Saturday, October 15, 2011

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

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