Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cal Wild returns...

Rookie forward Matt Wallace placed on waivers

The Texas Brahmas have placed rookie forward Matt Wallace on waivers today according to Pointstreak. Wallace, who played the past four seasons at Hobart College (ECAC-W) saw limited shifts and made one shot during last Saturday night's home and season opener against the Tulsa Oilers.

Wallace (left) during last Saturday's game against the Oilers

The move opened a roster spot for the returning Calin Wild, who showed real promise last season but was unable to come to terms with the club during the summer. Wild's agent announced
that he had signed with the Brahmas via Twitter today. Pointstreak has also verified this.

Wild, 24, tallied 21 points (10 G, 11 A, -10) and 24 penalty minutes in 55 regular season games played during his rookie season. He added two points (2 G, 2 A, -2) in four post-season contests. He was signed by the Gwinnett Gladiators (ECHL) on August 10th but did not appear in a game this season with Gwinnett.

Wild is primed and ready for a breakout season and fans will be happy to see him back in purple and black!

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Kyle Howarth watches as the final minute plays out on the ice at NYTEX

A taste of their own medicine

Brahmas shut out 3-0 in season opener

Coming off the high of last Saturday's 5-0 win over the Allen Americans, the stage was set for another high energy, high-spirited effort by the boys in purple and black. There wasn't a person in the house that wasn't amped up for the season opener and ready to see a big win.

Unfortunately, that win placed two points in the column marked Tulsa Oilers and the Texas Brahmas received nothing but a wake up call and a whisper in their ears: "All glory is fleeting, All glory is fleeting".

Still, a good effort was put forth although a little bit of the fire displayed during the pre-season was missing. In the end, the team that worked harder won. Sometimes it's as simple as that. The two teams were very well matched and Tulsa was hot, coming off their 4-1 season-opening win over the Allen Americans on Friday night. Hats off to Ian Keserich who has allowed just one goal in 120 minutes of play.

If anything positive can come out of the loss, it will be a show of character - how these men will learn from what they experienced on the ice and how they can rebound from adversity and make the necessary adjustments to move forward with their chins held high. After all, it could be worse (finger pointed at the Allen Americans).

One request to Fonger and Ronnie: can we have at the very least, one entire practice a week devoted to special teams, specifically the power play? I hate to go through another season of watching nothing come out of 5-on-3 advantages. It's past time to make an effort to improve on this part of the game.

ad·van·tage (ad-van-tij) noun

1. any state, circumstance, opportunity, or means specially favorable to success, interest, or any desired end.

(Thanks to Dictionary.Com for the definition)

I hate to single any one out one way or another, but I have to give a verbal high five to Al Curran, who in my opinion has been showing a lot of moxie on the ice. I want to also give special thanks to Mark Guggenberger, who wore his catcher last night and used it to shield yours truly from wayward pucks, allowing me to leave the rink with an intact noggin.

What to say about the game? Well, a scoreless first period with power plays that came up short
for both sides. Tulsa out shot the homies 11-9 but had yet to solve Silverthorn, who made some sharp saves.

The middle frame saw the Brahmas take the SOG lead 12-7, but it was the Oilers who drew first blood when Gary Steffes found the back of the net at the 5:00 mark, assisted by rookie defenseman Jeff Terminesi and Michel Beausoleil. Two more power plays for each side; nothing gained. It's safe to say that the Brahmas appeared disorganized during the period and their defense of the net faltered.

In the final frame, the Brahmas led the shot assault again, this time 13-10 but Keserich was true to form and halted any scoring opportunities. A hooking call on Brahmas Captain Adam Hogg at the 12:50 mark led to the Oilers second strike 36 seconds later, this time by rookie forward Ryan Kramer. Dylan Clark and Mike Ullrich were credited with the assists.

Down by two, Ron Vogel pulled Silverthorn in favor of an extra attacker but the gamble backfired when Patrik Levesque drove the puck down ice, adding the final insult to injury tally at the 19:25 mark. Gary Steffes and Ryan Kramer were credited with setting up the score.

Steve Silverthorn stopped 25 of 27 shots faced in 58:20 of play and takes the loss. Ian Keserich stopped all 34 shots faced and earned the win.

The Brahmas were assessed eight minutes on four infractions; the Oilers received six minutes on three infractions. Texas went 0 for 3 on the power play; Tulsa went 1 for 4.

Referee: Zak Blazic
Linesmen: Bill McGoldrick, John Grandt

1st Star: Keserich, Ian (Tulsa) - 34 saves on 34 shots faced
2nd Star: Silverthorn, Steve (Texas) - 25 saves on 27 shots faced
3rd Star: Steffes, Gary (Tulsa) - Two points on five shots (1 G, 1 A, +2)

You can view Pointstreak's box score here and their Game Live broadcast here

Photos from the game can be viewed here and here. As always, it takes time to edit the 800+ shots taken, so be patient and keep checking back.

The Brahmas will be off today but practice resumes on Monday in preparation for next weekend's three-in-three, which includes hosting the Allen Americans on Friday night, a road trip to play Tulsa at the BOK Center on Saturday night, followed by a trip home to host Tulsa on Sunday afternoon.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Wildfong to begin four-game suspension

Ron Vogel will fill in as Brahmas' bench boss

The Texas Brahmas will be without head coach Dan Wildfong tonight, as well as the next three games due to a league suspension that carried over from last season. Assistant coach Ron Vogel will serve as the head coach on the bench in Fonger’s absence.

Wildfong's suspension was levied as a result of his making contact with two on-ice officials while arguing a decision unfavorable to the Brahmas (understatement) during the March 26th game at Rio Grande Valley.

For those who don't remember the circumstances of the suspension, here's Greg Rajan's excellent recap:

The Brahmas led 4-0 after the first period, but stopped skating and didn't get a great performance from goalie Steve Christie, and Rio took a 5-4 lead with six minutes left. Then things got strange in the final minute.

With 42.2 seconds left, the clock froze, albeit briefly for a few seconds. Then with 3.8 seconds left, Chad Woollard got the puck above the left circle and unleashed a rocket of a slap shot that beat goalie Jerad Kaufmann high to the glove side.

Then things got strange.

The Bees lobbied that time should have already expired, and referee Jon McIsaac consulted with linesmen Bill McGoldrick and Jon Shaw and then ruled no goal. Dan Wildfong was incensed, jumped off the Texas bench and made contact with McIsaac and one of the linesman.

I talked to ex-IceRays goalie and Brahmas assistant coach Ron Vogel and some of the other Corpus exes-turned-Brahmas after the game and they said they were told that McIsaac consulted the head off-ice official keeping time with a stopwatch in the catwalk and the referee was told that eight seconds should've come off the clock when it froze.

Regardless of the reason for Wildfong's actions, the CHL stood by their argument that contact should have never been made with the officials. Following an appeal by the Brahmas organization, the league reduced the initial seven game suspension to the first playoff game and the first four games for the 2011-12 season.

And here we are.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mike Towns putting the pressure on during Saturday night's game at NYTEX

And then there were 21...

Brahmas release Walker, Towns

The Texas Brahmas released two more players from their training camp roster today, leaving just two more cuts to make before the 2011-12 roster is announced. Placed on waivers were center Nolan Waker and forward Mike Towns.

Waker, 26, played the last five seasons for the University of Manitoba (CWUAA). During his collegiate career, Waker tallied 42 points (21 G, 21 A) and 60 penalty minutes in 134 games played. Prior to joining the Bisons, he spent one season (2005-06) with the Brampton Battalion (OHL) and two seasons each with the Prince Albert Raiders (WHL) and Kelowna Rockets (WHL).

Towns, 25, played four seasons (2003-07) with the Penticton Vees (BCHL) where he registered 52 points (21 G, 31 A) and 517 PIM in 190 games played.

One goaltender and one other player will be released by weeks end. I expect the other to be a forward as history has shown the Brahmas can use the seventh defenseman.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Ross Rouleau high fives Jordan Kary following Saturday night's win at MYTEX

Welcome to Brahma Land!

Americans dominated in 5-0 shut out

The Texas Brahmas introduced the newest Allen Americans to a taste of NYTEX Sports Centre hospitality tonight by handing them their a**es along with a "to go" box from Zuroma for the bus ride home.

One hates to get over excited about a pre-season win, but what the young bulls showed the fans tonight was nothing short of magnificence. If there was a down side to the evening, it was the fact that the fans were denied any chicken for the five goals scored - and believe me, no one minded.

Despite the shoot out loss on Friday night, the Brahmas showed excellent form and the home crowd (who chose to sacrifice watching the Texas Rangers win the American League pennant) got a taste of the excitement that's sure to come next Saturday night when the regular season opens at home against the Tulsa Oilers.

Highlights? How about a shut out for goalie Steve Silverthorn in his first game as a Texas Brahma? How about three goals scored in a span of just 71 seconds? How about two special teams goals including Ross Rouleau's unassisted, short-handed, empty netter while on a 6-on-3 penalty kill? How about another full 60-minute effort by a team built from scratch and molded over the course of five days in the shoe box? Magnificent!

Let's not forget how proud Dan and Ronnie are of these young men who have already proven to themselves and to each other that they have what it takes. Now it's time to make the final, difficult cuts and then to present the final product to the rest of the Central Hockey League. By the way, four have to go (Forward Stuart Stefan was placed on waivers today) - likely a goalie, a defenseman and two forwards; however I'd keep a seventh blue liner. History has shown we need the extra man.

The crowd in attendance tonight was far smaller than the announced 2,084 - understandable due to the Rangers game. There was a good number of Allen fans in the house as well as the small Mudbugs contingent, who made the long drive this weekend for their CHL hockey fix. As is the case at NYTEX, the smaller crowd didn't reduce the impact of the noise level - the cheers and jeers, led by the venerable 303 Rowdies turned the heads of several of the young players, who were getting their first taste of the NYTEX experience.

The Americans came out firing blanks again but out-shooting the Brahmas 7-2 in the first 10 minutes of play. Mark Ehl drew the first penalty of the night with a Hooking call 28 seconds into the contest and once again the Brahmas penalty killers shut down the Allen advantage. Mark Towns and Allen defenseman Ryan Hand drew matching Fighting Majors at the 7:44 mark although you could hardly call the display a "fight". Seriously guys, if you're going to drop the gloves, at least make a fist.

Brendon Hodge struck first blood at the 11:16 mark, sending the puck into and off the left shoulder of Brian Mahoney-Wilson (who looked like he was stuck in glue) to give the Brahmas a 1-0 lead. Kyle Howarth and Alex Curran were in on the assists.

33 seconds later, Greg Eskedjian made it 2-0 with a little help from Hodge and Andrew Lackner. Tyler Ludwig drew an interference call at the 12:18 mark, which led to a third goal nine seconds later, courtesy of Erik Spady, assisted by Phil Fox and Brock Meadows.

The Brahmas had a 13-10 shot advantage in the first 20 minutes and went into the locker room with a comfortable lead.

The middle frame was highlighted by Jordan Kary's goal (his second in as many nights) at the 8:34 mark. Phil Fox and Adam Hogg were credited with the assists. Allen had an 8-4 shot advantage and a 18-17 advantage after 40 minutes but could not solve Silverthorn.

The Brahmas out shot the Americans 8-4 in the final period which included six infractions called by referee Brent Coulombe; the last four against the Brahmas. The big fun began at the 17:30 mark when Silverthorn was called for Tripping (unfortunately, my photos appear to uphold the call) and then the Brahmas were assessed a Delay of Game penalty while arguing the initial call.

Allen pulled Mahoney-Wilson to provide a 6-on-3 advantage but were stymied by Ross Rouleau, who sent the puck across the length of the ice and into the Allen net for the "eff you" goal at the 18:25 mark, much to the delight of the crowd, needless to say. 'Nuff said.

Steve Silverthorn stopped all 22 shots faced for his first win as a Brahma. Brian Mahoney-Wilson stopped 20 of 24 shots faced in 59:05 minutes of play and takes the loss.

Allen was assessed 15 minutes on six infractions; Texas received 19 minutes on eight infractions. Allen went 0 for 7 on the power play; Texas went 1 for 5.

Referee: Brent Coulombe
Linesmen: Cory Piche, T.J. Nua

1st Star: Silverthorn, Steve (Texas) -22 saves on 22 shots faced in 60 minutes of play
2nd Star: Rouleau, Ross (Texas) - One goal on one shot
3rd Star: Meadows, Brock (Texas) - One assist, one shot, four PIM

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

You can view my photos from the game here (It usually takes at least a couple of days to get all the shots edited and uploaded, so keep checking back!)

The Brahmas will get some rest tomorrow before beginning preparation for nest Saturday's home opener against the Tulsa Oilers. Plan on being there and as always, remember the Brahmas have One Goal in Mind, so Be there, Be loud, Believe!

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Defenseman Andrew Lackner prepares to slow down an Americans' assault

Despite shootout loss, Brahmas look impressive

Game two of pre-season series tonight at NYTEX

Suffice it to say, you can't expect too much out of a pre-season contest. It's an opportunity for training camp rosters of each team to take what they've learned during their respective week-long camps and put that knowledge, as well as their skills to the test. An opportunity to show their coaches, their fans, themselves and especially their teammates what they can do on the ice.

Last night at the Allen Events Center, the young guns of the Texas Brahmas did just that - they showed everyone that this young team has come together very quickly and under the guidance of coaches Dan Wildfong and Ron Vogel, they should remain a strong contender in the Berry Conference.

It's always interesting to watch the progression of these young men from the first through the last day of training camp. Noticeable this year was the comparably relaxed demeanor of Dan Wildfong. Also noticeable was the work ethic and the obvious drive displayed by each of the players. Something Ronnie Vogel said to me really stood out in my mind - each one of these players has something to prove; to themselves as well as their teammates.

It's obvious that the work the coaches have put in and the efforts at team-building has helped these 24 men to bond quickly and the final 19 to make the 2011-12 roster will likely be the 19 we see for the majority of the season. Which is not to say if something gets broke, it won't be fixed.

Two young goaltenders, vying for the number two spot in support of Steve Silverthorn, were magnificent in their pre-season debut, granted the fact that they faced a number of soft shots. Also, unlike the Americans' Rejean Beauchemin, they faced the majority of the Americans' roster.

Mark Guggenberger stopped all 15 shots faced in 30:54 minutes in net. Kraymer Barnstable stopped 17 of 18 shots faced in 34:06 minutes and was excellent through a 12-round shootout, which was finally settled Allen's big man, Bruce Graham. If their performance throughout the training camp and in last night's contest (as well as any time they may see tonight), the final decision on the number two slot will be extremely difficult.

The boys came out strong in the first frame, with a lot of hard hitting and discipline. Matt Wallace made the first shot on goal 3:52 into play. Allen defenseman Tyler Ludwig drew the first penalty of the evening - a slashing call - and broke in the Americans' penalty box for the new season. The Brahmas failed to capitalize on the man advantage and although the Americans had a 9-5 shot advantage after the first twenty minutes, the Brahmas appeared to be in control.

Alex Curran sends Colton Yellow Horn airborne as Kyle Howarth pursues the puck

The Brahmas Mark Ehl drew their first penalty just 12 seconds into the middle period, an interference call. Once again, Allen out shot the boys; this time 13-2 as the homers started to pull together and match the Brahmas' physical play.

The Brahmas opened the scoring at 2:02 of the third period when Jordan Kary beat
Beauchemin with a one-timer on a pass from Phil Fox, who was stationed behind the Allen net. It remained a 1-0 contest until Mike Kompon scored on a pass from Colton Yellow Horn to tie it up at the 12:47 mark. Defenseman Dylan King was credited with a secondary assist.

The Americans blew several opportunities to take the lead later in the period. Brian McMillin nearly deflected one past Barnstable and Mike Kompon, again from Colton Yellow Horn, was set up with a chance, but failed to hit the back of the net before the horn sounded to end regulation play. The Brahmas had a 10-8 shot advantage in the final frame, but the Americans had the 30-17 advantage through 60 minutes.

Did I fail to mention the Allen Americans Ice Girls?

Easily the biggest smiles on these guys' faces all week

Nothing was solved in overtime as both net minders stood strong. The Americans' Mike Compon and the Brahmas' Kyle Howarth each struck in the shootout but it wasn't until the 12th round that Bruce Graham ended it, giving the Americans and Beauchemin the win.

Both teams were assessed six minutes on three infractions and neither was successful on the power play.

Referee: Brent Coulombe
Linesmen: T.J. Nua, Cory Piche

1st Star: Beauchemin, Rejean (Allen) -18 saves on 19 shots faced in 65 minutes of play
2nd Star: Kompon, Mike (Allen) - One goal on seven shots
3rd Star: Kary, Jordan (Texas) - One goal on one shot

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

Game 2 of the pre-season series against the Americans will take place tonight at the NYTEX Sports Centre with the opening face off set for 7:30 pm. Due to the 6:30 pm start of Game 6 of the American League Championship Series at the Ballpark in Arlington, attendance may be sparse. The game will be broadcast at Zuroma and updates will be announced throughout tonight's contest.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Texas Brahmas Training Camp - Day Four

Initial cuts announced - 24 remain on roster

The Texas Brahmas ended day four of their training camp today and announced the first three players to be placed on waivers. Forwards Neil Ruffini, Alex Molnar and Tanner Tomlinson were informed on Wednesday afternoon that they had been cut from the roster.

Ruffini, 23, played the past four seasons with the University of Alabama - Huntsville. During his collegiate career with the Chargers, he tallied 37 points (18 G, 19 A) and 120 penalty minutes.

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.

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 for whom he tallied 58 points (26 G, 32 A).

24 players remain on the roster, which needs to be cut down to 19 players next week.

The battle for the number two goaltending slot continues between Mark Guggenberger and "Making the Cut" finalist Kraymer Barnstable. I spoke with Brahmas Assistant Coach Ron Vogel this afternoon and he said the two have both done very well and the final decision will be difficult.

The team will have an on-ice session tomorrow morning at 9:45 am and will travel to Allen later in the afternoon to prepare for the first pre-season match against the Americans at 7:05 pm.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Texas Brahmas Training Camp - Day Two

Hard work, team-building highlight busy day

Day two of the Texas Brahmas' training camp got underway early this morning and included two exhaustive morning sessions at 8:30 am and 10:00 am. The afternoon was set aside for team-building activities.

No cuts have been made yet and the Brahmas' coaches remain enthusiastic about the players' skill level and the outstanding work ethic being displayed by the attendees. Obviously, there's a lot to learn over the course of a week's time including new systems for a group of men who have never played together before. Establishing lines will be an ongoing activity over the next few days and will be tested during this weekend's pre-season contests.

Still a long way to go - 27 players need to be cut down to 19. We're likely to see the first of those to go after tomorrow's on-ice activities.

Photos from today's late morning session can be viewed here.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Monday, October 10, 2011

Texas Brahmas Training Camp - Day One

Brahmas release 27-man roster

The Texas Brahmas opened their week long training camp this morning in preparation for the upcoming 2011-12 season. So what can be said after one day? Not much, obviously after just two sessions. It is interesting to note how odd it is having so few recognizable faces on the ice.

This will truly be a Brahmas team built from scratch and it will be a real challenge for Fonger and Ronnie to work with so many rookie players, as well as so many who have never donned the purple and back.

Here are the 27 players invited to attend:

Forwards (14): Alex Curran, Mark Ehl, Phil Fox, T.J. Fox, Brendon Hodge, Adam Hogg, Kyle Howarth, Jordan Kary, Neil Ruffini, Stuart Stefan, Mike Towns, Nolan Waker, Matt Wallace and Chad Woollard

Defensemen (7): Jim Burichin, Gregg Eskedjian, Andrew Lackner, Brock Meadows, Jaques Perreault, Ross Rouleau, Erik Spady

Goalies (2): Steve Silverthorn and Mark Guggenberger

Making the Cut Prospects: Kraymer Barnstable (G), Thomas Galiani (F), Alexander Molnar (F) and Tanner Tomlinson (F)

Photos from today's afternoon scrimmage have been edited and are available for viewing here and here.

The schedule for the week will change depending on the day. Contact the Brahmas before coming out. All on-ice sessions are open to the public, so come on out if you have the time.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Texas Brahmas training camp opens tomorrow

New faces, new philosophy for 2011-12 season

On Monday morning, the NYTEX Sports Centre comes back to professional hockey life as the Texas Brahmas open their 2011-12 training camp. A couple of noticeable changes this year, the number of attendees is expected to be limited - there are but a few spots up for contention. Also, you're going to see a lot of new faces - young faces, as the Brahmas have brought in about about a dozen rookie players to complement the new roster.

Another thing you will notice - those who earn a spot on the final roster are likely to be around most of the season. No more revolving door like we've seen the past couple of seasons. The commitment this season is to work with and develop the players that have been brought in - which doesn't mean that replacements won't be made where necessary or holes won't be filled - but we won't see guys here for a few games and then gone.

As far as the enforcers go, you won't see guys like Saunders, Sgroi or Maxwell this season. The boys coming in are big and able to take care of themselves, as well as their teammates. We're likely to see less side show fights, which I know many like to see but many more agree is unnecessary for the ultimate success of the team. There's one goal in mind this season and the Brahmas are going to be playing it smart all year.

The Brahmas had the least number of announced off-season signings this year (except for the expansion Bloomington Blaze) in the CHL. The training camp roster will be about soon enough so I'll refrain from publishing a list of players here and now. Suffice it to say, Dan and Ronnie have done a great job once again - This is a very talented group of young men and they are sure to please the fans.

Obviously, the number one spot at goaltender goes to Steve Silverthorn, not only a very talented and disciplined 'minder but also an extremely nice fellow. You'll see a lot of the qualities Brett Jaeger possessed and more in Silverthorn, a player that Fonger has been after for years. His possible number two, a sizable young man whose name I'll be surprised fits on his sweater.

On defense, the Brahmas have brought back the very capable and popular duo of Ross Rouleau and Jim Burichin. Brock Meadows, who joined Burichin at the Oklahoma City Barons training camp is also on board. Add in Andrew Lackner, formerly with the Mississippi RiverKings and a small group of talented rookies and the Brahmas blue line looks to be in good shape.

At forward, the Bulls are led by the venerable Chad Woollard who is joined by the returning Alex Curran. Added in the off-season are former Rapid City Rush center Brendon Hodge, T.J. Fox and rookies Mike Towns and Phil Fox. A former Odessa Jackalopes center and several others will be competing for the remaining spots on the final roster.

If you have the time, stop by the NYTEX Sports Center this week. All on-ice sessions are open to the public. Training camp will culminate with two pre-season bouts against the Allen Americans. The first game will take place Friday starting at 7:05 pm at the Allen Events center. The second will be at NYTEX on Saturday night with the opening face-off at 7:30 pm.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith