a breakaway and was met by Allen goalie Charlie Effinger, who had skated out from the crease to a point between the top of the face off circles. Effinger lowered his left shoulder, leaned in and met Hiebert's left shoulder, before dramatically falling to the ice. Hiebert, who remained upright, was immediately attacked by Allen defenseman Ryan Fairbarn, who dragged him down to the ice and pulled him into the crease where he held him down until the linesmen could pull him off. See the photo series
here.

Fairbarn got off with a two-minute Roughing call, while Hiebert was given a five-minute Charging Major and a 10-minute Charging Game Misconduct, followed by a two-game league suspension. Effinger, who finished the period, did not play for the second and third period and was place on Goaltender IR for undisclosed reasons for two weeks. He has not started since.

The two teams met again on December ninth. During the pre-game warm-ups, Allen defenseman Brandon Straub and forward Britt Dougherty mixed it up with Hiebert and Luke Sellars after Straub picked the inevitable fight. See the story here, the photos here and the video here. The four were each given five-minute Fighting Majors and 10-minute No Category Game Misconducts. All four received league suspensions (Straub - five games, Dougherty - two games, Hiebert - three games, Sellars - two games). All four are available and expected to play on Saturday night.

Is there still some bad blood between the teams? You betcha. Will the game be physical? Bet on it? Is Hiebert still a target? What do you think?

The two teams met twice in the pre-season, splitting wins. They’ve met four times thus far in the regular season, with the series tied 2-2; each team earning a shootout victory. The Americans have a (slight) 13-12 goal advantage.

Then there's the North Texas Vintage Series. This is game one of two (the second will be on January 8th at NYTEX). The two-game series will feature the Texas Brahmas as the Fort Worth Wings (1967-73, 1973-82 as the Texans) and the Allen Americans as the Dallas Blackhawks (1967-82). Both teams will be donning throwback jerseys representing their historic predecessor. More about the series here.

The Brahmas are 6-6-3 on the road thus far this season. The Americans are 8-2-1 at home.

The Brahmas are coming off a 5-2 road win against Arizona on December 19th. They have won seven of their last 10 games. The Americans are coming off a 5-1 road loss to Odessa. In fact, they have lost their last three games in a row (all against Odessa) but have won six of their last 10 games.

Allen’s top three scorers include Justin Bowers (C) with 38 points (11 G, 27 A, +12), Bruce Graham (F) with 33 points (12 G, 21 A, +11) and Nino Musitelli (F) with 25 points (7 G, 18 A, +7). Bowers leads the home ice scoring with 21 points (7 G, 14 A, +10). Their leading defensive scorer is Ryan Fairbarn with 12 points (5 G, 7 A, 0).

Allen’s top goons are defenseman Brandon Straub (82 PIM) and forward Britt Dougherty (70 PIM). Dougherty, you may remember, put Corpus Christi defenseman Tyler Sheldrake in the hospital with four broken lumbar vertebrae in his lower back with a big hit on December 5th.

On special teams, the Americans have the number seven power play with a 16.79 percentage (eighth at 15.8% at home) and the number five penalty kill with an 85.03 percentage (sixth at home at 84.7%). They have scored six short-handed goals this season.

Chris Whitley (13-5-2-1 ) is expected in net for Allen. Whitley has lost his last three starts in a row (all against Odessa) and four of his last six. He is ranked eighth in the league with a 2.81 GAA and 10th with a .910 save percentage. Charlie Effinger (4-2-0-1) has not played since his run-in with Hiebert on November 28th.

The Brahmas top three scorers are Jordan Cameron (F) with 28 points (8 G, 20 A, +6), Grant Jacobsen (F) with 19 points (12 G, 7 A, +2) and Kevin McLeod (D) with 19 points (10 G, 9 A, 0). McLeod is the Brahmas leading defensive scorer.

On November 28th, McLeod registered his first professional hat trick in the Brahmas overtime loss on the road in Allen. He leads both teams in the four contests with four goals.

On special teams, the Brahmas remain are ranked 14th in the league with a 10.91 percentage and ninth on the penalty kill with an 82.95 percentage. They are second in the league in short handed goals with eight.

I'm unsure as to who will start in net for the Brahmas. Joe Palmer (7-3-2-1) has been outstanding in his starts versus the Americans going 2-0 with a 1.97 GAA and a .938 save percentage. He is ranked fifth in the league with a 2.52 GAA and sixth with a .914 save percentage. Brett Jaeger (7-7-1) is ranked 13th in the league with a 3.05 GAA and 17th with a .892 save percentage.

As of this writing, forwards Mick Berge, Bill Loupee and defenseman Erik Adams are on Injured Reserve and not expected to play.

For the Brahmas, forward Jason Deitsch has remained on Injured Reserve since November 20th. It is unknown if he will play. Justin Kinnunen is still out on leave granted by the league.

The game begins at 7:30pm and will be broadcast on CHL-TV if you can't be there.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith
Merry Christmas to all!

To all the friends, family, fans and players...the Texas Brahmas Insider wishes you the best this holiday season!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


North Texas Vintage Game Series begins on Saturday

Brahmas, Americans rekindle old rivalries

The Texas Brahmas and Allen Americans open their “North Texas Vintage Game Series” on Saturday night at the Allen Events Center. The series is in remembrance of the Dallas/ Fort Worth area’s early professional hockey rivalries.

The two-game series will feature the Texas Brahmas as the Fort Worth Wings (1967-73, 1973-82 as the Texans) and the Allen Americans as the Dallas Blackhawks (1967-82). Both teams will be donning throwback jerseys representing their historic predecessor.

The 1940-41 Fort Worth Rangers

Members of the 1946-47 Dallas Texans

Professional hockey rivalries between the two cities began in 1941 with the Dallas Texans and the Fort Worth Rangers of the American Hockey Association. Old timers will remember gritty players like the Texans’ Murray “Army” Armstrong, Lloyd Finkbeiner, Paul Bibeault and the Rangers’ Francis “Red” Kane, Russ Kopak and Bert Peer. The league shut down in the fall of 1942 due to World War Two. Resuming play under the United States Hockey League in 1945-46, the teams resumed play and the rivalry continued through the 1949 season, when both teams folded.

In 1967, professional hockey returned to North Texas with the arrival of two Central Hockey League teams. The expansion Fort Worth Wings, an affiliate of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings, played at the Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum. The Dallas Blackhawks, who had relocated from St. Louis, played at the State Fair Coliseum.


Throughout the years a deep hatred between the Fort Worth and Dallas clubs was developed, as were many tales, including stories involving bench clearing brawls on the ice and mayhem in the stands, including the legendary 10 cent beer night (near) riot in Fort Worth in 1978. The rivalry made them two of the most popular teams in the CHL.

The Texans won their only Adams Cup Championship, in 1978 by defeating the Blackhawks 5-4 in overtime of game seven of the finals. The Blackhawks won 5 Adams Cup championships during their time in the league. Both teams ceased operations following the 1981-82 seasons.

The modern Central Hockey League’s Dallas Freeze and Fort Worth Fire competed between 1992 and 1995, when the Freeze folded. The Fire remained in the league until 1999.

14 years after the last games between Dallas and Fort Worth teams were played, the Texas Brahmas (formerly Fort Worth Brahmas) and the expansion Allen Americans have already started a heated rivalry of their own.

The two teams met twice in the pre-season, splitting wins. They’ve met four times thus far in the regular season, with the series tied 2-2; each team earning a shootout victory. Suffice it to say, the games have been physical.

Brahmas goalie Joe Palmer has been outstanding in his starts versus the Americans going 2-0 with a 1.97 GAA and a .938 save percentage.

This year, the Brahmas and Americans organizations promise memorable evenings with throwback concession prices, special game programs and most notably, the return of a few key players from the storied rivalry.

The vintage series will begin on Saturday, December 26th at the Allen Event Center at 7:30 pm. The second game will take place at the NYTEX Sports Centre in North Richland Hills on Friday, January 8th at 7:05 pm.

Immediately following game two, the Brahmas will host a live game-worn Fort Worth Wings jersey auction at the NYTEX Sports Centre. The Allen Americans will place their game-worn Dallas Blackhawks jerseys in a silent jersey auction after the conclusion of the series.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Tap, tap, tap!

A hat trick on Saturday night and the team lead in points highlight Jordan Cameron's play; surpasses 150 points as a Texas Brahma

He was the Brahmas' leading scorer in 2007-08 with 64 points (30 G, 34 A, +4) and he came in second last season (behind Scott Sheppard) with 60 points (23 G, 37 A, +15) during the Brahma's quest for the President's Cup. The 6' 4", 218 pound right wing from Drayton Valley, Alberta has also tallied 26 points (7 G, 19 A, -5) in 29 post-season contests with Texas.

On Saturday night, Cameron scored a hat trick against the Arizona Sundogs which put him at 152 regular season points (61 G, 91 A, +25) scored as a Brahma. It was his first hat trick with the team.

Cameron currently leads all Brahmas players with 28 points (8 G, 20 A, +6) in 27 games played. He is one of four players (Jacobsen, Gale Skworchinski) who have started every game this season. He also leads the team in assists (20), power play assists (6) and short-handed assists (2).

"I think he really bought into playing a team game," head coach Dan Wildfong told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's William Wilkerson. "He’s been playing strong. The past month here he has really played a complete game. He’s leading more by example. He’s taken more pride in the team playing together and he’s wearing that letter on his shirt with a little more pride now."

Wildfong is happy to see Cameron as an assist leader and not just a goal scorer.

"Obviously he would like to score more. but he’s moving the puck more and he’s not just shooting...that line of [Tyler] Skworchinski and [Matt] Burto is playing really well together. All they are doing is keeping it simple and working really hard. That’s the key for Jordan. He’s one of the more skilled guys in the league."

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Joe Palmer blocks a shot by Kyle Hood; Palmer stopped 33 of 35 shots for the win over the Sundogs

Brahmas win 5-2; move into third place

Cameron nets hat trick

The Texas Brahmas (14-10-3, 31 points) moved into third place in the Southern Conference tonight with a 5-2 victory over the Arizona Sundogs (9-14-3, 21 points) at Tim's Toyota Center. Wins by Amarillo and Corpus Christi dropped the Sundogs back into last place in the conference, a spot they only recently moved out of.

Playing with a depleted defensive corps, the Brahmas let their offense do the talking with a three goal middle frame that included two goals from Jordan Cameron, who added an empty-netter for his first hat trick of the season.

The Brahmas opened up the scoring with a rare power play opportunity.

Kyle Hood was whistled for interference at the 11:11 mark for bumping Joe Palmer as the netminder was out of his crease to play the puck. The Brahmas capitalized on the ensuing power play when A.J. Gale recorded his 10th goal of the season from Luke Sellars and Kevin McLeod. Moving from right to left across the top of the crease, Gale redirected a Sellars shot from the point over the left shoulder of Kyle McNulty with just four seconds remaining on the man advantage.

The 1-0 lead at the 13:07 mark would not be relinquished for the remainder of the contest.

Arizona outshot Texas 11-5 in the opening frame despite trailing by one after 20 minutes of play.

The Brahmas came out firing in the second period and managed two goals in the opening minutes to give them a 3-0 lead.

Elias Godoy tallied his first of the year 2:25 into the second period, surprising McNulty with a shot along the ice between the goaltender’s legs from the low slot. Matt Burto set up the play and was credited with the assist.

Just over three minutes later, Jordan Cameron picked up his first of two second-period goals off a feed from Grant Jacobsen at the 5:43 mark.
Arizona coach Marco Pietroniro pulled McNulty in favor of rookie Sergey Klimkovich, hoping the Sundogs' chances to pull out a comeback would increase with the change.

Converting on his club’s seventh power play opportunity of the game, veteran forward Steve Potvin cut the Brahmas’ lead back to two with his third marker of the season, sending nearly 1,000 stuffed animals to the ice in the team’s first-ever ‘Teddy Bear Toss’. In position at the top of the crease, Potvin knocked home a rebound chance on a Nick Biondo shot from the top of the far circle at the 13:31 mark.

Two minutes later, Jordan Cameron quickly reclaimed a three-goal lead for the Brahmas, converting on a turnover at the side of the Sundogs’ net. In an effort to play the puck, Klimkovich lost a turnover to former Sundog Mark Kolanos at the side of the cage. Klimkovich nearly recovered with an initial save on Cameron but fell backwards, sending the puck over the goal line with 4:28 left to play in the second.

The period ended with the Sundogs out-shooting the Brahmas 12-8 and 23-13 through 40 minutes but down 4-1.

The opening minutes of the third period included some aggressive play from both sides. Seven minutes in, Scott Thauwald was called for Elbowing and was sent to the sin bin. 31 seconds later, Arizona defenseman Jon Landry threw an elbow into Kevin McLeod, who was skating through the neutral zone in the opposite direction of travel. McLeod went down and was attended to by Brahmas trainer Tom Hart, as well as Sundogs trainer Ryan Landry. McLeod was able to make it to the bench but did not return for the remainder of the game.

An ensuing scuffle included a shoving match between Konrad Reeder and several Brahmas. Reeder was removed from the situation by Luke Sellars, who prevented an escalation. Reeder received two minutes for roughing. A.J. Gale served two minutes for delay of game (don't know what that was about). Landry, for his action was ejected from the game. He received a five minute Elbowing Major and a 10 minute Elbowing Game Misconduct. 22 seconds after play resumed, Grant Jacobsen was called for slashing. Although the penalty boxes were filled, there was no scoring in the ensuing power plays.

The Sundogs did manage a power play goal let in the period when Kim Karsberg netted his first goal of the season, cutting the Brahmas’ lead back to two with 65 seconds to play in regulation. Nick Biondo and Chris Bartolone were credited with the assist.

But the deficit was too much for the 'dogs to recover from and Jordan Cameron closed out the scoring with Klimkovich pulled in favor of an extra attacker with 12 seconds left to play to make it a 5-2 final.

For the third straight period, the Sundogs outshot the Brahmas, this time 12-8. They also outshot the Brahmas in the game 35-21 but the win belonged to the Bulls.

Joe Palmer made 33 saves on 35 shots and earned the win. His record goes to 7-3-2-1. Kyle McNulty made four saves on seven shots in 25:43 minutes played and takes the loss. His record goes to 2-7-1. Sergey Klimkovich, in his pro debut in relief, made 12 saves on 13 shots.

The Brahmas went 1 for 3 on the power play. Arizona went 2 for 12. The Brahmas were assessed 33 minutes on 15 infractions (yikes). Arizona was assessed 28 minutes on seven infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Arizona's Nick Biondo who had two assists in the game. The 2nd Star was awarded to Joe Palmer for his performance in net and the 1st Star went to Jordan Cameron for the hat trick.

You can view the box score
here

Observations:

  • Great performance from the short bench. The Brahmas have been decimated by injuries as of late. McLeod going down in the third left Luke Sellars, Tyrell Mason and Braden Walls alone on the blue line. They did a good job but were obviously exhausted late in the game. Justin Kinnunen was granted leave by the league on Thursday. Ross Rouleau has been out with an upper body injury. Craig Minard did not play for undisclosed reasons.
  • Heart of the Brahmas award goes to...Kevin McLeod. This guy has taken some brutal hits this year and just keeps coming back. 103 points (42 G, 61 A) as a Brahma thus far.
  • Jordan Cameron...28 points in 27 games. Leads the team in points, assists, power play assists and short-handed assists.
  • Will we see a game where Hiebert doesn't get into a fight or ejected or suspended? That's one tough kid.

The Brahmas make the long bus trip back home overnight and will get some much needed rest on Sunday before they begin preparing for the first game of the "North Texas Vintage Series" at Allen on Saturday.

Photo Credit: Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier

Friday, December 18, 2009


Sundogs goaltender Kyle McNulty eyes the puck as teammate Matt Biondo and Tyler Skworchinski close in

Brahmas lose 4-1 to Sundogs

Six game win streak snapped

Sometimes it's the team you least expect to up and whoop the Brahmas. The Arizona Sundogs did just that on Friday night at Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott Valley.

And here I was thinking they were going to have goaltending issues. More power to Kyle McNulty who was as solid in goal as he's ever been. And although the Brahmas came into the game with a 4-1 record against the Sundogs in the five previous meetings, Arizona has always been a tough opponent as many of you witnessed last week at the NYTEX Sports Centre. Let's hope the boys can recover and pull out a win tonight.

With the loss, the Brahmas record goes to 13-10-3 and they remain in fourth place in the Southern Conference; just one point behind the Laredo Bucks in third place. With the win, the Sundogs improve to 4-1-1 in their last six games and move into sixth place in the Southern Conference, leapfrogging the Amarillo Gorillas and Corpus Christi IceRays.

An early breakaway by Konrad Reeder gave the Sundogs a 1-0 lead at the 8:33 mark of the first period. Reeder snuck in behind the Texas defense before collecting a pass from Linus Fagemo. Reeder faked a backhand before slipping the puck past Brett Jaeger for the score. Chris Bartolone was also in on the assist.

Kevin Gardner made it 2-0 at the 15:50 mark after picking up a loose puck in the neutral zone. Cutting across the font of the crease, Gardner was able to tuck the puck under the outstretched leg of Jaeger, who did his best to block the shot from the side of the net. Chris Bartolone and Konrad Reeder were credited with the assist.

Jaeger would leave the game less than two minutes later after landing on the ice awkwardly while making a save.

The period ended with no further scoring. The Brahmas had the narrow 14-13 shot advantage but went to the visiting locker room down by two.

Arizona defenseman Jon Landry prevented a score on netminder Kyle McNulty and then moved the puck up the ice to Konrad Reeder, who sent a wrister past Joe Palmer's high glove side. Reeder's second score of the night gave the Sundogs a 3-0 lead at the 3:53 mark of the middle frame. Kevin Gardner assisted.

Anders Strome finally got the Brahmas on the board with a wraparound goal at the 13:47 mark; his fifth goal of the season. He was set up by Braden Walls and Scott Thauwald.

Arizona had the 15-13 shot advantage and the 3-1 lead heading into the second intermission.

Kevin Gardner closed out scoring with his second goal and third point of the night, splitting the Texas defense and lifting a backhand over the glove of Palmer with 6:15 to play in the game.

The Sundogs out shot the Brahmas 6-4 in the final frame and 34-31 in the game.

Brett Jaeger made 11 saves on 13 shots before leaving the game at the 17:36 mark of the first period. His record goes to 7-7-1 with the loss. Joe Palmer made 19 saves on 21 shots in relief. Kyle McNulty stopped 30 of 31 shots for his second win of the season (2-6-1).

The Brahmas went 0 for 6 on the power play. Arizona went 0 for 2. The Brahmas were assessed six minutes on three infractions. Arizona received 14 minutes on seven infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Kyle McNulty for his efforts in net. The 2nd Star was awarded to Kevin Gardner who had two goals and an assist and the 1st Star went to Konrad Reeder who also had two goals and an assist.

You can view the box score here

The two teams will face off again tomorrow night at 8:05pm CST. The game will be broadcast on CHL-TV. You can watch at Zuroma if you don’t want to pay for the live feed. You can also listen on Internet radio here

Photo Credit: Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier