Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Texas Brahmas Hockey - One Goal in Mind!

"Unofficial" slogan for the 2011-12 season is official

I coined an unofficial slogan for the Brahmas last season - "It's not just hockey. It's Brahmas hockey. Be loud...believe!" It poked some fun at the official "Just Hockey." slogan, of which I wasn't a huge fan.

After a long deliberation (about two minutes), I've coined the "unofficial" slogan for the 2011-12 Texas Brahmas - "One Goal in Mind! Texas Brahmas Hockey - Be loud...believe..."

To me, the coming Brahmas roster (which will be much younger and much different than previous years) should have just one goal in mind - a championship.

I still really like the "Be loud...believe...", so I added it in. I think this should be the mantra for any Texas Brahmas fan - be there (you shouldn't be anywhere else), be loud (who was recognized as the rowdiest fans in the league last season?), believe (you've got to believe, you've just got to).

Photo Credit: Robert Keith
Ross Rouleau moves the puck against the Odessa Jackalopes on April 2nd at NYTEX

Ross Rouleau signs for fourth season in purple and black

Hard working defenseman joins Burichin as blue line anchor

"I'm just hoping to make the team...I've been skating for a couple of hours every morning and then working out and riding the bike...if you don't give 110%, you're not making it." - Ross Rouleau, prior to September 2008's Making the Cut prospect camp

When I first met Ross Rouleau in September of 2008, he had just arrived at the NYTEX Sports Centre after driving over 1,300 miles from his home in Hancock, Michigan (the northernmost city in Michigan).

At 20, Rouleau had been skating since he could walk. He played high school hockey for the Hancock Bulldogs. In their 2002-03 season, Hancock had a 22-3-0 record, marking the most victories in school history. They also had 14 consecutive wins, another school record, and took their fourth consecutive Lake Superior Hockey Conference Title. They were also the #1 Ranked D3 Team in the state of Michigan.

Rouleau spent two seasons with the Lions

Rouleau played for the Marquette Rangers (NAHL) before attending Finlandia University (NCAA Division III). Over the course of two seasons (2006-08), he registered 34 points (7 G, 27 A) and 54 penalty minutes in 40 games played.

Ross' older brother Pete, who had signed with the Brahmas that August, encouraged Ross to try out for the Brahmas at the "Making the Cut" prospect camp. The 6', 180 pound defenseman came to NYTEX two weeks early, skating and working out daily to be ready physically.

Rouleau brought a level of skill, maturity and a work ethic that impressed coaches Dan Wildfong and Ron Vogel. When he learned he had made the cut, Rouleau said he couldn't believe it.

"I was pumped...but it only gets harder from here," he said.

After earning a spot in the Brahmas training camp, Rouleau continued working hard and made his way onto the final roster, only to be placed on waivers after just two games.

Later in the season, the Brahmas were making a run towards their first Central Hockey League championship, but their blue line was depleted. Mike Vellinga was ailing, but continued to play. Eric Lundberg was out with what would later be assessed a season-ending injury. Justin Kinnunen had been called up to the American Hockey League's San Antonio Rampage. Matt Hanson had recently been traded to Arizona.

Rouleau put everything he had into the renewed opportunity and played the final 15 games of the season. He picked up two assists during another 15 games in the 2009 playoffs and on May 6th, he joined his older brother in celebration of the team's Ray Miron President's Cup championship win over the Colorado Eagles.

Pete and brother Ross celebrate with the President's Cup

Rouleau returned for the 2009-10 campaign, having bulked up during the off-season. He showed much improvement over his rookie year and tallied 18 points (4 G, 14 A, -4) and 72 PIM in 60 regular season games played and earned a call-up to the AHL's Houston Aeros. His first professional goal was scored against the Colorado Eagles at NYTEX on January 10, 2010. He added four assists in eight games played in the post-season.

In early August of 2010, Rouleau signed with the ECHL's Kalamazoo Wings, giving him the opportunity to play closer to home.

“Ross plays a hard-nosed style of defense,” K-Wings head coach Nick Bootland said. “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, their weren't enough spots available on the final roster and the K-Wings' loss was the Brahmas gain. Last season, Rouleau scored 14 points (2 G, 12 A) and was assessed 54 PIM in 59 regular season games played. Again, his improvement on the ice was evident as noted by Brahmas head coach Dan Wildfong.

“Ross has grown so much as a player in the past three seasons, and we expect big things from him this season. He knows the system and has experienced what it takes to bring home the Cup,” Wildfong said.

Rouleau joins Jim Burichin as the first members of the Brahmas' defensive core for the 2011-12 season. Not a bad pair to anchor the blue line. I doubt anyone would disagree.

Photo Credits: Top, bottom: Robert Keith; middle: Finlandia University

Friday, July 22, 2011

Brahmas announce pre-season dates, special offer for season ticket holders

Purple and black to meet Allen Americans October 14-15th

The Texas Brahmas, in conjunction with the Allen Americans have announced a new season ticket holder special for the upcoming 2011-12 campaign. The teams will play two pre-season contests with the Americans hosting the first game at the Allen Events Center on Friday, October 14th and the Brahmas hosting the second game at the NYTEX Sports Centre on Saturday, October 15th.

All season ticket holders for both the Texas Brahmas and the Allen Americans will receive tickets to both games.

The pre-season match-up against their Metroplex rival will be a preview of the season series, including the third annual “Vintage Game Series” that will take place mid-season. The Vintage Game Series reflects the historical rivalries between teams in Tarrant and Dallas counties. Last season, the Brahmas wore special sweaters honoring the Fort Worth Fire and the Americans wore sweaters honoring the Dallas Freeze. The sweaters were auctioned to fans at the conclusion of the series.

Brahmas General Manager Mike Barack is excited to offer fans this new pre-season incentive.

“This is the first time in franchise history we have offered a free away game ticket to our customers. The deal is just another way for us to thank our loyal season ticket holders and express our gratitude,” Barack said.

Allen Americans President Matt Canavan expressed similar sentiments.

"This is a way for us to say thank you to all Americans season ticket holders for all the support they give our organization." Canavan said. "What a great way to kick off the rivalry in 2011-12, with back to back games against Texas in the pre-season."

To obtain the free tickets, Brahmas fans are encouraged to purchase their season ticket packages by September 15th. For those who do not hold season tickets, individual game tickets to the pre-season game at NYTEX will be available for purchase in the near future for $10.

Tickets for the October 15th game at NYTEX will be available for Americans fans to pickup at the Allen Event Center beginning the week of October 10th. Those who don't pickup tickets that week, may do so at the will call box office on the night of the game.

Image Credits: Top: Robert Keith, Middle: Allen Americans

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Brahmas land Silverthorn...finally!

Former Colgate University net minder set to don the purple and black

The Texas Brahmas confirmed yesterday that Steve Silverthorn has signed on for the 2011-12 campaign.

Silverthorn, 30, is an alumni of Dan Wildfong's alma mater, Colgate University. In four seasons with the Raiders, Silverthorn had a record of 55-30-9 in 100 games played.

Silverthorn went pro in 2005-06 and signed with the Idaho Steelheads (ECHL), where he spent the next three seasons. In 121 games, Silverthorn amassed a 68-37-14 record, including 10 shutouts. Silverthorn contributed to the Steelheads' Kelly Cup Championship in 2007 with 16 wins and 1,388 minutes played, earning him the Kelly Cup Playoffs MVP.

Silverthorn was called up to the Iowa Stars (AHL) for 13 games between 2006-08. He had an overall record of 4-6-0 with the Stars. In his first AHL game, he stopped all 32 shots for a shutout, only to be followed by a second shutout the following night. The back-to-back shutouts were the Stars’ first in franchise history. Silverthorn also holds the Stars' record for longest shutout sequence at 128:25 minutes.

In 2008, Silverthorn was being pursued for the Brahmas' net but opted instead to sign in Germany with Bad Toelz EC in the Bavarian Landesliga. He had 33 wins in 45 games, including four shutouts.

Silverthorn spent the next two seasons with Schwenningen ERC, playing in the 2.Bundesliga, which is the second highest German league. There, he posted an outstanding 60-24-0 record with 10 shutouts.

Head coach Dan Wildfong is looking forward to having the veteran net minder on his roster this season.

“With this signing, the Brahmas will have stability and strength between the pipes. Steve is a proven successful goalie, and we believe he has what it takes to put the Brahmas back on top in the CHL,” Wildfong said.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A word about signings for the upcoming season

Fans can expect little information at this time of the usual

The current chatter on the message boards is the same as usual this time of year...when will we get more info on player signings? Well Brahmas fans, don't expect to much in the coming weeks. Unlike some of the other teams out there who like to show their hand early, Dan Wildfong has never been one to do so - and don't expect that to change.

A couple of things to consider: at this time of the summer, most players are weighing their options. Do I want to play hockey again this season? Do I want to play in the CHL? Do I want to play in the ECHL? Do I have a chance of making an AHL roster? Do I want to go to Europe?

Also, teams may not want to announce a new player until all the paperwork has been signed and it's a done deal. Even then, things can go wrong. For instance, I was talking with Dan at the Dallas Stars prospect camp last week and he told me about a defenseman the Brahmas were pretty excited about and had signed - only to have the guy opt out for Europe, where the money was much better. Would have made no sense to have announced his signing, would it?

You also have to take in consideration what's going on in the league. Will this team fold; will that team move to the ECHL or SPHL; will a new franchise be available...all these came to fruition this off-season.

As of this writing, the Tulsa Oilers, Wichita Thunder, Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees and the new Bloomington franchise haven't announced any signings for the 2011-12 campaign.

The Rapid City Rush and the Quad City Mallards have matched the Brahmas with two players announced. Laredo, Allen, Wichita and Arizona four; the Komets and the Gems five each and seven each for Evansville and Missouri.

As I said before, Fonger doesn't like to show his hand too early, giving other teams an idea of who they'll be playing against.

For those who have forgotten the past and are condemned to repeat it (in regards to wanting more info on who the bulls have signed as of now), here's a little history lesson:

In July of 2007, five players were announced, including rookies Mark Carragher, Tristan Fairbarn and Greg McConnell (07/09/07), Craig Minard (07/10/07) and Grant Jacobsen (07/23/07). This brought the total number of players signed for the 2007-08 season to eight, including net minders Greg Hewitt (06/04/07), David Cacciola (06/05/07), center Jason Cerone (via trade with RGV for future considerations 06/22/07) and defenseman Eric Main (06/28/07). Three more players were announced in August, including defensemen Tim Laurila (08/08/07), Mike Vellinga (08/22/07) and forward Anders Strome (08/30/07).

In July of 2008, just three players were announced, including forwards Andrew Leach (07/17/07), Mark Carragher and Greg McConnell. This brought the total number of players for the 2008-09 season to six, including forward Lance Galbraith (06/05/08), defenseman Mike Vellinga (06/18/08) and net minder Brett Jaeger 06/25/08). Three more players were announced in August, including forwards Pete Rouleau (08/08/08), Tyler Skworchisnki (08/29/08) and defenseman Chris Mann (08/25/08).

In July of 2009, four players were announced, including Brett Jaeger (07/06/09), forwards Jamie Carroll (07/13/09) and Jordan Cameron (07/23/09) and defenseman Kyle Deck (07/30/09). This brought the total number of players for the 2009-10 season to nine, including forwards Jason Deitsch (05/27/09), A.J. Gale (06/16/09), Anders Strome 06/25/09) and defensemen Casey Russell (06/02/09) and Craig Minard (06/10/09). Three more players were announced in August, including defensemen Kevin McLeod, Derek Merlini and Justin Kinnunen.

In July of 2010, four players were announced, including forwards Ryan McLeod (07/09/10), Nick Toneys, Jeff Hazelwood (07/16/10) and Matt Pierce (07/29/10). This brought the total number of players for the 2010-11 season to seven, including forward Jason Deitsch (05/21/10) and defensemen Jim Burichin (06/11/10) and Nathan Saunders (06/29/10). Five more players were announced in August, including defenseman Kevin Kraus (08/03/10), net minders Scott Campbell and Wayne Savage (08/06/10) and forward A.J. Gale (08/26/10).

On average, the Brahmas announce four players signed during the month of July. On average, by the end of July, the Brahmas have 7.5 players signed (and announced). On average, by the end of August, the Brahmas have 11 players signed (and announced). So far, we have defenseman Jim Burichin and forward Alex Curran on the roster - a couple of solid players with good character.

Here's a good article written by David Thomas of the Star-Telegram about the work Dan and Ronnie are doing to build the training camp roster during the summertime. I'm sure you've all read it before, but it's a good one to read again.

In the meantime, it's the summertime - there should be other things on your minds besides hockey. Let Dan and Ronnie do their jobs and we'll see who shows up at training camp and who makes the final cut.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Hogeboom heading across the pond for 2011-12 season

Former Brahmas center signs with HC Alleghe in Italy

Greg Hogeboom has signed with HC Alleghe in Alleghe, Italy for the 2011-12 season according to a press release by the team issued today.

The team plays in Serie A, a 10-team league that is the top tier of professional ice hockey in Italy.

HC Alleghe plays at the Stadio Alvise De Toni, a 2500-seat venue situated near the shore of Lago de Alleghe. The facility first opened in 1970.

Alleghe, a ski/snowboard resort town with a population of about 1,350 inhabitants, is set in the province of Belluno in Veneto (Northern Italy), the most visited region of Italy. Do a Google image search on Alleghe, Italy - the place is really beautiful.

The league's playing format is set up in three parts:
  • First part: "Regular season" - Every team plays four matches against each other.
  • Second Part: After the regular season the teams will be divided into 2 groups to determine access to play off and play out (round robin).
  • Third part: "Play Off" - Quarterfinals: 1 vs 8, 2 vs 7, 3 vs 6, 4 vs 5. Quarterfinals, semifinals and finals will be played at the best of 7. "Play Out" - 9 vs 10.
Other players signed to the team for the coming season thus far include goalie Adam Dennis (played in the AHL for his first three pro seasons (2006-08) and has played in Europe since), defenseman Michael Schutte (played his first five pro (2002-07) seasons in the AHL and has played in Europe since except for 18 games with the Odessa Jackalopes last season) and center Kenny Corupe (entering his 12th pro season with four seasons split between the ECHL and AHL and two seasons with the Odessa Jackalopes (2001-02 and 2010-11).

Hogeboom, 28, was the second leading scorer for the Brahmas last season (tied with Chad Woollard with 92 points) and was first in power play goals (15), assists (55) and +/- (tied with Jason Krischuk at +16). He was also one of two players (Krischuk) to play all 66 regular season games.

Hogeboom's 92 points (37 G, 55 A, +16) and 22 penalty minutes constituted his best output in seven pro seasons and placed him sixth among all Central Hockey League players in points (92), fifth in goals (37), sixth in assists (55) and second in power play goals (15).

During the post-season, Hogeboom added three points (1 G, 2 A, -3) and four PIM in four games played.

This is a huge loss for the Brahmas, but a nice move for Hogeboom and his wife, who will get to live in a beautiful community over the next season. The money's not bad either!

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Friday, July 1, 2011

Alex Curran back after a solid rookie season

Steady forward adds defensive component

The Texas Brahmas have announced the re-signing of forward Alex Curran for the upcoming 2011-12 campaign.

In his rookie year, the 6' 2", 191-pound native of Perth-Andover, New Brunswick registered 23 points (10 G, 13 A) and 54 penalty minutes in 62 games.

Prior to signing with the Brahmas, Curran played four seasons with Saint Lawrence University (ECAC). As a member of the Saints, Curran recorded 62 points (19 G, 43 A) and 92 PIM in 153 games played.

Brahmas Head Coach Dan Wildfong is optimistic about the return of Curran for the upcoming season.

“Alex is the type of player who continued to improve throughout the season, and with a year of experience under his belt and a sound defensive mind, I believe he has the potential for a breakthrough season,” Wildfong said.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith