Brahmas' special teams play highlights wild one at the ECC
We give a lot of press to the (historical) rivalry between the Texas Brahmas and the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs as well as the new rivalry with the Allen Americans, but you have to consider the Odessa Jackalopes as the greatest opponent of the Wildfong-era Brahmas. Tonight's contest was evidence of just that.
For the Brahmas, who have struggled with inconsistency thus far this season, it was a banner performance which included four power play tallies, a five-goal third period (including four consecutive goals), a third period hat trick for Chad Woollard, a Gordie Howe hat trick for Nathan Saunders and four assists by defenseman Jason Krischuk. Whew!
Fortunately for the boys in purple and black, who were fantastic tonight (yeah, that's an understatement), a typically sparse weeknight crowd at the Ector County Coliseum witnessed the home team ride the wave of a three-game win streak right into a wall of oblivion as they self-destructed in the third period, resulting in an 8-6 Brahmas win. Yeah, that's right - 8-6! We'd be eating Whataburger's by now if this was a home game.
The last time the Brahmas tallied eight goals in a regular season match was on December 20, 2008 (also on the road), when they spanked the Arizona Sundogs at Tim's Toyota Center. You'll remember that because of the brawl in the final minute of the game, featuring a goalie fight between David Cacciola and Marco Emond.
Of course, the most recent eight-point Brahmas performance was on a memorable Saturday night (April 25, 2009) at NYTEX when the Brahmas battered the Jackalopes 8-1 in Game 7 of the Southern Conference Final, which allowed the home team to advance and defeat the Colorado Eagles to win the 2009 Ray Miron President's Cup championship.
Tonight's game marked Nathan Saunders' return to the ice for the Brahmas after a year away from the club. Saunders didn't disappoint, recording a Gordie Howe hat trick with a goal, an assist and a fight. Todd Griffith returned to the Brahmas' lineup following a four-game suspension and Roger Maxwell was also back, although he apparently didn't see any ice time.
For Odessa, tonight's game marked the return of defenseman Dave Van Drunen, who missed the first 15 games of the season after he was leveled with a cowardly sucker punch by Colorado's Brad McMillan during a fight-filled pre-season match back on October 9th.
Alex Dunn, who has spent most of his pro career with the Jacks, opened up the scoring early tonight with a little help from Jeff Pierce and Mike Lesperance. Dunn's strike on Kevin Beech at the 2:36 mark was his first goal of the season.
Seems like old times - It didn't take long for Garrett Gruenke and Nathan Saunders to get re-acquainted after a season apart. The opposing blue liners dropped the gloves just 7:25 into the period and received matching Fighting Majors for their efforts.
Just five seconds after play resumed, Jeff Pierce was cited for Hooking, but the Brahmas power play unit was unable to capitalize on the two-minute advantage. Three-and-a-half minutes later, after Dave Van Drunen was sent to the sin bin on the same call, Greg Hogeboom took just six seconds to score the equalizer, beating Joel Martin to make it 1-1 at the 11:13 mark. Ross Rouleau and Jason Krischuk were credited with the assist.
The Brahmas had the 14-11 shot advantage in what would be considered a tame first 20 minutes of play compared with what was to come in the middle frame.
After the break, the Jackalopes were the beneficiaries of an early five-on-three advantage after Calin Wild and Jason Krischuk were called for Holding (3:12) and Interference (3:15), respectively. Fortunately, the Brahmas penalty killers (currently third in the league at 85.71%) were able to shut down the opportunity. The Brahmas got their chance after Todd Robinson was called for hooking, but they were also shut down.
Kenny Bernard scored his second goal of the season 11 seconds shy of the mid-point with the feed coming from Jeff Pierce.
point in a Brahmas sweater just two seconds later with the assists coming from Jason and Chad Patrick Mbaraga was sent to the box for Interference 34 seconds later with no effect and then Todd Griffith was sent in for the same call at the 13:42 mark. Jason Deitsch scored his 100thKrischukWoollard.
Odessa's special teams capitalized on a Hooking call on Tyler Allen, making it a 3-2 contest after Sebastien Thinel and Philippe Plante set up Todd Robinson, who beat Beecher at the 15:01 mark. They had another chance shortly thereafter when Ross Rouleau was called for Hooking 46 seconds later but a subsequent tripping call on Kenny Bernard evened the field and as a result, Mick Lawrence tallied his sixth of the season to tie the game up again, 3-3 at the 17:18 mark. Jason Krischuk was credited with his third assist of the night and Todd Griffith also tallied a helper.
One second before Bernard was released from the box, Mike Lesperance registered a short-handed tally off a feed from Sebastien Thinel to close out the scoring in the second period.
Odessa had a 14-12 shot advantage in the middle frame as well as the 4-3 lead, so yeah, things seemed to be looking good for the homers, but as we've seen before (fortunately), things were about to go way South.
Chad Woollard set the stage for the final frame with his first of three goals coming at the 1:24 mark, tying the game up at 4-4 with assists from Jason Deitsch and Greg Hogeboom.
Undaunted, Mike Ramsay gave the Jacks a 5-4 lead 49 seconds later with assists coming from Sebastien Thinel and Kenny Corupe. 28 seconds later, Dominic Leveille fed Todd Robinson, who scored his second of the night to make it 6-4.
OK, so things still looking bright for the Jacks, right? Well, somewhere within the next three minutes of play, the devil got his due and all good fortune went the Brahmas way, beginning with an Interference call on Dave Van Drunen at the 5:37 mark and then a Cross Checking call on Kenny Bernard at the 9:22 mark. Jason Deitsch collared his second goal and third of four points on the night 25 seconds into the ensuing power play, assisted by Greg Hogeboom and Nathan Saunders. The score - 6-5.
A Hooking call on Garrett Gruenke at the 12:00 minute mark led to the third Brahmas power play of the frame and Chad Woollard's second goal just 40 seconds later. The score - 6-6.
Another Hooking call, on Mike Lesperance at the 14:55 mark, led to a fourth consecutive man-advantage for the boys, which resulted in another power play goal just five seconds later, this time by Nathan Saunders with helpers from Jason Krischuk and Jason Deitsch. The score - 7-6.
Chad Woollard sealed the scoring and his first hat trick with the (Wildfong-era) Brahmas with an unassisted tally at the 18:15 mark. Question of the day: what do you call a hat trick scored in one period of play?
The Brahmas led the shot count in the final period, 19-11. They had a 45-36 shot advantage in the game.
With the win, the Brahmas record goes to 7-4-2 (16 points), leap-frogging them ever-so-slightly past the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees to re-take possession of their place in the Berry Conference with a .615 win percentage. They are now 4-3-1 on the road.
Kevin Beech stopped 30 of 36 shots faced in 59:23 minutes played, which on most nights would be a tragedy. Despite the effect on his stats, Beech gets the win and his record goes to 6-1-1-1 with a 2.80 GAA (15th in the league) and a .915 save percentage (12th in the league).
Joel Martin turned away 37 of 45 shots faced and takes the loss. His record goes to an uncharacteristic 4-7-0.
The Brahmas went 4 for 9 on the power play. The Jackalopes went 1 for 5. The Brahmas were assessed 15 minutes on 6 infractions. The Jackalopes received 23 minutes on 10 infractions.
The 3rd Star of the game went to Odessa's Sebastien Thinel, who tallied three assists. The 2nd Star was awarded to Jason Krischuk, who topped that with four assists and the 1st Star went to Chad Woollard who had a hat trick within a single period of play, as well as an assist for four points on the night.
Referee: T.J. Nua
Linesmen: Bill McGoldrick, Jean Minard
You can view the box score here and the Game Live broadcast here
You can view the Brahmas' press release here and Lee Scheide's article in the Odessa American here
The Brahmas return home tonight to get a short rest before preparing for tomorrow night's home game, kicking off Military Appreciation Nights against the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs, who are on a six-game win streak. The first puck drops at 7:00 pm. Immediately following the game will be a free public skate with the team. Don't miss this one!
Photo Credit: Robert Keith