Tuesday, February 28, 2012

From Where I Sit - Homestretch Observations

With eleven games left in the regular season, the Texas Brahmas are heading into the homestretch feeling good about themselvesn and rightfully so. Winning nine of their last ten games, the Brahmas, along with the Evansville IceMen, are playing the best hockey in the league.

After sweeping the Killer Bees and topping Tulsa in two of three games during the last two weekends, the Brahmas have virtually assured themselves a third place finish and a spot in the post-season for the fifth straight time. Our magic numbers are 5 vs. Rio Grande Valley and 9 vs. Tulsa. Those two teams will fight it out for the last playoff spot.

We have crept within a single point of second place Allen with less than a month to go. A comparison of those two rosters will tell you how improbable that result would have been at the start of the season. But the Commies are currently on a skid. I have a few theories that I won’t go into for Allen's troubles. As Westy has said...”Don’t stir a pile of pookie with a stick.” But suffice it to say, there aren't many teams in the league that are afraid of the Red Machine anymore.

The Brahmas on the other hand, have been a joy to watch grow. I would submit that this is Dan Wildfong’s best coaching job of his career. That is saying a lot about a coach who won a championship in his second year. This team is his. It was built from scratch and has his fingerprints all over it. It is full of character and plays hard every single night.

The Brahmas are made up of rookies and young players (Spady 22, Guggenberger 23, Rouleau 23, Nicholls 24, Barr 24, Eskedjian 24, Kary 24) and sprinkled with others with some experience, led by proven players like Woolly, Hodge, Hogg, and TJ Fox.

There were plenty of growing pains early on...learning Dan’s systems, starting to play together, late game goals given up and one goal losses particularly on the road. But this team has learned to win, score a little more and protect leads. Today’s Brahmas play excellent defense, kill penalties well and have the Central Hockey League’s best goaltender. These qualities bode well for the playoffs. The players like one another , get along well off the ice and chemistry like this is hard to find. Most importantly of all...every player has an intense desire to win, they believe in each other, they back each other up and they play as a team.

I sense something special brewing at the NYTEX Sports Centre. Cramming virtually a season of travel into the first two-thirds of the season was difficult on the players, but we are reaping the benefits now. Since they have been home, the Brahmas have run off 8 wins in 9 games and have gotten some practice time and much needed rest. Confidence has skyrocketed. We are also blessed that the team has been led by Adam Hogg, who has turned out to be a great captain who has led by example with 7 game-winning goals.

The team and the fans are now on the brink of the most exciting time of the season...playoff hockey. The Brahmas appear headed for a best-of-seven collision with either Wichita or Allen. Right now we are a team that no one wants to play and I look forward to the upcoming magic at the Shoebox...a very special place to play hockey.


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