Saturday, October 30, 2010

Texas' charged power play beats Arizona 5-3

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, Texas (October 30)- On the eve of Halloween the Brahmas received a treat of their own in the form of a 5-3 victory over the Arizona Sundogs. Texas' special teams unit scored three power play goals Saturday to complete the two game sweep.

The opening frame was all about the Brahmas beginning when Calin Wild netted his second goal in as many nights five minutes into the game. The Brahmas power play cashed in with the man advantage when Dan Riedel posted his first goal of the season with the assist from Steven Later to put Texas up 2-0.

Karl Sellan put the ‘Dogs within one early in the second beating Kevin Beech at the 1:53 mark. A hooking call on Billy Bezeau of Arizona put Texas’ power play back on the job and an initial shot from the point by Ross Rouleau found Mick Lawrence’s blade that put the puck in the back of the net for the Brahmas 3-2 lead. Rouleau was called for a slashing call two minutes later, and as soon as he could make his way to the box it seemed, Arizona’s Tyler Butler converted on their fourth attempt with the man advantage.

Still, the Brahmas power play was on its game Saturday, and following an Arizona hooking call, Later made the ‘Dogs PK unit pay as he sent the puck top shelf over Bobby Jarosz for the Texas 4-2 lead heading into the second intermission. Arizona returned to the ice in the third ready for a comeback and put the ‘Dogs back within one with a goal from Maxime Renaud, but Alex Curran in his second professional game closed the doors when he sent the puck over Jarosz’ shoulder for the 5-3 victory.

The Brahmas went 3 for 4 on the power play and Kevin Beech stopped 33 of 36 shots for Texas’ sweep over Arizona.

Texas returns to the NYTEX Sports Centre on Saturday, November 6 for a 7:30 pm contest against the Arizona Sundogs.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Brahmas down 'dogs in 5-3 win

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, Texas (October 29)- Five goals from the Brahmas offense defeated the Sundogs 5-3 in Texas’ fifth game of the season Friday night in Arizona.

Those in attendance for the game between the 2008 Champs (Arizona) and 2009 Champs (Texas) were able to witness arguably the hardest slap shot in the league when Texas forward Chad Woollard went top shelf on the glove side for his second goal of the season and the Brahmas 1-0 lead. It took Jason Williams and the Arizona power play to even things up at the 13:29 mark when he beat Kevin Beech for the 1-1 tie.

An odd turn of events occurred in the second when the ‘Dogs took the lead when a loose puck danced in Beech’s crease and was directed by Mark Kolanos to the back of the net; unbeknownst to the Sundogs crowd and bench. With just under a minute remaining in the second, Matt Pierce gave Texas their second goal when he went over the shoulder of Doug Groenstege.

A second powerplay goal from the stick of Williams at the 5:58 marker helped the Sundogs regain the lead in the third, but within :25 seconds, the shorthanded Brahmas broke up a play sending a breakaway for Greg Hogeboom who on his attempt Groenstege caused a penalty shot in which Hogeboom converted on. Texas forward Mick Lawrence recorded his first goal of the season late in the final period, which was ultimately the game winner. In last ditch efforts, the ‘Dogs pulled their net minder for the extra attacker on a powerplay, but the Texas PK unit proved to be too strong late in the game as Calin Wild took a pass from Jason Deitsch and buried it into the empty net for the 5-3 Brahmas victory.

Beech stopped 41 shots on goal for his first win of the season.

The Brahmas and Sundogs square off for another contest Saturday night for a 9:05 PM CST start.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Brian Foster stops Greg Hogeboom's shot early in the first period

Brahmas stymied by Bossier-Shreveport

Mudbugs take early lead, win 4-2

One can always expect an exciting contest when the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs (and their fans) come to town. Unfortunately, it was those very fans who benefited most from the excitement as the visitors took an early lead and held on to win the game, snapping a two-game losing streak at the end of a three-in-three weekend. With the win, the Mudbugs improve to 4-2-0 while the Brahmas fall to 1-2-1.

The game started poorly for the home team as Brett Smith scored on the Mudbugs’ first offensive rush of the game, burying a pass from Joe Blaznek past Wayne Savage just 27 seconds into the first frame to take a 1-0 lead.

Smith was called for Slashing at the 2:16 mark, giving the Brahmas' special teams their first power play of the game but they were unable to convert on the man-advantage.

Smith later got into his first fight of the season, taking on Dan Riedel after the newest Brahma violently checked him into the boards in front of the visiting bench at the 11:56 mark. The fight was a draw and Riedel was assessed two minutes for Board Checking as well as a Fighting Major. Smith drew a Fighting Major as well, coupled with a two-minute Fighting (Instigator) and a 10-minute Fighting (Instigator) Misconduct and an early trip to the visiting locker room..

An Elbowing call on Brahmas defenseman Kevin Kraus put the Mudbugs on their first power play of the evening and with 56 seconds left in the period, Travis Clayton directed a centering feed from Shawn Limpright past Savage to take a 2-0 lead. Steven Crampton also received an assist on the play.

The Brahmas narrowly led the shot count 9-8 after the first 20 minutes of play.

Brian Foster looks on helplessly as the puck flies past him.

Texas drew back within one at the 10:26 mark of the middle frame when Jason Deitsch stole a puck outside the Mudbug line and beat Brian Foster just inside the post to the glove side to make it a 2-1 contest.

Bossier-Shreveport answered just 11 seconds later with David Rutherford’s blast from the high slot beat Savage to regain the two-goal edge at 3-1. Justin Aikins and Jeff Martens were credited with the assist.

The second fight of the game took place less than a minute later when Martens squared off with the Brahmas' Tyler Allen after being held by the rookie forward. Both received Fighting Majors and Allen was also given two minutes for the Holding call.

There would be no further scoring in the period. The Brahmas led the shot count again, this time 9-6 and 18-14 through 40 minutes.

The Brahmas came out on the attack to start the final frame, out shooting the Mudbugs 13-4.

They closed the gap to one on Jesse Dudas’ unassisted goal which capped an end-to-end rush at the 15:15 mark.

Matt Pierce introduces his right fist to David Pszenyczny's head

There were two more altercations in the third period - Steven Later and Mitch Love locked horns at the 12:33 mark and then Matt Pierce took on David Pszenyczny at the 17:14 mark of play.

With Wayne Savage pulled in favor of the extra attacker late in the frame, the Brahmas made a solid effort to score again to force the game into overtime, but a loose puck picked up by an unopposed Shawn Limpright’s whose empty net score at the 19:57 mark sealed the win for the Mudbugs.

Brian Foster is now 1-0 in his pro career after returning from Rochester of the AHL to start for the Mudbugs in goal, while Wayne Savage drops to 1-1-1 after making 14 saves on 18 shots faced. Texas out shot Bossier-Shreveport 31-18 in the contest.

The Brahmas went a dismal 0 for 7 on the power play. The Mudbugs went 1 for 6. Texas was assessed 34 minutes on 11 infractions. Bossier-Shreveport received 46 minutes on 13 infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Matt Pierce, who was a -1 with two shots and five penalty minutes. The 2nd Star was earned by Jesse Dudas, who had a goal and was a +2 on three shots. The 1st Star was awarded to the Mudbugs' David Rutherford, who scored the game-winning goal and was a +1 on four shots on the evening.

Referee: Geoff Miller; Linesmen: Jean Minard, Bill McGoldrick.

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

You can read the Brahmas press release here

You can view my photos from the game here

The Brahmas will take to the road next weekend for a two-game series against the Arizona Sundogs on Friday and Saturday; both games have a 9:05 pm CST start time and can be seen on CHL TV.

Photo Credits: Robert Keith
Jeff Hazelwood during Friday night's home opener

Hazelwood on IR; Riedel signs

Brahmas host Mudbugs for 1st game of 2010-11 I-20 Series

Brahmas forward Jeff Hazelwood was placed on 10-day injured reserve today after contributing four shots during Friday night's home opener against the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees.

As previously reported, right wing Dan Reidel has indeed officially signed with the Brahmas. He will be on the ice against the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs tonight.

Photo Credit Robert Keith
Cash is back...temporarily

Former Brahmas goalie signs 5-game contract with the Mudbugs

Imagine this. You're having a couple of beers with your brother in Cambridge, Massachusetts and your phone rings. It's the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs calling and they want to know if you'd like to play tomorrow. Now, you haven't skated for over 16 months and you haven't worn a sweater since the Texas Brahmas won the Ray Miron President's Cup on May 6, 2009...what do you do?

Here's what David Cacciola did - he got on a plane to Louisiana and signed with the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs and indeed, made his first start in net since March 21st, 2009.

The Mudbugs were in need (understatement) - Jeff Harvey was placed on goaltender injured reserve after some rough play in the previous game against Allen. Shane Foster had been called up to the Rochester Americans (AHL) and John DeCaro was still out on IR, where he started the season due to a serious injury at the end of last season. Ken Carroll wasn't an option due to paperwork issues. So, who to get in short notice? Cacciola was considered a viable option and given the quandary the Mudbugs were in, he was glad to help.

Playing 59:10 against the rival Allen Americans last night, Cash had a rough night, to say the least. In shape, but not in playing shape, the 28-year-old net minder must have felt like he was running a marathon. He allowed four goals in the 5-3 loss, but made some great saves during the contest. He is expected to serve as backup to Brian Foster during tonight's visit to the NYTEX Sports Centre.

Cacciola played 28 regular season games with the Mudbugs during his rookie season in 2005-06 and went 18-5-4 with a 2.54 GAA and a .926 save percentage. During the post-season, Cash contributed to the 'Bugs wins over the Wichita Thunder (four games to one) in the quarterfinals and the Colorado Eagles in the semi-finals (four games to one) before beings squashed by the Laredo Bucks (four games to in) in the Ray Miron President's Cup Finals.

Despite the heartbreak of losing in the Finals, Cash led all CHL goalies in the post-season with minutes played (717:33), wins (8), GAA (1.76), saves (405) and save percentage (.951).

Cash went on to play for the New Mexico Scorpions in 2006-07 and then became the first player signed to the new Texas Brahmas in 2007-08, teaming up with Brett Jaeger to help the Brahmas make it to within a game of the Finals that season and to a President's Cup Championship in 2008-09.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Friday, October 22, 2010

Rookie right wing Tyler Allen in action

Brahmas swat Killer Bees in home opener

Rio Grande Valley meltdown leads to 3-2 Brahmas win

Dejected after a 0-2 start on the road against the arch rival Allen Americans, 1,962 fans at the NYTEX Sports Centre witnessed a refreshing display of hometown hockey with a 3-2 win over the visiting Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees.

The Brahmas out shot Rio 45-18 and went 2 for 8 on the power play while rookie goaltender Wayne Savage earned his first professional win.

A Tripping call on Chad Woollard just 32 seconds into the first frame put the Brahmas penalty kill to an early test but the Killer Bees managed to capitalize with an aggressive power play. Defenseman Jake Obermayer took a feed from Zak McClellan and ripped a slap shot from the point that was deflected into the net at the 2:05 mark by Sean Muncy, who was stationed in front of the crease.

The Brahmas sent a flurry of shots at second-year goalie Juliano Pagliero but the former Niagara
University Purple Eagle kept his guard up and stopped all 16 shots faced in the first 20 minutes - just two shots shy of the total Wayne Savage would see in the game.

Rob Cowan takes a right to the jaw, courtesy of Roger "The Silver Hammer" Maxwell

Later in the period, Killer Bees defenseman Rob Cowan made the mistake of taking on Brahmas enforcer Roger Maxwell. While the two wrestled upright for a time, each landing some ineffective blows, Maxwell eventually got the upper hand - or should I say fist -square across Cowan's left jaw, dropping the 6' 4", 233 pound defender like a rag doll. Maxwell's smile couldn't be bigger as he skated off the ice for an early trip to the locker room. Matching Fighting Majors were of course assessed.

The Brahmas out shot the Killer Bees 16-5 in the first 20.

Opening the middle frame on the power play due to a slashing call on Jake Obermayer at the final tic of the first period, the Brahmas scored the equalizer at the 1:27 mark. Defenseman Jesse Dudas registered his first goal as a Brahma with a blast that hit the back of the net, beating a stunned Pagliero. Steven Later and Matt Pierce were in on the assist.

Less than 40 seconds later, Killer Bees bad guy Brett Clouthier lost his composure and like a scene from When Animals Attack, the disreputable forward tried to maul Steven Later and would find himself tossed with a Fighting Major and a 10 minute Fighting (Aggressor) Game Misconduct.

Clouthier's attacked earned the only penalty minutes of the period and there was no further scoring. The Brahmas led the shot count again at 12-8.

A High-Sticking Double Minor on Brett Wilson at the 1:03 mark and a Roughing call on Matt Smyth put the Brahmas on an early two-man advantage, resulting in Greg Hogeboom netting his third goal of the season from the doorstep of Pagliero’s crease to give the home team their first lead of the night at the 2:17 mark.

shot of the night, assisted by Kyle Aaron Lee put a damper on celebrations when he beat Wayne Savage with the Killer Bees' 14thRadke and Zac McClellan at the 14:06 mark. Less than a minute later, a feed from Matt Pierce led to the first professional goal for right wing Tyler Allen who sent the puck past Pagliero to seal the win for the Brahmas at the 15:33 mark.

Jesse Dudas celebrates Tyler Allen's game-winning goal in the third period

The Brahmas held a 17-5 shot advantage in the final frame and a 45-18 advantage in the game.

Wayne Savage stopped 16 of 18 shots faced to earn the win. Juliano Pagliero stopped 42 of 45 shots faced and takes the loss.

The Brahmas went 2 for 8 on the power play. The Killer Bees went 1 for 4. Texas was assessed 15 minutes on six infractions while Rio faced 36 minutes on 11 infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Jesse Dudas, who had a goal and was a +1 on six shots. The 2nd
Star was earned by Tyler Allen, who had the game-winner and was also a +1 on five shots. The 1st Star was awarded to Greg Hogeboom, who scored a power play goal and was a -1 on five shots on the evening.

Referee: Geoff Miller; Linesmen: John Grandt, Chris Petrin.

You can view the box score here

You can read the Brahmas press release here

You can view my photos from the game here

The Brahmas will host the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs for the first game of this season's I-20 Series on Saturday night. It's also Magnet Schedule Night - the first 1,000 fans in attendance for the contest will receive 2010-11 magnet schedules courtesy of ZuRoma Bar and Grill.

Photo Credits: Robert Keith

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Riedel to join Brahmas

Former Tulsa Oilers forward claimed off waivers

Kind of did a double-take when I saw Dan Riedel's name on the transactions list (waived) Monday afternoon. Riedel, 25, was one of the Tulsa Oilers' top five scorers last season with 41 points (18 G, 23 A, +1) and 49 penalty minutes in 52 games played. That included 13 points (7 G, 6 A) on the power play and three game-winning goals.

Riedel was a healthy scratch (the first time in his pro career) for Friday night's home and season opener against the Wichita Thunder, a 4-3 win for Tulsa. He was not listed on the roster for Saturday night's game at Wichita, a 4-1 win for Tulsa. By the following day, he knew his season would be played elsewhere. After a couple of days of uncertainty (would he remain in the CHL, play in Europe or go back to school) Riedel was packing up and getting ready to head to North Richland Hills on Wednesday morning to join the Texas Brahmas.

Turns out, with right wing Harrison Reed sent down from the Lake Erie Monsters (AHL) and forward John Mori joining the team, Riedel became the odd man out, as much a casualty of the salary cap than space on the roster. Oilers head coach Bruce Ramsay attempted a couple of trades, but in the end, Riedel was placed on waivers and Dan Wildfong quickly seized the opportunity to bring Reidel into the Brahmas family.

I was at NYTEX this morning when Riedel arrived. The 5' 9", 177 pound native of Rochester Hills, Michigan is a very personable individual and a guy who very obviously is hankering to play some hockey. It's doubtful he'll play on Friday night, but we may see him on the ice as early as Saturday, when the Brahmas take on the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs.

A little background for those unfamiliar...Riedel played three seasons of Junior A hockey beginning with the Springfield Jr. Blues (NAHL) where he registered 67 points (29 G, 38 A) and 110 PIM in 56 games played. He split the following season with the Jr. Blues and the Lincoln Stars (USHL) with a combined output of 58 points (30 G, 28 A) and 77 PIM in 54 games played.

Returning to the Stars in 2004-05, Riedel tallied a league-leading 81 points (30 G, 51 A) in 60 games played. He was rated as the seventh-best forward on Inside College Hockey's top incoming freshmen rankings and was selected as the 2004-05 USHL/CCM Forward of the Year.

A season and a half of NCAA Division I hockey followed with the Ferris State Bulldogs (CCHA) but after playing 19 games during the 2006-07 season, Riedel left the team and officially withdrew from the University to pursue a professional playing career. He spent the remainder of the season playing in the ECHL with the Phoenix Roadrunners, Toledo Storm and the Pensacola Ice Pilots.

Riedel spent the following season in the IHL with the Muskegon Fury, putting up 52 points (29 G, 23 A) and 69 PIM in 67 games played. He added seven points (3 G, 4 A) in six post-season contests. Riedel returned to the ECHL in 2008-09, playing 55 games with the Dayton Bombers (with 46 points on 19 G, 27 A) and 17 games with the Las Vegas Wranglers (with 11 points on 4 G, 7 A). During the playoffs, he added 14 points (6 G, 8 A) in 17 games.

Riedel attended the Oklahoma City Barons' (AHL) inaugural training camp in September.

Photo Credit: Les Stockton/Pro Hockey News

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Back in (Purple and) Black

Ross Rouleau re-signs with the Brahmas

The Texas Brahmas have signed defenseman Ross Rouleau to the 2010-11 roster, confirmed today by

Rouleau, 22, had signed with the Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL) back in early August.

“Ross plays a hard-nosed style of defense,” K-Wings head coach Nick Bootland said at the time of the signing. “He’s not a big guy, but he’s certainly willing to get his nose dirty. He’s an up-and-coming young defenseman who possesses a heavy shot.”

Unfortunately, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL) sent the K-Wings four defensemen on two-way contracts during the pre-season and the team had to release Rouleau. He returned to Texas on the 15th and has been in town getting to know his new teammates and getting some time in on the ice. He made an appearance at the fan club's welcome party on Tuesday night when news of his addition to the team was revealed.

After playing two years at Finlandia University, Rouleau joined the Brahmas after earning a training camp contract at the 2008 Making the Cut prospect camp. Joining his brother Pete on the team, he was placed on waivers early in the season but returned later, seeing action in 17 regular season and 15 post-season contests and contributing to the Ray Miron President’s Cup Championship win in 2009.

The 6’, 180-pound native of Hancock, Michigan had four goals and 14 assists in 60 regular season games last season. He added four assists in eight post-season contests. He was also called up to the Houston Aeros (AHL) for one game.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith
The Truest Brahma

Defenseman Craig Minard hangs up the skates

Minard, Craig (D) waived

Something I thought we'd never see, but given the circumstances, it's bittersweet. Always hated that word, but it fits here.

When I heard the news yesterday morning that Minzy had told Dan Wildfong he would no longer be a Brahma, I can't say it was altogether surprising. There were many questions during the off-season as to his future. Considering the nature of his injury - would he be able to play this season? Would he retire? Would he take a coaching position somewhere? And then there was the most difficult question - would Fonger have to make the tough decision to place his former teammate, his Captain, his friend on waivers in favor of another player?

That last question had to be asked, but the possibility that Craig Minard would ever play anywhere else was too far from belief. After all, he is the consummate Texas Brahma.

The news itself was hard to hold onto...I've always said that it's tough being an "insider" when you can't share the news. I'd been holding onto the photo that now graces the banner of the Texas Brahmas Insider for a few weeks since I came across it. It's not the greatest shot, but there was something about it I liked. I figured it would be used for an article about Minzy sometime at the beginning of the season. Never thought it would be used for this purpose, but the reality if the situation is this: it's time to both mourn the loss of one of our favorite players, and at the same time, celebrate his career. Especially his time with the Texas Brahmas.

I'll have some more to add in the near future.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Adrien LeMay denies Matt Pierce during tonight's shootout win over the Brahmas (click photo to enlarge)

Brahmas lose 5-4 in Allen

10-round shootout decides thriller at the AEC

The Texas Brahmas earned a point in the standings but lost their second game in a row tonight in a 5-4 shootout at the Allen Events Center.

Special teams shined again, killing 7 of 8 Allen power plays and scoring a power play goal and a short-handed goal in the battle royale that was this contest.

In his first pro start, Wayne Savage faced 57 shots in regulation, stopping 53.
Young Adrien LeMay, who I had the pleasure of seeing during a Dallas Stars camp this summer, also had his first pro start and earned the win for the Americans.

This was an excellent game from start to finish and I have to complement players on both squads for restraining themselves when things started to get chippy in the latter part of the second period and throughout the third period. The crowd of 3,192 was loud and into it throughout the game and stood on their feet during the shootout. I have to admit, though focused on the game through the lens of my camera, I was on the edge of my seat (so to speak, because I was standing) during the final minutes of regulation, the final minute of OT and throughout the shootout.

The Americans were hosting a Pink in the Rink event, benefiting the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which is why the players donned pink sweaters, which were auctioned off after the game.

The Americans came out strong, firing 11 shots against Wayne Savage in the first half of the opening period, while the Brahmas were held in their defensive zone and unable to challenge Adrien LeMay until later in the frame when they scored two goals on seven shots.

Forward Mick Lawrence sent a pass through the slot to Jason Deitsch, who quickly set up a Chad Woollard, who charged the net and caught LeMay out of position and sent the puck sliding past LeMay's left skate, giving the Brahmas a 1-0 lead at the 14:23 mark.

A Hooking call on Tyler Allen with 50 seconds remaining to play set up the Americans' third power play but the Brahmas' special teams were on the case. Greg Hogeboom managed to take possession of a loose puck and went in on a breakaway, sending the puck over a sprawling LeMay and into the net, making it 2-0 with seven seconds left in the period.

The American had a 17-7 shot advantage in the first period and like the previous evening, they out shot the Brahmas in every frame (in regulation).

The Americans came out strong in the opening moments of the middle frame and immediately too the fight into the Brahmas' zone. Just 1:39 into the period, Allen Captain Jarret Lukin took a shot that was blocked but he caught the rebound and was able to rifle it past Savage, who was caught seated and unable to make the save from the right edge of the crease. Colton Yellow Horn and Erik Adams were credited with the assist.

Keeping up the pressure, Allen struck again just under a minute later when Bruce Graham took the puck to the net from behind the goal line. His initial shot was blocked by the goalie's stick, but he wristed the rebound over Savage’s right shoulder, tying the game at 2-2.

The Brahmas would take back the lead four and a half minutes remaining in the period. A cross-ice pass from Jesse Dudas found Jeff Hazelwood as he charged in from the face off circle to Lemay’s right and buried it to make it a 3-2 contest.

That lead wouldn’t last long, 36 seconds to be exact. After a pile-up in front of the crease, David Nimmo found the puck near Savage's left skate and quickly shuffled the equalizer into the left side of the net, recorded at the 16:06 mark. Nino Musitelli and Bruce Graham registered assists on the play.

The Americans had a 21-17 shot advantage and led 38-24 after 40 minutes.

There was no scoring in the first half of the third frame, but a Hooking call on Chad Woollard led to an entertaining score by Allen's David Strathman. The rookie defenseman started from behind the Americans' net and weaved his way through defenders, all the way to the Brahmas' net, where he faked out Savage with a backhander, putting the Americans up for the first time in the game, 4-3. It was the second unassisted goal for the Americans and the third in the contest.

put the Brahmas special teams back on the ice. Once again, the lead didn't last for long; this time for 48 seconds. A Holding call on David SimoesDefenseman Jason Krischuk fired a shot from the point to tie the game up again at the 11:51 mark. Greg Hogeboom and Mick Lawrence were credited with the assist.

The remainder of the period was filled with a back and forth battle but neither team could put the finishing touch on the game. Three penalties in the final two minutes gave the Americans a man-advantage - first a five-on-four, then four-on-four and then four-on-three for the final 37 seconds, but Savage held strong and the game went into overtime.

The Brahmas had a 6-4 shot advantage, but neither team was able to score despite a concerted effort by both squads and a shootout would decide the game.

beat Savage in the tenth round of the shootout and when Craig The shootout was very intense and both goaltenders turned in strong performances and the shooters matched one another when it counted. Finally, Americans defenseman Justin DeCostaMinard couldn’t match the goal, the Americans had the win.

Allen led the shot count 57-36 through the overtime period. The win gave the Americans a weekend sweep over the Brahmas and a 2-0-0 record to start the season.

Wayne Savage stopped 53 of 57 shots faced and takes the loss. Adrien LeMay stopped 32 of 36 shots faced and earned the win.

The Brahmas went 1 for 3 on the power play, the Americans went 1 for 8. Texas was assessed 18 minutes on nine infractions, Allen was assessed 12 minutes on six.

Allen took all three stars of the game - the 3rd Star was awarded to Adrien LeMay, for his performance in net. The 2nd Star went to David Nimmo, who had a goal and the 1st Star went to Jarret Lukin, who also had a goal.

Referee: Dan Dreger
Linesmen: Chris Petrin, Jean Menard

  • Wayne Savage made 83 saves on 88 shots by the Americans over the two-game series. He is third in the league in time played (120:41), eighth with a 2.49 GAA and fourth with a .943 save percentage. He also leads the league in saves (83).
  • Brahmas special teams went 2 for 6 on the power play and killed 12 of 13 Allen power plays. They lead the league with a 33.33 power play percentage and are fourth in the league with a 92.31 penalty kill percentage. What a change from last season.
  • Greg Hogeboom was the most productive Brahma with a goal and an assist on four shots. He had three points on special teams in the two-game series ( 2 G, 1 A, +0), including a power play goal, a short-handed (unassisted) goal and a power play assist. He leads the team in goals, points and a .333 shot percentage.
  • Former IceRays teammates lead the Brahmas with 19 penalty minutes and are tied with Arizona's Adam Smyth to lead the league in PIM after the opening weekend.
You can view my photos from the game here

You can view the Pointstreak Box Score here and the Pointstreak Game Live broadcast here

You can view the Brahmas' press release here

The Brahmas will return to NYTEX to regroup and prepare for Friday night's home opener against the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees. Chris Brooks' boys split their weekend home stand against the Laredo Bucks, winning 4-2 on Friday and losing in a 4-3 shootout on Saturday. The first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive Brahmas rally towels. The Brahmas will host the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs on Saturday night and attendees will receive magnet schedules.

If you don't already have tickets, make it I like to say: It's not just hockey. Be there, be loud, believe!

Photo Credit: Robert Keith
Rough night for Beecher

Brahmas drop season opener 5-2

The Texas Brahmas had a rough time last night, to say the least. Yeah, things went South in a hurry when rookie forward Alexandr Quesnel beat Kevin Beech just 22 seconds into the first period. Tobias Whelan and David Simoes were in on the assist.

Less than three minutes later, another rookie, Dustin Donaghy sent one in through the five hole to make it a 2-0 game. Tobias Whelan had his second assist on that one. 72 seconds later, Judd Blackwater, who signed a five-game contract yesterday, sent a backhander past Beech to make it a 3-0 contest. Colt Yellow Horn and Liam Huculak were credited with the assist.

Blackwater's goal ended Beech's night after allowing three goals on just four shots. That had to hurt, but we all know that performance wasn't indicative of Beech's capabilities. Wayne Savage took his place in defense of the net.

Things started looking up for the Brahmas when Tyler Allen registered his first professional goal at 8:04 mark, assisted by Jim Burichin and Matt Pierce, but that would do it for the scoring in the first frame. Brahmas special teams shut down two power play opportunities later in the period after back-to-back tripping calls on Matt Pierce and Kevin Kraus.

The Americans out shot the Brahmas 11-8 after 20 minutes of play.

The second period would remain scoreless until the the Brahmas special teams went on the power play after Allen defenseman Iain Mcphee was sent to the sin bin for cross-checking. Greg Hogeboom’s shot from the point sailed over Chris Whitley's shoulder and into the back of the net to cut the Americans' lead to 3-2. Former IceRays Jason Ktischuk and Chad Woollard assisted. Things were hopeful at that point.

The American led again in the shot count, 13-6 in the middle frame

Great defensive play on both sides held off any third period scoring until an unassisted strike by Liam Huculak made it 4-2 for the home team. Tempers flared and Steven Later got into it with Dustin Donaghy, bringing the fans to their feet with just 1:31 remaining in the game.

With just over a minute remaining in the game, Wayne Savage was pulled in favor of the extra attacker but Allen defenseman Erik Adams was able to slide one in at the 19:01 mark to seal the final score at 5-2.

The Americans had the 12-8 shot advantage in the final frame and 36-22 in the game.

Thanks to Chip Crail/43 Photography for the following photos from the game (click to view larger images):

You can view the box score here

You can view the Brahmas press release here

Kevin Beech made one save on four shots and takes the loss. Wayne Savage stopped 30 of 31 shots faced in relief. Chris Whitley saved 20 of 22 shots and earned the win.

The Brahmas went 1 for 2 on the power play. The Americans went 0 for 3.

Texas was assessed six minute on three penalties, Allen received four minutes on two.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Wayne Savage, for his performance in net. The 2nd Star was awarded to Chris Whitley, for his defense of the crease and the 1st Star went to Tobias Whelan, who had two assists.

Referee: Dan Dreger
Linesmen: Brian Bull, Anthony Rivera

You can view the box score here
  • Special teams play was the highlight of the night for the Brahmas, scoring on one of two power plays and shutting down all three Allen power plays. Texas starts the season atop the league with a 50.00 power play percentage and 100% on the penalty kill.
  • Wayne Savage ended the night with a 1.08 GAA and a .968 save percentage with 55:41 in net. Turns out he's everything Forbie said he was.
  • Three goals allowed in the first 4:19 of play? How do you recover from that? Can't blame Beecher as the Brahmas defense regularly leaves the goalie on his own. Not saying that was the problem on each goal, but this needs to change.
  • The Brahmas have not won a regular season road game since February 15th.
  • The Americans raised their 2009-10 Southern Conference Champions banner in a pre-game ceremony. They had a great run last season and considering a trip to the finals in their first tear on the ice, they deserve a high-five.
The teams will meet again tonight at the Allen Events Center with a 7:00 pm start time.

Tonight’s game will feature the Susan G. Komen Foundation, benefiting breast cancer research. The Americans players will wear special pink jerseys for Pink in the Rink night, which will be auctioned off after the game.

Prior to the game, musical guest Petty Theft, which features Mike Rhyner of Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket, will perform in front of the building, starting at 5:00 pm.

Photo Credit: Chip Crail/43 Photography

Friday, October 15, 2010

Jason Beeman being escorted off the ice by linesman Chris Petrin

Final Cuts?

Beeman, Toneys placed on waivers

The Brahmas have released the ninth and 10th members of their training camp roster as of Thursday evening, according to Pointstreak.Com.

Fighting forward Jason Beeman and defenseman Nick Toneys were the latest casualties.

The Brahmas 2010-11 roster at the league deadline looks like this:


Kevin Beech
Wayne Savage


Jim Burichin
Jesse Dudas
Kevin Kraus
Jason Krischuk
Steven Later
Craig Minard
Nathan Saunders


Jason Deitsch
Greg Hogeboom
Ryan McLeod
Tom Train
Tyler Allen
Jeff Hazelwood
Roger Maxwell
Matt Pierce
Chad Woollard
Mick Lawrence
Calin Wild

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Veteran Brahmas enforcer more than just a fighter

Roger Maxwell entering 15th pro season tonight

When the Texas Brahmas took the ice at the NYTEX Sports Centre for their first pre-season game last Friday night, one player stood out among the rest. Roger Maxwell, at 6' 2", 240 pounds and wearing the number 49 sweater, was no doubt a player to watch.

Those who observed Maxwell during the Brahmas' week-long training camp thought he seemed a little out of place. Here was someone who was playing pro hockey when most of the young men competing for a spot on the 2010-11 roster were just starting to play the sport. He didn't appear to be in the best of shape, and in fact, might have passed for a member of one of the adult leagues who play their games in the mixed-use sports complex. But the more they watched, the more they reconsidered those initial thoughts.

When the puck dropped to start the game between the Brahmas and their cross-town rivals, the Allen Americans, it soon became evident why Maxwell was there. The Brahmas, who were bullied throughout the 2009-10 season, lacked an effective enforcer. Defenseman Nathan Saunders, who last filled the role and contributed to the team's 2009 Ray Miron President's Cup Championship win, had returned to Canada shortly thereafter to play in the Ligue Nord-Américaine de Hockey (LNAH) - where Roger Maxwell had spent the previous five seasons.

It wasn't long before things got chippy between the Brahmas and the Americans. Last season, the inaugural year for the expansion Americans, fights broke out so often that it seemed odd for the two clubs to get through one or two periods, let alone an entire game without a skirmish. In fact, one battle in December took place during pre-game warm-ups, resulting in two players from each team being suspended for a combined 12 games.

With Maxwell on the ice as a deterrent, the young Americans played nice for most of the first period. Meanwhile, referee Ryan Hersey seemed to be taking an interest in Maxwell, but given the popularity of Hersey in these parts, the presumed "soft calls" only riled fans and cemented the enforcers' instant popularity.

When Maxwell delivered a powerful check on Allen Defenseman Mark Hinz with just over a minute left in the frame, Hinz' fellow blue liner Ryan McGill did a little enforcing of his own, but failed to deliver a knockout. Showing they could hold their own, three other Brahmas did battle in the second period while Maxwell fought defenseman Todd Orlando midway though the third period.

The following night, in the only altercation of the game, Maxwell mixed it up with Allen winger Liam Huculak. In addition to his talent for fighting, Maxwell showed he could hold his own on offense and skated as many shifts as any of his younger counterparts in each game. The Brahmas won both contests.

After all was said and done, Maxwell was able to accomplish something 10 other participants in training camp didn't - he made enough of an impression on Brahmas Head Coach Dan Wildfong to earn a spot on the team’s 2010-11 roster. Tonight, the 34-year-old Brampton, Ontario native will suit up for the first game of his 15th pro season when the Brahmas open the regular season on the road against the Americans.

Maxwell brings more to the Brahmas than just his physical presense and boxing skills; he also brings character, a strong work ethic and most importantly - knowledge of what it takes to win at the pro level. A veteran of over 650 games played in seven North American leagues, he was a member of two AHL Calder Cup championship teams, the 1996-97 Hershey Bears and 1998-99 Providence Bruins.

Despite what many would think, Maxwell is not a one-dimensional player - he's worked hard on all aspects of his game throughout his career and lists Wendel Clark, Randy McKay and Peter Laviolette as some of his biggest influences.

"I am a guy who has always worked on my game," Maxwell said in an interview last year with The Western Star. "I have had coaches who emphasized being a better player. Probably one of the best coaches I played for was (former Atlanta Thrashers head coach) Bob Hartley who emphasized that every day... like as tough guys, we never had a Sunday off, he always made us practice and work on our skill because the game has changed."

Another big influence on Maxwell was Kevin Kaminski, the current head coach of the Mississippi RiverKings. The two were teammates for part of the 1999-00 season with the Providence Bruins (AHL) and Kaminski later coached Maxwell with the Long Beach Ice Dogs (WCHL) in 2003-04.

"Killer was a good guy to play for, and it was the first time that I've ever played for a guy that I've actually played with, so it was a different aspect," Maxwell said in a 1996 interview with Adam Waugh. "Killer is another guy who definitely has my respect...just looking at his name says it all. When he was younger, Killer was never drafted, yet he still worked his way all the way up to the NHL. I've learned a lot from Killer about controlling my emotions. He was really great for my career, and he taught me a lot."

Maxwell will have an opportunity to get together with Kaminski later in the season when the Brahmas travel to Mississippi for a two-game series against the RiverKings. In the meantime, the veteran winger is taking things one day at a time and is proud to say he is playing hockey again this season.

Photo Credits: Robert Keith

Monday, October 11, 2010

Scott Campbell in action during Friday night's game against Allen

Brahmas release another four players
Campbell, Gale among latest casualties

The Texas Brahmas placed four more players on waivers today, bringing the total number of players released from the final training camp roster to eight.

According to Pointstreak.Com, forwards Troy Schwab and A.J. Gale, defenseman Greg Gallagher and goaltender Scott Campbell were the latest casualties.

Schwab assisted on Tom Train's power play goal in the middle frame of Friday night's game against the Americans but was the only player not to score on Adrien Lemay in the shootout. He had one shot and five penalty minutes in the two pre-season contests.

Gale, who tallied 25 points (15 G, 10 A, -6) and 36 PIM during his rookie season with the Brahmas in 2009-10 failed to match up to the talent recruited for this year's training camp roster. After a fairly strong start last season, Gale's game seemed to peter out by the New Year and he registered just eight points (5 G, 3 A) for the remainder of the schedule. He registered three shots in two games this weekend.

Gallagher had a shot in each game against the Americans but saw limited action.

Campbell had a good camp and showed promise during the pre-season, playing a total of 51:37 (2.32 GAA, .913 SV%) and earning one win. Unfortunately, he was the victim of a team with three solid goalies and two spots available. Kevin Beech becomes the de facto number one, while rookie back stopper Wayne Savage, who came highly regarded by former Brahmas assistant coach Forbes MacPherson, will share time in net this season.

In addition to Beech and Savage, seven defensemen and 12 forwards remain on the roster. This includes enforcer Nathan Saunders, who will reportedly miss the first month of the season due to injury. The status of second year defenseman Jesse Dudas, who was assigned to the Brahmas by the Adirondack Phantoms (AHL) last week, has not been announced but he is expected to be on the ice in purple and black this weekend.

CHL teams can carry 19 players on their active rosters and dress 18 for games. Final rosters for the 2010-11 regular season are due on Thursday.

In other news, former Vernon Vipers (BCHL) forward Rob Short, who attended the Brahmas' Making the Cut last month, was released today by the Allen Americans.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Aaron Spotts in action on Friday night

First cuts - Brahmas place four on waivers

Two forwards, two defensemen are the first casualties

Prior to last nights game at the Allen Events Center, the Texas Brahmas released four players from the training camp roster. Forwards Aaron Spotts and Dillon Henningson as well asdefensemen Chad Kennedy and Bryan Brunton were placed on waivers, according to Pointstreak.Com.

All four saw action in Friday night's 3-2 shoot out win against the Allen Americans. Kennedy registered an assist on Tom Train's special teams goal in the second period of play.

With the pre-season wrapped up, further roster moves will be announced soon as coaches Wildfong and Vogel determine their final 2010-11 roster. The season opener will take place on Friday night at the Allen Events Center with a 7:30 pm start time.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith
Brahmas complete the pre-season sweep!

Americans defeated in overtime 2-1

The Texas Brahmas completed their pre-season sweep of the Allen Americans with a 2-1 overtime win, courtesy of a Steven Later goal 1:06 into the extra period. The Brahmas defenseman propelled a feed from Calin Wild past Allen's Chris Whitley, sending the dejected Americans back to the locker room for a second night in a row without a win.

Kevin Beech was perfect in goal for the Brahmas saving all 20 shots faced in two periods of action. Scott Campbell earned the win, stopping nine of 10 shots faced.

With the win, the Brahmas join the Missouri Mavericks as the only undefeated teams in the pre-season. The Brahmas are the only team to have won at home and away.

The first period opened with all the physicality and emotion left over from last night's game at the NYTEX Sports Centre. Hooking was the penalty of choice with five calls on five different players (Hazelwood and Toneys for the Brahmas, Myhro, Bolt and Lukin for the Americans) in the first 20 minutes. The only fight of the game took place at the 17:33 mark when Liam Huculak mixed it up the Brahmas' Roger Maxwell. Both earned five-minute Fighting Majors for their efforts. Allen narrowly led the shot count 9-8 but neither goalie was solved.

Things changed in the middle frame. The Brahmas drew first blood at the 7:06 mark with an unassisted goal from Jason Krischuk who was able to secure a loose puck and drive to the net, where he was able to beat Chris Whitley. Allen led the shot count for the second consecutive frame, this time 11-8.

The Americans scored the equalizer 4:49 into the third period after Colton Yellow Horn delivered the puck to Iain McPhee. The defenseman's shot was turned away by Scott Campbell, now in goal for the Brahmas but Alexandr Quesnel was in position to direct the rebound past an out of position Campbell to make it a 1-1 contest. Things got chippy shortly midway through the frame and all four penalties assessed in the period came within 72 seconds. The Brahmas led the shot count 15-10, but both goalies denied a game-winner in regulation.

The two clubs then entered into a five-minute overtime period for the second time in as many nights. The deciding goal came just 1:06 later when Brahmas defenseman Steven Later took a feed from Calin Wild, traveled through the high slot area and floated a seeing-eye backhander through traffic and the legs of Whitley for the game winner.

Kevin Beech was perfect in goal for the Brahmas saving all 20 shots faced in two periods of action. Scott Campbell earned the win, stopping nine of 10 shots faced in 21:06 minutes of play. Chris Whitley took the loss, stopping 31 of 33 shots during the game.

The Brahmas were ahead in the final shot count 33-30. Neither team capitalized on the power play. Texas went 0 for 4, Allen went 0 for 6. The Brahmas were assessed 21 penalty minutes for nine infractions; the Americans were assessed 17 penalty minutes for seven infractions.

Jason Krischuk was awarded the 3rd Star of the game for his unassisted second period goal. Allen's Alexandr Quesnel earned the 2nd Star for his third period equalizer and Steven Later took away the 1st Star for his game-winner.

The two teams will meet again next weekend for a two-game season opening series at the Allen Events Center on Friday night at 7:30 pm. Saturday night's game will start at 7:00 pm.

Photo Credit: Chip Crail/Pro Hockey News
Allen's Iain McPhee and the Brahmas' Jason Beeman land blows at last night's slugfest

Brahmas hockey - a full contact sport

The boys from North Richland Hills defeat the Allen Americans in a 3-2 shootout

Texas Brahmas fans were reminded how much they missed the action at the NYTEX Sports Centre after watching the newest members of the team tale out the Allen Americans in a 3-2 pre-season shootout last night.

Pardon me if I'm overstating this, but in my opinion the excitement level in the stands approached playoff levels as the cross-town rivalry continued between players on both teams looking to earn a spot on the final rosters, to be determined next week. If there was anyone in the building who hadn't experienced our hometown hockey before, they'll certainly be back for more. OK, enough soap boxing.

Hey, speaking of boxing - did we see a few fights last night? That would be a yes...Roger Maxwell, Tyler Allen, Troy Schwab and Jason Beeman each dropped the gloves for the purple and black and left some black and blue on the Americans' Ryan McGill, Iain McPhee, Justin DaCosta, Dustin Donaghy and Todd Orlando.

I'll have more on the game later - I'm spending time with my wife and girls today!

Photos from the game can be viewed here

You can view the Brahmas press release here

You can view the box score here

Here's a Youtube video of Roger Maxwell, the Brahmas new fan favorite:

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Notes from training camp

An insider's opinion on the new Texas Brahmas

The first thing that stood out to me at the Brahmas training camp this week was the lack of Brahmas there, and by that I obviously mean the players we've grown accustomed to over the past few seasons. No Cameron, no Jacobsen, no Skworchinski. No Kinnunen, no McLeod, no Jaeger. There are just five players on the training camp roster who have previously played for Wildfong's Brahmas - Minard, Deitsch, Pierce, Gale and Saunders.

This off-season marked what was the first major (and I mean major) overhaul of the team since Fonger built his first roster in the summer of 2007, and you can't help but be impressed. Were there concerns about what the roster was going to look like? Sure, just like any other off-season. And the Brahmas organization did a good job of keeping the lid on a lot of the players they were bringing in, rather than laying all their cards on the table early like some teams have.

At every position, Fonger and Ronnie have recruited some fantastic players. The final cuts next week will no doubt be difficult but I have to say, I'm extremely enthusiastic about the season (more so than usual) because of this roster.

OK, so I did a double take when I saw Roger Maxwell on the ice. That's a big dude. I wondered how this 34-year-old veteran winger was invited to camp...once I heard about the situation, it made sense to me (we're not going to discuss it here). At first I wondered what role Maxwell could possibly play besides the obvious - a pretty intimidating enforcer. Even then, I wondered how much fight he had left in him. By today, I was a Maxwell supporter. Look at this man's stats over the last dozen about perseverance. Maxwell began playing hockey at the age of seven as an alternative to other things that might take a young man's attention growing up in Buffalo. Read this interview from 2006 in which Maxwell says "Personally, after this year, I'm thinking about retiring, but why quit? I like what I do, and I still get paid well..." Maxwell is expected to play both pre-season games against the Americans...bring it, Straub!

In goal, we didn't get to see Wayne Savage, who remained at the Oklahoma City Barons (AHL) camp all week - he's on his way back today. He's said to be an impressive backstopper...I expect we'll get a chance to see him in action this weekend. Kevin Beech looked great and Scott Campbell has proven to be a real contender for a final roster spot. Beech is the obvious number'll be interesting to see who takes the second spot. Nice to see the boys have the opportunity to work with Andy Moog...I'm sure they're still talking about it.

On defense, it was obviously good to see Minzy back on the ice. He received medical clearance on Monday morning and I expect he'll remain as team captain and make the final cut. Or does he? I don't want to say it, but there's the sentimental decision and the smart decision. Personally, I think Minzy is both, but there's some promising young defensemen battling for a spot on the blue line. I think Minzy's leadership in the locker room and on the ice will be essential with this new group of Brahmas.

Nathan Saunders apparently hasn't reported to NYTEX yet...'nuff said on that. Steven Later, a terrific two-way defenseman's a lock as far as I'm concerned...the rest of the boys - Kraus, Kennedy, Burichin, Gallagher, Toneys and Krischuk give Fonger some good choices to build his new D corps.

Jesse Dudas showed up today (although his equipment didn't) and I consider him a lock as well, considering his talent and his pedigree. Fresh out of the Philadelphia Flyers camp and the Adirondack Phantoms camp, Dudas is this season's Joe Palmer. He'll contribute to the Brahmas' success this season, probably see some call-ups, and probably be a Phantom next season.

Offensively, the Brahmas are in as good a shape as they've ever been. Deitsch, Woollard, Hogeboom, Schwab, Pierce, Lawrence, Gale...yeah, we're good. The rest of the forwards - Allen, Train, Beeman, Henningson, McLeod, Wild, Hazelwood...all solid player with tremendous potential...again, some difficult decisions ahead for Fonger and Vogel.

You can view my photos from the camp here and here.

So the Americans roll into town tomorrow for the first of two pre-season games. This one will be good (duh). If have something better to do, so be it. If you don't, NYTEX is the place to be. As I like to say - It's not just hockey. It's the Brahmas - Be there, be loud, believe!

Photo Credits: Robert Keith

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Insider Interview - Chad Woollard

The veteran sniper talks about his days with the Fort Worth Brahmas, his career and his decision to return to the team

Chad Woollard will be a welcome addition to the 2010-11 Brahmas roster - and not just because of his aptitude for scoring. Woollard, 31, was a productive member of the Fort Worth Brahmas for five seasons (2000-05) during which he made a lot of friends among the local hockey fans. He was a CHL All-Star during his final three seasons with the team and remains the Brahmas' all-time leader in games (290), goals (132), points (264), shots (1,029) and game-winning goals (15).

After five seasons with the Quad City Mallards (UHL), Mississippi RiverKings, Muskegon Lumberjacks (IHL) and Corpus Christi IceRays, Woollard has signed on with the Brahmas for the upcoming season.

I spoke with Chad recently about his days with the Fort Worth Brahmas, his career thus far and his decision to return to the team, joining former IceRays teammates Steven Later and Kevin Beech. Here is our conversation.

Q: Let's go back to your second pro season...what were your thoughts about making the jump from the ECHL to the CHL and joining the Fort Worth Brahmas organization?

A: I was really excited you know, when I was coming to Fort Worth - I didn't even know where it was (laughing). I can remember looking at it on the map with my family and I pointed at it and said, wow - it's way down there. I didn't know that hockey was played way down here. But once I got down here, I really enjoyed it. The league was really good. I was glad that they gave me the opportunity to come down.

Q: You had a productive five seasons with the team, but those were really tough times for the organization in regards to the changes in coaching; I think you had four head coaches during that time and the team itself wasn't very successful, and had just the one playoff series (against Memphis). How was that experience for you as a player?

A: It was tough, you know, when you have a bad season and you think, well, we'll bounce back and the next year comes you said, I had four different coaches. When that happens, it's tough to get a core group of guys together. Everything's changing from the top down and it got real frustrating having different guys coming in and out. There was one year where we started the year off with Lonny Bohanos, Brad Lukowich and Bryan Lundbohm and then you know, 20 games into the season, they were all gone - they were called up to the AHL or NHL. It just seemed that we were doomed every year...something always went wrong. It was tough and when it came time to leave, that did play a part in the decision. I wanted a chance to win and I thought that I was getting into a stalemate there and just needed a change.

Q: You went pro in 1999 at the same time as another fellow who was playing over in Bossier-Shreveport. Do you remember your first run-ins with Dan Wildfong on the ice?

A: Yeah, we played each other a hundred times back then. Dan and I for sure had a lot of battles over the years. He was a real feisty player. He played the game real hard and with a lot of grit. I played the exact same way and when you get two guys like that, you kind of butt heads. We battled...we respected each other out there but we battled hard.

Q: After leaving the Brahmas, you went to play for the Quad City Mallards in the UHL where you had what were probably your two best pro seasons. How did it feel to make that change and then have that success with Quad Cities?

A: It was exciting. We were, my family was real excited to move away. My wife had never been away from the Metroplex and we went up there with a fresh state of mind. We enjoyed our time there. The team eventually suspended operations to move to the American Hockey League or I think I would have stayed playing there...we loved was good hockey and it was a good change and I enjoyed my time up there.

Q: Coming back to the CHL in 2007-08 under Kevin McClelland in Mississippi...did you think the league had changed or improved since you played in Fort Worth?

A: I thought it had improved tremendously. I think the one thing that had gotten better over the years was the speed of the game. There used to be a lot more tough guys in the league but nowadays you have to be able to play and you have to be able to skate with their rule changes and everything. I think every year, the league has progressed into a better league. You know, some people make statements about it not being a developmental league, but you see every year more and more guys getting called up to the American Hockey League and back in the day you rarely had any, so I think that speaks to the progress that the league has made.

Q: Getting into the playoffs in 2008, the RiverKings ended up facing a new and improved (and renamed) Texas Brahmas. Playing them during the season and then in the playoffs, what was your take on them compared to what you remembered about the old Fort Worth club?

A: I felt like it was a totally different organization. Some of the same people were still there like Mike Barack, but they were able to bring in a coaching team that established a good nucleus of players and they recruited very well. They had a new team and everyone knew it wasn't the same old Brahmas that I played for. They were tough to play in their rink and they were almost undefeated there I think, during the year. We knew that we had to get that first game at home and we did but we went into their barn and they played their style of hockey and you I think that Dan's teams are very team-oriented and they stick to their systems - that's how they win.

Q: After that you went to the IHL for a season with Muskegon and then went down to play for Brent Hughes in Corpus Christi. It was a shame what happened with the organization after the season ended and how it all came about. Do you think that if they hadn't folded and gone the NAHL route, that you would have stayed down there?

A: Yeah, I think I would've. We really enjoyed our time down there. They were another great organization and I think that they just ran into problems with the city and everything. They had a great owner in Mr. Lange and they ran the club tremendously well. Unfortunately, we lost to the Brahmas again in the playoffs; it's kind of ironic. But I enjoyed my time there...we were intending on going back.

Q: That final squad was a very talented group of guys and I truly thought they were the most underrated team in the league last season that caught a lot of bad breaks during the year and lost a lot of one-point games. How did you feel about the guys you were playing with?

A: We had a great team...we had a great bunch of guys and I think we were underrated. We caught a lot of teams by surprise. I remember a game where Rapid City came in and everyone was talking about what a hot team they were and how they were a contender and we beat them 5-1 on home ice. I think that's kind of when we realized that we had a good team here too. We didn't really have any superstars but I think we had a real solid team and if it wasn't for one stretch there where we went almost a month without a number one goalie. We had goalies coming in and out and that's tough to do at this level. But we battled through it and made a run for the playoffs and I'd say we did a pretty good job.

Q: I know that Fonger was on the phone to a number of Corpus Christi players after the team folded. Tell me about your recruitment and your decision to return to the Brahmas.

A: Well, when I heard that the team was going to close up shop, I didn't really know what I was going to do. I hadn't really put any thought into it and then Dan called me and we kind of just started our conversation there. The more I started thinking about it, you know, I talked to my wife about it and obviously, we lived here for six years and have a house here and we thought, you know it would be great to come back. I don't know how much more time I have left and I'm still looking for that elusive championship and with the teams that Dan puts together - even if we didn't live here - that with that chance to win, this would be one of the top places that we'd want to go right now.

Q: It looks like you'll have a bit of a reunion of sorts with Steven Later and Kevin Beech and maybe somebody else (unnamed at this time). Is that comforting to know you'll be back together with some guys that you've played together with recently?

A: Yeah, you know me and Later are really good buddies. We go back to Muskegon and we went down to Corpus Christi together. I asked Dan if he'd be interested in Later and he said he was and he got on the phone and started calling him and it wasn't too long before we got that deal done. He's going to be a great asset to this organization...he's a heart and soul guy. He had a rough year last year with injuries, but he might be one of the top five defensemen in this league. With Beecher, you're getting a number one goalie. He was coming off a pretty serious surgery last season and he still played unbelievably for us. I think you couldn't ask for two better guys to play for the Brahmas.

Q: Later certainly has the size, the physicality and the talent as a two-way defenseman and he's poised for a breakout season. But there's another element to him as a teammate. He's known for his humor and he's a great guy to be around, but he's also a motivator and a locker room leader...

A: He's a great guy; one of the funniest guys I've ever met but you know, when we get in that locker room he puts the onus on himself, even with the older guys, to take responsibility when things aren't going well and try and be the leader and definitely guys will follow him. He's not afraid to put guys in their place but he's also a guy who can take the criticism too. When he makes a mistake, he's first to admit he was wrong. He's an all-around great leader and I think he's definitely captain material as he gets older.

Q: During your time with the Brahmas in the past, you made a lot of friends here and have kept in touch via Facebook and other means over the years. Is that also comforting, knowing that you have so many of the old Brahmas faithful from your days with the team out there supporting you as well?

A: Yeah, it's exciting. I was at the fan club picnic and saw a lot of familiar faces and that just goes to show how much hockey has grown down here; that people have followed the team for that long, especially after the team went dark for that one year. It's going to be exciting. There's a lot of familiar faces and there will be a lot of new faces that I look forward to meeting this season.

Photo Credits: Top two/Texas Brahmas; Third/Muskegon Lumberjacks; Bottom: Robert Keith