Saturday, February 27, 2010

Fit to be tied, again

Brahmas drop another on the road, Bucks win 5-1

Terry Ruskowski called it the biggest game of the season thus far and his boys responded with a complete 60 minute effort as the Laredo Bucks defeated the Texas Brahmas in a 5-1 contest tonight at the LEC. For the Brahmas, it will be a long ride home tonight with a lot to think about and little time for rest before they host the expansion Missouri Mavericks at 4:05 pm.

With the loss, the Brahmas record goes to 29-20-5 (9-15-4 on the road). The Bucks once again, have tied the Brahmas with 63 points with an even number of games played (54). With 10 games remaining for both teams in the regular season, the war for third place in the Southern Conference is (in my opinion) the most interesting story in the race for position in the 2009-10 CHL playoffs. How the Brahmas respond to the challenge of retaining third place is anyone's guess - you can't do it all at home you know.

The Brahmas looked sluggish in the first period, perhaps still tired from the seven hour bus ride overnight. The Bucks on the other hand, looked fresh and controlled the entire first period, out shooting the visiting team 14-6.

Todd Griffith scored the first goal of the game after taking a feed from Neil Trimm and sending a bullet that zipped past Brett Jaeger's gloved hand at the 4:28 mark. Evan Schwabe was also credited with the assist.

Just over four minutes later, the Brahmas were victimized by the Bucks' top line of SylvainDeschatelets, Jeff Bes and Neil Smith when Deschatelets sent in a wrister from the bottom of the right circle to make it a 2-0 game at the 4:30 mark.

The Bucks led the shot count 6-1 at this point and forced most of the action in the Brahmas' zone.

With AJ Gale serving a two minute Too Many Men Bench Minor, the Bucks nearly had their third goal when defenseman Jarred Mohr fired a shot which Jaeger initially stopped with his glove as he was falling backwards. The puck bounced up and was about to roll across the goal line when Jaeger gloved it away just in time. However, the goal light came on and fans began throwing corn on the ice, believing the puck went in. Referee Tom Steinel conferred with the goal judge and after he came back on the ice, he waived off the goal.

Later in the period, the Deschatelets/Bes/Smith line scored again with Deschatelets' second strike on the night from right in front of the net at the 17:58 mark. This is just Deschatelets' third game with the Bucks, having come in from Europe, where he played the past four seasons.

That was it for the first frame; the Brahmas went into the visitors locker room to regroup, down by three. It could have been worse, but Jaeger despite missing three, made some great saves.

The second frame began with the Brahmas making a change in net with Joe Palmer taking Jaeger's place. There was no change in the score although the Brahmas came out a bit stronger, but despite 10 shots on goal, they were unable to solve a solid Pier-Olivier Pelletier. Palmer, for his part was also unsolvable, stopping 11 shots in the frame. The Bucks had their best chance to add to the score on the power play in the final minute, when Jeff Bes sent a pass to SylvainDeschatelets, who was wide open on a breakaway, but the hat trick was averted when his shot hit the post. The Bucks kept firing but were unable to score and the period ended with the score remaining at 3-0.

(Roughing) and Kevin The Bucks had an early five-on-three opportunity in the third period, with Tyler SkworchinskiSeibel (Hooking) in the sin bin but they were unable to beat the Brahmas' PK. Unfortunately, Bucks defenseman and team captain Adam Rivet scored with a slap shot from the point at the 3:28 mark. The assists came from Sylvain Deschatelets and Darryl Smith (his fourth assist of the night).

Less than three minutes later, with Igor Agarunov in the bin for Hooking, the Brahmas finally got on the board when Matt Pierce fired a rocket from the top of the slot to make it a 4-1 contest at the 6:13 mark.

The Bucks answered back under three minutes later when Benjamin Dieude-Fauvel beat Palmer with a short-handed tally at the 8:56 mark to secure the final score at 5-1. Darryl Smith and Jeff Bes were in on the assist.

Brett Jaeger made 11 saves on 14 shots faced and takes the loss. His record goes to 18-12-1-2. In relief, Joe Palmer made 22 saves on 24 shots. Pier-Olivier Pelletier made 21 saves on 22 shots and earns the win; his fifth in a row. His record goes to 5-4-1.

The Brahmas went one for five on the power play. Laredo went one for seven. The Brahmas were assessed 14 minutes on seven infractions. The Bucks received 10 minutes on five infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Jeff Bes, who had three assists on the night. The 2nd Star was awarded to Darryl Smith who had four assists and the 1st Star went to Sylvain Deschatelets who had two goals (including the game-winner) and an assist.

You can view the box score here

The scheduling really stinks but you can watch the U.S. and Canada battle for the Olympic gold starting at 2:15 pm (I recommend Zuroma) and then break away (if you can) to watch the Brahmas and the Missouri Mavericks in their first meeting starting at 4:05 pm.

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