Friday, March 30, 2012

Brahmas begin fifth consecutive playoff run

Game One of the Berry Conference opening round begins tonight

They may have lost six of their last seven regular season games, but don't count the Texas Brahmas as an underdog in the best-of-seven opening round of the Berry Conference playoffs which begin tonight at the Allen Event Center.

While it may be a cliche in any sport, in the Brahmas' case, the post-season most certainly is a whole different game. Now entering their fifth consecutive playoff run, the Brahmas have gone 26-16, including a 12-4 run in 2009 that culminated in their first Ray Miron President's Cup  Championship.

The Texas Brahmas finished the regular season with a 33-25-8 record (.561), good for third in the Berry Conference. They began the season winning just one of their first five games, but quickly turned their play around, finishing every month except for March with a positive record.

The highlight for the franchise was in mid-February when goaltender
Guggenberger broke a CHL record for most consecutive scoreless minutes at 238:31 and the team went on to win seven straight games and 12 out of 14. However, Texas finished the season losing six straight games, before coming from behind to win their season finale. 


Mark Guggenberger
Rookie backstopper Mark Guggenberger was one of the most impressive CHL goalies all season. The Richfield, Minnesota native finished the season 22-11-3 and had a league-best 2.27 GAA. On top of that, he registered a .912 Save Percentage and had three consecutive shutouts, which broke a league record. The winning goalie at the CHL All-Star Game also earned league recognition as the Rookie of the Year, Goaltender of the Year Award and a member of the All-CHL Team.

Recently added to the playoff roster is another rookie 'tender, Brad Fogal. Fogal, 25, played 10 games with the Quad City Mallards (6-2-0) and 11 games with the Cincinnati Cyclones (ECHL) where he went 4-4-3 before he was acquired by the Kalamazoo Wings. He was waived after one game, a 2-0 loss to the Chicago Express. Fogal was called up to the Wilkes  Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL) and signed a PTO in October, but did not  play.

Players to Watch

Ross Rouleau
Defenseman Ross Rouleau was a particular thorn in the side of the Americans this season with nine points (4 G, 5 A) and will continue to prove to be dangerous on both sides of the blue line. 

T.J. Fox
has also tallied nine points (3 G, 6 A) against Allen and was second in scoring for the Brahmas this season with 55 points (18 G, 37 A).

Captain Adam Hogg played in the CHL Finals last season with Colorado and in the series against Allen this year, he led the Brahmas with two game-winning goals. Hogg also leads the team with nine game-winners; seven coming in the second half of the season.

Sy Nutkevitch is a relative newcomer to the Brahmas but has already made an impact with five points (2 G, 3 A) in seven games played. 

Watching Dan Nicholls on the ice is like watching a human wrecking ball clearing a path for the offense. Half Ben Grimm (for you Fantastic Four fans) and half Sgt. Rock, Nicholls is the definition of toughness on the Brahmas roster - and once the playoffs are over, he'll be flying to Australia to start a whole new season with the Adelaide Adrenaline.

A Not So Secret Weapon

There's little argument that the Brahmas home ice at the NYTEX Sports Centre is the hardest place for an opposing team to play. Texas had the second most home wins this season with 22, going 22-7-4 at "the shoebox" as it's affectionately called.

Part of a 500,000 square foot multi-use complex, the ice seems smaller (it's regulation) and the fans seem to be right on top of you. Those fans by the way, have been named the "Most Annoying" for the past two seasons in the CHL's annual Best of the Best Awards. 

Games Four and Five will be played at NYTEX as well as Game Six (if necessary).

The Physical Game

Adam Hogg
The Brahmas and the Americans took no time emulating the fierce rivalries known throughout the history of Dallas/Fort Worth ice hockey. In fact, the last time the teams played, there were 143 penalty minutes in the game. The two rivals combined for 508 PIM’s in the season series (more than 46 combined per game).

While both teams have proven they can play a reserved game, the likelihood of a very physical series overall, is high.


Texas is last in the league with their 12.2 power play percentage and has the lowest number of power play goals in the league at 30 (a dozen fewer than any other squad).

Injuries have taken a toll on a number of players on the Brahmas' post-season roster but the same players have also shown the fortitude to play through their problems in the past and motivation is high on the Texas squad, to say the least.


The Brahmas are confident coming into the series but place a high value on taking Game One. In an article in today's Fort Worth Star-Telegram, head coach Dan Wildfong admitted they are worried about the initial meeting but at the same time, they know the series is all about winning four games, not just one.

"We won a couple there already," Wildfong said of Allen's home arena. "We know what we have to do there."

Brahmas forward T.J. Fox shared Wildfong's sentiment and expressed his and his teammates' confidence.
"I think we played them enough we know what they're going to throw at us, and we'll be ready for them," said T.J. Fox.

Game One is set to start tonight with a 7:05 pm CST start time.

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