Monday, November 7, 2011

...And then there's the Mavericks

Can the Brahmas defeat the league's top team?

The Texas Brahmas will host the Missouri Mavericks in a rare Tuesday night contest at the NYTEX Sports Centre - the question is, will the boys stand and deliver or will they fall by the wayside?

There's grumbling in the ranks of Brahmas fans - and for good reason:
  • The Brahmas are off to their worst start of the Wildfong era - currently 2-4-0 on the season (1-2-0 at home and 1-2-0 on the road) and tied for sixth place in the Berry Conference with the Laredo Bucks.
  • Offensively, the boys are averaging just 1.67 goals per game (last in the league) and are tied with the Fort Wayne Komets for the lowest number of goals scored thus far (10). Just eight players have scored goals (Both T.J. and Phil Fox, Mark Ehl, Jordan Kary, Brendon Hodge, Al Wild, Adam Hogg and Jim Burichin).
  • The Brahmas have the lowest number of penalty minutes in the league (72).
  • As usual, the Brahmas are hopeless on the man advantage - after missing on their first 18 power play chances of the season, the Brahmas finally broke through with a second period power play goal by Adam Hogg during Saturday’s 4-3 win at Laredo. They are currently last in the league with a 5.26 power play percentage.
  • There's no "wow factor". The Brahmas have one star player to speak of in Chad Woollard, but after six games, Woolly has just two assists - hardly exciting.
  • The Brahmas' ability to fight (and I don't mean dancing or grabbing at sweaters) has shown a lack of proficiency - with the reluctant exception of Erik Spady. Now, I assure you that I wouldn't take on any of them on solid ground, but I like my chances on the ice. I don't know if that statement's sadder for me or for them. I'll still get my butt kicked, but at least when I drop the gloves, I throw punches. Lack of an established enforcer has the fans cringing when the gloves are dropped.
Granted, it's been a weird start this season. Just three home games in October with two of those competing with the Texas Rangers' failed World Series bid. And, it's pretty much a whole new team - we really don't know these guys yet. They seem to have the right work ethic, they play hard for the full 60 minutes, they all have ability - it just hasn't translated to what the fans are used to seeing.

God love them all, but the die hard Brahmas fans are much like Philadelphia Eagles fans - if they aren't seeing wins, they're seeing the Fort Worth Brahmas. You know what I mean.

I'll always be a Brahmas optimist, but in the words of those beloved minstrels from the 1970's...the Brady kids:

When it's time to change, then it's time to change
Don't fight the tide, come along for the ride, don't you see
When it's time to change, you've got to rearrange
who you are into what you're gonna be

You're welcome to slap me for that reference when you see me.

And then there's the Maverick's - darlings of the Show Me State and the seemingly unstoppable league-leading crew of ugly orange or pastel blue and ugly orange sweater wearing mules:
  • The Mavericks have a 6-0-1 record and 13 points. The Mavs went 6-0 on their season-opening road trip and then fell in a shootout in their home opener on Saturday night against Wichita (5-1-0).
  • The Mavs and Brahmas have met just twice previously with Missouri winning both games. Missouri has outscored Texas 8-3 in the two games. This season the two teams will play three times including the first time at Independence Events Center on New Year’s Eve.
  • The Mavericks are one of two teams in the CHL to not have a loss in regulation.
  • Mavericks forward Sebastien Thinel leads the CHL in scoring with 14 points on four goals and 10 assists. Thinel has nine points in his last three games where he scored three points in each of those games. He is no stranger to leading the CHL in scoring as he was awarded the Joe Burton Award (scoring champion) last season when he recorded 110 points (35 G, 75 A) in 66 games with Odessa.
  • Mavericks’ goaltender Charlie (just don't run into me) Effinger was named the CHL Goalie of the Month for October. Effinger went 4-0-0 in October and allowed just six goals. He had a 1.50 goals-against average (GAA) and .961 save percentage in October. Mavericks’ forward Kris Hogg was named the CHL’s Rookie of the Month after he posted five points in five games on two goals and three assists. Hogg also had a +6 rating which was tied for the best rating in the CHL.

So the average person will believe that the boys don't have a chance tonight and have already placed a mark in the loss column for the purple and black. Let's just be happy the Blaze are coming in for two games!


Now's the time for this group to come around and show what it's made of. And if Fonger hasn't said it (I'm sure he has), I will: there's a one-way bus ticket back to Palookaville sitting on my desk and I swear I'll use it!

OK, last pop reference, I swear. But maybe a visit from Bluto Blutarsky (Animal House) to the locker room pre-game is in order:

Bluto: What the *!%$ happened to the Brahmas I used to know? Where's the spirit? Where's the guts, huh? This could be the greatest night of our lives, but you're gonna let it be the worst. "Ooh, we're afraid to go with you Bluto, we might get in trouble." Well just kiss my #!@ from now on! Not me! I'm not gonna take this. Effinger, he's a dead man! Thinel, dead! McGrane...

Otter: Dead! Bluto's right. Psychotic... but absolutely right. We gotta take these bastards. Now we could do it with conventional weapons, but that could take years and cost millions of lives. No, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part!

OK, maybe not futile and stupid...but a gesture nonetheless. Let's take these donkeys and show them what happens in our house! Let's send 'em to the glue factory! Show me? We'll show you! C'mon everybody, are you with me?!!

Silence. A cricket chirping is all I hear...sigh...

Photo Credits: Top/Robert Keith, Bottom/Universal Pictures

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