The Lone Star Brahmas will open play in the eleventh annual NAHL Showcase Tournament on Wednesday Sept. 18th. During the four days of the tournament the Brahmas will face four teams that made post season appearances last season with all making it to at least their Division Semi-Finals. The tournament will be a test for the Brahmas and give Head Coach Dan Wildfong a better idea of where the team stands entering their NAHL South Division regular season schedule. Streaming video of all NAHL Showcase Tournament games can be viewed on Fast Hockey.
Lone Star Brahmas NAHL Showcase Tournament Schedule
Sept. 18th 10:15am – Kenai River Brown Bears
Sept. 19th 1:45pm – Austin Bruins
Sept. 20th 4:45pm – Port Huron Fighting Falcons
Sept. 21st 6:45pm – Fairbanks Ice Dogs
Kenai River Brown Bears
2012/13 Record: 29-25-6, Lost in the West Div Semi-Finals
Kenai River will be backstopped by a pair of rookie goalies this season who will look to an experienced defense for support. The Brown Bears have four returning veterans in Judd Loewenstein, Jacob Davidson, Jake Bushey, and Vincent Stefan, that played a combined 199 games last season. Davidson and Stefan also found their names on the score sheet quite often with 27 and 26 points respectively. At the forward position Kenai has five players back from last season’s playoff run, Albin Karlsson, Brad LeLievre, Alec Butcher, Zack Zulkanycz and Conor Deal who together scored 40 goals and 116 points. Kenai River native Zulkanycz was second on the Brown Bears with 113 PIM’s in 2012/13.
“We really focused on guys who could score and guys with speed. We have an Olympic-sized sheet of ice at home where we play 28 times a year, so we had to build a team that was built to take advantage of the big ice surface and for that you need guys who can skate and who can score,” Head Coach Geoff Beauparlant told NAHL.com.
The Brown Bears played two regular season games at home against Fairbanks this past weekend. In game one Kenai River lost 5 – 1 with their lone goal coming midway through the third when the game was well within hand for Fairbanks. In game two on Saturday night, Kenai River held a 4 – 3 lead late in the third period only to see the Ice Dogs score two goals in the last five and a half minutes to sweep the series.
Albin Karlsson and Brad LeLievre are leading the scoring for Kenai River with 2G-0A each, while Alec Butcher has 1G-1A. Zach Quinn and Kris Oldham split goaltending duties in the Fairbanks series and combined for a 5.00GAA and .844SV%.
2012/13 Record: 42-11-7, Lost is Central Div Finals.
After losing in the Central Div Finals to Bismarck for the second year in a row, Head Coach Chris Tok put together a specific plan for the Austin Bruins entering the 2013/14 season. “I think getting over that final hump is all about where you are as a team at the time and how hard you are willing to work and pay the price,” Tok told NAHL.com. “I think our top three goals are making the playoffs, getting a chance to play for the Robertson Cup and continuing to make our players better and move them onto the NCAA. If we can come to rink everyday and work hard with those three goals in mind and improve, that’s all I can ask.” Tok added “I don’t think we are going to be as skilled as last season, which simply means we are going to have to work harder this season.”
Nicholas Lehr will be back in net for Austin this season to see if he can build on his 25-8-5 record from last season. His 25 wins ranked sixth in the league. Lehr will be joined by rookie Justin Quale. Defensively the Bruins return only three veterans in Josh Bretner, Kody Reuter, and Jake Arroyo. However, those veterans represent 221 games of NAHL experience. Last season Bretner put up 30 points from the blueline on 11G-19A. At the forward position Austin is fairly deep with six players returning from an offense that scored the second most goals in the league. Drew Anderson 12G-13A, Lucas Kohls 13G-17A, Austin Nelson 1G-4A, Jay Dickman 23G-32A, Scott Nelson 5G-7A and Easton Viitala 4G-5A will be joined by two veterans of the Kalamazoo Jr K-Wings in Brennan Sanford 4G-5A and Trevor Boyd 7G-8A.
The Bruins have yet to play a regular season game, but did manage to take a pair of preseason games against the expansion Minnesota Magicians by scores of 4-1 and 4-3.
Port Huron Fighting Falcons
2012/13 Record: 32-14-4, Lost in North Div Semi-Finals
The Port Huron Fighting Falcons should be strong in goal returning goalies Max Milosek and Alex Blankenberg from last season who combined for a 2.72 GAA and ranking 9th in the league. On the blueline, Port Huron has three returning veterans in Alex Archibald, Jonathan Kopacka and Bobby Brown. Up front veterans Mitch Maloney, Nick Horne, Zach Badalamenti, Vito Aluia and Bryan Yim return having scored 106 points on 41G – 61A last season from an offense that totaled 178 goals in 2012/13. Brown was the Falcon’s leader in PIM’s with 103 last season.
Head Coach Michael Gershon discussed the team with NAHL.com. “We lost a lot of our scoring from a season ago, but our plan was to become a deeper team this season with the ability to run four lines and three sets of defensemen on a consistent basis,” said Gershon. “We went out and tried to find guys that had an intelligence for the game and who had some speed and aggressiveness. I want to be a much more aggressive team this year that is always on the attack. I don’t think we are going to have the personnel that is going to put up 70-80 points, but our goal is to have as many players possible on the roster be in that 20, 30, 40-point range that really shows our depth.”
Port Huron kicked off their regular season with a road sweep of the Johnstown Tomahawks by scores of 3-1 and 5-1. Alex Archibald is leading the team in scoring with four points on 1G-3A while Mitch Maloney has chipped in 1G-2A. There are six other Falcons with two points each. Max Milosek picked up both victories in net and has a 1.00GAA and .957SV%.
Fairbanks Ice Dogs
2012/13 Record: 39-17-4, Lost in West Div Finals
The Fairbanks Ice Dogs will be a veteran laden team this season after icing one of the youngest teams in the league last season. This allowed Head Coach Trevor Stewart to plug in rookies with upside potential. “We are definitely a bigger team than we were last year and we are going to be a group that understands and studies the game and our opponents,’ Steward told NAHL.com. “If we can have success in those areas and get the leadership and production we need from the veterans, we should have a good chance for success this season.”
The veteran presence begins in net for Fairbanks where Kevin Aldridge returns looking to build on a 19-9-1 record from last season. Aldridge finished with a 2.33GAA and .915SV%. Rookies Patrick Munson and Brad Robertson will battle it out for the backup position. Duggie Lagrone, Ben Campbell, Doug Rose, Nick Hinz, form a defensive core which combined with Aldridge, should make Fairbanks tough to score on this season. The four returning defensemen have 360 games of NAHL experience among them and put up 82 points last season. Up front the Ice Dogs will be returning a lot of firepower with nine veterans returning. The group will be led by Kyle Lee who registered 17G-28A last season along with Colton Wolter who had a breakout season with 11G-24A. Joining Lee and Wolter are Brett Gervais, Lonnie Clary, Chandler Madry, Jacob Hetz, Logan Wendling and Johnny Mueller. As a group the returning veteran forwards scored a combined 77 goals in 2012/13. Clary was second on the team with 102PIM’s last season.
Fairbanks has gotten off to a fast start to the 2013/14 campaign going on the road to sweep the Kenai River Brown Bears. The Ice Dogs posted victories of 5-1 and 5-4 at the Soldotna Sports Center. Brett Gervais is setting atop the scoring charts for Fairbanks with 1G-2A and is a +5. He leads a group of ten players with two points each including Duggie Lagrone, Viktor Liljegren and David Kaplan who have two goals each. Kevin Aldridge was credited with both wins against the Brown Bears racking up a 2.50GAA and .902SV%.