Monday, January 31, 2011

Later is back!

Surly defenseman expected on the ice Tuesday against Odessa

Steven Later has been activated from the injured reserve today, Pointstreak has confirmed. Later has been out of action since January 2nd, when he was injured during a home win against the Colorado Eagles.

The 6' 4", 200 pound native of Winnipeg has contributed 20 points (3 G, 17 A, -5) in 29 games played this season, his first with the Brahmas. This includes two power play goals, three power play assists, a short-handed assist and two game-winning goals. Later, who leads the team in penalty minutes with 93, will be a welcome site on the ice for a banged up defensive corps that has done a great job in his absence.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday 1/30/11

We were coming off a pretty good stretch and opening the week’s games with a trip to CenturyTel to play the Mudbugs. It’s always a big game between us two teams – it’s been a pretty big rivalry. We started off the game pretty good but then we gave up a couple of goals and it kind of fell apart from there. We didn’t have a very good game and we ended up losing 6-2. It was a tough loss for us.

We came back home and then we were off on Wednesday, just because we were short bodies. We had practice on Thursday and then it was off to play Rio Grande Valley, a team that works very hard and plays good systems.

We came out on Friday night and didn’t play our best game. We gave them a lead and then we battled hard; we battled back hard in the third period to make it a one goal game and then ended up giving up an empty net goal, so it was a disappointing loss for us. We didn’t play very good, but it showed good character from us, to show them that we could come back and we were almost there. But it just proves that you can’t give a team a lead like that.

We came out again on Saturday night against the same team, Rio, and played a better game. We ended up winning 5-4. They’re a team that’s at the bottom of the standings right now, but they work really hard and the standings aren’t really a good indicator of what they showed us. After that, we had a nine-hour bus ride back to North Richland Hills to get ready for a 4:00pm game today against Fort Wayne.

We came out really strong against the Komets; the first four or five shifts, we were all over them. We ended up getting a goal in the first shift and had the lead and then it kind of just fell apart from there. I don’t know if the guys were tired, but we just didn’t play well. We didn’t do what we needed to do. Wayne Savage played a great game. He kept us in that game the whole time and gave us a chance to win. Honestly, I think we were lucky to get a point out of the game, which was good for us – to get that point and not give up both points at least. But again, we didn’t play very good.

Coming off of a rough week, we have to head for Odessa tomorrow and try to get back on track and have a good game.

We’re getting to the point now where, obviously we’ve had a couple of rough games this week, but we know down the stretch here every point counts. I mean, the standings are so tight that every point counts and you can’t afford to give up any points. So, going to Rio on Friday, we really needed to go down there and win both games. It’s not an easy task. Like I said, they work hard and they’re a good team, but we’ve got to continue to win games and take very point. We can’t take any points for granted. We can’t take any night off because one point can mean a lot at the end of the year because things are so close.

The guys are excited - they see where we’re at. We’re right there in the standings. We have a few games in hand on a couple of teams, so if we can put our guys together and put another stretch together like we did last week, we’ll be in pretty good shape. We have a few injuries, so it’ll help us a lot if we can get some guys back and get playing with our full line up and just keep rolling; try to get it going and get things back on track.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Brahmas sign center Brian Ihnacak

Former Pittsburgh Penguins prospect will play tonight against the Killer Bees

The Texas Brahmas have signed center Brian Ihnacak to the roster today according to Pointstreak. Ihnacak, 25, signed with the Mississippi RiverKings on November 30th and played 16 games, registering six points (2 G, 4 A) and eight penalty minutes before he was placed on waivers on January 12th. Both of his goals were game winners, on December 17th against Evansville and on January 2nd in a shootout against Bossier-Shreveport.

Ihnacak, the son of former Toronto Maple Leafs' forward Peter Ihnacak and the nephew of former Toronto and Detroit player Miroslav Ihnacak, (pronounced in-a-chak) was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the ninth round (# 259 overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

Ihnacak played in the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League with the St. Michael's Buzzers, where he won the leading scorer award for the team after posting a 86 point season (40 G, 46 A) in 46 games during the 2002-03 season. His 40 goals was a St. Michael's record. He was named an OPJHL All-Star, Most Improved Player, and was a runner-up for the MVP after he tallied the winning goal in the 2003 OPJHL All-Star Game. Ihnacak also participated with the Slovakian Under-18 team at the 2003 World Cup, finishing the tournament ranked 10th in scoring.

All-Rookie Team. One of his teammates at Brown was Brahmas Ihnacak went on to play for four years (2003-07) at Brown University, scoring 76 points (28 G, 48 A) in 103 games played. He was one of the most successful rookies in Bears history, registering 30 points (10 G, 20 A) and 20 PIM, earning the Kevin R. Pope Memorial Trophy, given to the team's most outstanding rookie, as voted by his teammates. He was also named the 2004 Co-ECAC Rookie of the Year (shared with David McKee) and was named to the ECACdefenseman Sean Hurley. The two played together for three seasons.

He went pro in 2007-08, opting to play in the Slovakian Extraliga. He tallied 19 points (9 G, 10 A) and 77 penalty minutes in 37 games with MHK Kezmarok.

In 2008-09, Ihnacak played for Augusta and Elmira in the ECHL, with most of the time spent with the Elmira Jackals where he was a teammate of Brahmas left wing Mike Sgroi. He tallied 15 points (7 G, 8 A) and 34 PIM in a combined 46 games.

He returned to the Slovakia Extraliga last season, playing for three teams (MHK Kezmarok, HKM Zvolen, and HK SKP Poprad) and combining for six points (2 G, 4 A) and 20 PIM.

Ihnacak attended the Bloomington PrairieThunder's training camp in October but did not make the final roster.

The only video I could find was this hit on former NHL right wing Ziggy Palffy during his time in Slovakia, courtesy of YouTube:

Photo Credit: Les Stockton

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fight night at the CenturyTel Center

Mike Sgroi vs. Steven Crampton

In an already nasty game between the 'Bugs and the boys in purple and black, Brahmas forward Mike Sgroi (6' 4", 230 pounds) takes on the enforcer role after Mudbugs forward Steven Crampton (6' 2", 200 pounds) knocked defenseman Ross Rouleau to the ice with a brutal hit to the face, 5:52 into the final frame.

Sgroi was on the scene immediately and after ripping his gloves off, he grabs Crampton away from the linesman and proceeds to pummel him with a number of blows to the back of the helmet.

Don't mess with Texas!

Thanks to Eric Boulton for sharing this video via YouTube.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday 01/23/11

We had a really big weekend - we finally put a three-game win streak together, so the team was feeling good and we were ready to go. Obviously, the guys were feeling pretty good in the locker room but we do talk about not getting too high - that we've got to keep playing well every night. We know that we can't get too high and think that we're too good of a team.

We got back to work on Monday with practice. Just the usual stuff - another long week of practice to get ready for a big weekend with games against Bossier and Tulsa, two teams that are tight with us in the standings.

We came out Friday night and had one of the best series of the year against Bossier in the first period. We came out and played really well. Then we didn't play so well in the second and the third, but we played well enough to come up with the win in overtime. It was a big win for us. It doesn't matter how you win as long as you win 'em.

On Saturday night, we hosted Tulsa - another team that's playing really well. I thought we played a really good game. I thought we deserved to win the game but we ended up losing in the shootout. But from start to finish, we played a really good game. Like I said, I think we deserved to win it; we just couldn't get any pucks in the net and beat that goalie in the shootout - he had a good game.

We've got to keep playing the way we are. We leave in a couple of days to go to Bossier and we've just got to keep it rolling and keep playing the same every night, no matter who we're playing.

After we play the Mudbugs, we'll be headed down to South Texas for a couple of games against Rio Grande Valley. They're at the bottom of our conference right now but they're still a very good hockey team and they work very hard, so we've really got to be ready. After that, we come home to play Fort Wayne. They've always been a really good hockey team. For whatever reason, they've struggled this year and it's always hard to play struggling teams - we've got to make sure to do what we have to do to win. They're going to be coming at us with everything they have to try to win too.

Every team in this league is a good hockey team and you can't expect to win every night. You've got to play hard and you've got to earn your wins every night.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fight night at the NYTEX Sports Center

Mike Sgroi vs. James DeLory

Fans at the NYTEX Sports Centre didn't have to wait for long - 0:01 second actually, before the gloves were dropped during last night's game against the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs.

Brahmas forward Mike Sgroi (6' 4", 230 pounds) took on Mudbugs forward James DeLory (6' 5", 225 pounds) at the opening faceoff. Sgroi clearly had the advantage after the dancing was done. Good stuff!

Thanks to Eric Boulton for sharing his video via YouTube.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Fight night at the NYTEX Sports Centre

Mike Sgroi vs. Rob Cowan

6:44 into the first period of Saturday night's game at NYTEX and the gloves were dropped.

Brahmas forward Mike Sgroi (6' 4", 230 pounds) took on Killer Bees defenseman Rob Cowan (6' 4", 233 pounds). Yeah, the same guy that Roger Maxwell dropped like a rag doll earlier in the season).

Sgroi connected first with several rights to Cowan's head. Cowan got in a few sloppy punches before Sgroi lost his footing and the two went down.

Thanks to Eric Boulton for sharing his video via YouTube.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday 01/16/11

Coming off last Saturday’s big overtime win against Odessa, we had a few days off for the All-Star break. Jason Krischuk made the trip up to Rapid City to represent the Brahmas in the CHL All-Star Game. Most of the guys enjoyed having the time off on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

On Wednesday, we got back to work, trying to get ready for a big weekend. We’re trying to be a more consistent team, so we worked really hard on Wednesday and Thursday in practice. On Thursday, we headed for Wichita for a game against a very good, very skilled team. We got up there and had dinner and then went to bed. We got up early on Saturday for our morning skate. I have to say, they have a very nice arena up there.

On Saturday night, we played a pretty good game from start to finish. They have a very skilled team up front. We held them to a few goals and we battled hard and worked hard and came out with a big win. That was huge for us. Then we had the long bus trip back to NYTEX to get ready for the game against Rio Grande in our building.

We came to the rink on Saturday morning for a meeting just to refocus and get ready for another big game. We’re really trying to build on consistency, playing against a team that’s struggled lately. Sometimes it’s very tough to play against a team that’s struggling just because they’re trying so hard to get out of their struggle and we’re trying hard to be consistent.

We had a very strong game; it was a tight game throughout the first couple of periods. It was 2-2 after the second period and we had a very strong third period and came out with the win. It was a big weekend for us – we finally put a few wins in a row on the board and hopefully we can keep it rolling.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Brahmas' Cliff Shaw serves a higher calling

Team Chaplain ministers to players, coaches, as well as fans

Originally published in Pro Hockey News

He's one of the most recognizable people around the NYTEX Sports Centre and on any given day can be found just about anywhere within the 140,000 square foot facility.

Known affectionately as "Rev", Cliff Shaw serves as Team Chaplain for the Central Hockey League's Texas Brahmas, attending to the spiritual needs of the players, coaches and other members of the organization. Even fans seek out "Rev" for assistance when there is a need.

Shaw, 62, is a representative of Hockey Ministries International, a non-denominational Christian organization, first organized in 1977. Pre-game prayer, chapel sessions, baptisms and spiritual direction are just a few of the services he provides and he also remains available 24/7 for anyone who needs to talk.

Brahmas head coach Dan Wildfong says that he has always appreciated the service Shaw has rendered to the franchise.

“Cliff’s been such a big part of our organization for so many years, even before I was here,” Wildfong said. “He does a lot for the guys personally, but also, if we don’t get to church, he’s here to support everyone in their faith and I think he’s done a fantastic job of doing that.”

An alumnus of the University of Houston, Shaw says he felt called to service when he found himself at the crossroads in his business career.

"In 1989, I had a good job. I was making six figures, had a company car and an expense account. I was very involved with my church and I was a volunteer with the Athletes in Action Sports Ministry. When I lost my job, I prayed about what what was next for me and decided this is what I need to do – God sent me in this direction, so that’s how I actually got started."

Shaw is quick to point out that what he does now is different from a vocation.

"It’s not a job, it’s a calling," he says. "A lot of people say, what do you mean it’s a calling? Well, if you’ve been called, you know what it means. God equips the people he calls. He doesn’t call the equipped, necessarily. That’s how I got involved."

Shaw's lifelong love of ice hockey led him to service in and around the sport.

"I’ve been around hockey since I was born," Shaw said. "My grandfather was involved with the Maple Leafs and the Red Wings organizations. I learned to skate at Maple Leaf Gardens. I’ve been around the game all of my life. I love the game. But hockey’s a culture, it’s not a game. It’s a culture."

Spreading his ministry was a challenge for Shaw early on, requiring a tremendous amount of circulation, networking and perseverance.

Shaw conducts a chapel session following a practice

"When I first started, I was a maverick in the Central Hockey League," Shaw said. "I was the only guy around. I traveled with the team for awhile and then, when I would get to other cities, I would seek out yellow page ads for churches and I would call pastors to try and find people to work with the other teams. My goal was to get chaplains in with every team."

Shaw found that sometimes, just "being there" was enough to provide valuable opportunities.

"Early on, I just started going to practice and kept going and going and going," Shaw explained. "Finally one day, a player asked me “what do you do?” and that gave me an opportunity to tell him."

Shaw quickly found that integrating chapel sessions into the busy schedules of players, coaches and other personnel could be a challenge at times, let alone getting players to commit to attending.

"Chapel programs in hockey are relatively new," Shaw explained. "In football and basketball and baseball, it’s a given. They’ll have their chapel programs on game days or the day before. But in hockey, it’s relatively new. Most of the time, guys are receptive to it because it’s new. Sometimes, they’ll check it out. And some guys are actual believers."

While he often meets resistance from players, Shaw is never discouraged.

"I think most guys are open to the idea; however the majority of guys don’t come. That doesn’t mean they’re not interested. Sometimes I actually think they’re afraid. Because it’s new; it’s something different they’ve never had. And when I say afraid, I don’t mean fearful, it’s just because it’s new."

Still, Shaw spends plenty of time developing relationships with everyone he comes in contact with.

"I always tell people, you can’t have a ministry until you have a relationship," he says. "They don’t really care how much you know until they know how much you care. The thing is, guys have to trust you before they’ll open up to you. I’ve had many opportunities to sit and just listen to guys and visit with guys and share the good news of Christ with them. That’s what I’m all about."

Shaw talking with officials during a recent game

Shaw often keeps it simple when it comes to his message of faith to the players.

"I pray that they will use the abilities God has given them to help the team. I also try to be very basic. God loves ’em, Jesus died for them, and the way to heaven is through Christ."

Shaw will oversee the Texas Brahmas' inaugural Faith and Family Day on Sunday, January 30th during which they will host the Fort Wayne Komets with a 4:00 pm opening face off. Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells will be the featured speaker at the event, which will include a post-game round table with Brahmas players, an appearance by the Robert Gotcher Band and a puck give-away to youth attendees courtesy of Hockey Ministries International.

Since 1977, Hockey Ministries International has been active in every level of the game, from youth, college and junior, up to minor pro and the NHL. Through their many camps, chapels, clinics, and conferences, they serve and support the spiritual needs of players, coaches, families and fans throughout North America and Europe.

For more information, visit their website here.

Photo Credits: Robert Keith

Monday, January 10, 2011

Vernon Wells to appear at the Brahmas' Faith and Family Day

MLB star will speak following game against Fort Wayne

Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells will be the featured speaker at the Texas Brahmas' inaugural Faith and Family Day on Sunday, January 30th. The Fort Wayne Komets will be in town for their only game against the Brahmas this season, set for 4:05 pm.

The event will include a post-game round table with Brahmas players, an appearance by the Robert Gotcher Band, and a puck give-away to youth attendees courtesy of Hockey Ministries International. The event will conclude with Vernon Wells discussing various topics with kids and families.

Special discount tickets are available for all church groups throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area, so spread the word.

A product of Bowie High School who still resides in Arlington, Wells is a three-time Major League Baseball All-Star (2003, 2006, 2010) and has also captured three American League gold gloves (2004, 2005, 2006). He has hit 223 career home runs and 813 career RBI. He is a veteran of 12 seasons in the majors, all with the Blue Jays.

Wells and his wife Charlene also head up the Perfect 10 Foundation which supports and protects single mothers and disadvantaged children in need by providing them with a safe, stable home as well as opportunities to further their education. They also equip them with life skills needed to help break the cycle of poverty in their lives.

Since 1977, Hockey Ministries International has been active in every level of hockey from youth, college and junior, up to minor pro, and the NHL. Through their many camps, clinics, and conferences they serve to support the spiritual needs of players, coaches, families, and fans. The Brahmas own "Rev" Cliff Shaw is a representative of HMI.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sunday 01/09/11

We came off of a big win against Colorado last Sunday and then a long week ahead of us – we didn’t play again until Friday night. Monday was a day off and then on Tuesday, we were back to work with practice. Wednesday and Thursday was the same thing, in order to get ready for a big weekend set against Odessa.

On Friday night, once again, we didn’t come out the way we wanted to; we had a rough start. We were down a couple of goals after the first period. The way the game went for us came down to our lack of consistent play. In the third period, we came out and put a couple of goals up and we almost had a comeback there, but we fell short. That’s what happens when you give a good team a lead like that early in the game.

We came to the rink on Saturday morning and had a meeting about the game on Friday night. Then we got back to work to prepare for that night’s game.

I’d like to say we played a better game, but we had the same situation as the night before – down a few goals early. Going into the third period, we had a huge effort by everybody and were able to mount a comeback and win in overtime which was a big win for us, getting those two points. Odessa is a hot team, so to beat them and knock them off their streak was a good game for us.

We’ve obviously continued to struggle with consistency. It’s tough and it’s something we’ve been talking about in the locker room a lot. There’s really no answer for it – we as players just need to be ready for these games. For whatever reason, we’re not starting the way we need to. This is something that we as players need to keep our focus on; no matter what it is we need to do. Hopefully we’ll be able to show a change in that pattern next week.

It was announced just before New Year’s that Jason Krischuk made the CHL All-Star team as an alternate and we were all happy for him. He is excited to get to go up there. Meanwhile, the other guys are happy to know they will be able to enjoy three days off for the All-Star break.

Coming up, we’ve got games at Wichita and at home against Rio Grande Valley. But no matter who the opponent is, our biggest thing is we need to play the same way, no matter who we’re playing. On Friday night in Wichita, we need to come out and have a good first period and a good start to the game which will hopefully give us a good start to the weekend, because that’s something we haven’t done lately. We can’t change the way we play; we’ve got to play our style of game no matter who we’re playing. Wichita has a good team and so does Rio Grande, so we’ve got to be sure we’re ready on both nights.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Mark the date - Ladies Hockey 101 is coming!

Brahmas coaches, players to teach third annual course on February 13th

Attention all ladies: Mark your calendars for Sunday, February 13th when players and coaches of the Texas Brahmas will be putting their puck-handling skills aside and will instead showcase their instructional talents as they take over the NYTEX Sports Centre for the third annual Ladies Hockey 101.

The course, taught by Brahmas Head Coach Dan Wildfong, Assistant Coach Ron Vogel and numerous Brahmas players, will help students understand all aspects of the game, including rules, penalties and equipment. No need to fear though, skating and fighting are not on the agenda, so gear up for an enriching lesson, great food and lots of entertainment.

Ladies Hockey 101 is for ladies only, ages 15 and older and will take place from 6:50pm - 8:20 pm.

The price of the course is just $35 per person, which includes dinner from ZuRoma. Payment will be payable at the door on the day of the event.

Please register no later than Friday, February 10th by contacting Mary Bradford by phone at (469) 422-5106 or by e-mail
here. You can also register by contacting Dan Wildfong by phone at (817) 336-4423 or by e-mail here.

Interested in a Hockey 101 for men and kids? Please contact Mary Bradford to express your interest and a possible new class will emerge!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sunday, January 2nd

The week didn’t start off the way we wanted it to…we lost the game against Allen here in our building. We had a 3-2 lead going into the third period and just didn’t have the legs to keep it going and finish the game off, so that was obviously a disappointing day for us. I think we were tired for whatever reason.

We had the day off on Wednesday and got some rest and then got back to work on Thursday to get ready for a tough three-in-three weekend against Bossier-Shreveport, Tulsa and Colorado.

On Friday, we got ready to play the Mudbugs at home. We knew that they had been on a long break and this was their first game back, so we had to come out and play a good game. Again, we didn't start out the way we wanted to in the first period, but we responded and had a good second and third period and ended up getting the win which was a big win for us because they're a very good team.

We got on the bus right after the game to head for Tulsa. That's where we celebrated New Year's (laughing). It was a good New Year's for me - I was asleep. There wasn't a whole lot going on - I think everybody was pretty much lounging, relaxing, asleep - whatever.

In Tulsa, we didn't play the way we needed to play. We've talked about it before - it's a lack of consistency - we just haven't been consistent. We have a good game and then we have a bad game. I think in Tulsa, special teams killed us. We had a couple of bad penalties and we gave up four consecutive power play goals in the second period. We dug ourselves a hole and just couldn't get out of it. Like I said, we just didn't play the way we needed to play.

It was a long bus ride back from there to get ready for another tough game in our building against the Colorado Eagles - another very good team. After a very tough week for us, we responded and played very well against the Eagles. We came out from the start and just battled and ended up with the 5-2 win to cap off the weekend.

It's always good to play the Eagles at home. They don't like playing here - for whatever reason, everyone around the league thinks the rink's smaller. Whatever - if it's smaller, it's by inches - a hockey rink's a hockey rink. There's not that much of a difference unless you're playing on an Olympic-size rink. For whatever reason, we have their number here. They're a very good team and for some reason, we just come out and work hard and get the job done against them.

Right now our biggest goal is to stay focused and try to put some wins together. We haven't won three games in a row this year, which for us is disappointing. We have the talent to do it so we have to put things together this week and do our jobs and be ready for this weekend's two-game home series against Odessa.