NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, TX — Coming into the first round of the postseason this weekend, the Brahmas were looking to take full advantage of home ice against the Wichita Falls Wildcats. They did just that, winning both games with authority, and in different ways, to boot.
Friday featured a 3-0 win, with Max Prawdzik posting his second shutout of the season. It was a strong team performance all around, but the Brahmas were particularly impressive defensively.
There were no goals in the first period, as both teams looked determined not to be the first to make a mistake. The game remained scoreless until forward Aidan Spellacy capitalized on a turnover by Wichita Falls goalie Jared Dempsey, but the momentum shift came a few minutes before that.
The Brahmas faced a 1:17-long 5-on-3 penalty kill, and with nothing but zeroes on the scoreboard at the time, it was a crucial turning point in the game.
Led by blueliner Jack Zielinski, who stayed on the ice for the entire duration of the Wildcats’ two-man advantage and was responsible for the eventual clear, the Brahmas killed off the penalty. They were rewarded by the Brahmas faithful, who recognized the job well done with an ovation for the Lone Star PK units.
The kill seemed to energize the Brahmas, and eventually Spellacy’s hustle on a forecheck led to the aforementioned turnover by goaltender Jared Dempsey, and Spellacy found the empty net for the first Brahmas goal of the playoffs.
The third period opened with a 1-0 Brahmas lead, which turned into a two-goal advantage thanks to a Peter Kessel power play goal early in the frame. That goal shifted the momentum even further the Brahmas’ way, and Prawdzik stood tall in net to bring home the win.
Carson Kelley’s empty netter was the nail in the coffin, and the Brahmas took the game by a final score of 3-0.
If Friday’s game was a display of the Brahmas’ defensive dominance, Saturday’s perfectly showcased their offensive depth. The team exploded for seven goals, which is impressive enough on its own merit. The fact that there were seven different goal-scorers can mean only good things for a team that’s at its best when rolling all four lines.
The first period on Saturday left the Wildcats stunned, as a Julian Biondo goal off of a Spellacy faceoff win put the Brahmas up early, and Wichita Falls never quite seemed to recover.
Two quick goals later in the first — one from Pete Kessel, one from Drake Glover — put the Wildcats in a 3-0 hole, and the Brahmas never relinquished the lead.
Austin Kamer, who led the Brahmas with 9 shots this weekend, scored in the third, becoming the final member of his line to score in the game. Incredibly, the Glover line wasn’t the only line to net a goal for each of its members.
Austin O’Rourke, Aidan Spellacy, and Biondo all found twine on Saturday as well.
Carson Kelley scored the remaining Brahmas goal in the second period. It was a display of his excellent hand-eye coordination, as he batted the puck in mid-air to score the eventual game-winner.
While the offense stole the show on Saturday, the Brahmas’ win was also due to their success in keeping shots away from their own net. Although the Wildcats actually took more shot attempts in Saturday’s game than in Friday’s, they only put 17 on goal.
Winning the first two games was a very good start for the Brahmas, but that’s exactly what it was: A start. So far, so good, but the job isn’t done yet.
The Brahmas will head to Wichita Falls for Game 3 (and Game 4 if necessary) this weekend. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 PM, and games will be streamed on Hockey TV.