Monday, September 26, 2011

McLeod remains in Denmark for 2011-12 season

Former Brahmas defenseman signs with Esbjerg

Former Texas Brahmas defenseman Kevin McLeod has signed a contract for the 2011-12 season with Esbjerg, in the top Danish ice hockey league AL-Bank Ligaen, the team announced today. McLeod joins Esbjerg after completing a six-game tryout agreement with the Vienna Capitals (Austria).

“We will not risk ending up in the same situation as last year when we at one time had only four backs (defensemen),” Esbjerg head coach Tomas Jonsson said. “Kevin McLeod, with his qualities will be a clear gain, both offensively and defensively. He has good size, he's a good skater and he is strong.”

A native of Calgary, Alberta, McLeod appeared in 35 games last season with Hvidovre, where he tallied 23 points (7 G, 16 A) and 131 penalty minutes. He added two assists in four playoff games. McLeod was reportedly instrumental in attracting former Brahmas goalie Brett Jaeger to Hvidovre for this season. Now, McLeod will play against Jaeger for the first time in his career.

Prior to crossing the pond, McLeod spent three seasons with the Brahmas, appearing in 168 regular-season games, amassing 114 points (46 G, 68 A). In 2008-09, McLeod enjoyed his finest professional season as he tied for first in the CHL among defenseman in goals scored with 20. His offensively productive year ranked him fourth on the Brahmas roster in the goals, assists and points categories with 50 points (20 G, 30 A) and 89 PIM.

In 2009-10, McLeod was called up to the American Hockey League's Springfield Falcons where he played five games.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Four players "Make the Cut"

Goalie, three forwards earn training camp contracts

After a hard weekend of drills and scrimmages, four players earned CHL training camp contracts after participating in the 2011 Texas Brahmas "Making the Cut" Prospect Camp. It was the largest and one of the most competitive camps to date and coaches Dan Wildfong and Ron Vogel were very pleased with the effort put forth by the attendees.

Here's a breakdown of the four who were selected to attend the Brahmas' training camp, which opens on October 10th:

Kraymer Barnstable - Goaltender

Barnstable, 21, was selected by Vancouver in the ninth round of the 2005 WHL bantam draft and played 14 games with the Giants in the 2007-08 campaign, posting a 6-4 record with a 2.45 GAA and an .886 Save Percentage.

The Kelowna, British Columbia native started the 2008-09 season in Vancouver before being re-assigned to the Nipawin Hawks (SJHL). He joined the Everett Silvertips for a short stint, then finished the season back in the SJHL, this time with the Notre Dame Hounds. Barnstable remained on the Silvertips’ protected list until the WHL bantam draft when he was dropped to make room for the team’s newest prospects.

In 2009-10, he played with the Red Deer Rebels (WHL) for 27 games before being placed on waivers as the team began reducing the number of 20-year-olds on their roster due to league rules. His record was 11-5-1 with a 3.32 GAA and a .888 Save Percentage. Barnstable spent last season with the Lloydminster Bobcats (AJHL) where he had a 15-14-2 record, a 2.89 GAA and a .890 Save Percentage.

Tanner Tomlinson - Forward

Tomlinson, 21, spent the last four seasons playing in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL). The 5' 10", 185-pound native of Sarnia, Ontario played the last two seasons with the Sarnia Legionnaires. His best numbers came in 2009-10, when he was named the team's Most Improved Player. Tomlinson tallied 33 points (14 G, 19 A) and 154 penalty minutes with 11 points coming on the power play (5 G, 6 A). He also had one game-winning goal. In five playoff games, he added another four points (1 G, 3 A) and 30 PIM.

He tallied 25 points (12 G, 13 A) in 42 games played last season, including seven points on the power play (5 G, 2 A), a short-handed goal and a game-winning goal. Tomlinson uses boxing to stay in shape during the off-season and trains in his hometown at the River City Boxing Club.

Alexander Molnar - Forward

Molnar, 25, played the last four seasons at Salem State College (MASCAC) in Massachusetts. The 5' 6", 175-pound native of Nitra, Slovakia had a total of 37 points (16 G, 21 A) and 62 PIM during his career with the Vikings.

Molnar majored in Business Administration and speaks five languages. He's a spirited player who made a good impression on the coaches. Molnar inadvertently too a stick to the face in the final minutes of today's scrimmage.

Here are a couple of videos posted on YouTube (Molnar wore the number four sweater):

Thomas Galiani - Forward

Galiani, 24, played the past three seasons at SUNY - Brockport (SUNYAC) where he tallied 39 points (18 G, 21 A) and 44 penalty minutes in 75 games played. The 5' 7", 160-pound native of Lindenhurst, New York played 25 games at the University of Southern Maine (ECAC-E) during the 2003-07 season, where he was named Most Improved Player after registering 12 points (6 G, 6 A) and 20 PIM.

Galiani was with the Oswego Admirals (OPJHL) in 2005-06, where he tallied 13 points (3 G, 10 A) and 29 PIM in 49 games played.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Texas Brahmas player profile - Brock Meadows

Former Robert Morris University defenseman brings size, shot-blocking skills

The Brahmas' newest defenseman is Brock Meadows, a rookie out of Robert Morris University, where he studied accounting. Meadows, 25, will attend the Oklahoma City Barons training camp along with Jim Burichin, Phil Fox and Matt Wallace, beginning on Monday.

A physical defenseman, Meadows blocked 19 shots in just 24 games this past season and put together his best offensive numbers at RMU with seven points (1 G, 6 A). Meadows served as an assistant captain with the Colonials during his senior season and became the first Robert Morris player to score a goal in an Atlantic Hockey game (the university joined the Atlantic Hockey Association for the 2010-11 season).

Meadows spent his freshmen year at Wayne State University where he registered 11 points (4 G, 7 A) and 10 PIM in 30 games played. He led all WSU freshmen with four goals and tied for the rookie lead in points (11). It was the Warriors final season, as the University discontinued the men's program due to economic conditions.

The 6' 1", 200-pound native of White Rock, British Columbia ended his collegiate career with 24 points (6 G, 18 A) and 84 PIM.

Prior to committing to Wayne State, Meadows played three seasons in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL). He began his junior career with the Surrey Eagles, recording 12 points (2 G, 10 A) and 73 PIM in 60 games played during the 2004-05 season. Meadows spent the following season with the Langley Hornets, where he was tied for third in total points with 41 points (9 G, 32 A) and 77 PIM in 60 games played.

Meadows split the 2006-07 season between the Westside Warriors and the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, tallying a combined 46 points (11 G, 35 A) and 108 PIM in 55 games played.

On March 12th, Meadows signed an Amateur Tryout Agreement contract with the Reading Royals (ECHL), where he played one game. He also played one game with the Wheeling Nailers (ECHL).

Photo Credit: Robert Morris University Athletics

Friday, September 23, 2011

Silent Auction to benefit the Vellinga family

Bid on Mike's championship jersey, skates and For the Love of Andrea Jersey

In conjunction with this Sunday's Bocce Tournament and Fundraiser to benefit the Vellinga family, there will be a special e-mail auction for three one-of-a-kind items.

As you know former Brahmas defenseman Mike Vellinga's wife Andrea was critically injured during the Indiana State Fair stage collapse on August 13th. Andrea is recovering, but the family has a lot of expenses and can use your help.

Up for auction are Mike Vellinga's game-worn championship jersey as well as the skates he wore. In addition, a unique For the Love of Andrea jersey (design by Jay Fletcher) will be available.

The auction will begin on Sunday, September 25th at 4:00 p.m. and will end on Sunday, October 5th at 4:00 p.m. CST. To place a bid, you can e-Mail your name, the item you are bidding on and the amount you would like to bid to:

The organizers will be as prompt as possible in returning emails notifying of current high bid amounts.

Photo Credit: Tonya Minard
Five Texas Brahmas to attend American Hockey League camps

Players to depart for Oklahoma City, San Antonio

The Texas Brahmas announced that five players from their 2011-12 roster will be attending American Hockey League training camps, scheduled to begin on Monday, September 26th.

Left Wing Jordan Kary will attend the San Antonio Rampage camp. Defensemen Jim Burichin, Brock Meadows and forwards Phil Fox and Matt Wallace will attend the Oklahoma City Barons' camp.

“This is a great opportunity for these guys, and well deserved," Brahmas Head Coach Dan Wildfong said. "With their hard work and determination, they will be able to see hockey at the next level and know what it takes to get there.”

Photo Credit: Robert Keith
Making the Cut 2011 underway

Over 40 prospects check in for three-day camp

Well over 40 prospective players arrived at NYTEX Sports Center on Thursday evening to attend the 2011 Texas Brahmas "Making the Cut" prospect camp. The group was addressed by Brahmas Head Coach and General Manager Dan Wildfong, Assistant Coach Ron Vogel, President Mike Barack, Equipment Manager Phil Shipp and owner Frank Trazzera at the mandatory meeting held in NYTEX food court.

This will be the largest prospect camp to date and the group has a very good mix of experience. All listened intently as Wildfong provided an overview of the camp and the rules, while Barack and Trazzera gave a brief history of the Brahmas organization and the traditions of NYTEX Sports.

Two official 2011 CHL training camp contracts will be issued to the two players who exhibit the most talent by Texas Brahmas Head Coach Dan Wildfong. Notifications will be made following the final skate on Sunday afternoon.

Of course, all on-ice sessions are open to the public, so stop by if you have some time.

Making the Cut Schedule

Day One - Friday, September 23:

6:45 - 7:45 a.m. (Goalie Session)
8:00 - 9:30 a.m.
1:30 - 3:00 p.m.

Day Two - Saturday, September 24:

7:00 - 8:15 a.m.
1:30 - 3:00 p.m.

Day Three - Sunday, September 25:

7:00 - 8:15 a.m.
11:15-12:45 p.m.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 marks somber date for Texas Brahmas majority owner

Cantor Fitzgerald Vice-Chairman lost over 650 employees, friends in WTC attack

(Originally published in Pro Hockey News)

Tuesday, September 11, 2001 began as a typical day for then Fort Worth Brahmas General Manager Mike Barack. Having just returned from New York the day before after attending the wedding of his former assistant GM, Barack was at his office downtown, preparing for the minor professional hockey team’s fifth season when word reached him about the tragedy unfolding in Lower Manhattan.

Barack received a call from his wife, Michelle, informing him of the planes hitting the twin towers of the World Trade Center and that it was apparently an act of terrorism.

“Obviously, the first thing I remember thinking was ‘Oh, I hope Stuart’s not there,” Barack said, referring to his lifelong friend Stuart Fraser, who was also the majority owner of the Brahmas. “I tried to call him for almost two hours at every number possible. A lot of the phone lines were out, so you couldn’t get through. I called his home and his cell and kept dialing and finally, and this is after everybody knew what had happened, I was able to get a hold of him and basically, he said ‘I’m OK; I’m not there and I’ll call you back’.”

Typically, Fraser spent Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at the corporate headquarters of Cantor Fitzgerald, the company founded 56 years earlier by his uncle, Bernie Cantor. A global financial services firm specializing in bond trading, Cantor Fitzgerald occupied the 101st through 105th floors of the north tower of the World Trade Center.

As luck, or fate would have it, a business meeting set for later in the day kept Fraser home on September 11th. Instead, Fraser went in to the office a day earlier. As he later recounted to the Fort Worth Star Telegram’s Jim Reeves, he walked around the entire office – visiting all five floors.

"I just wanted to talk to people, to see everyone," Fraser said. “I just enjoyed touching base with everybody…It was a good day. Everyone was working hard."

Little did he know, it would be the last time he would see any of them ever again.

The following morning at 8:46 a.m. EST, American Airlines Flight 11, traveling at roughly 466 miles per hour flew into the north tower of the World Trade Center, between the 93rd and 99th floor. The aircraft entered the tower mostly intact, plowing into the building core and severing all three stairwells as it exploded in flames. People below the severed stairwells almost immediately started to evacuate—no one above the impact zone was able to do so.

Eating breakfast with his wife and three children, Fraser’s world was turned upside down when a special report interrupted the Tuesday morning newscast. Prompted by his wife, Elise, Fraser looked up to see images of smoke billowing out of the World Trade Center and learned that an aircraft had just crashed into the north tower, somewhere just beneath Cantor Fitzgerald's offices.

At 8:55 a.m., just nine minutes after the Flight 11 struck One World Trade Center, Fraser’s cell phone beeped. It never rang, but the beep indicated he had a voice mail message. As he played back the message, Fraser listened in horror as his secretary, 32-year-old Lourdes Diaz, advised that something had hit the building, that smoke was everywhere and there was no way out. She asked him to please send help.

"I didn't know what to do,” Fraser recalled. “I was calling every number I knew at the offices and no one was answering.”

Helplessly watching the news footage, Fraser witnessed the drama unfolding as a second plane, United Airlines Flight 175 struck the south tower just after 9 a.m. and then the collapse of that building less than an hour later. At 10:28 a.m., the north tower collapsed – exactly one hour, 41 minutes and 45 seconds after the impact of Flight 11.

"I knew when the first building fell, it was just a matter of time before ours would go, too," Fraser said. "I just hoped our people were getting out. It never occurred to me that the stairwells were compromised by the [first] plane. Then No. 1 came down and my life changed forever. I knew then that we'd lost considerable people.”

658 was the final toll (all of Cantor Fitzgerald’s employees in the offices at the time of the attacks), or about two-thirds of its workforce, which was more than any other of the World Trade Center tenants. In fact, nearly one in four deaths at the World Trade Center, including airline passengers and people on the ground, were Cantor Fitzgerald employees.

Meanwhile, Stuart Fraser, CEO and Chairman Howard Lutnick and Cantor Fitzgerald’s remaining employees had a company to keep alive. Cantor Fitzgerald was able to bring its trading markets back online within a week and in time, successfully rebuilt its infrastructure. The firm relocated its headquarters at 499 Park Avenue, about 4 ½ miles north of ground zero and now employs more than twice as many people than it did in 2001.

In addition, just over a week after the attacks on the World Trade Center, Lutnick made a pledge to distribute 25 percent of the firm's profits for the next five years to benefit of the families of its former Cantor Fitzgerald, eSpeed and TradeSpark employees. By 2006, the company completed its promise, having paid out a total of $180 million.

Fraser, who has served as the director of the Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund over the past decade, also leads the annual memorial service for families and friends of the 658 employees lost on 9/11.

Seven weeks after the events unfolded on September 11th, Fort Worth Brahmas players wore patriotic-themed jerseys and a moment of silence was observed for those who perished in the attacks at their home opener against the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs, a contest the Brahmas won 5-3.

Now 10 years later, Mike Barack is the first to point out that through all the turmoil, all the loss, and throughout the re-building process that Cantor Fitzgerald went through after 9/11, Stuart Fraser kept the Fort Worth Brahmas, now the Texas Brahmas alive.

“When you consider that he’s the vice-chairman of the company that lost the most employees in the World Trade Center and all the things that happened after 9/11 and he still maintained the franchise, it’s amazing,” Barack said. “I think people don’t recognize it (his contribution to the Brahmas franchise) because he’s not here a lot. But the appreciation should be there, because he’s kept it going year-in and year-out. Win or lose, he has been there.”

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Saturday, September 3, 2011

For the Love of Andrea...Bocce Benefit at NYTEX

Donations needed for fundraiser/tournament on Sunday 9/25

Brahmas fans - The Sophia Susan Laurila Memorial Fund is sponsoring a Bocce Tournament and Fundraiser to raise money for the Vellinga Family. The tournament will be held at NYTEX on Sunday, September 24th at 1:00 pm.

Obviously, players/teams are needed (I'm sure your level of experience is irrelevant), so be sure to sign up for the event. You can go to my post on the Texas Brahmas Forum here to discuss and form teams. Need more information on Bocce? Click here and here. Entry fees will be donated to the Vellinga's.

In addition, money will be raised via donations, silent auctions and raffles of Craig Minard, Tim Laurila and Darryl McArthur jerseys (former teammates of Mike Vellinga). Also available will be Mike’s skates from his championship game with the Brahmas, as well as a hockey jersey that has been made with Jay Fletcher’s permission with his signature “For the Love of Andrea” design on the front and “Vellinga #24″ on the back.

In addition to these and hockey related items, the organizers have had a multitude of other donations that will be raffled off at the tournament as well.

I'm sure that Elli and Tanya can use some help and definitely can use some additional items to be auctioned or raffled. Be sure and contact them if you can provide any help or items, or if you have any questions.

What: Bocce Tournament and Fundraiser
When: Sunday, September 25, 2011 *1:00 Start time; check-in begins at noon
Where: NYTEX Sports Centre, 8851 Icehouse Drive, North Richland Hills, Texas 76180
Website: Click here

Contact Info: Elli Laurila @ 612-418-4690 or Tonya Minard @ 318-780-5006