Lone Star Brahmas Lay Foundation For Successful 2015-16 Season


The Lone Star Brahmas participated in the NAHL Entry Draft on Tuesday June 9th amid an ever changing league landscape.

Just prior to the start of the draft it was announced that the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees who had locked down one of the NAHL South Division playoff spots this past season would be moving to Aston, Pennsylvania. They will open the 2015/16 season as the Aston Rebels in the newly formed NAHL Eastern Division. The Rebels will join the New Jersey Jr Titans who relocated from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, the expansion Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights and the Johnstown Tomahawks.

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Additional changes to the alignment of the NAHL South Division could be on the horizon as the Topeka Roadrunners try to work out a lease agreement for Landon Arena at the Kansas Expo Center. The current agreement expired mid-season leaving the franchise’s future home up in the air.

After finishing the 2014/15 regular season with the second best record in the league and coming one goal short of advancing to the NAHL Robertson Cup finals, the Brahmas have some big skates to fill entering next season. They went a long way toward rebuilding the roster with their selections in the draft. Following is a round by round review of the Brahmas’ draft picks.

Round 1 Pick #21 Overall

Gunner Rivers – Goaltender
DOB: 5-4-95
Hometown: Ottawa, ONT
Last Team: Hawkesbury Hawks, CCHL
Height: 6’1
Weight: 170 lbs.
Notes: Last season posted 2.78 GAA and a .913 SV% 44 games. Was named CCHL Player of the Week for the week of Dec 16, 2014. Earned league wide recognition as CCHL Third Team All-Star. In four CCHL season he had a 49 – 67 – 1 record with a 3.64 GAA and a .894 SV% and four shutouts. Gunner is the nephew of Defenseman Jamie Rivers who played for seven different NHL teams over a 12 year career.

2012-13Gloucester RangersCCHL183.580.896
2012-13Kanata StallionsCCHL62.880.924
2013-14Kingston VoyageursOJHL23.000.880
2013-14Kanata StallionsCCHL144.390.863
2013-14Hawkesbury HawksCCHL223.740.881
2014-15Hawkesbury HawksCCHL442.780.913

Round 3 Pick #50 Overall

Cameron Clarke – Defenseman
DOB: 5-15-96
Hometown: Tecumseh, MI
Last Team: Sarnia Legionnaires, GOJHL
Height: 6’1
Weight: 161 lbs.
Notes: 35 points (10G – 25A) in 49 regular season games last season adding 5 points (2G, 3A) in 12 playoff contests. In 2013/14 played for the West Michigan Hounds 18U in the NAPHL and was named to the NAPHL Second All-Star Team. Sarnia head coach Dan Rose said of Clarke “He’s absolutely one of the best defensemen in the league right now. And he’s getting better every time he plays.”

2013-14W. Michigan HoundsNAPHL247152210
2014-15Sarnia LegionnairesGOJHL4910253526

Round 3 Pick #66

Artem Nekrasov – Defenseman
DOB: 2-3-96
Hometown: Moskva, RUS
Last Team: Colorado Rampage U18, T1EHL
Height: 6’1
Weight: 194 lbs.
Notes: In 24 games the stay at home defenseman scored 5 points (1G – 4A) with 12 PIM. Spent past two seasons with Colorado Rampage which is the same organization that developed Brahmas’ Forward AJ Vanderbeck and Defenseman Sean Giles. Was a Two Time Moscow Cup Champion playing in his native Russia. Over The Boards Elite Scouting said “Nekrasov is the type of player who really widens a scout’s eyes.”

2012-13CO ThunderbirdsT1EHL U183811212
2013-14CO RampageT1EHL U183607740
2014-15CO RampageT1EHL U182431412

Round 5 Pick #110 Overall

Michael Booth – Forward
DOB: 3-20-96
Hometown: Carey, IL
Last Team: Bay State Breakers, USPHL
Height: 5’11
Weight: 172 lbs.
Notes: Cornell University commit posted 40 points (16G – 24A) in 45 games with Bay State last season. Played a total of 96 games USHL games from 2012-2014 registering 21 points (9G – 12A). Selected in the second round of the 2012 USHL Futures Draft with the 29th overall pick by the Fargo Force. “He’s a high-end skill guy who makes players around him better, which is a big compliment to say,” said Force chief scout Jesse Davis.

2012-13Fargo ForceUSHL58681418
2013-14Indiana IceUSHL1421319
2013-14Chicago SteelUSHL2413430
2014-15Bay State BreakersUSPHL-Pr4516244014

Round 6 Pick #127 Overall

Wade Novak – Forward
DOB: 4-10-97
Hometown: Oak Ridge, NJ
Last Team: North Jersey Avalanche, AYHL U18
Height: 5’10
Weight: 146 lbs.
Notes: Union College commit posted 15 points (9G – 6A) in 17 games last season. Will join Sebastian Vidmar and Jake Kupsky at Union College for the 2016/17 season. In 2014 was drafted in the 15th round of the USHL Entry Draft by the Bloomington Thunder and in the 7th round of the NAHL Entry Draft by the Minnesota Wilderness. US Hockey Report said of Novak “Has straight-line speed, a hard shot, and mature hockey sense.”

2012-13NJ HitmenEJEPL18591412
2013-14NJ ColonialsAYHL2515102530
2014-15NJ AvalancheAYHL U1817961526

Round 7 Pick #142 Overall

Patrick Gazich – Defenseman
DOB: 1997
Hometown: Richfield, MN
Last Team: Academy of Holy Angels High School
Height: 6;0
Weight: 170 lbs.
Notes: Scored 3 points (1G – 2A) with 22 PIM in 19 games last season.

2012-13Academy Holy AnglesUSHS50002
2013-14Academy Holy AnglesUSHS1912322
2014-15Academy Holy AnglesUSHS256162236

Round 8 Pick #154 Overall

Alec Mahalak – Defenseman
DOB: 9-14-98
Hometown: Monroe, MI
Last Team: Victory Honda U18, T1EHL
Height: 5’8
Weight: 152 lbs.
Notes: Miami (Ohio) University commit scored 26 points (6G – 20A) in 32 games. Was an Alternate Captain for Victory Honda. Was on the USA S15 and S16 Rosters. Selected in the 2014 USHL Futures Draft with the 34th pick by the Youngstown Phantoms. He is a smooth skater with good vision who can really push the play and help in transition.

2013-14CompuwareHPHL U1621310134
2014-15Victory HondaT1EHL U18326202614

Round 9 Pick #165 Overall

Adam Brady – Forward
DOB: 8-6-95
Hometown: Delhi, ONT
Last Team: Kingston Voyageurs, OPJHL
Height: 6’0
Weight: 194 lbs.
Notes: Robert Morris University commit netted 77 points (43G – 44A) with the Voyageurs and 29 points (15G – 14A) in 24 playoff games. Was the number 17 overall selection in the 2015 USHL Entry Draft by the Lincoln Stars. “He is a dual threat in that he can score from all areas on the ice with an absolute bomb of a wrist shot,” said Robert Morris coach Matt Nicholson.

2012-13Hamilton Red WingsOJHL401728456
2012-13Caledonia CorvairsGOJHL158101812
2013-14Kingston VoyageursOJHL5121396010
2014-15Kingston VoyageursOJHL4643347718

Round 10 Pick #175 Overall

David Marabella – Forward
DOB: 8-12-96
Hometown: North Oaks, MN
Last Team: Colorado Thunderbirds U18, T1EHL
Height: 5’10
Weight: 179 lbs.
Notes: Scored 16 points (5G – 11A) in 24 games with the Thunderbirds last year.

2012-13CO ThunderbirdsT1EHL U16411013234
2013-14Rocky Mtn RoughridersHPHL81780
2013-14Minnesota MagiciansNAHL10000
2014-15CO ThunderbirdsT1EHL U1824511166

Round 11 Pick #185 Overall

Matt Araujo – Defenseman
DOB: 1997
Hometown: NY
Last Team: Long Island Royals MET, EJEPL
Height: 6’0
Weight: 190 lbs.
Notes: 31 points (10G – 2aA) in 44 games last season while wearing the “C” for the Royals. Matt was voted the (MJHL) Metropolitan Junior Hockey League 2014-15 Defenseman of the Year. Ranked 6th in the MJHL among defenseman scoring. Named to the 2015 All-Long Island hockey team. “Araujo was big and physical inside his own blue line and often spearheaded the team’s attack with long, accurate passes out of his own zone,” said MSG Varsity.

2013-14Long Island RoyalsEJEPL1812320
2014-15Long Island RoyalsEJEPL4410213144

In addition to the players drafted, the Brahmas have several Tenders signed for the coming season. A Tender is a contract, a player signs announcing his intentions to play for that particular NAHL team and that NAHL team only. Once a player signs a Tender with an NAHL team, his playing rights belong to that team within the NAHL and he may not be recruited by any other NAHL team.

Matt Christian – Forward
DOB: 9-9-97
Hometown: Grand Forks, ND
Last Team: Omaha Lancers, NAPHL 18U
Height: 6’1
Weight: 195 lbs.
Notes: Scored 12 points (4G – 8A) in 19 games with the Lancers last year. Was selected in the 5th round of the 2014 NAHL Entry Draft by the Brookings Blizzard with the 97th overall pick. Represented Team Central in the 2015 NAPHL Top Prospects Tournament scoring four points in three games. The Scouting News said of Christian, “Matt has been taking his game to a totally new level of quality, according to one of our field scouts who is giving the youngster top grades.”

2013-14Omaha LancersNAPHL U16201212248
2014-15Omaha LancersNAPHL U181948128

Brandon Estes – Defense
DOB: 2-13-97
Hometown: Richardson, TX
Last Team: Dallas Star Elite, T1EHL U18
Height: 5’11
Weight: 160 lbs.
Notes: Scored 20 points (7G – 13A) as the fourth leading scorer for the Stars last season. Will join former Brahmas Sebastian Vidmar and Jake Kupsky at Union College for the 2016/17 season. Drafted in the sixth round with the 98th overall pick in the 2015 USHL Draft by the Youngstown Phantoms. “He was one of the top U18 AAA defenseman from the Tier One Elite League this season,” Phantoms assistant general manager Jason Koehler said. “He is extremely skilled and a quality puck mover on the backend.”

2014-15Dallas StarsT1EHL U18247132040
2014-15Lone Star BrahmasNAHL10002

Darion Hanson – Goaltender
DOB: 5-19-97
Hometown: East Bethel, MN
Last Team: Omaha Lancers, NAPHL 18U
Height: 6’3
Weight: 175 lbs.
Notes: Last season posted 1.96 GAA and a .920 SV% in 15 games played. Had a 2 – 1 record in the post season with a 1.56 GAA and a .949 SV%. Represented Team Central in the 2015 NAPHL Top Prospects Tournament. Hanson is on the WHL Portland Winterhawks protected list.

2013-14Omaha LancersNAPHL U1691.220.915
2014-15Omaha LancersNAPHL U18151.960.920

Troy York – Forward
DOB: 11-8-96
Hometown: Plano, TX
Last Team: Dallas Star Elite, T1EHL U18
Height: 5’10
Weight: 180 lbs.
Notes: Scored 37 points (13G – 24A) to finish second on the Stars scoring chart. Has averaged over a point per game the last two seasons combined. “The Brahmas are getting a good player with Troy. He’s a high-end prospect,” Dallas Stars Elite head coach Robbins said. “He has a great shot and great knowledge of the game.”

2013-14Dallas StarsT1EHL U183512132552
2014-15Dallas StarsT1EHL U182413243750

Carson Kelley – Forward
DOB: 2-19-96
Hometown: San Jose, Ca
Last Team: Dallas Star Elite, T1EHL U18
Height: 5’9
Weight: 160 lbs.
Notes: Scored 43 points (21G – 22A) to lead the Stars in scoring. Was third in the league in points scored and tied for second in goals scored. “Very elusive, which makes it very hard for opposing players to put a body on him. A sparkplug player who brings energy to a team,” according to U. S. Hockey Report.

2013-14Dallas StarsT1EHL U183312112358
2014-15Dallas StarsT1EHL U182421224342

Joey Fallon – Forward
DOB: 12-26-95
Hometown: West Islip, NY
Last Team: Gloucester Rangers, CCHL
Height: 5’7
Weight: 180 lbs.
Notes: Scored 58 points (34G – 24A) in 61 games played for Gloucester. Finished tied for fourth in the CCHL in goals scored. Eighteen of his 34 points came on the power play. Has committed to Princeton University “Joey is a game-breaker type of player; he has tremendous work ethic and is a quiet leader,” Pat LaFontaine told NHL.com for their series “Making of a Royal”.

2014-15Gloucester RangersCCHL6134245824

Devin Pierce – Forward
DOB: 12-3-96
Hometown: Franklin, TN
Last Team: Texas Jr. Brahmas, NA3HL
Height: 5’11
Weight: 175 lbs.
Notes: Scored 44 points (19G – 25A) for Texas Jr Brahmas last season. Followed up with four goals in four playoff games. Finished the season +25. Competed in the 2015 NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament. Texas head coach Head Coach Al Rooney said of Pierce, “He was a leader on and off the ice for us, he played and excelled in all situations, and I’m excited to see him take this next step in his career. What makes it sweeter is that he’ll be staying at home right here in Brahmaland.”

2013-14Atlanta FireNAPHL245101540
2014-15Texas BrahmasNA3HL3219254412

With all the talent head coach Dan Wildfong and assistant Jeff Potter picked up in the draft, the tendered players and returning veterans, the 2015-16 NAHL season is looking to be another exciting campaign.