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 here
You can view my game photos here
- 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