Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Rough night for Gerry Festa - Mark Ehl celebrates Jordan Kary's second period power play strike

Brahmas humble the Mavericks in 5-3 win

Guggenberger earns second consecutive win

There was an unbelievable number of empty seats at the NYTEX Sports Centre on Tuesday night and all I can say is whatever you were doing, it wasn't as good as seeing your Texas Brahmas stand and deliver the first regulation loss to the number one team in the Central Hockey League.

It was a great showing for the boys who needed this win in many ways. The passing was sharp, the pressure on the Mavericks was relentless and the teamwork was evident as another 60 minute effort paid off.

Five different Brahmas (Wild, Fox, Hodge, Hogg and Kary) scored on a hapless Gerry Festa, who was sacrificed so that Charlie Effinger could rest up on the bench.

Mark Guggenberger stopped 29 of 32 shots faced and earned his second consecutive win, placing himself third amongst all CHL goalies with a 2.00 GAA and a .931 save percentage.

Prior to the start of the game, Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs owner Tommy Scott made a presentation of a 2011 CHL Championship ring to Mavericks defenseman Dave Pszenyczny, who was a member of that final Mudbugs blue line.

I had a couple of minutes to speak with Tommy later on as he watched the game up in Section K. Scott shared some fond memories of the long-standing Brahmas-Mudbugs rivalry and talked about his trip up to Rapid City this weekend to present rings to five former players, now split among the Rush (Michael Couch, Jeff Kyrzakos and Shawn Limpright) and the Fort Wayne Komets (Brett Smith and Jamie Milam), who are in town for a weekend series.

As the game started, the Mavericks looked sharp as the two teams began to get to know one another. They opened up the scoring with their third shot of the contest when Andrew Courtney beat an out of position Guggenberger at the 2:40 mark, assisted by Zach Carriveau and Vern Cooper.

Carriveau was called for High Sticking a little over two minutes later, but the Brahmas were unable to capitalize on the man-advantage. Likewise for the Mavericks, who had an opportunity at the 12:56 mark when Alex Curran got tagged for Hooking.

The real fun began later in the period when the Brahmas tallied a pair of goals just 59 seconds apart and thereafter, never relinquished the lead.

Cal Wild sent in the equalizer at the 17:03 mark after skating in from his position in the left circle and then sent a feed from Andrew Lackner over Festa's left shoulder and into the back of the net. Chad Woollard was also credited on the play.

T.J. Fox was next up at the 18:02 mark. Stationed in front of the crease, Fox sent in a feed from Jordan Kary, who was also working from the left circle and Festa, who tried to roll into position was too late to make the save. Ross Rouleau was credited with the secondary assist.

I don't know if it's just my imagination (or the Nyquil I've been drinking over the past two days to get over a head cold), but Festa looked like he was operating about a half-step too slow all night long.

Shots were even at 10 apiece but it was the Brahmas who took the 2-1 lead into the first break.

The Brahmas were in control for most of the middle frame and Brendon Hodge provided the 3-1 lead when he sent a rebound top shelf at the 9:28 mark, assisted by Jacques Perreault and Chad Woollard.

The Mavericks answered less than three minutes later when rookie forward Kris Hogg stole the puck from a Brahmas’ defender and beat Guggenberger for an unassisted short-handed goal.

The one-goal deficit proved to be the closest the Mavericks’ would get as the Brahmas tallied two power play goals later in the period.

The Mavericks’ number one thug Carlyle Lewis (remember when he just about wet his pants when Roger Maxwell dropped the gloves on him last season? Take a walk down memory lane here) pulled a cowardly stunt, sending Jim Burichin dangerously into the end boards.

Fortunately, Jimbo chased off the birds that were circling his head for about a minute and skated back to the bench unassisted, but with a deep gash above his right eye that required a bunch of stitches and at least a couple of Advil.

Lewis was given a Charging Major and a Charging Game Misconduct for his sins. Personally, I think a suspension is in order here - we'll see if the league steps up on this one.

On a positive note, the Brahmas scored two goals on the resulting power play (can you believe it?) just 50 seconds apart to drop the Texas hammer on the Mavericks' chances on staging a comeback.

Adam Hogg struck first, driving the puck out of the neutral zone and along the left boards with Mike Wakita in close pursuit. Hogg set up his shot as he entered the left circle with Wakita's outstretched blade inching toward his face and J.P. Testwuide coming cross-ice from his right. Unfazed, Hogg made his move, rocketing the puck into the back of the net as Festa, who never had a chance, flopped onto his belly in disbelief. Mark Ehl and Jacques Perreault were credited with the assists, and the Brahmas now had a 4-2 lead.

Next up was the ever-smiling Jordan Kary, who managed to beat Carriveau to a loose puck sitting a few inches from Festa's left skate and just inside the right side of the crease. While Festa, who was moving Sam Peckinpah-style (that's in slow-motion for you youngsters), attempted to swat the puck with his stick (he never had a chance, again) but Kary got there first and nudged the rubber across the goal line to make it a 5-2 contest.

The Brahmas sent one more shot on goal before retiring for the second intermission. Through 40 minutes, the teams were now tied in shots at 18 apiece, but the Brahmas held the three-goal lead.

There were no penalties called in the third period and the Mavericks gave it all they had but were stymied at every turn by the Brahmas. With about three minutes left to play, Festa was finally pulled - in favor of an extra attacker - and the pressure on Guggenberger continued to build until Sebastien Thinel managed to find the back of the net on a set up by Vern Cooper and Ed McGrane.

No matter though as the game was clearly over long before that score, which wasn't even celebrated by the forlorn visitors. With 2:45 left to play, the Mavericks sent in four additional shots to the chants of "warm up the bus" while the Brahmas fought for the chance to send the puck into the big empty. The final buzzer couldn't sound fast enough for Scott Hillman and his boys who were feeling the sting of back-to-back losses.

Missouri outshot the Brahmas 14-11 in the final 20 and 32-29 in the game, but still came up short, losing their first game in regulation play this season. The loss also marked the Mavericks’ first loss against the Brahmas in team history. Missouri was previously 2-0-0 against Texas with both wins at the NYTEX Sports Centre.

Referee: Brent Coulombe
Linesmen: Kyle DeMaggio, T.J. Nua

Mark Guggenberger stopped 29 of 32 shots faced and earned the win, moving to 2-0-0; Gerry Festa stopped 24 of 29 and takes the loss. His record goes to 2-1-0.

The Brahmas went 2 for 5 on the power play; the Mavericks went 0 for 2. Texas was assessed four minutes on two infractions. Missouri was assessed 19 minutes on four infractions.

1st Star: Adam Hogg - 2 Points (1 G, 1 A, -2) including the game-winner on 4 shots
2nd Star: Jordan Kary - 2 Points (1 G, 1 A, 0) on 4 shots
3rd Star: Brendon Hodge - 1 Point (1 G, 0 A, +1) on 2 shots

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

You can view my game photos here. As always, it takes time to edit the 1,200+ shots taken, so be patient and keep checking back.

The Brahmas will host the expansion Bloomington Blaze (1-3-1), who are down, but like a wounded animal, still dangerous. Think backdraft; that fire can go out of control at any time.

Plan on making the trip to NYTEX for two games, Friday and Saturday nights, with both contests starting at 7:30 pm. Don't be a fair weather fan - this is Texas Brahmas Hockey in your Hometown. Be there, be loud, believe!

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

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