Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tyler Skworchinski celebrates his second goal of the night with Kevin McLeod


Brahmas take down the Oilers 5-2, re-take third place in the South

The Texas Brahmas defeated the Tulsa Oilers this afternoon at the NYTEX Sports Centre by a score of 5-2. It was a physical, sometimes violent contest but in the end, the home team prevailed and thanks to the Laredo Bucks' road loss to Odessa, the Brahmas moved back into third place in the Southern Conference with 47 points and a 21-17-5 record.

The building was pretty full with an attendance listed at 2,173 and the fans were treated to a very entertaining display of hometown hockey.

Tulsa got off to a fast start with a goal on only their second shot of the game. Jeff Gumaer (a Brahmas training camp attendee) took a feed from defenseman Adam Bartholomay and shot it past Brett Jaeger to make it a 1-0 game at the 1:59 mark.

After several minutes of play and nary a shot on the board for the home team, Dan Wildfong called a time out to converse with the boys. Or should I say loudly explain the difference between sh*t and Shinola? Suffice it to say, the team took to the ice with a new found motivation and it showed.

About a minute later, Tyler Skworchinski and his line mates Jason Deitsch and Jordan Cameron evened things up with Skworchinski’s team leading 15th goal of the season. Deitsch's pass from the end boards evaded former Brahma Derek Merlini and met up with Skworchinski's stick for a quick strike past Kevin Armstrong to make it a 1-1 game at the 8:50 mark.

Further motivated by the score, the Brahmas looked like a different team than we've seen of late; more like a team we were watching last spring.

With Rob Hisey on an extended call up to the AHL's Springfield Falcons, TJ Caig has been the dominant scoring threat for the Oilers. Caig had just finished a two-minute stint in the sin bin for Hooking when he emerged to rejoin play. 11 seconds later, with the assist coming from Aaron Davis and Dan Reidel, Caig backhanded a shot past Jaeger's stick side to take back the lead at the 12:45 mark.

It took the Brahmas’ top line nearly four-and-a-half minutes to respond, but when they did, Tyler Skworchinski sent his shot top shelf to tie the game up again at the 17:17 mark. Deitsch and Cameron had their second assists with the play and Skworchinski looked well on his way to a hat trick.

Ross Rouleau and Dan Reidel got into it briefly near the Brahmas’ net with 1:12
left in the period. I’m not sure what started it but Rouleau looked like he managed to pop Reidel in the chin once before the linesman broke them up. Both were sentenced to two minutes for Roughing.

The period ended with the score tied and the Oilers leading the shot count 14-8.

The physical play picked up in the middle frame with both teams showing their aggressive sides.

A scary moment came early in the frame when Nathan Perrott went down hard against the end boards in the Brahmas zone but he got up and shook it off and was ready for the following face-off.

Nearly half-way through the period, Ross Rouleau scored what would be the game-winning goal off a pass from James Hiebert at the 9:53 mark.

Towards the end of the period, with former Brahma Travis Banga in the box for Goalie Interference, Kevin McLeod added a power play goal with the assists coming from Jordan Cameron and Jason Deitsch at the 19:01 mark.

Shortly thereafter, a wild scene erupted near the Brahmas bench. I didn’t see exactly what started everything from my vantage point on the other side of the bench. I was under the impression that Justin Kinnunen received a pretty harsh check from behind by TJ Caig and retribution came from Grant Jacobsen and James Hiebert, who charged in late. Hiebert was subdued by Aaron Davis and Caig was rescued by the linemen but skated away with a bloody mouth.

As a result of the fracas, Caig was assessed two minutes for Roughing, a five minute Checking from Behind Major and a 10 minute No Category Game Misconduct. Jacobsen was given two minutes for Cross Checking and Hiebert was given a five minute Charging Major and a 10 minute No Category Game Misconduct. He is likely to face a league suspension for his part.

The period ended with the Brahmas narrowly leading the shot count 12-11 and a 4-2 lead.

The final frame opened more physical play coming from both sides. Oilers bad boy Thomas Harrison was corralled for Cross Checking 2:56 into the period and Derek Merlini was called for Tripping at the 4:28 mark, setting up a brief five-on-three opportunity for the Brahmas. Just brief enough. With the two-man advantage, the Brahmas’ special teams put up what would be the final score of the game. Brett Jaeger sent out a pass to Craig Minard, who worked the puck to Jordan Cameron. Cameron, who leads the team in scoring, made a quick move on Kevin Armstrong to secure the final score of 5-2 at the 4:56 mark.

The Brahmas remained in control of the ice for the remainder of the period, out shooting Tulsa 17-12 (the game would end with the shot count tied at 37). Tempers flared in the final minute of play and the two teams (who won’t meet again this season) settled their differences with another melee with 45 seconds remaining in the game.

Thomas Harrison (what’s wrong with that boy?) slashed Grant Jacobsen (I think) near the Brahmas net and then started going off. Meanwhile, Kevin McLeod and Adam Bartholomay went at it, well, lets say, McLeod opened a can of whoop ass on Bartholomay, with little resistance. Tyler Butler entered the fray, holding Jacobsen so he was unable to defend himself and Derek Eastman tried to enter late but Ross Rouleau took him aside.

I kept my sights on the McLeod/Bartholomay scene but matched the aftermath of the original fight as it broke up. Jacobsen looked a little worse for wear, and considering he really wasn’t able to defend himself, he came out OK. Jordan Cameron and Marty Standish emerged from the bottom of the pile but I’m not sure what their involvement was. Harrison was hauled away by a lineman and sent off to an early shower, raining expletives on Brahmas fans as he headed down the hallway.

As a result of the mini-brawl, Harrison was given two minutes for Slashing, a five minute Fighting Major and a 10 minute No Category Game Misconduct. McLeod and Bartholomay were each given two minutes for Roughing.

As if that all was not enough, Luke Sellars was sent off the ice with :04 seconds remaining and was assessed two minutes for Roughing (I didn’t see what happened). Sellars was hot, lunging towards some mouthy individuals on Tulsa’s bench before exiting.

All said and done, it was a great game for the Brahmas and for the fans in attendance.

Brett Jaeger made 35 saves on 37 shots and earned the win. His record goes to 10-10-1-1. Kevin Armstrong made 32 saves on 37 shots and takes the loss. His record goes to 11-8-1-1.

The Brahmas went two for seven on the power play. Tulsa went zero for seven. The Brahmas were assessed 37 minutes on 13 infractions. Tulsa received 48 minutes on 13infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Brett Jaeger for his performance in net. The 2nd Star was awarded to Tyler Skworchinski, who had two goals and the 1st Star went to Jordan Cameron who had a goal and three assists on the night.

You can view the box score

You can view my photos from the game
here and here

The Brahmas will begin preparing for a two game road trip next weekend. Friday night, they take on the Corpus Christi Ice Rays at the American Bank Center and on Saturday night, they travel to the CenturyTel Center for a match against the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Defenseman Todd Paul waived

Tyrell Mason activated from Injured Reserve

And that pretty much says it. Paul, 27, played 11 games with the Brahmas through the month of January, having joined the team on the second. He had two assists.

Mason was injured (left shoulder, I believe) on December 27th at NYTEX in a game against the Wichita Thunder. He was placed on the 30-day Injured Reserve shortly thereafter, retroactive to the 27th.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith
It all comes down to today

Re-loaded for a repeat? Brahmas either march or limp into the Playoffs

For the Texas Brahmas, today's contest against the Tulsa Oilers is the first game of the rest of the season. Never mind what happened last night or the night before or on Tuesday night before that. Are you going to tell me that Laredo and Rio Grande Valley have better teams? Are you going to tell me that the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs have the Heart & the Hustle and the Brahmas don't?

Are you going to tell me that because we don't have Scott Sheppard, Travis Banga, Brandon Benedict and Nathan Saunders here, we don't have the right pieces to the puzzle?

What, we're not getting the bounces? The refs are against us? The league doesn't want the Brahmas to repeat? Bull hockey! Enough with the excuses.

We have an outstanding group of young athletes assembled here in the form of the 2009-10 Texas Brahmas. We have two of the best coaches in the league, a tremendous support staff, sound ownership and a fan base to be proud of.

All of us old boys have an opinion on what needs to be done. But now it comes down to the boys on the ice. How much do they want it? How much do they care?

It all comes down to today.

I personally believe that this team has what it takes. I'll take this group of forwards, defensemen and these two young goaltenders over anything we've had in the past. Are they best team on paper? Maybe not. Have they kicked ass all over the ice like the Odessa Jackalopes have? Not even close. But is it over? Should we start feeling sorry for ourselves and reminisce about the sorry years at the Fort Worth Convention Center?

Has this team got some problems? Damn straight they do. Don't even ask Fonger to start listing them. Will there still be some personnel changes? Count on it. The boys know what to do. Now the question is, will they do it? Or are we all just wasting our time out here? Is it going to be easy? No. Can it be done? Yes. C'mon boys, push yourselves. There's only one reason you're playing. Defend that Cup!

In Fonger I trust and in the heart of these young men I believe. 'Nuff said. Now let's go watch some hometown hockey!

Like Old Bull said...just some thoughts on a cold Sunday morning.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Brahmas fall in Rio Grande Valley 6-3

Sixth straight road loss; 47-23 shot advantage no match for Wylie Rogers

The Texas Brahmas were defeated tonight in a 6-3 contest against the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees at the Dodge Arena in Hidalgo. Despite a 47-23 shot count, the Brahmas had a hell of a time against a magnificent Wylie Rogers, who stymied countless scoring opportunities.

Unfortunate fact: The Brahmas have not won on the road since December 19th at Arizona.

With the loss, the Brahmas record goes to 20-17-5; their road record to 6-12-4. Fortunately, Laredo was tossed at home by Corpus Christi, 6-3. The Bucks hold onto third place in the Southern Conference and remain tied with the Brahmas at 45 points. Rio Grande Valley maintains their hold on the fifth and final playoff berth with 42 points.

By the way, in case you've forgotten, Rio has defeated the Brahmas in all three meetings this year; twice at the Dodge Center and once in the shoebox. They've also scored five goals on the Brahmas in all three contests; outscoring Texas 15-7.

The Brahmas had an early five-on-three opportunity at the 2:52 mark of the first period but were unable to convert despite a strong attack on Wylie Rogers .

The Bees got off to a slow start, out shot 10-0 by the Brahmas, but their first shot of the game proved deadly. Jesse Bennefield came right down the middle on a breakaway, skated to the left hash marks, then cut to the right and fired his shot past Palmer on the glove side to make it 1-0 at the 8:29 mark. Nathan Ansell and Matt Sweazey were credited with the assist.

The Brahmas would answer less than three minutes later with their 13th short-handed strike of the season by Jordan Cameron; his second in as many nights. With Luke Sellars in the sin bin (Hooking), Cameron and Tyler Skworchinski quickly gained control of the puck passing it back and forth past Rio defenders. Cameron skated in and was able to thread the puck past Wylie Rogers for his unassisted tally at the 11:12 mark.

There would be no further scoring in the period which was dominated for the most part by the Brahmas, ending with a 10-17 shot advantage.

Texas began the second frame with :29 seconds on the man advantage courtesy of a late call on Jesse Bennefield (Hooking). Unable to convert again, the Brahmas were the victims of a heads up play by the Killer Bees, just after the five-on-five play resumed. Jesse Bennefield sent a pass to Aaron Lee who was able to fire his shot Palmer to make it 2-1 at the :41 second mark. Jay Hardwick was also credited with an assist.

Zak McClellan gave the Bees a two goal advantage with a power play goal at the 9:11 mark. With Todd Paul in the bin (Cross Checking), McClellan, set up by Aaron Lee and Sean Muncy, poked the puck just over the goal line on a wrap around attempt for the 3-1 lead.

Later in the period, the Brahmas got back into the game with a beautiful play by Matt Burto and Justin Kinnunen. Short-handed with Tyler Skworchinski (Roughing) in the box, Burto threaded the puck right in front of the crease for Kinnunen who swooped in like an eagle and fired his shot past Rogers to make it 3-2 at the 16:05 mark. Grant Jacobsen was also credited with the assist. It was the second short-handed strike of the night; the third in two nights and the 14th of the season for the Brahmas.

The period ended with the Brahmas on the power play after a Hooking call on Rio defenseman Mike Harr. The Killer Bees had a 10-9 shot advantage in the middle frame but a 20-26 deficit after 40 minutes.

After failing to score on the remaining power play to begin the third frame, the Brahmas attacked throughout the period, out shooting Rio 21-3. Jay Hardwick was called for Slashing at the :34 second mark and the Brahmas were able to tally a rare power play goal 32 seconds later.

Joe Palmer made 18 saves on 23 shots and takes the loss. His record goes to 11-7-4-3. Wylie Rogers made 44 saves on 47 shots and earns the win. His record goes to 8-6-2.

The Brahmas went one for 10 on the power play. Rio Grande Valley went two for 10. Both teams were assessed 22 minutes on 11 infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Aaron Lee, who had a goal and an assist. The 2nd Star was awarded to Jesse Bennefield, who had a goal and three assists and the 1st Star went to Wylie Rogers for a magnificent night in net for the Killer Bees.

You can view the box score

The Brahmas will make the long journey home overnight in order to prepare for tomorrow afternoon's game against the Tulsa Oilers at the NYTEX Sports Centre.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Brahmas fall in Laredo 3-1

Laredo scores three goals in three minutes; holds on for 3-1 win

The Texas Brahmas lost their fifth consecutive road game tonight in front of a crowd of 5,126 at the Laredo Entertainment Center. The Bucks scored all three of their goals within three minutes during the first period and never relinquished the lead. With the win, Laredo earned two points to tie the Brahmas with 45 points and with three games in hand, took over the third place slot in the Southern Conference.

If there's a positive to the night, Corpus Christi and Rio Grande Valley both lost tonight, keeping the Brahmas five points ahead of both Amarillo and Rio who are tied with 40 points for the fifth and final playoff berth.

The first period began with a battle for puck possession, with neither team holding on long enough to make anything happen. The Brahmas initially led the shot count, at one point 5-1. Nathan Perrott had an early opportunity when he found himself all alone skating in toward the Bucks' rookie goaltender Kevin Desfosses from along the right wall, but he took a bad-angle shot that Desfosses was able to stop easily.

Consecutive calls on Grant Jacobsen (hooking) and Jason Deitsch (Tripping) gave the Bucks a five-on-three opportunity for nearly a minute-and-a-half but the Tony PK was able to kill that and the five-on-four heading into the middle of the frame.

The second half of the period was a train wreck for the Brahmas with the Bucks scoring three goals in less than three minutes.

The first tally came shorthanded with Mike Looby in the box for Stick Holding. Todd Griffith picked up a loose puck at center ice and skated in on a two-on-one with Darryl Smith. Griffith kept the puck and sent in a backhander past Joe Palmer at the 16:45 mark to give Laredo the 1-0 lead.

Unfortunate statistic #1: Laredo is 13-3-4 when scoring first this season.

77 seconds later, the Bucks took a 2-0 lead when Eric Giosa picked up a loose puck at center and skated in, taking a shot on Palmer. Neil Trimm picked up a long rebound and sent it in past Palmer, who left a lot of net exposed. Robin Richards was also credited with the assist.

Jordan Cameron got the Brahmas on the board 58 seconds later with a shorthanded tally after Elias Godoy was sent to the sin bin on an Interference call. Cameron got a break on a mistake by the rookie goaltender, picking up the puck sent out by Desfosses after a shot by Tyler Skworchinski. Cameron backhanded it through the five hole to make it a 2-1 game. It was the league-leading 12th short-handed tally for the Brahmas this season.

Unfortunately, the Brahmas had no time to build on the momentum of Cameron's score. With Godoy still in the penalty box, Todd Griffith took a pass from Eric Giosa and skated the outside of the near circle before sending in a wrister past Palmer for his second of the night and a 3-1 lead for the Bucks.

Laredo led the shot count 16-11 in the first period and sent the Brahmas to the locker room, down by two goals.

The Brahmas got an early power play opportunity just eight seconds into the middle frame with the Bucks' Curtis Billsten called for High Sticking. Laredo's penalty killer stopped the Brahmas from converting on the first of two man-advantages for Texas in the period. The Brahmas would give the Bucks four power play opportunities in the period with calls on Luke Sellars (Hooking), Ross Rouleau (Unsportsmanlike Conduct), Nathan Perrott (High Sticking) and Jordan Cameron (Cross Checking) but managed to kill all four.

Shots were even in the second at 11 each. Both rookie goaltenders got the opportunity to display their prowess in net, stopping all shots faced. Palmer got lucky late in the period when a shot hit the crossbar. The Bucks thought it caught net but it was quickly waived off by the officials.

After 40 minutes, the Bucks led the shot count 27-22 and took their 3-1 lead into the locker room for the second intermission.

Unfortunate statistic #2: Laredo is 14-0-3 when leading after two periods.

Neither team was able to score in the third. The Brahmas kept up a strong attack and led the shot count 16-6 but were unable to beat Desfosses again. The Bucks' special teams were able to kill off a four-minute power play and a two-minute five-on-three Brahmas advantage and held on to their lead for the win. The final shot count was 38-33, Brahmas - about the only advantage they had tonight.

Joe Palmer made 30 saves on 33 shots and takes the loss. His record goes to 11-6-4-3. Kevin Desfosses made 37 saves on 38 shots and earns the win. His record goes to 4-1-0 with Laredo (He was 3-5-0 with Corpus Christi prior to joining the Bucks).

The Brahmas went zero for 11 on the power play. Laredo went one for 10. Both teams were assessed 20 minutes on ten infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Neil Trimm, who scored the game winning goal. The 2nd Star was awarded to Kevin Desfosses for his performance in net and the 1st Star went to Todd Griffith, who had two goals on the night.

You can view the box score

The Brahmas continue their road trip on Saturday, travelling to Hidalgo to take on the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Brahmas fall in in Bossier City 4-2

Mudbugs score three unanswered in second period

The Brahmas road game woes continued tonight in another I-20 showdown with the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs. In front of a sparse Tuesday night crowd at the CenturyTel Center, the Mudbugs took control of the game in the second period, opening with two goals in 37 seconds and never gave up the lead thereafter.

With the loss, the Brahmas record goes to 20-15-5, good enough to retain sole possession of third place in the Southern Conference for at least two more days until they meet the Laredo Bucks on Friday. With Mississippi's loss today, the Mudbugs retain sole possession of third place in the North at least until Thursday.

The Mudbugs came out very strong on their first shift, putting pressure on Brett Jaeger from the outset. In fact they had most of the offense in the opening minutes but it was Jason Deitsch who provided the first score of the game after stealing the puck from Neil Clark. Deitsch, skating to the outside of the right circle sent a shot past John DeCaro, unassisted at the 4:05 mark.

The Brahmas took the momentum off the score, out shooting the Mudbugs 17-10 in the period (at one time 13-5), but were unable to beat DeCaro again. They managed to kill off three consecutive power plays and the first frame ended with the Brahmas up 1-0.

The second period was (almost) all Mudbugs with two scores in 37 seconds (their first two shots) to start off the period and three unanswered in 20 minutes.

The first score came on special teams with David Pszenyczny in the box for Tripping at the :45 mark. Joe Blaznek scored an unassisted tally 89 seconds later after stealing the puck at the blue line. Skating up between the circles, Blaznek paused momentarily, putting the fake on Jaeger and then sent it in on the stick side for the equalizer at the 2:14 mark.

Seconds after Pszenyczny left the box, Brett Smith took possession of the puck on the right wing side and found Joe Ori at the back door. Ori was able to feed the the puck to defenseman Simon Mangos who backhanded his shot past Jaeger for the 2-1 lead at the 2:51 mark.

The Mudbugs kept the pressure up, outshooting the Brahmas 6-1 through the first half of the middle frame and then finally notching their third straight score at the 11:46 mark. David Rutherford took a feed from Justin Aikins and made his way around a Brahmas defender, who may have partially screened Jaeger as Rutherford sent in his shot top shelf on the stick side to make it 3-1 Mudbugs. Mark Johnson was also credited with the assist.

The Brahmas were down, but not out and Jordan Cameron put the bulls back on the board less than a minute later after receiving a beautiful pass from Tyler Skworchinski who was stationed behind the Mudbugs net. Skworchinski looked like he might go for a wrap around when he fed Cameron and DeCaro was unable to stop the shot and just like that, the Brahmas were back within a goal at the 12:41 mark.

The Mudbugs out shot the Brahmas 12-7 in the second period and outside of those two goals early on, Jaeger was very sharp, stopping several solid opportunities. After 40 minutes the Brahmas had a 24-22 shot lead but were down 3-2 heading into the second intermission.

The Brahmas battled throughout the final period but were unable to score. With 1:16 remaining and Brett Jaeger pulled in favor of the extra attacker, the Mudbugs scored on the empty net almost immediately. Joe Blaznek, assisted by Brett Smith and Joe Ori, took the puck up the ice and gently placed the puck across the goal line to seal the win with 1:04 remaining in the game.

Brett Jaeger made 24 saves on 27 shots and takes the loss. His record goes to 9-10-1-1. John DeCaro made 28 saves on 30 shots and earns the win. His record goes to 12-8-1.

The Brahmas went zero for three on the power play. Bossier-Shreveport went zero for five. The Brahmas were assessed 10 minutes on five infractions; the Mudbugs received six minutes on three infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Jason Deitsch who had one goal tonight. The 2nd Star was awarded to Joe Blaznek who had two goals and the 1st Star went to David Rutherford, who scored the game-winning goal.

You can view the box score

The Brahmas continue their road trip on Friday when they visit the Laredo Bucks and on Saturday, they continue on to Hidalgo to take on the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees.

Photo Credit: Mike McClure

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Kevin McLeod, just back from the Springfield Falcons (AHL) scored the game winning goal

Brahmas defeat Corpus Christi in shootout thriller

Jaeger magnificent, McLeod settles contest in first game back

No matter how you look at it, this was one of the best defensive battles of the season with two stellar performances in net. Thankfully, the Texas Brahmas came out on top with a 1-0 shootout victory over the Corpus Christi Ice Rays tonight at the NYTEX Sports Centre.

The Brahmas made a 180 degree turnaround from last night's effort, playing hard for 60 minutes against an equally strong and motivated Ice Rays team.

The shot count per period went this way - 8-5 Brahmas in the first, 13 all in the second, 11-10 Brahmas in the third and 9-1 Corpus Christi in overtime. Kyle Peto and Ryan Garbutt led the Ice Rays in shots with six each. Tyler Skworchinski and Jason Deitsch led the Brahmas in shots with five each.

In the shootout, Corpus Christi's fourth shooter, Chris Richards became the only man to solve Brett Jaeger all night. The Brahmas' second shooter, Jordan Cameron was the first to solve Nastiuk and it was the prodigal Kevin McLeod, who won the game as the fifth and final shooter, sending the puck over the shoulder of Kevin Natiuk.

With the win, the Brahmas' record goes to 20-14-5 with 45 points, keeping them in third place in the Southern Conference. They remain two points ahead of Laredo and 12 points behind Allen.

It was the Ice Rays' fifth straight shootout loss this season. Still, they take home three out of a possible four points in two games, their best showing against the Brahmas in years. They remain tied with Rio Grande Valley for sixth place in the conference with 38 points.

Brett Jaeger made 37 saves on 37 shots and earns the win. His record goes to 9-9-1-1. Kevin Nastiuk made 33 saves on 33 shots and takes the shootout loss. His record goes to 11-10-4-3. Each are awarded shutouts for their efforts.

The Brahmas went zero for five on the power play. Corpus Christi went zero for nine. The Brahmas were assessed 18 minutes on nine infractions; the Ice Rays received 10 minutes on five infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Kevin Nastiuk for his performance in goal tonight. The 2nd Star was awarded to Brett Jaeger for the same reason and the 1st Star went to Kevin McLeod, who scored the game-winning goal.

You can view the box score

The Brahmas begin a three-game road-trip on Tuesday when they take on the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs at the CenturyTel Center. On Friday, the Brahmas visit the Laredo Bucks and on Saturday, they take on the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees in Hidalgo, Texas.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith (Disclaimer: photo not from tonight's game)

Marv's back!

Expected to play tonight against Corpus Christi

Well, so much for my Where's Waldo search last night. Apparently Kevin McLeod is back and will be dressed for tonight's game against the Ice Rays.

McLeod was called up to the Springfield Falcons (AHL) on January 5th and played in five games.

In 26 games with the Brahmas this season, he has tallied 20 points (9 G, 11 A,) and 34 penalty minutes.

In other transaction news, Corpus Christi has activated Chad Woollard who was serving a one-game league suspension. Also, former Brahma Travis Banga has signed with the Tulsa Oilers.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ryan Garbutt's first goal of the night bounced in after hitting the crossbar, but somehow the goal judge didn't see it

Ice Rays dominate the Brahmas, win 6-2

Garbutt, Richards lead Corpus Christi juggernaut

A great game - if you're an Ice Rays fan. Out played from the start, the Texas Brahmas were soundly defeated in a 6-2 contest by the boys from Corpus Christi. It was the first time that an Ice Rays team has defeated Dan Wildfong's Brahmas (previously 0-8-2) and the first victory for Brent Hughes against the Brahmas since the final game of the 2007-08 regular season (at Austin).

I'd call it the second best performance by the Ice Rays I've witnessed this season. OK, so I've only seen them twice - tonight and on November 7th, when they spoiled the Allen Americans home opener with a 4-1 win. Despite the score, Allen put up much more of a fight than we saw tonight at the NYTEX Sports Centre.

Dan Wildfong spoke to The Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Travis Brown after the game.

"Ninety percent of it was on our 'D’ tonight," Wildfong said. "Our goaltender, for the most part, made his saves, rebounds kicked out. Empty net goals or break-away goals, we can’t give up those chances. That’s not how you win championships."

With the loss, the Brahmas' record goes to 19-14-5 with 43 points. Colorado beat the Laredo Bucks 6-4 tonight (things are tough all over), so the Brahmas remain in third place in the Southern Conference, two points ahead of the Bucks.

Despite the win, Corpus Christi (16-17-5, 37 points) was stymied by Amarillo's overtime win over the Americans, putting the Ice Rays in seventh place, but just one point behind the Gorillas and the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees.

In front of a sold out crowd of 2,444, the Brahmas had a lackluster start to the game, with just seven shots in the first frame.

The Ice Rays scored first when Ryan Garbutt's shot hit the crossbar and then went into the back of the net. Somehow, the goal judge either didn't see it or didn't think it was a score from her vantage point. I was surprised that there was little reaction when Joe Palmer swept the bouncing puck back out of the crease and play resumed. Little reaction except from Brent Hughes who vociferously motioned for a ruling on an initially waved off goal. After conferring with the the goal judge and his linesmen, referee Geoff Miller ruled in Corpus Christi's favor and officially, we had a 1-0 game at the 5:27 mark. Morgan MacLean and Rob Jarvis were credited with the assist.

A Hooking call on Nathan Perrott led to another Ice Ray's score less than a minute later. Justin Quenneville's first shot was stopped by Palmer, but a second effort with Palmer out of position was successful and Corpus Christi took a 2-0 lead at the 6:12 mark. Steven Later and Chad Costello assisted.

A mini-scuffle broke out at the 12:20 mark when Jason Deitsch crashed into Ice Rays goalie Kevin Nastiuk. Surrounded by four of his teammates, Nastiuk put the pookie on Deitsch, smacking him in the face with a left before Deitsch was pulled out of further harm's way by the linesmen. Both were assessed two minutes for Roughing.

Todd Paul took an inadvertent stick to the ear a couple of minutes later and had to come off the ice for treatment but was able to continue playing.

There would be no more scoring in the period and the Brahmas went to the locker room out shot 12-7, down by two and with a very displeased Dan Wildfong in tow.

The Brahmas made a better effort in the second frame but nothing seemed to go their way. Have I mentioned yet how the on-ice officials were all over the home team, while seeming to turn a blind eye to Corpus Christi's various infractions. Had to feel good for Brent Hughes but I'm sure a number of Brahmas fans lost their voices after numerous "Hey ref, you suck" chants.

Nathan Perrott earned an early exit at the 8:48 mark for going after Jason Tessier during a little sideshow in the right corner of the Ice Rays' zone. I couldn't tell how it all started but it appeared that Justin Kinnunen was being molested by an Ice Rays defenseman and Perrott came in late and for whatever reason kept swinging at Tessier. I didn't see it but I was told he also "placed jis hands" on a linesman. Then, to make matters worse, he lost his cool in the sin bin and broke his stick in anger. In the end, Perrott was given two minutes for Roughing, two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct, a 10 minute Abuse of Officials Misconduct (Rule 40) and a 10 minute Abuse of Officials Game Misconduct (Rule 40). Can you say suspension (in my best Mr. Rogers voice)? Let's hope it doesn't come to that. Unfortunate.

Meanwhile the Ice Rays, who kept their focus on the game, scored twice more in the period. The first came from Morgan MacLean, who made his way around Todd Paul and faked out Palmer, hitting the back of the net at the 11:35 mark. Adam Powell and Chris Mei were in on the assist.

Less than five minutes later, it was Chris Richards who made nearly the same shot as MacLean, hitting the back of the net to Palmer's right side at the 16:30 mark. Ryan Bennett and Ryan Garbutt were credited with the assist.

The Brahmas actually led the shot count 13-8 in the middle frame but were unable to solve Kevin Nastiuk, who was having a stellar performance thus far. Sots were even at 20 through 40 minutes and the Ice Rays had a comfortable 4-0 lead heading into the break.

An interference call on Elias Godoy 1:43 into the third period set up Chris Richards' second strike of the night with the assist coming from Jason Tessier and Kyle Peto. This one looked done with a silent crowd in the shoebox. But the Brahmas continued to battle in what seemed like a fruitless situation.

James Hiebert ended Nastiuk’s bid for a shutout when he took a feed from Elias Godoy and sent the puck in at the 9:30 mark. Craig Minard, fresh back from the Injured Reserve, was also credited with the assist.

The Brahmas made it a 5-2 game at the 17:31 mark thanks to a power play opportunity provided by a Roughing call on Jereme Tendler. This time it was Godoy, from Tyler Skworchinski and Ross Rouleau for the score.

But Corpus Christi wasn't finished with this beat down and less than a minute later, Ryan Garbutt put the final nail in the coffin with his second strike at the 18:29 mark, assisted by Chris Richards and Jason Tessier.

Easily, the worst performance by the Brahmas at NYTEX this season. But hey, good for the Ice Rays who finally got the monkey off their back with their first win against the Brahmas in 1,441 days or February 11, 2006 (according to Rajan). As for the home team, there's always tomorrow, isn't here?

Joe Palmer made 27 saves on 33 shots and takes the loss. His record goes to 11-5-4-3. Kevin Nastiuk made 24 saves on 26 shots and earns the win. His record goes to 11-10-3-2.

The Brahmas went one for five on the power play. Corpus Christi went two for nine. The Brahmas were assessed 44 minutes on 14 infractions; the Ice Rays received 16 minutes on eight infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Kevin Nastiuk for his performance in goal tonight. The 2nd Star was awarded to Chris Richards, who had two goals and an assist and the 1st Star went to Ryan Garbutt, who also had two goals and an assist.

You can view the box score

You can view my game photos


  • I still don't get the confusion on the first goal by Garbutt. Nobody seemed to react to what I saw as an obvious goal. Palmer swept the puck out of the crease making it appear that the puck hit the crossbar and then bounced into the crease, giving him the opportunity to clear it out. Was everybody looking away at the same time? How could three on-ice officials and a goal judge not see that?
  • I wish I had a better vantage point on the Perrott situation. I could see him going at Tessier again and again (to the point where it was obvious he was going to get tossed, I thought) but I didn't see him manhandle the linesman who was trying to break the two up. Tessier must have said something to really send him over the edge.
  • I didn't want to go near the Brahmas locker room after the game but I did get to spend some time with Brent Hughes, who was obviously pleased with his team's performance tonight. I didn't take the opportunity to speak with Hughes last season, which I regretted; but it was nice to reminisce with him tonight about the Ice Bats and the old days at the Luedecke Arena (where I saw my first CHL games in 1997).
  • Spent a little time with Chad Woollard as well. Woollard was serving his one game suspension for abuse of an official and he was happy to see the calls going their way for once.
  • Understatement coming next. It was more than a rough night for Joe Palmer who let in a season high six goals. Can't put all the blame on Joe's shoulders though; he didn't exactly get any help from the defense. He'll bounce back though, no doubt about it. With the loss, Palms moves down a notch to number four in the league with a 2.58 GAA and three notches to number six with a .917 save percentage.
  • Can't confirm or deny the reported sighting of Kevin McLeod in the building tonight and I didn't get a chance to ask anyone who would know. He was listed as a healthy scratch in tonight's 3-2 loss to the Norfolk Admirals. I'll keep this one filed under "rumors" for now.

The Brahmas will lick their wounds and get ready for game two against the Ice Rays on Saturday night. The game starts at 7:05pm and will be broadcast on CHL-TV for people like me who can't be there - Happy 2nd Birthday, Corynn!

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Vote for your Brahmas Texas Tornado alumni

Vogel, Deitsch up for hall of fame induction

The 2009-10 NAHL Texas Tornado hockey season is also the 10 year anniversary of the Tornado franchise.

As you probably know, the Brahmas currently have two Tornado alumni with the team. Assistant coach Ron Vogel backstopped 48 games during the 1999-00 season and had a 2.22 GAA and a .925 save percentage. Jason Deitsch played in 92 games during the 1999-00 and 2000-01 seasons. He tallied 131 points (58 G, 73 A) and 260 penalty minutes during his time there.

Both are up for induction in the Texas Tornado Hall of Fame. The franchise has nominated 27 alumni. Fans are able to vote for their favorite 10 alumni to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

The nominees will be highlighted at home games throughout the season. Fan voting is open online and will continue through Saturday February 6, 2010. The inductees will be honored at the Saturday, March 20th home game.

Take a minute to visit the Tornado website for more information
here and cast your vote here

Image: Credit: Texas Tornado Hockey Club
Kolanos shipped off to Tulsa

Third year forward traded for future considerations

The Brahmas sent forward Mark Kolanos to Tulsa in exchange for future considerations, it was reported today. Kolanos had 10 points (5 G, 5 A, +2) and six penalty minutes in 14 games with the Brahmas and had his best game in the purple and black on December 12 against the Oilers; recording a pair of goals and an assist in the 4-1 victory in Tulsa. On special teams, he registered three power play goals and two power play assists.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith
Mark your calendars!

Brahmas Ladies Hockey 101 set for February 9th

The Texas Brahmas will hold their annual Ladies Hockey 101 event at the NYTEX Sports Centre from 6-9pm. It's $25 per person (ages 15 and older, please) and includes dinner and refreshments.

This is a great opportunity to learn more about the game, to see the locker room, meet the players and coaches and win some prizes. Don't miss out.

Registration info can be found here

Photo Credit: Yeah, I don't remember where I got the photo

Monday, January 18, 2010

Bye-Bye Billy

McCreary waived today

Defenseman Billy McCreary was placed on waivers today according to His stay was short-lived but at least he contributed to two winning efforts by the Brahmas.

McCreary will head back to Alabama to rejoin the Huntsville Havoc (SPHL) who are currently in first place in the league with a 21-4 record.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Oakley/CHL Player of the Week

Godoy honored with league award

The Central Hockey League announced today that the recipient of the Oakley/CHL Player of the Week (for the period ending January 17) is Brahmas forward Elias Godoy.

On Friday night, Godoy netted a goal and a pair of assists in the 4-3 victory over the Tulsa Oilers. All points came off the Brahmas power play. The West Vancouver, BC native continued his hot streak Saturday when he tallied two goals and a helper when Texas hosted the Arizona Sundogs in a 6-4 win.

Godoy is averaging a point a game (5 G, 11 A) since signing with the Brahmas on November 18th.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Net minder Doug Groenestege gave up six goals in his debut with the Sundogs

Brahmas win again!

Defeat Sundogs 6-4 at NYTEX; Perrott has goal and assist

A trio of early strikes by the Texas Brahmas provided the momentum needed to defeat the Arizona Sundogs in a 6-4 contest tonight at the NYTEX Sports Centre.

With the win, the Brahmas improved to 19-13-5 with 43 points. They remain in third place in the Southern Conference, seven points behind Allen and four points ahead of Laredo.

The Brahmas took an early 1-0 lead Saturday night with Elias Godoy connecting for his fourth of the season from James Hiebert and Jason Deitsch. Arizona goalie Doug Groenestege left the crease to play the puck allowing Godoy to convert on a Hiebert centering feed from behind the cage at the 1:16 mark.

The two teams went back and forth without scoring until Torren Delforte circled out of the offensive zone and left a pass for Chris Bartolone near center ice before re-entering the zone and shelving a wrist shot over the glove of Joe Palmer from the near circle with just 45 seconds left in the period. It was the first of four assists for Bartolone on the night.

Arizona had the 11-10 shot lead in the first frame and the game was left tied at one as the period ended.

Matt Burto reclaimed a one-goal lead for the Brahmas with his sixth goal of the season at the :19 second mark with a little help from Justin Kinnunen and Tyler Skworchinski.

The Brahmas took a 3-1 lead with AJ Gale’s marker at the 4:47 mark. Elias Godoy and Ross Rouleau were credited with the assist.

Later in the period, Godoy combined with Hiebert and Deitsch for his second goal of the night and a 4-1 Brahmas lead at the 13:05 mark.

32 seconds later, Kevin Garner caught Joe Palmer off guard and sent in a pass from Chris Bartolone to cut the Texas lead to two.

A scary moment for Arizona forward Torren Delforte came after he took a shoulder in the face from (I believe) Luke Sellars. It was a clean hit, but Delforte got his bell rung and fell flat on his back and needed a couple of minutes (and some sniffers) before he got his legs under him and was able to make it back to the bench.

Arizona had an 11-9 shot advantage in the second and a 22-19 advantage shots after 40 minutes of play, but trailed heading into the second intermission.

The Brahmas Texas stretched their lead to 5-2 just six seconds into the third period as Nathan Perrott netted his second goal since joining the team. Arizona defenseman Mike Nesdill slipped after a period-opening face off win by Rob Lehtinen, allowing Perrott to converge on the loose puck, firing a slap shot stick side past Groenestege from the top of the near circle. Just like that, everyone in the house got free chicken and a haircut - thanks, sponsors!

Grant Jacobsen pushed the lead to 6-2 at the third period’s 2:01 mark, slipping a rebound past Groenestege as the net minder lost his stick on the initial save. Perrott and AJ gale assisted.

Arizona battled back and managed a pair of power play tallies, the first coming on a 5-on-3 opportunity with Matt Burto (Board Checking) and Luke Sellars (Cross Checking) in the box. Defenseman John Landry, off the set-up from Chris Bartolone and Konrad Reeder, blasted a slap shot past Joe Palmer from between the circles to make it a 6-3 game at the 14:51 mark.

Still on the man-advantage, Konrad Reeder scored on a feed from from Kevin Gardner and Chris Bartolone at the 16:18 mark to make it a 6-4 contest.

Although they were out shot 20-8 in the final frame, the Brahmas and Palmer were able to weather the pressure, holding on for the win with Groenestege pulled in favor of an extra attacker in the closing minute of the game.

Things got ugly at the end after Konrad Reeder threw an elbow into Elias Godoy's head, eliciting a strong response from Luke Sellars. After a melee broke out, Reeder copped two minutes for the elbow and Sellars received a four-minute Double Roughing Minor, a five-minute Fighting Major, a two Minute Fighting (Instigator) and a 10-minute No Category Game Misconduct. A rabid Linus Fagemo had to be man-handled (maybe the wrong term for a guy named Fagemo) by Nathan Perrott after he tried to come to Reeder's aid. Godoy looked pretty shook up after the incident. No word on his condition.

Joe Palmer made 38 saves on 42 shots and earned the win. His record goes to 11-4-4-3. Doug Groenstege made 21 saves on 27 shots and took the loss, his first as a Sundog. That makes two goalie debuts in a row ruined by the Brahmas.

The Brahmas went zero for four on the power play. Arizona went two for eight. The Brahmas were assessed 33 minutes on 11 infractions; the Sundogs received 10 minutes on five infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game went to AJ Gale, who had a goal and an assist. The 2nd Star was awarded to Elias Godoy who had two goals and an assist and the 1st Star went to Nathan Perrott who had a goal and an assist and was in general, a badass on the ice.

You can view the box score here

You can view my photos from the game
here and here

The Brahmas get a day off to rest before spending the week preparing for a two-game set against the Corpus Christi Ice Rays on Friday and Saturday nights. Friday is Youth Jersey Night; the first 1000 kids 12 and under will receive a free Brahmas youth jersey.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Jordan Cameron's CHL All-Star sweater up for bid on eBay

Game-worn auction ends on January 26th

OK, so here's your chance to bid on an authentic game-worn CHL All-Star sweater worn by Jordan Cameron during last Wednesday's 2010 CHL All-Star Game in Laredo, Texas. It's a 10-day auction and the bidding starts at $200.00 with a $16 shipping fee.

The other players' sweaters are also up for auction. You can view all the auctions here.

Photo Credit: Laredo Bucks

Friday, January 15, 2010

Brett Jaeger earned his 100th win as a professional tonight against Tulsa

Brahmas win close one at NYTEX; defeat Oilers 4-3

Four power-play goals highlight Brahmas night

The Texas Brahmas special teams erupted tonight with four power play goals resulting in a 4-3 win over the Tulsa Oilers. Jason Deitsch tallied a pair of goals and an assist and Brett Jaeger earned his 100th professional win in front of a sell out crowd at the NYTEX Sports Centre.

With the win, the Brahmas record goes to 18-13-5 (12-4-1 at home) keeping them entrenched in third place in the Southern Conference, seven points behind Allen and two points ahead of Laredo.

It was a very physical game with the Brahmas delivering some wicked checks. Things took an ugly turn just :13 seconds in when Texas tough guy Nathan Perrott was called for Roughing penalty (after roughing up TJ Caig in front of the Brahmas net), The Oilers responded with a power play goal seven seconds later when Dan Riedel worked the puck past Brett Jaeger to make it a 1-0 game. Aaron Davis and TJ Caig assisted. It was the only lead Tulsa would enjoy in the game.

Thomas Harrison takes a beating from Nathan Perrott and lives to tell about it

At the 6:09 mark Perrott and Thomas Harrison got into it after what I thought was a collision with Grant Jacobsen sent Harrison hard onto the ice. I'm not sure how the bout started but you can bet Harrison took the worst of it, although Perrott would leave the ice with a bloodied ear. Remarkably, both only received five-minute Fighting Majors. You have to hand it to Harrison for taking on Perrott where others merely wet their pants and apologized.

Things went back and forth for a while until the Brahmas special teams capitalized on a tripping call on our old friend Rick Kozak. This time, it was Jason Deitsch (who was tripped by Kozak) who beat Oilers goalie Trevor Cann to tie the game up at one at the 14;50 mark. Justin Kinnunen and Jordan Cameron were credited with the assist.

The Brahmas led the shot count 12-7 in the first frame.

Ice juggler Albert Lucas entertained the crowd during the first intermission. Dan Wilfong, Jordan Cameron and Brett Jaeger all had family from out of town in the house tonight.

A Hooking call on Marty Standish carried over to the beginning of the middle frame and it didn't take long for the Brahmas to score another special teams goal. James Hiebert and Justin Kinnunen set up a shot by Elias Godoy, who used some of his fancy stick handling ability to beat Trevor Cann to make it 2-1 at the 39 second mark.

Later in the period, Marty Standish was sent to the sin bin for a four-minute double-minor for Roughing and Unsportsmanlike Conduct. It took just 10 seconds for Jason Deitsch to score his second power play goal of the night with a little help from Elias Godoy and Todd Paul.

Tulsa had a 9-8 lead in shots, but the Brahmas took the 3-1 lead into the locker room after 40 minutes.

The Standish penalty carried over into the third period and once again, a quick strike by the special teams put another point on the board for the Brahmas. This time is was James Hiebert who put a move on Trevor Cann to make it a 4-1 game. Jason Deitsch and Elias Godoy were in on the assist.

The 303 Rowdies were smelling chicken, but the Oilers would spoil things with a pair of strikes on Brett Jaeger that would appear to change the course of the game.

Former Brahma Derek Merlini sent a pass to fellow defenseman Adam Bartholomay who found the back of the Brahmas net at the 5:02 mark to make it a 4-2 game. Then, just 90 seconds later, Dan Riedel was set up by Aaron Davis and TJ Caig and with the flick of the wrist, Reidel's shot went past Jaeger to make it a one point game.

The Oilers continued the attack but Jaeger kept his cool and made some incredible saves. Bruce Ramsey pulled Cann in favor of the extra attacker with a minute left in the game. A Board Checking call on Ross Rouleau at the 19:26 mark gave Tulsa a two-man advantage for 13 seconds until Marty Standish was called for Goalie Interference. The Brahmas and Jaeger were able to fend off the continuing Oilers attack and the game would end with the home team getting the win and the two points.

Brett Jaeger made 27 saves on 30 shots and earned the win, his 100th as a pro. His record goes to 8-9-1. Trevor Cann made 25 saves on 29 shots and took the loss, his first as an Oiler.

The Brahmas went four for seven on the power play. Tulsa went one for six. The Brahmas were assessed 17 minutes on seven infractions; the Oilers received 21 minutes on nine infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Mark Kolanos according to Pointstreak, but I heard an Oilers player's name last night (pretty sure it was TJ Caig, who had two assists). The 2nd Star was awarded to Elias Godoy who had a goal and two assists and the 1st Star went to Jason Deitsch who had two goals and an assist.

You can view the box score

You can view my photos from the game here

The Brahmas will host the Arizona Sundogs (13-9-3, 29 points) tomorrow night. Arizona took a 5-4 road loss against Amarillo tonight, snapping a four-game win streak. The game starts at 7:05pm - be there!

Photo Credits: Robert Keith

Brahmas add McCreary to blue line

Defenseman called up from SPHL; Rouleau, Kinnunen, Godoy back

The Texas Brahmas have signed defenseman Bill McCreary to assist with their depleted blue line. The 5’ 10”, 175-pound native of Howell, Michigan has played for the Huntsville Havoc for the past three seasons.

This season, he has tallied 22 points (4 G, 18 A) and 71 penalty minutes in 26 games played. He currently leads the SPHL in +/- with a +19 and is 2nd in scoring among all SPHL defensemen.

McCreary played two years of junior hockey with the NAHL’s Texas Tornado (2001-2003). In 98 games played, he scored 116 points (45 G, 71 A) with 292 penalty minutes.

During two seasons at Providence College (NCAA), McCreary tallied 27 points (13 G, 14 A) and 101 penalty minutes in 71 games. His teammates included former Texas Brahmas David Cacciola and Eric Lundberg. He transferred to Curry College (NCAA), where he played in 38 games from 2005-2007 where he scored 57 points (21 G, 36 A). He led the team in scoring in 2006-07 with 41 points.

McCreary went professional at the end of the 2006-07 season and played in seven regular season and two post-season contests. In 2007-08, he tallied 25 points in 49 games (3 G, 22 A) before being called up to the New Mexico Scorpions where he played in the final three regular season games and in six post-season contests.

Last season with the Havoc, he had his best season as a professional, scoring 34 points (6 G, 28 A) with 177 penalty minutes.

Bill has a family history of hockey player starting with his Grandfather Bill McCreary Sr., Great Uncle Keith McCreary (Bill McCreary Sr.'s younger brother) and Father Bill McCreary Jr. who had both played in the National Hockey League (NHL). Also another Bill McCreary, Bill McCreary Sr. nephew, is a referee in the NHL as well as his son Mike McCreary who referees minor league hockey. He is also related to father and son Ron Attwell and Bob Attwell who both also played in the NHL.

In other transaction news, Ross Rouleau is back from his recent trip to the AHL and both Justin Kinnunen and Elias Godoy have been taken off the Injured Reserve.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith
Photos from the 2010 CHL All-Star game

Jordan Cameron photos online

My associate Les Stockton has posted his photos from the 2010 CHL All-Star Game. There are several of Jordan Cameron as well as other members of the two teams. You can view them here

Photo Credit: Les Stockton

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Texas Brahmas Insider All-Decade Team

The best of the Brahmas from 2000-2009
Part Two - The Defensemen

OK, I've covered the All-Decade Teams goalies, Brett Jaeger and David Cacciola. Easy choices considering the net minders we've seen over the past 10 years. Now it's time to consider the defensemen.

There were a lot of players to choose from, and at the same time there weren't. Gatis Tseplis and Murray Hogg each played half a season (1999-00), so they technically could make the list, but there were others who made larger impacts during the decade. Then there were guys like Dave Csumrik (2001-2005) and Clint Cabana (2000-2001) and Louis Bernard (1999-2001), but I couldn’t see them as All-Decade defensemen, considering other options.

I considered John Murphy (2002-03) and Scott English (2003-04) who you might remember were kings of the sin bin during a couple of the Brahmas worst seasons. Murphy had 35 major penalties (2nd in the league) and 365 penalty minutes in 50 games played (4th in the league). English had 72 minor penalties (2nd in the league) and 324 penalty minutes (second in the league) in 63 games played. But they weren't impact players, just resident tough guys during hard seasons when the old Brahmas addage: "Jus' fight 'em when ya can't score" took hold.

After thinking about it for some time and considering all the possibilities, here are the seven defensemen who made the list.

Craig Minard

Considered by some to be the heart and soul of the Texas Brahmas, team captain Minard joined the Brahmas as a free agent after suffering through the 2006-07 season with the Lubbock Cotton Kings.

Since joining the Brahmas, Minard has tallied 66 points (7 G, 59 A) and 141 penalty minutes in 135 games played. This includes three power play goals and 39 power play assists. Add to that, eight assists and 18 penalty minutes in 30 post-season contests. Off the ice, he assists coaches Dan Wildfong and Ron Vogel in many ways and is a natural for a coaching position when he decides to retire.

There was nothing better than seeing Minzy lift the President's Cup over his head after being robbed of that opportunity with Bossier-Shreveport in 2004. I'm hoping to see that again.

Mike Tilson

A versatile two-way defenseman, Tilson joined the Brahmas for his rookie season in 1999-00 and played for three full seasons before being traded to Corpus Christi in December of 2002 in exchange for three players. Everyone lamented that trade, a bullshit move by then head coach Todd LaLonde, who was removed from that position a week later.

During his time with the team, Tilson scored 134 points (38 G, 96 A) with 590 penalty minutes served in 220 games.

His best season as a professional came in 2001-02 when he racked up 44 points (16 G, 28 A) and served 175 penalty minutes in 63 games played. He also represented the Brahmas in the 2002 CHL All-Star Game.

The Brahmas acquired the rights to Tilson for the 2004-05 season but he did not return to the team, or to hockey for that matter. Never mind the off-ice issues, Tilson belongs on my list.

Kevin McLeod

One can't deny the impact McLeod has had on the Brahmas, not just in his scoring threat as well as excellent defensive play, but also in the level of quiet moxy that he brings to the ice. Currently playing in the American Hockey League for the Springfield Falcons, McLeod was an easy choice for the All-Decade Team.

McLeod played forward in college but was moved to the blue line by Fonger for his rookie season – he adapted well, becoming a versatile offensive defenseman. During his time with the Brahmas, he has tallied 104 points (43 G, 61 A, +18) and 183 penalty minutes in 151 games played. This includes 18 power play goals, 29 power play assists and 11 game-winning goals. In the post-season, he has scored 20 points (5 G, 15 A) with 40 penalty minutes in 30 games.

At the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, a plaque below a pair of skates reads: "Defenceman Kevin McLeod of the Texas Brahmas wore these skates while recording 50 points in 61 games throughout the 2008-09 CHL season. McLeod then would finish second among defensemen with 12 points during the club's successful playoff run that saw the franchise capture the first Ray Miron President's Cup title with a five-game series victory over Colorado."

Vlad Hartinger

He only played one season with the Brahmas (2005-06), but Hartinger was one of the steadiest defensemen we had. His time here was sandwiched in between five seasons with the New Mexico Scorpions, where he made his biggest impact. He played 43 games in Fort Worth and tallied 30 points (6 G, 24 A) with 114 penalty minutes. He also had four power play goals and 14 power play assists and was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise forgettable season.

The veteran defensemen would have been a terrific addition to the "new Brahmas" but was already committed to New Mexico in 2007-08. Despite his short stay, Hartinger makes my All-Decade Team.

Adam Davis

For me, a definite choice for the list. Davis was not only a fan favorite, but a solid defenseman who wore the Brahmas sweater for four seasons from 2001-02 through 2004-05. He joined the team as a rookie after two seasons with the Texas Tornado (NAHL) and didn't disappoint. He continued to improve each season and was definitely an impact player on otherwise underachieving teams.

Davis tallied 69 points (17 G, 52 A) and 227 penalty minutes in 238 games played. He added a goal, an assist and four penalty minutes in four post-season games played.

Davis signed with the Laredo Bucks in 2005-06 and won a President's Cup with the team.

Justin Kinnunen

Another easy choice, Kinnunen glides like an eagle on ice. One of those players you know just by how he skates. One of the quietest members of the team but always a fan favorite, the two-time CHL All-Star (2008, 2009) definitely belongs on the All-Decade Team.

The sixth year professional joined the Brahmas in 2007-08 and put up 43 points (11 G, 32 A) with 88 penalty minutes and played in all 64 regular season games. During the 2008 playoffs, he added nine points (2 G, 7 A) and 22 penalty minutes in 14 games played.

Last season, Juice was called up to the AHL and played in 11 games with the San Antonio Rampage. In 47 regular season games with the Brahmas, he tallied 33 points (12 G, 21 A) and 59 penalty minutes. He started all 16 games during the playoffs and added 11 points (4 G, 7 A) and 21 penalty minutes.

This season, Kinnunen has scored 13 points (3 G, 10 A) with 26 penalty minutes in 27 games played. It would be hard to imagine the Brahmas without Kinnunen and an All-Decade Team without his presence.

Nathan Saunders

Choosing the seventh member of the All-Decade team was difficult, to say the least. But with impact being a factor, I had to choose Nathan Saunders, the most timely enforcer of the past 10 years. Timely in the sense that for a team making a sure run for the President’s Cup, Nathan filled the role at the time we needed it most, and he did an effective job. Despite playing the least amount of games of any player on the list, Saunders gets my vote over Murphy, English, Jacobsen or some of the other toughs that have donned the Brahmas sweater.

Nathan joined the team on December 22, 2008 and his presence made other teams think twice about putting the pookie (to quote John Blanding) on any of the Brahmas players. Guys like Neil Clark, David Simoes, D.J. Jelitto, James Jernberg, Russ Moyer and others felt the sting of Saunders' fists in the coming weeks.

In 36 regular season games played, Saunders tallied 15 points (4 G, 11 A, +16) and 159 penalty minutes. He had two power play goals, six power play assists and one game-winning goal. During the playoffs, he added three assists, 44 penalty minutes and a championship ring.

It would have been nice to have Nathan back this season, but every player makes their own decision about moving on.

Photo Credits: Mike Tilson: Fort Worth Brahmas Hockey Club, Vlad Hartinger: Chip Crail, All others: Robert Keith

Monday, January 11, 2010

After the game…A few minutes with Dan Wildfong

The Brahmas head coach talks about the defense, the enforcer and where the team is at right now

Shortly after the Brahmas 3-0 win over the Allen American, I sat down with Dan Wildfong to talk about the team’s performance at this point in the season. OK, I'm a little late in posting this, but I have family in town and I've been a little busy lately. Anyway, here is our conversation.

Q: With the injuries and changes in personnel, specifically on the defense, how do you feel the boys are playing?

A: Tonight was unbelievable. I think everyone played really good hockey. We all bought into the systems tonight and it’s real tough, especially with new guys coming in; they’re doing a heck of a job for us. We just have to continue to keep working and keep playing Brahmas hockey and that’s what we did tonight.

Q: There’s been some really good stories of guys coming in and making an impact. For example, you had Todd Paul who came in and didn’t even have his own equipment to play with due to a mix-up with the airline. So he plays with some borrowed stuff and does real well…

A: These guys are jumping in and playing, not just 10 or 15 minutes – they’re playing like 25 minutes. So it’s not like they’re playing here or there for 60 minutes. It’ll be nice for sure when we get healthy.

Q: How is it you’re getting some of these guys who are able to come right in and make a contribution?

A: We kind of got a break on Seibel. We made a trade at the beginning of the year when we let Merlini go to Tulsa, and we had futures from them. We’d been looking for D and we knew Seibel had just been let go in the East Coast League. You know, guys get lost out there sometimes. You just keep trying to hunt them and Seibs – I think he’s going to be a great player – hopefully we get him up another level but I think he’s going to be a great player for us for a long time.

Q: You brought T-bone (Tim Laurila) out of retirement to help out on defense. I know he’s been active coaching and this and that but he had a lot of playing time tonight and seemed to do pretty well for a guy who’s been out for a season and a half. Were you surprised?

A: I know T-bone – he just wants to do whatever he can to help the team. He just kept things real simple and that’s all you have to do. It was pretty good of him to come out and compete the way he did. It’s not an easy job to play at this level and against that team over there (the Americans) and step right in after not playing for a while. We’re going to bring him on the road and keep asking him to do the same thing.

Q: Nathan Perrott was an impact signing to say the least. It seems to me that other teams have been behaving themselves a little bit more now that we have Nathan on the roster.

A: Nathan’s been trying to ask guys to fight and really no one’s obliged him yet, I think. He just has that presence out there – you know, he polices things pretty nicely and that’s something we didn’t have up until the end of the year. You can see that people aren’t taking liberties on us right now. That’s what he’s here for and he can play too. He’s not just a fighter.

Q: You’ve moved Skworchinski to D – he and Burto have been backing up the blue line for a while now – and we’ve seen a great performance from him, a great performance tonight. How do you feel about how Skworch is doing?

A: He’s playing unbelievable for us right now and logging a ton of ice time. He’s playing on defense, on the power play, playing every situation; Five-on-three kills…he’s a real valuable player to us. You know, the puck wasn’t going in for him at the beginning of the year and now it’s starting to find the back of the net. He’s a value to us, to be able to put him back on the point, but he’s playing so well up front, it’s hard to put him back there (laughing). So we decided to keep him up front tonight and it paid off.

Q: Joe Palmer has really been doing an outstanding job. He was fantastic tonight, especially in the first period and then all the way through – another shut out. How do you feel about him?

A: He’s a kid that has a lot of drive right now and wants to get to that next level. He just competes hard and he’s a competitor – he gets in a zone and he wants to win every game and doesn’t want to let a goal in. I love that about him. He’s got that competitiveness in him like no other, so we just have to continue to keep both goalies in – we’ve got Jaeger who’s ready to go now and he’s feeling great and we’ve got to just keep them both pushing each other keep them both healthy.

Q: We’re more than halfway through the season now and it’s time to make a run for the playoffs. Do you think it’s all coming together now – I know there’s still a lot of work to do – but do you think you’re on the way?

A: Yeah, like tonight, obviously it was one of our better games. I’m just looking for a little more consistency out of every guy. I think we’re starting to get it from them – about 80% of the guys. There’s just a couple of guys that are not giving it every night but tonight they did and that’s what we talked about after the game…we’re in too tight a playoff race…so every shift, every battle means something. You’ve got to be prepared right off the bat.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith