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.
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 here
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