NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, Texas – The Lone Star Brahmas have announced two more tenders for the 2015-16 season. Forward Matt Christian and defenseman Brandon Estes will be in Brahmaland by the end of summer, becoming the fourth and fifth players to tender with Lone Star for next season.
Matt Christian spent the year playing with Omaha’s AAA 18U team, finishing tied for second in the NAPHL standings. Christian played on the same team with future Brahma and goaltender Darion Hanson.
“It was a great feeling signing with a great organization and winning team,” Christian said. “It’s a humbling feeling to finally have all your hard work pay off. I also loved the fact that (the Brahmas are) in Texas. It will be different playing in a much warmer climate.”
The Grand Forks, North Dakota forward had back-to-back strong years on the top Omaha program, scoring 16 goals and 20 assists in 39 games played. There is no doubt that Christian sees the ice well and he played some of his best hockey in the last two months.
It should be an easy transition for Christian because Omaha’s head coach Dave Wilkie has a similar intensity as Dan Wildfong.
“Wilkie has always taught us to work hard every shift, every game. It’s all about work ethic and attitude,” Christian put simply.
He caught Wildfong’s eye in Ann Arbor, Michigan at the NAPHL Top Prospects Tournament with his size and big shot. The 6-foot-1, 195 pound forward banged home two goals and added two more assists for four points in the three games played with Team Central.
“I thought he’s a big strong kid who works extremely hard. He can make a play in the tight areas and he has great hockey sense. It just made sense for us to tender him,” Wildfong said.
The Brahmas did not have to look far for their first official defensive tender. Brandon Estes became the third player from Adam Robbins Dallas Elite Stars U18 team, joining forwards Troy York and Carson Kelley.
“That’s really comforting knowing that I can go in to next year already knowing people,” Estes said. “I’ll just bring my game and do what I can (for the Brahmas). The systems that Wildfong has works pretty well and I feel like I can learn and do pretty well with it.”
“We have a great relationship (with the Dallas Elite Stars). Adam (Robbins) has done a great job building a great team for one thing and the details that he teaches makes it a lot easier for us. We rely on him to help us with players and we have a great relationship. We simply can’t thank him enough,” Wildfong said of signing the third player this year from Robbins’ team.
Estes led defensemen with assists (13) and points (20) and was fourth on the team behind the two other future Brahmas. He is very effective at moving the puck on the power play and will grow into a strong two-way defender for the Brahmas. He finished this season second among T1EHL defenseman with nine power play assists and 13 power play points.
Now, Estes is just eager to officially call Brahmaland his new home.
“I was really excited (to sign my tender). I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Brahmas and I’ve been practicing with them. I like it there.”
The Richardson, Texas native has a solid 6-foot, 170-pound frame considering he recently turned 18 years old and he’ll have a full summer to train under Wildfong and Jeff Potter’s regime.
Estes has an advantage, because he has already worn the Brahmas sweater. He played in the December 20th game against Amarillo and logged a few shifts throughout the evening.
“I listened to what the guys had to say in the locker room and a lot of them helped me out while I was there,” Estes said.
“He’s extremely hard working and willing to do all the little details. I think his hockey sense is incredible. He skates well and there’s a high ceiling for his development,” Wildfong said on his new DMan. “I think he’s a fantastic kid, too… those are the kind of guys you want in the locker room.”
Estes and the Dallas Elite Stars won States back in February and now they will compete in Regionals this coming weekend.
Estes is currently attending Berkner High School in Richardson.
NOTE: A tender is a contract, of sorts, 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. Tendered players are not eligible for the NAHL draft, but other teams from different leagues are allowed to draft and try out the player.