NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, TX – Coming into the weekend, the Lone Star Brahmas were riding a five-game win streak. They extended that streak to eight games, with a two-game sweep of the Odessa Jackalopes on Friday and Saturday and a win against the Shreveport Mudbugs on Monday afternoon.
Friday featured strong performances from goaltender Alec Calvaruso and forward Austin O’Rourke: Calvaruso posted a 24-save shutout, while O’Rourke scored the only goal of the game against Jackalopes goaltender Jonny Hogue.
While Calvaruso and O’Rourke carried the day and the entire team played a tight, defensively sound game to outlast the Jackalopes, the biggest story from Friday night belonged to Justin Kinnunen.
The Brahmas honored the late Kinnunen with a jersey retirement ceremony prior to the game. The number 13 now hangs from the rafters, and won’t be worn by any current or future Brahma.
Family members and former teammates were in attendance for the ceremony and the game. Fittingly, Brahmas forward Hunter Stanley – who wore number 13 until switching to 17 this weekend – took a puck from Odessa’s Zac Hermann (who wears number 13) and scored on an empty net with 13 seconds left in the game.
Saturday night was much of the same, a 3-2 Brahmas victory highlighted by a two-goal performance from Troy York and a very solid start from Max Prawdzik, who made 32 saves and allowed only one even-strength goal in his first home win.
Austin O’Rourke also scored a goal in the win, scoring in back-to-back games and earning himself the distinction of NAHL South Division Second Star of the Week.
That series sweep gave the Brahmas win number six and seven on their current streak and set them on a collision course with the Shreveport Mudbugs, who were riding a six-game win streak of their own.
The Mudbugs, in fact, hadn’t lost since dropping a game to none other than the Brahmas on New Year’s Eve. After the first period on Monday, it looked like the ‘Bugs were going to continue that undefeated streak.
Shreveport went up 3-0 in the first twenty, after the Brahmas top-five ranked penalty kill allowed two Steven Mathers power play goals in an uncharacteristic breakdown. A Jordan Fader goal in between the power play tallies had Lone Star down by three, with all the goals coming in a two-minute span.
However, erasing a three-goal deficit wasn’t too tall a task for the Brahmas. The team came out flying for the final two periods, registering shift after shift of sustained offensive pressure against a tired Mudbugs team playing their fourth game in five days and peppering Shreveport goaltender Dylan Lubbesmeyer with shots.
The line of Peter Kessel, Drake Glover, and Austin Kamer came up big, with each forward scoring in regulation to tie the game and send it to overtime. It was an impressive showing from the Brahmas’ top scoring line after being held off the scoresheet against Odessa.
Glover and Kamer also combined for the game-winner in overtime. After a poke-check by Calvaruso in the Brahmas’ end – one of several tremendous saves from the Lone Star goaltender in OT – Glover carried the puck up the ice and found Kamer in the left circle.
Kamer drew Lubbesmeyer to the top of the crease and beat him clean through the five-hole with under a minute left in the overtime period to send the Brahmas to their eighth straight win.
The Brahmas have won seven of their eight games that have gone to overtime or a shootout this season. Also on Monday afternoon, well over a dozen dogs were adopted from Operation Kindness Day.
If the team ever doubted that they could pull out a win after going down by three goals in the first period, they never once showed it. After matching their season-high win streak, they’ll be looking to set a new mark as they search for their ninth straight against Wichita Falls on Friday night.
If their recent play is any indication, they’re in good shape to do so.