Monday, December 28, 2009

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


• 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

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