Photo Courtesy of David Dudich: Brahmas netminder TJ Black was huge in goal on Friday night. While defenseman Nick Blase was instrumental in the win as the Brahmas skated with only four defensemen due to illness and injury. Kellen Wasell tied the game with only 3 seconds to go and then the Brahmas won it in a shootout..
The Lone Star Brahmas welcomed the division leading Amarillo Bulls into the NYTEX Sports Centre for their final home series of the NAHL season. As if facing the league’s number one offense was not enough, the Brahmas hit the ice with only four defensemen dressed due to illness and injury. However, the lack of depth on the blueline did not slow them down any.
Following a scoreless first period Amarillo came out and snuck one past TJ Black on a rebound in tight to start the second period. On the play, Mike Davis drove down the near side and put it off of Black’s left pad. As he continued across the goal mouth he forced Black to the far post. Brady Ferguson, who was trailing the play, pushed the loose puck into the open net. Time of the goal was 1:59.
It took the Brahmas only 56 seconds to respond when Thomas Aldworth picked off a pass near the defensive blue line, turned on the jets and blew past the defense before putting a rocket top shelf on Paul Berrafato who had no chance on the play.
With just 3:56 to go in the period, Amarillo took advantage of an unfortunate set of circumstances for the Brahmas when the knob of Black’s stick became stuck in the net. Joe Grabowski fired a shot from the near circle that got behind the Brahmas’ net minder. Matt Sieckhaus and Tyler Gernhofer picked up the assists.
Despite being out shot 10 – 3 in the third, Black kept the Brahmas alive with strong play between the pipes. Then, with just three ticks on the clock and an empty net for the Brahmas, Liam Stirtzinger hit Kellen Wasell coming off the bench with a stretch pass. Wasell went flying in on Berrafato and sent it past him stick side to send the game to the extra period. Hogan Davidson had the secondary assist. The game went through a scoreless overtime and into a shootout.
Amarillo Head Coach Dennis Williams made a rather strange coaching move pulling Berrafato in favor of a cold Colin Delia coming in to face the team with the best shootout record in the league. It was a decision Williams would come to regret.
Roman Ammirato was shooter number one for Amarillo to start the shootout, but Black stoned him with the pad. Matt Lison was up first for the Brahmas and promptly put it five hole on Delia for the lead. Black came up big with the glove on Gernhofer to protect the one goal lead. Aldworth was on deck for Lone Star in round two and went high glove side for the two goal margin which was all the Brahmas would need as Black denied the next two Bulls attempts for the win despite having to reach back and cover a rolling puck that just managed to sneak through.
Shots on goal were 40 – 20 in favor of Amarillo and neither team could capitalize on the power play. Lone Star went 0 – 3 while Amarillo was 0 – 4.
On another note, a benefit silent auction was conducted during the game to help defray the mounting medical costs of former Texas Tornado player Billy Skwarczewski. Last Tuesday, Billy was run down by a hit and run drunk driver and left lying in the middle of the road. Over $2200.00 dollars was raised. Items for the auction were generously donated by the NAHL Lone Star Brahmas, NHL Dallas Stars, CHL Allen Americans, NAHL League Offices, Cindy Black, Donna Black and David and Cheryl Dudich.
Elsewhere Around the NAHL South
The Killer Bees took the game to the Jackalopes scoring a lopsided 7 – 1 win. Rio Grande got goals from five different scorers with Aleksi Luhtalampi getting a pair of goals in the third. Ben Greiner had a four point night for the Bees. Olli Kalkaja had a pretty easy night in net facing only 18 shots for the win.
The Wildcats had goals from Rudy Junda, Josh Haverstrom and Tyler Ledford on their way to a 3 – 1 win over the visiting Brown Bears. Chase Munroe had a good night between the pipes with 30 saves for the win.
Current NAHL South Division Standings
With the big come from behind shootout win, the Brahmas have now taken over sole possession of fifth place over the idle Corpus Christi Icerays.
x – Clinched Playoff Berth