NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, TX – The Battle of the Cattle season series wraps up this weekend as the Brahmas hit the road to take on the Amarillo Bulls.
THE OPPOSITION: It’s been a tough year for the divisional rival, who currently holds the second-worst record in the North American Hockey League. In their first year of direction under head coach Matt Nicholson, the team has felt the growing pains, parting ways with 13 different players over the course of the season. With that being said, those who are still on the roster are looking to finish strong, especially against a team that has held their number decisively this season.
Despite the team’s standing, goaltender Anton Martinsson has been the high point for the squad all year long. Ranked in the top ten in the league in save percentage, the Swede just returned to the lineup last weekend after being on the shelf with an injury. The last time the two teams met, he stole a 41 save, 2-1 victory for his team at the Amarillo Civic Center.
Since that December 5th game, the Bulls have added several new faces who have not faced the Brahmas yet this season. Jake Rosenbaum, Tyler Gernhofer, Jeff Solow and now former-Brahmas Mykyta Sheptytsky will all be facing Lone Star for the first time this season. Additionally, Coale Norris will be facing the Brahmas for the first time as a Bull, but saw the team back at the North American Hockey League Showcase in Blaine, MN as a member of the Springfield Jr. Blues.
THE BRAHMAS: Saturday’s overtime loss was a tough one to swallow but it’s back to business as the team looks to continue their momentum into the direction of the playoffs. One obstacle that’s stood in the Brahmas way of doing so has been the inability to field a full lineup. Forwards Matt Christian, Joey Fallon, and Jakob Romo all missed the entirety of last weekend due to injury. John Zimmerman served two of his three game suspension and in Saturday night’s contest, defensemen Bud Madej was hurt as well. While that opened the door for newcomer Joseph Berg to create history on Friday night, it leaves the Brahmas with two open spots in the lineup for the first contest of the weekend. Zimmerman is expected to return when eligible, on Saturday, to alleviate one of those problems, however, Christian, Fallon, and Romo are all still listed as questionable.
Last weekend Corbin Kaczperski weathered the storm through both starts, a rare occasion in which one netminder started back-to-back games for the team. The Michigan native has earned the Brahmas a point in his last seven starts, but Conor O’Brien may be worked back into the mix this weekend, as he holds a perfect 5-0 record against Amarillo this season.
Additionally, it’s a homecoming of sorts for Johan Lundgren. #19 spent the first half of the season in Amarillo before being acquired in a December trade. Prior to the deal, the Swede was the Bulls leading scorer in games against the Brahmas this season, recording four points in 10 games. This time, he’ll be on the opposite side of the battle.
PUCK DROP: Both Friday and Saturday’s tilts begin at 7:05 at the Amarillo Civic Center. If you’re unable to make the trek, be sure to catch all the action on FastHockey.com!