Sunday, March 28, 2010

A few minutes with...Dan Wildfong

The Brahmas head coach talks about the second consecutive playoff win against Odessa

After the nail biter that was Saturday night's contest with the Jackalopes, I spoke with Fonger as is customary this time of year. I have to say, I can't remember hearing Dan sound so pleased with his team as I have after the past couple of games. Here is our conversation.

Q: It was nice seeing the boys pile on behind Odessa's net when the final buzzer sounded. Can you describe the atmosphere in the locker room after the game?

A: The boys were excited definitely. That's a big win - anytime you win in overtime, it's big and exciting. We understand that the job's not over. We came to win two and we won two but now we've just got to focus on the next game.

Q: Let's talk about the penalty kill for a minute...Odessa had the man-advantage eight times and the Tony PK soured it for them all eight times. What can you say about the special teams play?

A: You know, I think the guys did a really great job. We made a couple of adjustments. When we did have a break down, Jaegs made a big save, so those guys blocked a lot of shots and I think we adjusted well.

Q: Odessa certainly had offensive momentum, out shooting the Brahmas in every frame. Jaeger
stopped 46 of 48 shots tonight - what more can you say about your net minder?

A: He's just in that zone right now...he's in playoff mode. He's really focused...he's really seeing the puck well and we're going to need that from him throughout the playoffs.

Q: During last year's playoff run, we saw Tyler Skworchinski really step up to the plate and put up scores when they were needed and doing it again this year. What can you say about having Skworch back in the line up?

A: Oh, it's huge and were sure did miss him last night too. He's a good penalty killer and a good face off guy. He does everything really well and he's a really key guy for us - he has been all year, so when he's out of the line up, it hurts us but we had a couple of guts step in. Young guys who did a good job while he was out but having him back gives us that extra firepower and he really rises to the occasion at this time of year.

Q: I doubt many people prior to the beginning of the series thought that the Brahmas would win twice in Odessa. Carrying this kind of momentum into NYTEX is huge. What are your thoughts on that?

A: We just have to play like we did on the road at home. We kept it very simple; we didn't panic. When we got penalties, we stayed focused. It's got to be that simplistic game against these guys. You can't run and gun with them, so we just have to continue doing the little things in order to make the series go the way we want.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Update on fundraiser for Ryan Christian

$1405 raised at NYTEX during the silent auction/photo sale

Thanks to everyone who stopped by my table at the NYTEX Sports Centre last weekend. Through the silent auction and the sale of photos, and through cash donations, $1405.00 was raised.

The funds, which accounted for 100% of the proceeds from the event, are being forwarded to the Ryan Christian Love Fund this week along with the get well card signed by many. $1205.00 was converted to a cashier's check and $200.00 comes from a personal check from the individual who won the Dallas Stars team signed stick.

Part two of the fundraiser will be done as an eBay auction, to be announced soon.

I wanted to send out a few special thank you's to the following individuals who helped make this effort a success:

Gina and Vicki Buckingham, Dan Wildfong, Mike Barack, Scott Plourde, Chad Siewert, Phil Shipp and the rest of the Texas Brahmas organization, Brian Benway, Matt Brayfield and Terry Ruskowski of the Laredo Bucks, Tommy Scott, Ken Carroll, John DeCaro and Brett Smith and visiting fans of the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs, Garrett Roper, Mary Bradford, Walter Maultsby, Jack Jones, Dee and Kevin Brant, Davis Nelson, Chris Moore and many others.

Ryan and her daddy Jeff Christian

What's this all about? If you’ve been a fan of Central Hockey League hockey for any amount of time, I’m sure you know of Jeff Christian. The 39-year-old right wing has played over 19 years of professional hockey in the six different leagues, including the NHL, AHL, IHL, EIHL (England) and the DEL ( Germany). He is now in his fifth season in the CHL, having played with the Youngstown Steelhounds, Tulsa Oilers and now the Missouri Mavericks.

Christian led the Mavericks in points (69), goals (28), assists (41), power play assists (19) and shots (204) and was the first player signed to the expansion franchise last year. And while the Mavericks are currently battling in the playoffs, Christian and his family are involved in a struggle of another kind – his eight-year-old daughter Ryan is fighting a rare form of cancer.

Diagnosed with Pediatric Adrenal Cortical Carcinoma, a cancer of the adrenal gland that affects literally one or two people in a million, Ryan has recently been moved to St. Jude’s Hospital in Memphis, a facility known world-wide as a premier cancer center for children.

Obviously, there are great costs involved with Ryan’s travel and care and there are numerous efforts, including my own, underway to assist the Christian family with those costs.

Read a great article on the effort to assist the Christian Family here

You can keep updated on Ryan's progress here

You can also join the Ryan Christian Love Fund Facebook page.

If you would like to make a donation directly to the fund, please make checks payable to “The Ryan Christian Love Fund” and mail to:

Ryan Christian Love Fund
c/o Missouri Mavericks
19100 E. Valley View Parkway
Independence, MO 64055

Thanks for getting involved!

Brahmas win thriller in sudden death overtime

Skworchinski scores game winner with seven seconds left

After leading the Central Hockey League in the regular season with 48 wins and earning the Governor's Cup, the Odessa Jackalopes are suffering through a new season that is the playoffs at the hands of the defending league champion Texas Brahmas.

With just seven seconds left in a hard fought overtime period, the Brahmas' Tyler Skworchinski fired the puck past a stunned Joel Martin to secure the 3-2 victory and a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Southern Conference semi-final. It was Skworchinski's second tally in a game that saw the Brahmas' special teams kill eight Odessa power plays and Brett Jaeger stop 46 of 48 shots to earn his fourth consecutive post-season win.

In front of a home crowd of 3,622, the Jackalopes came out of the gates playing much more aggressively than in Game One. They had several rushes on Brett Jaeger in the opening minute of the first period but were held off time and again by the Brahmas net minder.

Texas was more conservative, but made their first shot of the game count when Lee Jubinville caught a deflection off a Matt Burto shot and scored on Joel Martin at the 1:54 mark.

The tally didn't faze Odessa, who kept up their attack, sending wave after wave of shots against Jaeger. Nearing the mid-point of the first frame, Odessa's Jeff Pierce began to work the puck in from the blue line but was tripped up by a Brahmas defender. Before hitting the ice, Pierce managed to feed Sebastien Thinel, who sent in a shot past Jaeger from between the circles, evening the score at 1-1.

The Brahmas had several chances, but there would be no further scoring in the period. Joel Martin made diving saves on at least two shots that could have easily given the visitors additional scores. Texas defenseman Justin Kinnunen also had a shot hit the post during a power play opportunity. Odessa out shot the Brahmas 15-7 in the first 20 minutes of play.

The middle frame was highlighted by a breakdown in discipline between both teams, resulting in three consecutive power plays for the Brahmas followed by three consecutive power plays for the Jackalopes. The Brahmas would tally the only score of the period on their second man-advantage when Tyler Skworchinski found the back of the net at the 8:27 mark.

The Jackalopes out shot the Brahmas 10-7 in the period but were down 2-1 after 40 minutes.

Odessa opened the third frame with 1:21 left on a power play but failed again to convert on their fifth man-advantage.

Kory Karlander managed to score the equalizer on even strength after working his way out of the right wing corner and sending in a bullet from between the circles at the 2:23 mark.

For the third consecutive period, the Jackalopes out shot the Brahmas; this time 11-8. Despite a 36-22 shot advantage in regulation, the game would be forced into overtime, thanks in no small part to a spectacular effort by Brett Jaeger.

A 12-7 shot advantage and two more power plays through the extra frame didn't help the Jackalopes who sent everything they had against the brick wall that was the Brahmas net minder.

Just when it appeared the game might go into double-overtime, the Brahmas' Kinnunen emerged from the neutral zone with the puck and fed it to Tyler Skworchinski, who beat Joel Martin with the game-winner at the 19:53 mark.

Brett Jaeger stopped 46 of 48 shots faced to earn the win. Joel Martin allowed three goals on 30 shots and took his second consecutive loss.

The next two games will be held at NYTEX starting on Wednesday night.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A few minutes with...Dan Wildfong

The Brahmas head coach talks about winning Game One in Odessa

I spoke with Fonger about 15 minutes after the Brahmas defeated the Odessa Jackalopes in a 5-2 contest at the Ector County Coliseum. Here's our conversation.

Q: How did it feel taking the first win there in Odessa?

A: It was good. You know, obviously, we come in here knowing that we want to get a good start against these guys and this is the start we need, so I thought we'd limit their chances and when they did get their chances, Jaeger came up pretty big. I'm proud of these guys. A lot of guys stepped up.

Q: Pretty even play in the first two periods and then five different Brahmas score in the third period. Were you surprised by the amount of offensive output in the final frame?

A: Yeah, you know, obviously it was tight in the first two periods. I thought we had some chances; they had some chances. Once we got that first goal, it kind of lifted us and then Jubie gets a quick one...then he takes a punch to the head (Jubes does) and we get on the power play and get a nice power play goal. Those are things that lift the team. I think maybe we looked a little tired in the first two periods but we said, boys, just keep it simple...just keep playing our game. They did and we got the win. It's not an easy building to win in and the guys stuck to the game plan.

Q: Tom Steinel seemed to keep the whistle in his pocket tonight. Do you think that's a big factor here in the playoffs, you know, refs letting the boys play?

A: I don't think their were many calls to be called. I think they prefer to let the guys play a little more in the playoffs...our guys understand how good this team is on the power play so we just have to continue to stay disciplined. I think we're focused on doing that.

Q: Do you think having the momentum of the two wins against Corpus behind you helped coming into this series with Odessa?

A: For sure. Guys feel confident. They know what playoff hockey is all about and to get that win in that series - it really gave the young guys a taste of what it's like. Especially the guys that haven't been here before and obviously, the young guys really responded tonight. So, I'm proud of these guys.

Q: You have Brett Jaeger in net and he's definitely in playoff form. What can you say about Jaeger's performance - not just tonight but in all three starts thus far in the playoffs?

A: He's playing like Jaeger - he's a clutch goalie. The big thing is - he comes up with the timely's one nothing and they come in on a breakaway and he makes a big save. It would've been 2-0 and that would have really demoralized us but he makes some big save. We get out of the period 1-0 against us and then (in the third period) we get a big goal right off the bat and get a couple more, so he's just been playing really good. He's focused and this is his time of year.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Friday, March 26, 2010

Brahmas crush the Jackalopes

Five goals in the third period deliver Game One win

Odessa Jackalopes broadcaster Brien Rea was seen holding up a sign that read "Take what's yours boys", but the wrong boys took the message to heart as the Texas Brahmas took Game One of the best-of-seven semi-final series with a 5-2 win at the Ector County Coliseum.

The win is the third consecutive playoff victory for Brett Jaeger and the Brahmas who hope to carry the momentum into tomorrow night, where another win will give them a 2-0 lead on the Jackalopes. The series then shifts to the NYTEX Sports Center on Wednesday.

Five different Brahmas players scored goals, demonstrating the depth of this team that has struggled all season on the road. Grant Jacobsen had three assists on the night.

The crowd at the Ector County Coliseum was sparse for a Friday evening but the after work crowd trickled in steadily, filling seats and adding to the noise level.

Referee Tom Steinel made it clear that he wouldn't be calling a lot of penalties in this game as is customary during the playoffs. Both sides took advantage, with the Brahmas' James Hiebert and the Jackalopes' Garrett Gruenke handling instigator duties. Both teams looked sharp as they felt each other out during the first half of the first period. Defensively, both sides did a good job crowding any offensive opportunities.

Midway through the first period, the Jackalopes led the shot count 6-2 with Brett Jaeger managing to stop a pair of dangerous slap shots and his teammates doing a good job clearing rebounds.

The Brahmas offense got to work in the second half of the frame, eventually matching shots in the period at 10 apiece.

There was only one penalty in the first 20 minutes, called on the Brahmas' Matt Pierce for Interference. The Jackalopes got right to work with the number one power play in the league during the regular season, wasting no time scoring on Jaeger at the 11:57 mark.

Alex Dunn took a feed from Dominic Leveille and sent a bullet past Jaeger from the top right corner of the left circle. Kory Karlander was also credited with the assist on the score which came 17 seconds into the man advantage.

There was no further scoring in the period and the Jackalopes took the 1-0 lead into the locker room.

The Jackalopes got their second power play 57 seconds into the middle frame due to a Goalie Interference call on Jason Deitsch but the Brahmas, who had the number three penalty kill in the regular season, held them off. Likewise, the Brahmas had two power play opportunities but Odessa's number one penalty kill prevented any special teams scoring.

Momentum increased for both teams as the period developed, but neither side was successful in solving the other's net minder as Brett Jaeger and Joel Martin put in spectacular performances. Martin took a spear to the mid-section in the final minute of play but appeared to shake it off and continued in net.

Odessa led the shot count 12-8 in the period and 22-18 after 40 minutes, but the score remained at 1-0 heading into the second intermission.

The Brahmas came out firing in the final period, unleashing a flurry of shots that bore immediate fruit. 1:07 into the frame, Matt Pierce took a feed from James Hiebert and sent the puck past Martin from in front of the crease to tally the equalizer.

Less than a minute-and-a-half later, Jordan Cameron sent a pass to Lee Jubinville, whose slap shot surprised Martin, giving the Brahmas the 2-1 lead at the 2:27 mark.

Just 30 seconds later, the already physical play began to erupt into aggression as two skirmishes broke out in the Odessa zone. Justin Kinnunen and Kenny Bernard wrestled in the right wing corner as Dave Van Drunen and Jason Deitsch battled behind the net. Van Drunen and Deitsch were given matching Roughing Double Minors.

During the four-on-four action, Odessa defenseman Alex Dunn attacked Lee Jubinville in the Jackalopes' crease and after the ensuing tussle, both were sent to the penalty box for Roughing with Dunn drawing a double minor.

With the man-advantage, the Brahmas went right to work and 25 seconds later Kinnunen sent in a shot that deflected off the body of Garrett Gruenke and into the net. Five minutes into the period, the Brahmas had the 3-1 lead and were by no means done.

1:44 later, Brahmas defenseman Tyrell Mason had possession of the puck and patiently weaved his way around a crowded crease and then flipped the puck up and over the shoulder of Martin to make it a 4-1 game.

The Jackalopes weren't quite ready to fold despite the Brahmas scoring frenzy and Mike Lesperance cut the lead in half with a one-timer from the top of the left circle at the 8:24 mark.

Motivated by the tally, the Jackalopes stepped up their play but were held off time and time again by the Brahmas' net minder.

Texas rookie A.J. Gale struck the final blow against Odessa, roofing a wrist shot off the crossbar and into the net at the 17:36 mark, establishing the final score at 5-2.

The Brahmas had the 16-9 shot advantage in the final frame and 34-31 in the game.

Brett Jaeger stopped 29 of 31 shots and earned his third consecutive win of the post-season. Joel Martin had 29 saves on 34 shots and takes the loss.

Game Two of the series will take place on Saturday night in Odessa.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith
Matt Boyle signs amateur tryout

Expected to play tonight in Odessa

Defenseman Matt Boyle has been added to the Brahmas roster according to Pointstreak. The 6’0”, 190 pound native of Charlottetown, PEI has been seen around NYTEX during the past week and is listed on the roster for tonight’s game against the Odessa Jackalopes.
Boyle, 21, played the past four seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. This season, he played for the Lewiston MAINEiacs where he served as an assistant captain and tallied 17 points (4 G, 13 A) with 55 penalty minutes in 62 games played.

“He’s a real character kid who’s got excellent hockey ability…a defensive-defenseman…,” MAINEiacs General Manager Roger Shannon said of the young blue liner.

Texas will be happy to have Boyle," Lewiston coach J.F. Houle said, noting his penchant for gritty, steady play in the defensive zone. "He's physical; he doesn't take any crap from anybody. That's what made him so valuable to us as a defenseman. He's steady on the back end and responsible in the zone."

He spent the previous two seasons with the Moncton Wildcats where he scored 12 points (1 G, 11 A) with 129 penalty minutes in 118 games played.

You can view his stats on the Internet Hockey Database here

Photo Credit: (top) Moncton Wildcats (bottom) Lewiston MAINEiacs

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tough night for Kevin Beech; this save prevented a third Brahmas score (Click photo to enlarge)

Brahmas advance!

IceRays stymied for 60 minutes, fall 2-0 at the Shoe Box

On a night when an official of the Central Hockey League re-took possession of the Ray Miron President's Cup, the Texas Brahmas showed the mettle it took to win the trophy with a 2-0 victory over the Corpus Christi Ice Rays.

Brett Jaeger stopped all 28 shots faced to secure the shut out and improve the Brahmas post-season record at the NYTEX Sports Center to 15-2. Jaeger leads the playoffs thus far with a 1.93 GAA and his second win.

With the first round sweep, the Brahmas will advance to the Southern Conference Semi-Finals where they will face the Odessa Jackalopes. Texas eliminated Odessa in the 2009 Conference Final round in seven games en route to winning the league championship.

A crowd of 2,231 fans watched in delight as the home team all but dominated the IceRays for 60 minutes.

A Hooking call on R.G. Flath gave the Brahmas their first power play opportunity of the night and the home team used the advantage to take the 1-0 lead nine minutes into the first frame. Matt Pierce took a feed from Grant Jacobsen at the bottom of the left circle and threaded the puck between defenseman Jesse Dudas and goalie Kevin Beech into the back of the net. James Hiebert was also in on the assist.

Tyler Skworchinski gave the Brahmas the two goal edge when he swooped in from the right circle and fired a bullet shot past the gloved hand of Beech at the 13:19 mark. Jordan Cameron and Kevin Seibel were credited with the assist.

The Brahmas had an 11-8 shot advantage after 20 minutes and took the 2-0 lead into the first intermission.

There was no scoring in the second period, thanks in part to a four-minute penalty kill after Brahmas defenseman Kevin Seibel was sent to the sin bin for a High Sticking Double Minor. Tied for second in the league with 19 short-handed goals in the regular season, Texas out shot the IceRays on their own man advantage but were unable to solve Kevin Beech.

Corpus Christi suffered a break down in discipline in the final frame and was assessed four consecutive penalties. Despite a narrow 12-11 shot advantage, they spent most of the period defending their zone against a nearly constant attack.

No matter how they tried, the IceRays couldn't find a way past Jaeger who now holds a 19-7-3 playoff record in his third season with the Brahmas. The final shot count was 30-28, advantage Texas.

The Brahmas will travel to the Ector County Coliseum in Odessa for Game One of the Conference Semi-Finals on Friday night. Game Two of the best of seven series will be played on Saturday.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Brahmas win wild Game One in Corpus Christi

Hiebert, Skworchinski heroics provide big advantage in series

To call it this contest a wild one may be an obvious understatement. 2,224 IceRays fans watched one of the most exciting games of the year at the American Bank Center. But the locals went home unhappy as the Texas Brahmas pulled off a major upset, winning Game One of the Southern Conference best-of-three opening round of the 2010 CHL post-season.

Despite having one of the league’s worst road records during the regular season, the Brahmas kept coming back after the IceRays pulled ahead three times, eventually forcing the game into overtime where former Laredo Bucks nemesis, James Hiebert, scored the game-winning goal.

It was an exciting opening period of play as both teams came out with the ferocity expected in a game of this magnitude. Each with a strong presence inside their respective defensive zones; each exhibiting physical prowess, taking advantage of the lack of penalties called during the playoffs.

Steven Later quickly established himself as the IceRays' instigator, seeming to target last year's playoff MVP, Jason Deitsch with a barrage of checks throughout the first frame. At one point, Later was tripped by Deitsch right in front of referee Kevin Graber but there was no call. Not long after, Later tried the same thing, taking down Brahmas point machine Jordan Cameron, but drew the call, leading to the first power play opportunity for Texas. Suffice it to say, Later was none too happy with the apparent double standard.

The Corpus Christi penalty killers were able to hold off the Brahmas, who had struggled in the regular season with the next to last power play in the league. Texas forward Scott Thauwald had a shot deflected as the penalty on Later expired, but Kevin Beech was able to focus and make the save.

Later was tripped up again minutes later and was furious when there was no initial call which was delayed, sending Lee Jubinville to the penalty box for Interference. This set up the first man-advantage for the Ice Rays.

The Brahmas' special teams displayed their dangerous nature when Jordan Cameron broke up a pass at the blue line and took possession of the puck. Cameron skated in on a breakaway and with a deke at the mouth of the crease, found an opening on Beech's left side and scored an unassisted short-handed goal to put the Brahmas up 1-0 at the 12:12 mark (See the video here).

Not long after, a turnover by Jason Tessier just inside the blue line gave the Brahmas an opportunity to go up 2-0 when Matt Pierce sent a pass from the left circle to James Hiebert, who drove a shot in at point blank range, but Beech managed to make the save.

A slash to the wrist of Justin Quenneville by Justin Kinnunen led to the second power play for Corpus Christi, who wasted no time converting the opportunity; four seconds to be exact. After winning the draw, Jereme Tendler flipped the puck to Jason Tessier, who sent in a slap shot from the left point past Brett Jaeger to score the equalizer at the 17:20 mark.

In the final minute of play, Ryan Garbutt took down Brahmas defenseman Kevin McLeod with a forearm to the face and was quickly jumped on by Luke Sellars, who got an arm around Garbutt's head and let loose a few blows in retaliation, knocking the rookie's helmet to the ice. Both Garbutt and Sellars were sent to the locker rooms early, along with McLeod, who had his bell rung. He did not return to the game. Garbutt was assessed two minutes for Roughing and Sellars received a Roughing Double Minor. Fonger gave Garbutt the look of death and the old "throat slash" gesture as he left the ice. Garbutt just smirked.

The period ended with the tone set for the coming frame. The Brahmas out shot the IceRays 11-6, but the score remained tied after 20 minutes.

Corpus Christi opened the second period on the power play and had an early 5-on-3 chance after Jordan Cameron was called for Board Checking 27 seconds in, but the IceRays would capitalize on the 5-on-4 when Chad Woollard and Justin Quenneville attacked Jaeger on a 2-on-1. Woollard sent a wrister just under the glove of Jaeger from the left circle as Jaeger was distracted by the oncoming pair. Jesse Dudas and Steven Later were credited with the assist.

That would be the only score of a middle frame in which bodies and words flew in every direction. A fantastic play by Brahmas defenseman Ross Rouleau prevented a second IceRays goal late in the period. Jereme Tendler had an exposed net after Chad Woollard lured Brett Jaeger out of position. Rouleau blocked Tendler's stick with his own, preventing a shot that surely would have went in.

The Brahmas led the shot count 11-9 in the second period but went into the locker room down by a score of 2-1. The IceRays were assessed four consecutive penalties but managed to hold off the Texas power play for a total of 40 minutes. Things would soon change.

The Brahmas had 44 seconds remaining on the man advantage to open the final frame but took only 26 seconds to even the score with a wrister from Justin Kinnunen. Ross Rouleau and Tyler Skworchinski assisted.

Soon afterwards, a controversial ruling prevented the IceRays from re-taking the lead. Set up by Chad Woollard, Jason Tessier cut down the right wing side and sent in a shot that preceded bodies flying into the net, taking it off of its moorings. Jaeger quickly scooped up the puck and waved it in the air, making the case that it never crossed the goal line. After reviewing the play with the goal judge, referee Kevin Graber waived off the goal.

Just minutes later, the IceRays went up 3-2 on a gritty goal by Chris Richards. Richards stole the puck from defenseman Luke Sellars who then tripped him. On his way down, Richards managed to flip the puck on the backhand over the outstretched glove of Jaeger to take the lead (See the video here). Ryan Bennett and Chad Woollard were credited with the assist.

The Brahmas would answer just 37 seconds later when Jason Deitsch, set up by Cameron and Kevin Seibel, handled the puck patiently in front of the Ice Rays' net until he found a shot that would beat Kevin Beech to tie the game at 3-3.

A Cross Checking call on Grant Jacobsen at the 8:17 mark would lead to the fourth consecutive power play goal for Corpus Christi as Steven Later beat Jaeger with a one timer from the high slot that went in just under the cross bar to make it a 4-3 contest four seconds later.

The Brahmas nearly tied it up again less than 30 seconds later but a shot from Scott Thauwald hit the post and bounced out of play as a penalty was called on Justin Quenneville for Hooking. Another Texas shot rang off the post early into the power play and the Brahmas continued attacking relentlessly but Kevin Beech managed to hold them off for more than 10 minutes.

With Jaeger pulled in favor of the extra attacker, the Brahmas continued to try to tie the game up again and were lucky to see two IceRays shots miss their empty net. Brahmas assistant coach and former IceRays goalie Ron Vogel signaled for a time out with 28.1 seconds remaining in regulation. When play resumed and with Jaeger remaining on the bench, Tyler Skworchinski buzzed in front of the IceRays' net and scored a goal with 16.8 seconds remaining to send the game into sudden death overtime.

The Brahmas led the shot count for the third consecutive period; this time 9-7 and held the 31-22 advantage in regulation.

As IceRays announcer Josh Bogorad stated during the third intermission, someone was going to be a hero in this game and that hero was the Brahmas' James Hiebert who took advantage of a neutral zone turnover by Jason Tessier and beat Kevin Beech with a bullet shot at the 5:34 mark of the overtime frame to give Texas a 1-0 lead in the best of three series (See the video here). Grant Jacobsen and Matt Pierce were in on the assist.

The Brahmas led the shot count in overtime 6-2 and 37-24 in the game overall.

Brett Jaeger made 20 saves on 24 shots faced and earned his first win of the 2010 post-season. Kevin Beech made 32 saves on 37 shots and takes the loss.

The Brahmas went one for eight on the power play. Corpus Christi went four for six. The Brahmas were assessed 14 minutes on seven infractions. The IceRays received 18 minutes on nine infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Chris Richards who had a goal and an assist on the night. The 2nd Star was awarded to Jordan Cameron who a goal and two assists and the 1st Star went to James Hiebert who scored the game-winning goal and also had an assist.

Quotes from the game:

“That’s just a hard loss to take – the game could’ve gone either way. We were that close. It’s not like we got (dominated) tonight and had no chance at this. I thought we had the win and they got some bounces and got it back. Obviously, we have our work cut out for us. We have no room for error. They have room for a bad game. We won in there before and have played this team tough all year. I don’t think we’ve given them an easy game anywhere.”

- Corpus Christi Head Coach Brent Hughes (courtesy of

“In the playoffs, you just try to keep it simple and if the puck bounces in for you, it bounces in for you. If not, hopefully, one of your teammates does it. This is a big momentum boost. Hockey is all about momentum and we got some back by scoring that late goal. We knew if we could get (an overtime goal), we’d be going into Dallas sitting pretty. It’s still going to be a battle up there, so we’re going to have to work as hard as we can and hopefully come out on top.”

- James Hiebert (courtesy of

“It’s something that’s been the same story all year – a bad break. (Steven) Later blocks a shot from the point, the puck gets tangled up in his jersey and happens to pop out onto a guy’s stick for an empty-net (goal). It’s tough to say, but it’s happened too many times this year, and definitely bit us in the butt tonight. We’ve got to forget about tonight’s game and look forward. It’s do or die right now. There are no excuses and everything’s there for us for the taking.”

-Corpus Christi defenseman Kyle Peto (courtesy of

You can view the box score here and the Game Live broadcast here

You can view photos from the game here

The Brahmas will return to North Richland Hills tonight and will begin preparing for Wednesday nights' Game Two at the NYTEX Sports Centre.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith (Not from tonight's game)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ryan Christian fundraiser on Saturday

Stop by my table at NYTEX during the game

Please don't forget that during Saturday's game against the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs, I'll be manning a table inside the NYTEX Sports Centre to raise some money for the Ryan Christian Love Fund.

As you probably know, Ryan is the eight-year-old daughter of Missouri Mavericks' forward Jeff Christian. She was diagnosed with Pediatric Adrenal Cortical Carcinoma, a cancer of the adrenal gland that affects literally one or two people in a million. Ryan has been moved to St. Jude’s Hospital in Memphis, a facility known world-wide as a premier cancer center for children.

Obviously, there are great costs involved with Ryan’s travel and care and there are numerous efforts underway to assist the Christian family with those costs. This is just one of them.

I'll have some neat items up for bid, including some team signed items from the 2008-09 and 2009-10 Brahmas, autographed photos, a Scott Sheppard signed stick, a Jeff Bes signed stick, a Wes Mason Fort Worth Brahmas Captain's sweater, an Electric Guitar (that can be team signed, if you like) and more...bring your money and consider a donation - it's for a great cause.

Friday, March 19, 2010

You would believe a man can fly - Danny Battochio was stellar in net for the Rush for the second night in a row (click photo to enlarge)

Brahmas can't catch a break on the road

Rush win home finale 4-1

The Texas Brahmas lost their final road game of the season on Wednesday night; the second in a row to the Rapid City Rush. Like the night before, a single goal was the measure of the Texas offense.

With the loss, the Brahmas record goes to 31-25-7. Their road record this season ends at 9-19-4; the worst since the 2005-06 season, when the then Fort Worth Brahmas went 9-20-3.

I'll have more on the game soon - just got back from Rapid City and lots to do. Keep an eye on my Flickr site as I've started editing photos the meantime, some stats.

Joe Palmer made 37 saves on 41 shots faced and takes the loss. His record goes to 12-10-4-3. Danny Battochio made 37 saves on 38 shots and earned the win. His record goes to 28-5-3-2.

The Brahmas went zero for five on the power play. Rapid City went zero for one. The Brahmas were assessed seven minutes on two infractions. The Rush received 15 minutes on six infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Colt King, who scored the game-winning goal and also had an assist. The 2nd Star was awarded to Danny Battochio, who had another fantastic night in net and the 1st Star went to Brendon Hodge, who had a goal and an assist on the night.

You can view the box score here and the Game Live broadcast here

You can view my photos from the game here and here (not edited yet)

The Brahmas boarded the bus for the 20-hour trip home after the game and were back on the ice at NYTEX on Friday in preparation for Saturday's regular season finale against the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Blaine Jarvis crashes into the net following his shot in the first period that gave the Rush a 2-0 lead over the Brahmas

Payback is a bitch

Rush dominate Brahmas in 5-1 rout

Last night, the Texas Brahmas had a taste of what the Rapid City Rush got on March 6th when they visited the NYTEX Sports Center for the first time. Stymied by an early 3-0 deficit, the defending President's Cup champions were defeated in a 5-1 contest during their first game at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Arena.

5,010 fans were in attendance to watch the Rush dominate in their next to last regular season game at home. It was a great crowd too. The arena, added two years ago to the Rapid City Convention Center, is a very attractive venue and the fan base was fun to watch, although the Brahmas were getting clobbered.

Justin Kinnunen was the lone scorer for the Brahmas, who were for the most part, unable to solve Danny Battochio, who was red hot in goal for the Rush. Special teams came up blank on six man-advantages but was successful on one of two penalty kills.

With the loss, the Brahmas record goes to 31-24-7 (9-18-4 on the road) with 69 points. As a result, the Laredo Bucks will have the opportunity to clinch third place in the South if they can beat the Odessa Jackalopes tonight at home.

Both teams looked good early on in the first period, but it was the home team who got the first tally.

After a call on Grant Jacobsen for Hooking, Colt King got Rapid City on the board at the 8:24 mark, deflecting Jamie VanderVeeken’s blast from the high slot past Brett Jaeger. Scott Wray was also in on the assist.

Blaine Jarvis scored what would be the game-winner just over four minutes later, chipping the puck over Jaeger’s blocker before crashing into the net after losing his footing as he skated in towards the crease. Colt King and Dave Grimson were credited with the assist.

The Brahmas kept the pressure up, but had several scoring chances turned away by Battochio, who was just named to the CHL 2009-10 all-rookie team.

Brendan Cook’s rebound goal gave the Rush a 3-0 cushion at the 16:05 mark with Scott Wray and Les Reaney assisting.

The Brahmas had the 10-9 shot advantage after 20 minutes but were down by three heading into the first intermission in a game that was all but already over at that point.

Justin Kinnunen prevented the shut out 3:09 into the middle frame when he blasted the puck past Battochio to make it a 3-1 game with the assists coming from Jordan Cameron and Matt Burto.

The Rush fired back less than three minutes later when Rich Hansen, set up by Jamie VanderVeeken and Jon Pelle, beat Jaeger to make it 4-1 at the 6:01 mark.

Scott Wray wrapped up the scoring late in the second period, taking Les Reaney’s second assist of the night off a face-off and sending it top-shelf to secure the final score at 5-1 at the 18:08 mark.

Rapid City out shot the Brahmas 16-10 in the second period and had the game wrapped up after 40 minutes.

There would be no scoring in the final frame. The Brahmas had a 9-6 shot advantage, but were unable to beat the brick wall that was Danny Battochio. Rapid City had the 31-29 shot advantage in the game.

Brett Jaeger made 26 saves on 31 shots faced and takes the loss. His record goes to 19-15-3-2. Danny Battochio made 28 saves on 29 shots and earned the win. His record goes to 27-5-3-2.

The Brahmas went zero for six on the power play. Rapid City went one for two. The Brahmas were assessed four minutes on two infractions. The Rush received 12 minutes on six infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Danny Battochio for a stellar performance in net. The 2nd Star was awarded to Colt King, who had a goal and an assist and the 1st Star went to Scott Wray, who had a goal and two assists on the night.

You can view the box score here and the Game Live broadcast here

The Brahmas and the Rush will face off again tonight to decide the season series. The game begins at 7:35 CST.

Photo Credit: Jason Beert

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Greetings from Rapid City

Rush - Brahmas series starts tonight

Well, a lot's happened since I left the DFW area for Rapid City.

Let's start with the injury report. Scott Thauwald and Luke Sellars were placed on the 14-day Injured Reserve as of the 12th, meaning they are out for the remainder of the regular season. They join AJ Gale, who was previously placed on the 14-day IR as of March 10th. No "official" word on Minzy, who left the ice on Sunday after being checked into the boards. Nathan Perrott
was placed on Season Ending Injured Reserve on the 12th with an apparent knee injury. Those are all major bummers. On the up side though, Kevin McLeod has been activated and is here in Rapid City for the two-game series against the Rush, which begins tonight at 7:35pm CST.

As you probably know, the Laredo Bucks bumped the Brahmas out of third place on Saturday with their 5-3 win over the Arizona Sundogs. Then, on Sunday, the Bucks defeated the Brahmas with a 3-2 shoot out win at NYTEX. Foo! So, a regulation win tonight at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Arena is more important than ever for the Brahmas, who can pull within a point of the Bucks.

The Brahmas have clinched their playoff berth but it's going to be a photo finish to see if they can re-take third place in the South.

The Brahmas signed Adam Chorneyko on Sunday and he had some playing time during the game against Laredo. Chorneyko, 21, played last season with the Saskatoon Blades (WHL) where he tallied 51 points (17 G, 34 A) and 39 penalty minutes in 59 games played.

My wife and kids will be at tonight's game as well as Jenifer Coker Harrell, who will manning the Brahmas flag at the game. Keep an eye out on CHL-TV. I saw the boys this morning at breakfast (we're all staying at Howard Johnson's) before they had their early practice. As we speak, they're up in their rooms getting a little rest before it's time to get ready for the game. I'll be shooting the game tonight, so I'll be all over the place. Sorry, but the photos won't be edited and posted until the weekend.

Don't forget that on Saturday's game against the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs, I'll be manning a table to raise some money for the Ryan Christian Love Fund. I'll have some neat items for bid, including some team signed items from the 2008-09 and 2009-10 Brahmas, a Scott Sheppard signed stick, a Jeff Bes signed hockey stick, a Wes Mason Fort Worth Brahmas Captain's sweater, an Electric Guitar (that can be team signed, if you like) and your money - it's for a great cause.

That's all for now...wish the boys luck tonight!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Brahmas bounced in Mississippi 7-3

RiverKings score six straight to take four out of four in season series

Yeah, it was that ugly. The Mississippi RiverKings showed that you can mess with Texas tonight in a 7-3 massacre of the visiting Texas Brahmas. The 'Kings came back from a 3-1 deficit to tie the game in the first period and never looked back as they scored a total of six straight on the tandem of Palmer and Jaeger. It was the fourth win out of four games this season between the two teams with Mississippi outscoring the Brahmas 17-6 this season.

Can't call this one the worst beat down of the night though, considering Colorado's 11-6 win over the Tulsa Oilers. Odessa and Allen won tonight as well, so for me, this was a miserable night of hockey viewing.

With the loss, the Brahmas record goes to 31-23-6 with 68 points. Their road record goes to 9-17-4. To make the evening even worse, the Laredo Bucks came back from a 2-0 deficit and defeated the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees 3-2 in a shoot out. Guess what? The Bucks not only clinched a playoff spot but they are back in third place, tied with the Brahmas with a game in hand.

It was Matt Pierce's first game against his former team since the trade that sent him to the Brahmas last month. It was Pierce who jump started the night for the Brahmas when he took advantage of a 2-on-1 opportunity, deflecting the puck past Kyle McNulty for the goal 4:30 into the first period. Mick Berge and Jason Deitsch assisted.

Two minutes later, with Kevin Seibel locked up for Tripping, Mississippi returned the favor on the power play with a goal from Andrew Lackner, assisted by Darrell Stoddard and Ryan Held at the 6:23 mark.

Texas stormed back when rookie Lee Jubinville took a feed from Justin Kinnunen and sent a shot in from the side of McNulty’s net finding daylight for the Brahmas 2-1 lead at the 10:49 mark.

The offense continued to buzz for the Brahmas, resulting in a delayed penalty call when Lee Jubinville was tripped up; but was still given enough time for Scott Thauwald to find Justin Kinnunen, who beat the goaltender glove side at the 12:54 mark.

But Mississippi came back within one when Matt Summers netted the ‘Kings second power play goal of the game on Joe Palmer at the 14:52 mark, assisted by Derek Landmesser and Kevin Truelson.

Palmer was given a 10-minute No Category Misconduct after reportedly shooting the puck towards a linesman. Nathan Perrott served the penalty.

Ryan Held was then hooked on a breakaway attempt and given a penalty shot. He put the teams in a 3­-3 tie headed into intermission when he was able to convert with a beautiful play on Palmer. As a result, Dan Wildfong benched young Joe in favor of Brett Jaeger.

The wild first frame ended with the RiverKings ahead in the shot count 13-9 but the game remained tied at 3-3 heading into the first intermission.

Then it all started to unravel.

Mississippi went a perfect 3-for-3 in their third power play advantage when Kevin Truelson beat Jaeger 3:12 into the second, the lone goal of the period, resulting in the ‘Kings first lead in the game.

Once again, the RiverKings out shot the Brahmas; this time 12-9. They carried the 4-3 lead into the second intermission.

Darrell Stoddard made it a 5-2 lead when he scored his twelfth goal of the year unassisted 3:43 into the third period. In actuality, the Brahmas scored on themselves after sending an errant pass into their own net.

This was followed up by Matt Summers' second goal of the game to double up on the Brahmas 6-3 at the 6:22 mark. Glen Detulleo and Dane Marshall were credited with the assist.

A call on Grant Jacobsen for Hooking resulted in a sixth straight RiverKings goal coming from the stick of Dane Marshall, who caught the Brahmas defense standing still to secure the 7-3 final score. Andrew Lackner and Ken Davis assisted.

The Brahmas out shot the RiverKings 13-11 in the final frame but the RiverKings had the 36-31 advantage in the game.

Brett Jaeger made 12 saves on 14 shots faced and takes the loss. His record goes to 19-14-2-2. In relief, Joe Palmer made 17 saves on 21 shots faced in two separate shifts. Kyle McNulty made 28 saves on 31 shots and earned the win. His record with Mississippi goes to 3-0-0.

The Brahmas went zero for two on the power play. Mississippi went four for four. The Brahmas were assessed 18 minutes on five infractions. The RiverKings received four minutes on two infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Kevin Truelson, who had a goal and an assist on the night. The 2nd Star was awarded to Darrell Stoddard, who had the game-winning goal and two assists and the 1st Star went to Matt Summers, who had two goals.

You can view the box score here and the Game Live broadcast here

The Brahmas will return home to prepare to host the Laredo Bucks on Sunday for the final regular season meeting between the two teams in a game that will decide (once again) who will take sole possession of third place.
Brahmas sign Berge

Former American claimed off of waivers; Gale on IR

The Texas Brahmas placed AJ Gale on the 14-day Injured Reserve today, retroactive back to March 10th. They also signed forward Mick Berge, who was placed on waivers by the Allen Americans on Tuesday.

Berge, 25, played 16 games with the Americans, tallying six points (2 G, 4 A, +3) and 10 penalty minutes. The 5', 10" native of Oklahoma City signed with the Americans on October 30th. He was oft-injured, serving three stints on the 14-day IR and a 30-day, rior to being waived.

Berge played four seasons of NCAA hockey with Minnesota State University - Mankato and three seasons of junior hockey with the Lincoln Stars (USHL). He went pro at the end of the 2008-09 season, playing eight regular season games with the South Carolina Stingrays (ECHL), scoring three goals. In the playoffs, he played in five games, with a goal and an assist.

He is on the roster for tonight's game against the Mississippi RiverKings.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith
Goal or no goal - you decide (Click photo to enlarge)

We was robbed!

Smoking gun photo of the goal that wasn't

OK, here's that great photo from the first period of Wednesday night's game that I was talking about. This was taken by my buddy Walt Tenery. It clearly shows the puck crossing the goal line. Ok, 'nuff said. Nothing we can do now. As Al Davis would say, "Just win, baby!"

Photo Credit: Walt Tenery

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Looked like a goal to me (Click to enlarge photo)

Americans steal a win at NYTEX

Brahmas gain point, lose in 4-3 shoot out

There was nothing pretty about this game, but in the end, the Texas Brahmas earned a point in the standings after losing 4-3 in a shoot out to the Allen Americans last night at the NYTEX Sports Centre. Thanks to Corpus Christi’s 4-1 spanking of the Laredo Bucks at the LEC, the Brahmas are now two points ahead of Roscoe’s boys in the war for third place in the South.

With the loss, the Brahmas record goes to 31-22-6 with 68 points.

The Wednesday night crowd filtered in slowly and there was a pretty good turn out for a week night. There was even a small group of Allen fans in attendance for the final regular season meeting between the two teams.

Bodies were flying as the first period got underway but no penalties were called as the rivals were allowed to play.

Midway through the first period, Tyler Skworchinski apparently scored the first goal of the game when he skated the puck to the front of the crease and then sticked it up and over David McKee’s left leg pad, but it was waived off and play continued, much to the chagrin of the goal judge who was waving his arms trying to get referee Ryan Hersey’s attention (Dwight Mullins complained that the goal judge was celebrating like a fan and the young man was removed from his post after the first period).

Apparently, everyone saw the puck cross the goal line except the on-ice officials. Walt Tenery got a great shot of the puck over the line; I was only able to get this one (which is inconclusive) which shows it on its way over David McKee’s leg pad. Afterwards, the puck rolled out of the crease and was sent back into play by an American (either Nino Musitelli or Erik Adams).

The black helicopters are of course circling when it comes to the officiating in this game. Hersey (who dat?) Hersey’s whistle was invisible for the first two periods and only nine minors were called in the entire contest. As someone pointed out on Rajan’s blog today, there were an amazingly low number of penalties last night across the board (an average of 6.75 minors in four games with no majors or misconducts). Fishy – you bet!

Shortly thereafter, Americans rookie Tobias Whelan sent a shot past Brett Jaeger to give Allen the 1-0 lead at the 10:50 mark. Christian Gaudet and Erik Adams were credited with the assist. Whelan’s goal had the distinction of being the first time that the Americans had ever scored at NYTEX in the first period.

There was no further scoring in the first and after 20 minutes, the Americans had been out shot 10-8, but carried the 1-0 lead into the intermission.

The Brahmas came out strong in the second period and tied the game at the 2:22 mark when Scott Thauwald caught McKee out of position and blasted the puck into the net with the assists coming from Lee Jubinville and Nathan Perrott.

The Americans fired back when Jarrett Lukin redirected Tyler Wooddisse’s shot from the point to regain the Americans’ one-goal advantage with 5:37 remaining in the period. Colton Yellow Horn was also credited with the assist.

Allen out shot the Brahmas 17-13 in the middle frame and had a 25-23 advantage after 40 minutes. For the second period in a row, they skated off the ice with the lead, now 2-1.

A High Sticking call on Tyler Wooddisse put the Brahmas on an early man-advantage to open the third period. Kevin Seibel was able to score on a screened McKee at the 1:39 mark with a little help from James Hiebert and Luke Sellars.

Later in the period, with Lee Jubinville in the box for Board Checking, Tyler Shelast tipped blue liner Ryan Fairbarn’s shot into the cage to give Allen a 3-2 lead. Justin Bowers was also in on the play.

The Brahmas responded roughly two minutes later with a beautiful unassisted wraparound goal from Matt Pierce to tie the game 3-3 at the 15:38 mark.

The Brahmas had the offensive hustle going for them in the third frame and out shot the Americans 16-7 but was unable to wrap this one up with the remaining 4:22 and the game was forced into overtime.

The teams continued to put the heat on the goalies, but neither faltered in the extra five-minute period with two shots ladled apiece.

Allen headed into the shootout winning only one out of three contests that were forced past overtime against the Brahmas. Justin Bowers and Colton Yellow Horn were able to score on Jaeger, while McKee shut down everyone but Jason Deitsch. After one round, the Americans took two points and improved their record to 39-15-5.

Brett Jaeger made 31 saves on 34 shots faced and takes the loss. His record goes to 19-13-2-2. David McKee made 38 saves on 41 shots and earned the win. His record goes to 2-1-0.

The Brahmas went one for five on the power play. Allen went one for two. The Brahmas were assessed six minutes on three infractions. The Americans received 12 minutes on six infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Scott Thauwald, who had a goal. The 2nd Star was awarded to Matt Pierce, who had a goal and the 1st Star went to Colton Yellow Horn, who had a goal and an assist, including the game winner in the shoot out.

You can view the box score here and the Game Live broadcast here

You can view my photos from the game here

The Brahmas travel to Southaven, Mississippi for a game against the RiverKings on Friday night. You can watch it on CHL-TV or catch the updates on Pointstreak.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Justin Kinnunen voted "Fastest Skater"

Brahmas represented in the CHL's Best of the Best

Fans, barn recognized in league's annual poll

Every year, the Central Hockey League sends out ballots to players, coaches and broadcasters looking for the best of the best, on and off the ice. Now, these kinds of things don't mean a whole hill of pucks in the grand scheme of things but it's nice to be recognized in any manner. Here's a run down of the categories in which the Brahmas were listed in the top three.

Justin Kinnunen was voted the Fastest Skater, with Colorado's Riley Nelson and Corpus Christi's Ryan Garbutt coming in second and third.

Brett Jaeger came in third in the Best Goaltender category behind Odessa's Joel Martin and Rapid City's Danny Battochio.

Craig Minard came in second as Most Gentlemanly player, behind Colorado's Riley Nelson and ahead of Corpus Christi's Justin Quenneville.

James Hiebert took second as the Most Annoying Player, behind Missouri's Karl Sellan and ahead of Arizona's Konrad Reeder.

The NYTEX crowd took second place as the Most Annoying Fans (give yourselves a pat on the back, Rowdies) behind the Wichita fans and ahead of the Bossier-Shreveport fans.

The NYTEX Sports Centre took second place as Toughest Building To Win In, behind the Budweiser Events Center (Colorado) and ahead of the Rushmore Plaza Arena (Rapid City). Given the difficulties faced by the visiting Colorado and Rapid City teams, that might be a debatable point.

The Brahmas were in second place as Hardest Working Team, behind the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs and ahead of the Odessa Jackalopes.

Finally, the Texas Brahmas Fan Club came in second as Best Booster Club, behind the Boilers Booster Club (Bossier-Shreveport) and the Jack Pack (Odessa).

You can view the whole list here

Photo Credit: Robert Keith
Grant's back!

Cameron granted leave by league

Good news for the Brahmas - Grant Jacobsen has been activated from leave by the league and is expected to be on the ice tomorrow night against the Allen Americans.

In 46 games with the Brahmas this season, Jake has tallied 28 points (14 G, 14 A, -1) including two power play goals, three power play assists, a short-handed goal, three short-handed assists and two game-winning goals.

In other roster news, Jordan Cameron has been granted leave by the league and will be out for at least the next couple of games.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Denied! Deitsch, Sellars and Seibel teach Brendon Hodge you don't mess with Texas! (Click on photo to enlarge)

Rush get the NYTEX experience

Five goal second period leads Brahmas to 7-3 win; seven Brahmas score goals

Wow - didn't see that one coming. We can all say that - especially the Rapid City Rush, who through 20 minutes thought they were in the game. Last night at the NYTEX Sports Centre, the league champion Texas Brahmas took to the ice and dismantled the top team in the Northern Conference with a 7-3 win in front of a raucous, sold-out crowd.

What is missing on the road is found at home - this team has the moxy to pull out a big win when they need to and today, the Brahmas are once again in lone possession of third place in the Southern Conference, awaiting the Allen Americans, who come to the shoe box on Wednesday night.

Seven, count 'em, seven Brahmas scored goals last night, showing the scoring depth of Dan Wildfong's team. Perrott, Kinnunen, Deitsch, Jubinville, Seibel, Cameron, Skworchinski had goals. Five more had assists - Thauwald, Rouleau, Pierce, Hiebert and Sellars with two, in a game we'll remember for a long time to come.

But the Brahmas aren't where they want to be, by a long shot. With a record of 31-22-5 and 67 points, the Brahmas have but a one point lead over the Laredo Bucks (who have a game in hand). The Bucks lost last night at Odessa in a 5-4 shoot out. Both teams play next on Wednesday night - the Brahmas host the Americans; the Bucks host Corpus Christi. The war for third place will wage on and could be decided as late as the final games of the regular season on March 20th.

The whole thing started pretty cautiously as both teams tested each other and got to know one another on the ice.

A Hooking call on Colt King presented the opportunity for the first goal of the game. Unfortunately, it wasn't the Brahmas who scored. Instead, it was Rapid City scoring leader Les Reaney who tallied the first goal, shorthanded, as the Brahmas power play expired at the 8:31 mark. Brendan Cook was credited with the assist.

Less than five minutes later, the crowd at NYTEX erupted when Nathan Perrott answered for the Brahmas, skating in on Danny Battochio and slapping the puck past the rookie net minder to make it a 1-1 contest at the 13:12 mark. Scott Thauwald and Ross Rouleau were in on the assist.

Perrott and Colt King dropped the gloves a few minutes later, drawing matching five-minute Fighting Majors.

Rapid City out shot the Brahmas 16-9 in the first 20 minutes but the game was a draw going into the first intermission.

Then it all fell apart for Rapid City.

The Brahmas out shot the Rush 10-6 in the middle frame and since the Brahmas notched all the goals, here's how it went.

The first tally came just 45 seconds in as Justin Kinnunen, set up by Jason Seitsch and Matt Pirce, sent a shot past Danny Battochio to give the Brahmas a 2-1 lead.

A Hooking call on Rush defenseman Jamie VanderVeeken put the Brahmas on the power play where Jason Deitsch deflected the puck past Battochio at the 5:21 mark for the 3-1 lead.Luke Sellars and Justin Kinnunen assisted.

Battochio was pulled in favor of Miguel Beaudry, but things didn't go any better for the former Austin Ice Bat. Less than four minutes later, a shot from Lee Jubinville beat him glove high to give the Brahmas a 4-1 lead. Luke Sellars and Kevin Seibel were in on the assist.

The Brahmas continued to attack and a slapper from the point by Kevin Seibel fooled Beaudry at the 10:33 mark, taking the score to 5-1. James Hiebert and Jason Deitsch assisted.

A little bit of frustration was vented at the 16:22 mark as Tyler Skworchinski got into it with defenseman Gio Flamminio after taking a Cross Check from Les Reaney. Reaney got two minutes for his part and Skworchinski and Flamminio each got Roughing minors.

The relentless Brahmas attack continued with just over a minute-and-a-half remaining in the second when Jordan Cameron joined the scoring affair with an unassisted goal at the 18:25 mark.

Whew! A frustrated Rush team left the ice with a 22-19 shot advantage after 40 minutes but down 7-1, with the game clearly out of their hands.

Tyler Skworchinski banged the gong for the final Brahmas score at the 3:17 mark of the third period off of a set up by Jordan Cameron and Justin Kinnunen.

The Rush finally managed to get back on the board at the 5:24 mark with a power play tally on Brett Jaeger, scored by John Pelle; assisted by Les Reaney and former Fort Worth Brahma Scott Wray.

A little over five minutes later, the Rush salvaged a little more dignity with an even-strength tally by Rich Hansen; assisted by Derek LeBlanc and Luke Fritshaw.

Rapid City out shot the Brahmas 9-7 in the final frame and 31-26 in the game but left the barn with their heads hanging low after a 7-3 beat down at the Shoe Box. They travel to Odessa next to take on the Jacks on Tuesday night.

Brett Jaeger made 28 saves on 31 shots faced and earns the win. His record goes to 19-13-1-2. Danny Battochio made 8 saves on 11 shots in the first period. Miguel Beaudry made 11 saves on 15 shots in relief and takes the loss. His record goes to 14-8-3.

The Brahmas went one for five on the power play. Rapid City went one for six. The Brahmas were assessed 19 minutes on eight infractions. The Rush received 17 minutes on seven infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Jordan Cameron, who had a goal and an assist on the night. The 2nd Star was awarded to Jason Deitsch, who had a goal and two assists and the 1st Star went to Justin Kinnunen, who also had a goal and two assists on the night.

You can view the box score here and the Game Live broadcast here

You can view my photos from the game here and here


  • Five goals on 10 shots in the middle frame - by five different players! It doesn't get much better than that! And the last time the Brahmas scored seven goals in a game was in another 7-3 rout, this time at the Odessa Jackalopes on November 19th.
  • A pretty good compliment from Rajan in his blog today: "To beat the Brahmas in the Shoebox or even have a chance, you've got to bring a man's game, the kind that teams in the South play this year. The 'Box is to the CHL what Chicago Stadium and Boston Garden were to the NHL. Any win you get is earned and you'll likely leave with ice packs on your back." Greg - if you're reading this - you've got to get up here someday and experience "the 'box" for yourself. Cowtown, on the Brahmas board, brings up the Brahmas all-time record at NYTEX - 85-21-3 including 14-2 in the playoffs. Astounding indeed!
  • Compliments also from the Rush's leading scorer Les Reaney. In the third period, with the game wrapped up - Reaney asked me about Matt Burto, who he complimented on his play. Of course I had only good things about one of the truest Brahma players. Reaney also said he liked playing at the Shoe Box. Said he really liked the atmosphere here.
  • For the first time in my memory, a fan was ejected from the building. Apparently, the Rapid City bench was getting more than an earful from the fans seated behind their bench. At one point, Les Reaney got into some verbal sparring and then squirted a fan with his water bottle. The fan retaliated with beer. This led to a delay of the game while the individual was escorted away.
  • Apparently, Mike Looby's tantrum on Friday night was not the only one at NYTEX this weekend. Witnesses say that Rush forward Derek LeBlanc bashed several fluorescent light screens with his stick on the way to the visitor's locker room during the second intermission. Wow - I wonder how frustrated the Brahmas will make the Americans on Wednesday night!
The Brahmas will face the Allen Americans for the last regular season meeting between the clubs on Wednesday night. You don't need me to tell you how good this one is going to be.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith