Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Look who's back!

Nathan Saunders returns to the Brahmas blue line

The Texas Brahmas announced today that fan favorite Nathan Saunders has signed on for the 2010-11 campaign. The 6'3", 228 pound defenseman from Charlottetown, PEI will join rookie Jim Burichin on the blue line for his sixth pro season.

Brahmas Head Coach Dan Wildfong is thrilled to have Saunders back on the roster.

“Bringing in a player like Nathan fills in the void we had last season with grit and heart. Those are characteristics that cannot be taught, so we are happy to get him back for next season,” Wildfong said.

Saunders returns to the Texas Brahmas following a stint with Riviere-du-Loup CIMT (LNAH) where he tallied 12 points (7 G, 5 A) and 97 penalty minutes in 36 games played last season. He joined the Clarenville Caribous, a senior AAA ice hockey team based in Clarenville, Newfoundland and Labrador (West Coast Senior Hockey League). After winning the 2010 WCSHL Championship, the Caribous took home their second straight Herder Memorial Trophy.

During the Brahmas' President’s Cup Championship season, Saunders tallied a (pro) career-high 15 points (4 G, 11 A) and 159 penalty minutes. He ended the season with a +15 rating. Playing in all 16 post-season contests, he added three assists and 44 penalty minutes.

Outside of his other defensive skills, Saunders served as the de facto enforcer, a role that served notice to other teams - Don't Mess With Texas!

"I like being known as a guy who is always going to be there to stick up for his teammates and don’t get me wrong, I have no problem fighting," Saunders said in a March, 2009 interview with The Insider. "I enjoy it sometimes. It’s not something I want to do day in and day out, but I’m always going to stick up for my teammates. I don’t mind being labeled as that because I can always say no or yes to guys. You get chased around a little more being called a fighter, but I’ve got no problem saying no to guys if I don’t feel like fighting. So, it works out well for me."

The 25-year-old began his hockey career with the Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL). In four seasons (2001-02 to 2004-05), Saunders tallied 87 points (14 G, 73 A) and 794 penalty minutes in 261 games played. He was named to Team QMJHL for the RE/MAX Canada/Russia Challenge in 2003. He was team captain for the 2004-05 season.

Saunders played in 20 games with the Portland Pirates (AHL) in the 2005-06 season. He missed a significant amount of time out with a shoulder injury but returned to play nine games in the post-season.The following year was split between the Pirates and the Augusta Lynx (ECHL). He also split the 2007-08 season between the Providence Bruins (AHL) and the Johnstown Chiefs (ECHL).

He began the 2008-09 campaign in the ECHL, playing four games with the Stockton Thunder and six games with the Charlotte Checkers before joining the Brahmas on December 22nd.

There's no doubt, the addition of Saunders to the 2010-11 roster will create a huge buzz among Brahmas fans. The signing is also the first of several "sizable" additions to the team for the coming season. I'll have more on this when I publish interviews with Fonger and Ronnie Vogel, but for those who wanted some bigger players - you're going to get them this year.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

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