Thursday, March 4, 2010

Brahmas fall in Corpus Christi

IceRays win 3-1; Laredo beats Allen, takes sole possession of third in the South

The Texas Brahmas' road woes continued tonight at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi. The IceRays (in my opinion, the most underrated team in the league) took the lead in the first period and never relinquished it as they beat the Brahmas 5-2.

With the loss, the Brahmas record goes to 29-22-5; 9-16-4 on the road. Only Amarillo and Wichita have worse road records. With Laredo spoiling David McKee's goalie debut for Allen with a 6-1 win, the Bucks own the number three spot in the South with 65 points.

The Brahmas seem to be drifting into an inevitable first round playoff showdown with the IceRays unless they pull off some late season magic with only eight games remaining in the regular season. Fortunately, five of those games are at NYTEX, where the Brahmas have a 20-6-1 record.

It was an entertaining and pretty evenly played first frame with good officiating for once and only one penalty in 20 minutes (on Kyle Peto for Tripping Tyler Skworchinski in the defensive zone).

The IceRays had an 11-10 shot advantage with the extra shot making the difference as Adam Powell made a beautiful move to give his team the 1-0 lead. Kurtis Dulle's shot hit Brett Jaeger in the chest and with Jordan Cameron all over him, Powell spun around and caught the rebound with the blade of his stick, sending the puck top shelf over the shoulder of Jaeger who never had a chance. Making that shot over Jaegs' shoulder and under the crossbar - priceless (unless you're a Brahmas fan)! Morgan Maclean was also credited with the assist.

There was a lot of back and forth action in the period with several scoring opportunities but sharp play by the net minders, Jaeger and Kevin Beech, prevented any further scoring.

IceRays scoring leader and former Brahma Chad Woollard was stymied in the first 20 minutes and nearly got into it with Ross Rouleau, who stood his ground but lost his helmet in the process. Woollard dropped Kevin Seibel shortly thereafter to vent his frustration with the Brahmas' defenders.

The period ended with the back story of the Laredo Bucks with a 3-0 advantage over the visiting Allen Americans after one.

Just 73 seconds into the second period, the IceRays took a 2-0 lead when defenseman Kurtis Dulle took a pass from Chad Costello (from behind the net) and sent in a shot from the slot that went in, just inside the right post. Justin Quenneville was also credited with the assist.

Just over three minutes later, the Brahmas would cut that lead in half with a power play goal by Kevin Seibel. With Justin Quenneville in the bin for Holding Stick, Seibel, who was stationed just outside the crease, took a feed from Ross Rouleau and sent it into the back of the net to Beech's left side. Matt Pierce was also in on the assist.

The home team fought back and challenged Jaeger several times before finally scoring the insurance goal with 8:31 left in the period. Justin Quenneville found Chad Woollard in the slot and Woolly sent in a low shot, beating Jaeger for his league-leading 37th goal of the season.

With the 3-1 lead in hand, the IceRays kept up the pressure but were unable to tally another score in the period.

In a game that only had three penalties called, an unfortunate situation arose at the 17:59 mark. James Hiebert was battling Chris Richards for the puck along the half boards. Hiebert shouldered Richards who managed to knock Hiebert's helmet down around his neck. After some words were exchanged, Hiebert decided to punch Richards with a right to the jaw. There was no retaliation but in the aftermath, Corpus Christi had a five-on-three for the remainder of the period with Hiebert (Roughing) and Luke Sellars (Hooking) sent into the penalty box. The IceRays were upset that Referee Jon McIsaac didn't at least give out a double minor to Hiebert, but throughout the contest, McIsaac and his linemen were lenient.

After the period ended, Adam Powell made a move on Hiebert, who was heading off the ice. He was restrained, but it was obvious the third period would see a target painted on number seven's back.

Shots were even at 10 in the middle frame but the IceRays had the 21-20 advantage and the 3-1 lead after 40 minutes. The Brahmas received a little bit of help from the Allen Americans who finally got on the board in the second period, but with 20 minutes left in both games, the Brahmas and the Americans' chances didn't look good.

The Brahmas came out shooting in the third period and looked pretty fresh, but there would be no scoring until more than half the period was over. Fortunately, it was the Brahmas who got the tally.

James Hiebert found Matt Pierce, who was able to score on his former team mate Kevin Beech at the 11:48 mark. Matt Burto assisted.

A scary moment ensued when Luke Sellars and Nathan Perrott collided head-on (reminiscent of the Kinnunen/Korol collision in 2007-08) in the defensive zone, but both were able to shake it off and remain on the ice. For some reason, the IceRays fans thought it was funny and burst into applause. Maybe they were just happy the boys were OK. Yeah, maybe that was it.

Chad Costello put game away with a gorgeous goal on a breakaway at the 14:00 mark with the assist coming from Chad Woollard. Costello deked to his backhand and caught Brett Jaeger going the wrong way, hitting a wide open net with a forehand shot to make it a 4-2 game.

The Brahmas kept battling, but to no avail. With Jaeger pulled in favor of the extra attacker at the 18:20 mark, the boys tried their best but it was Ryan Garbutt 59 second later who sent the puck into an empty net unassisted to secure the final score at 5-2.

Shots were even at 34 in the game, but the ones that count favored the IceRays, who earned their second victory over the Brahmas this season. The teams will not meet again unless they face each other in the post-season.

Brett Jaeger made 29 saves on 33 shots faced and takes the loss. His record goes to 18-13-1-2. Kevin Beech made 32 saves on 34 shots and earns the win. His record goes to 9-3-1-2 with the IceRays.

The Brahmas went one for four on the power play. Corpus Christi went zero for five. The Brahmas were assessed 10 minutes on five infractions. The IceRays received eight minutes on four infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Justin Quenneville, who had two assists on the night. The 2nd Star was awarded to Chad Costello, who had a goal and an assist and the 1st Star went to Chad Woollard, who had the game-winning goal and an assist on the night.

You can view the box score here

  • Nice to see Justin Kinnunen back in the purple and black. Scratches tonight included Kevin McLeod and Grant Jacobsen.
  • Sorry to see no score from AJ Gale. Some good opportunities for him early in the contest and some fastastic passing between him and Jame Hiebert in the first.
  • Good effort by Kevin Seibel tonight. Outside of the score, he was playing some pretty effective D. I've noticed an upswing in his intensity ever since he returned from injury on February 19th. Seibs now has five points (2 G, 3 A) in his 13 games with the Brahmas.
  • This was first time the IceRays ever beat Brett Jaeger. He previously had a 6-0 record against Corpus with a 1.30 GAA. In addition, this was the first time the IceRays had beaten a Brahmas team at home since January 6, 2006. Since the re-birth of the Brahmas franchise, Corpus had previously gone 0-4-1 against Dan Wildfong's boys.
  • Odd night at the ABC. First, there was a glass delay late in the first period - it was actually a problem with a partition inside the IceRays' zone. Then, with the third period delayed due to a low flying bat - yeah, that's right, a low flying bat, Tyler Skworchinski swatted it down with his stick on his third attempt and then received a standing ovation from the IceRays bench. Bravo! The nocturnal flying rodent had apparently been inside the center for over a week. Hope PETA doesn't start picketing. Then, there was another brief delay due to a problem with the visiting bench. Not the team, but the bench itself. Not sure what the deal was there, but it got worked out pretty quickly.
  • Can the Brahmas make the post-season without another road win. Probably. Do they want to? No. The Brahmas will travel to Mississippi on March 12th and have a pair against Rapid City on March 16-17.
  • No thanks to Allen, who phoned in their game against Laredo, apparently making no effort to win in their 6-1 loss. Saving themselves for the playoffs? I wouldn't out it past them. With number one goalie Chris Whitley, they started David McKee who has seen better nights in net. Strategy? Let's see, would Allen like to face the Brahmas in the post-season? Doubt it. Watch out - the black helicopters are circling.
The Brahmas will have a lot to think about as they make the journey back to North Richland Hills where they will host the Laredo Bucks tomorrow night. With a win, they have a chance to tie for third in the South; with a loss, they are down by four points. They will host the kings of the North, the Rapid City Rush on Saturday night. We have two games in two nights at NYTEXthis weekend - be there, be loud, believe!

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