Lone Star Brahmas – Topeka Road Runners Preview

Brahmas vs Road Runners

 

The Lone Star Brahmas will welcome the Topeka Road Runners into the NyTex Sports Centre for their first ever visit. The two teams met earlier this season in Topeka in what eventually turned out to be a split of the two game series. The Brahmas currently trail Topeka by 13 points for the fourth and final playoff spot in the NAHL South Division.

 

Lone Star split a home and home series against Wichita Falls last weekend in which the home team won both games. The series was the end of a tough four games in five days stretch for the Brahmas. On Friday night the Brahmas made the trip to Wichita Falls and left wishing they had just stayed home. The Wildcats put up crooked numbers in all three periods to take a lopsided 9 – 1 win. The only goal for the Brahmas came midway through the second period from Matt Lison with the assist to Michael Crowley. A little later in the period the Wildcat’s Stan Sojka, who is the league leader in Major Penalties, and Mitch Mueller came together along the boards in front of the Wildcats bench. Words were exchanged and Mueller challenged Sojka who was not man enough to go. Sojka waited until the puck went back the other direction and as he passed Mueller he threw a viscous elbow catching him in the ribs below his pads. The cheap shot ended Mueller’s night.

 

With the Sojka cheap shot on Friday, there was a buzz going into Saturday night’s game. The Brahmas jumped out to a short lived first period lead at 4:14 on a goal from Kellen Wasell with assists to Donovan Gardiner and Ben Owen. Wichita Falls tied it up just 15 seconds later on an Evan Okeley tally from Sojka and Andrew Kerr.

 

At the 6:56 mark of the first, fireworks erupted as Mueller and Sojka found themselves on the ice together for the first time. Sojka drove to the side of the net with Mueller back on defense. Jacob Nehama froze the puck and when the whistle blew Mueller went straight to Sojka and began to pummel him for the cheap shot that Sojka had given him the night before. Mueller landed multiple rights before the linesman could rescue Sojka. Mueller’s actions cost him a two minute instigator, a five fighting minute major and a 10 minute misconduct sending him to the showers early. It also lit a fire under his teammates, who on this night had his back killing off the seven minutes Wildcats’ power play. The Mueller fight spurred on the Brahmas, that and the huge defensive stand gave them a jump that has eluded them all season. Gardiner put the Brahmas up for good at 14:45 of the second as they skated to a 2 – 1 win.

 

If the Brahmas get this season turned around and make a playoff run, one of the defining moments of the season will point directly to Mueller and his throttling of Sojka.

 

Topeka suffered two shutout losses on the road in Amarillo last weekend by scores of 4 – 0 and 2 – 0. They rebounded to go into Odessa and down the Jackalopes 4 – 2 on Thursday evening. Odessa went into the first intermission holding a one goal lead, but the Road Runners came back with three second period goals and one in the third for the win. Topeka’s four goals came from Peter Halash, Jake Kamrass, Tyler Poulsen and Glint Garris.

 

 

Last 5 Games   W   L   OTL   Pts
Brahmas

1

4

0

2

Road Runners

2

3

0

4

 

Special Teams

The Brahmas have repeatedly shot themselves in the foot with special teams play this season. They currently have a -14 special teams goal differential. Even with their great stand against Wichita Falls holding them to an 0 – 8 on Saturday, the Brahmas penalty kill is still last in the league. The power play has not scored since their October 26 meeting with Odessa going 0 – 21 over that stretch.

 

At home, The Brahmas power play is currently ranked 15th in the league at just 12.5% converting 5 of 40 opportunities. They will be facing a Road Runners road penalty kill that is 11th in the league allowing 7 goals on 51 times short handed or 86.3%

 

Lone Star’s home penalty kill ranks 21st in the league at 81.6%. They have allowed 9 goals on 49 penalty kills. They will get an opportunity to build on those numbers facing a Topeka road power play that is 18th in the league. The Road Runners have converted 5 of 53 opportunities for 9.4%%.

 

Goaltending Comparison Last 5 Games

 

GP

W

L

OTL

SO

GA

GAA

SV

SV%

Brahmas

5

1

4

0

0

25

5.00

135

.844

Road Runners

5

2

3

0

1

12

2.40

130

.915

 

 

Who is Hot (Last 5 Games)

 

Brahmas

G

A

Pts

Kellen Wesell

2

1

3

Donovan Gardiner

2

1

3

RJ Salvato

1

1

2

Alexey Solovyev

1

1

2

Two Tied At

1

0

1

 
Road Runners

 G

A

Pts

Jasen Fernsler

2

1

3

Sly Sutter

0

3

3

Tyler Poulsen

2

0

2

Jake Kamrass

1

1

2

Tyler Groat

1

1

2

 

Inside the Game

 

Neither team have a member ranking in the top 20 in the league in scoring.

 

Topeka’s Clint Garris is leading the league in PIM’s. While the Brahmas lead the league in 10 Minute Misconducts with 7 and Game Misconducts with 4.

 

Anthony Mousseau is tied for eighth in the league in Defenseman scoring with 11 points on 3G – 8A while Alexey Solovyev is tied for ninth at 10 points with 2G – 8A.

 

The Brahmas are averaging 22.37 PIM’s per game and Topeka is averaging 18.05.

 

The Brahmas have a 3 – 5 – 1 record at home with a -13 goal differential. The Road Runners are 5 – 6 – 0 on the road with a -7 goal differential.

 

Topeka’s neutral zone trap defense is always tough to get shots against and is once against among the league leaders in shots allowed per game. They average just 25.10 shots allowed per game. The Brahmas on the other hand are last in the league in shots allowed per game at 35.84.

 

This weekend will end a streak of 12 games on the road for Topeka. They have compiled a 5 – 5 – 0 record during the streak and have been shutout three times.

 

Recent Roster Movement

 

Topeka released Goaltender Blake Wojtala on November 6.

 

The Brahmas released Forward Drew Gannon and Defenseman Austin Thielges following the weekend series with Wichita Falls. They added Forward Cole Rose and Defenseman Ben Owen before the Saturday night game against the Wildcats.

 

Rumors are rampant that Head Coach Dan Wildfong has traded Defenseman Mitch Mueller to an NA3HL team. If these rumors prove to be true, one has to wonder where Wildfong’s head is. In addition to being the spark that got the team going against Wichita Falls, Mueller is well liked in the locker room and has shown leadership on the ice as one of only two real stay at home defensemen. The Brahmas could have used Saturday’s win over the Wildcats to build upon for the rest of the season. If Mueller is gone, that will be exponentially more difficult to do and will send a definite message to the rest of the team. The message will not be a good one. You can expect more to come on this as details emerge.

Topics: Lone Star Brahmas, NAHL

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