The Lone Star Brahmas finally got off to a good start to a game playing their best first period so far this season against the Fighting Falcons of Port Huron. At 8:52, Anthony Mousseau carried the puck into the zone along the far boards and dropped it for AJ Duggan. Duggan pulled it into the right wing circle and fired a shot off of Falcon’s netminder Max Milosek. AJ followed his shot and put home the rebound.
Port Huron pulled even at the 14:31 mark off a draw to Sean Keating’s left. Reed Scahill cleanly won the draw back to Zach Badalamenti at the near point. Badalamenti fed it across to Jonathan Kopacka at center point for a onetimer that appeared to go off a defenseman in front deflecting over Keating.
In the second period the Brahmas went back on top thanks to some hard work by Liam Stirtzinger in the far corner. Stirtzinger battled Bobby Brown for the puck eventually pulling it into the left circle and sending a wrister off Milosek. The rebound caromed to Moussean at the near point and he put a slapshot toward net through traffic. Paul Fregeau tapped in the rebound for the only tally of the period.
Early in the third period with the Falcons pressuring, Moussea got his skate tangled with Keating’s while trying to clear the crease knocking Keating to the ice. Just as Keating was scrambling back to his feet Badalamenti ripped a slapshot from the far point that was redirected by Bryce VanHorn in front and past Keating. Time of the goal was 1:41. From that point on things began to go down hill for the Brahmas with Referee Ken Anderson playing a big part of the Lone Star collapse.
Anderson whistled the Brahmas for four straight penalties in the final stanza. The third penalty on the Brahmas led to the go ahead goal by Port Huron at 10:03. Nick Lesage’s shot from the far point was knocked down by Keating, but he lost control of the rebound giving Mitch Maloney an opportunity from point blank that Keating denied as well. Unfortunately Bryan Yim was on the near post to poke home the rebound. Port Huron added an empty net goal at 19:34 to ice the game. Mousseau made a mental error as he tried to rim the puck around the boards behind the empty net rather than skating it out. Jon Hall picked it off at the far point and promptly deposited into the open net.
While Anderson’s whistles led directly to only a single goal it zapped a lot of steam out of the defense’s legs and took the Brahmas off the attack offensively for nearly half of the third period. His interference call on Will White at 5:11 was questionable at the very least, but it was his boarding call against Johan Steen at 16:27 with the Brahmas making a push to tie the game that was inexcusable. Steen and Van Horn were racing to a loose puck and bumped about five feet above the goal line. Van Horn lost an edge fell and slid into the endboards drawing Anderson’s whistle. The call infuriated Head Coach Dan Wildfong and the entire Brahmas bench.
Once again the Brahmas’ penalty kill was excellent despite the heavy work load heaped on them by Anderson. The Brahmas have been successful 88.46% of their times short handed. Port Huron converted only 1 – 9 powerplays while the Brahmas were 0-5 a stat that must improve to help the team make a turnaround. Shots on goal were 34 – 18 in favor of the Fighting Falcons which is not bad considering the major advantage in powerplays held by Port Huron.
Sean Keating made his case for extended time in the goal tending rotation with a strong performance in his NAHL debut, making several big saves on shooters deep in the zone. Keating made 30 saves on 33 shots faced. From top to bottom this was the Brahmas best played game of the young season. Hopefully this is a turning point for the team and they will be able to use it as a springboard to get back into the win column.
Elsewhere around the South Division
Odessa won their first of the season and snapped a 26 game losing streak dating to last season. The Jackalopes came out strong against the Brookings Blizzard, scoring three first period goals and never looking back. Final score of the game was 5 – 2.
Topeka got past the Soo Eagles 2 – 1 in a shootout. Drew Vogler made 26 saves in regulation and then denied all five of the Soo shooters in the shootout while Tyler Poulsen scored the only Roadrunners tally in the shootout for the win.
The Amarillo Bulls dropped a 4 – 1 decision to the Kenai River Brown Bears. Kenai broke open a tight game with two third period powerplay goals then topped it off with an empty netter. Zach Quinn stopped all but one of the 29 shots he faced for the win.
Rio Grande Valley and Fairbanks skated to a 65 minute scoreless tie sending the game to a shootout. Kyle Lee finally broke through for the Ice Dogs as the fifth and final shooter in the shootout for the only goal of the game. Olli Kalkaja made 31 stops in regulation and four of five in the shootout to suffer the hard luck loss.
The Wichita Falls Wildcats found themselves on the short end of the scoreboard for the first time this season as they lost 4 – 3 to the Coulee Region Chill in overtime. Richard Zehnal potted an unassisted goal at 1:01 of the extra period to give the Chill the win.
Current NAHL South Division Standings
|Rio Grande Valley||5||1||1||3||5||0.500|