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