Thursday, December 17, 2009

Insider Preview: Texas Brahmas @ Arizona Sundogs

Brahmas play two-game road series in Prescott Valley

The Texas Brahmas (13-9-3, 29 points) have completed the brutal 18-hour bus ride and are in Prescott Valley for a two-game series against the Arizona Sundogs (8-13-3, 19 points) at Tim’s Toyota Center. This will be the second and third games to be played between the two teams this season. The Brahmas won the first meeting in overtime, 3-2 on December 11th.

The two teams have only played five times before in their histories, with the Brahmas owning the series 4-1.

The Brahmas have won their last six games in a row (Allen, Bossier, Corpus Christi, Tulsa, Arizona and Tulsa) and are battling the Laredo Bucks (13-6-4, 30 points) in the standings for the number three spot in the Southern Conference.

The Brahmas are 5-5-3 on the road thus far this season. Arizona is 2-8-1 at home.

The Sundogs were defeated 4-1 on Wednesday night by the visiting Odessa Jackalopes. They are 3-2 in their last five games but have had a dismal time defending their home ice, losing the last four games played at the Tim’s Toyota Center. Their highlight at home was a 9-0 slaughter of the Laredo Bucks on November 4th.

The Sundogs took a big hit on Wednesday when they placed J.F. Perras (7-7-2) on Goaltender Injured Reserve. Perras sustained an injury mid way throughout the first frame of last Sundays’ game against the Tulsa Oilers. That leaves them with Kyle McNulty (1-6-1) and the just signed rookie, Sergey Klimkovich in net this weekend. That’s bad news against a resurgent Brahmas offense. Klimkovich, 23, who at 6’ 3” and 193 pounds takes up a lot of net, has spent parts of six seasons playing in Russia. He skated in the Sundogs training camp before being left off the final roster. McNulty is ranked 21st in the league with a 3.69 GAA and 23rd with a .871 save percentage.

Arizona’s top three scorers include Konrad Reeder (F) with 21 points (8 G, 13 A, +4), Torren Delforte (F) with 10 points (10 G, 10 A, 0) and Kevin Gardner (F) with 20 points (8 G, 12 A, -2). Defenseman Chris Bartolone is the leading home scorer with 12 points (2 G, 10 A, +3). Their leading defensive scorer is Jon Landry with 18 points (4 G, 14 A, +1).

Arizona’s top goons are forward Kyle Hood (63 PIM) and defenseman Mike Nesdill (56 PIM).

On special teams, the Sundogs have the number 13 power play with an 11.38 percentage (13th at home at 12.2%) and the number eight penalty kill with an 83.44 percentage (12th at home at 80.6%). They have scored two short-handed goals this season.

Who will get the start in net for Arizona? My guess is McNulty on Friday and Klimkovich on Saturday unless McNulty manages a win, but what do I know?

In addition to Perras, forwards Matt Foy, Cedric Bernier and Jason Visser are all out on injured reserve and not expected to play as of this writing.

The Brahmas top three scorers are Jordan Cameron (F) with 25 points (5 G, 20 A, +3), Grant Jacobsen (F) with 18 points (12 G, 6 A, 0) and Kevin McLeod (D) with 18 points (10 G, 8 A, -3). McLeod is also the Brahmas leading defensive scorer. Jacobsen is the Brahmas leading road warrior with 12 points (9 G, 3 A, -4).

On Special Teams, the Brahmas are ranked 14th in the league with a 10.90 percentage (12th on the road at 10.8%) and ninth on the penalty kill with an 82.72 percentage (seventh on the road at 84.7%). They remain tied with Tulsa for the league lead in short handed goals with seven.

Brett Jaeger (7-6-1) and Joe Palmer (6-3-2)are the eligible starters this weekend. Jaeger is currently 12th in the league with a 2.96 GAA and 18th with a .894 save percentage. Palmer is currently sixth in the league with a 2.54 GAA and ninth with a .912 save percentage. I’m not sure how they will be used in this weekends contests.

For the Brahmas, forward Jason Deitsch remains on the 30-day IR retroactive to November 20th. He is not expected to dress tonight. James Hiebert will not play on Friday due his three game league suspension but will be eligible to play on Saturday. Justin Kinnunen was granted leave by the league and will not play this weekend.

The games will begin on Friday and Saturday nights at 8:05pm CST and will be broadcast on CHL-TV. You can watch at Zuroma if you don’t want to pay for the live feed. You can listen on Internet radio

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

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