NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, TX — The Brahmas played their final road games of the regular season on Thursday and Friday against Corpus Christi. As the schedule would have it, the IceRays and Brahmas will match up one final time in a Sunday matinee this week.
The two teams split the series this past week, with the Brahmas taking Thursday’s game in a shootout and the IceRays winning in regulation on Friday.
Thursday’s game was a back-and-forth affair, with each team scoring once in every period before eventually going to the shootout. This game also saw the debut of tendered defenseman Jared Kucharek, the return of Julian Biondo after a two-game suspension, and a breakout performance from newcomer Andy Willis.
Willis registered his first NAHL point with some hard work along the wall to dig out a puck for an eventual David Marabella goal. Later in the game, Willis capitalized on a low rebound off of IceRays goaltender Tomas Vomáčka’s pads to pot his first NAHL goal.
The Brahmas’ victory, however, wouldn’t come until later. Hunter Stanley came through with the Brahmas’ only goal in a six-round shootout and Alec Calvaruso went 6-for-6 against the IceRays, remaining perfect in shootouts this season to give the Brahmas the 4-3 win.
The shootout victory was the Brahmas 43rd win of the season, which is a franchise high.
Friday’s game was one in which Head Coach Dan Wildfong opted to give some of the Brahmas’ veterans a rest, with defenseman John Zimmerman and forward Troy York taking rest days, and forward Austin Kamer made his return to the lineup after a three-game absence.
While team defense was as steady as ever, suppressing shots to the point of allowing just 15 on net throughout the game, the Brahmas’ normally dependable penalty kill was uncharacteristically leaky. Two power play goals contributed to the 3-0 lead the IceRays took after two periods.
The Brahmas’ offense did come to life in the final period, as Pete Kessel and Jakub Melisko scored within moments of each other to get Lone Star back in the game.
Kessel’s goal, his 45th wearing Brahmas colors, made him the new franchise leader in goals.
However, an IceRays empty netter would seal the Corpus Christi victory, giving them 3 points on the weekend.
With Wichita Falls suffering a sweep at the hands of Shreveport, Corpus Christi took over third place in the South Division, making Wichita Falls the Brahmas’ first round playoff opponent for the time being. However, both Corpus Christi and Wichita Falls have five games remaining on their respective schedules, so nothing is set in stone yet.
The Brahmas play their final game of the regular season at NYTEX Sports Centre on Sunday afternoon at 4:00 PM. Please join as the Brahmas celebrate their fans with the team’s annual Fan Appreciation Day.