NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, TX – The Lone Star Brahmas have used its second to last tender contract on defenseman Kyle Hallbauer.
“The winning nature of the Brahmas had a big pull (in me tendering), but I actually learned to skate at the rink the Brahmas play at when I was three. I was born in North Richland Hills and I lived there until 2001 and I lived five or ten minutes away from the rink. When I got the call from the Brahmas, my parents were obviously really excited and I decided to go visit and I really liked it. I think it was just fitting that it would come full circle.”
Hallbauer grew up skating at the Blue Line Ice Complex before it became the NYTEX Sports Centre in the mid 2000s. Because of that, he and his family were engulfed in the Fort Worth hockey scene.
“I have posters in my room of the Fort Worth Brahmas, the Fort Worth Fire and the Texas Tornado,” Hallbauer said. “I really liked a guy on the Tornado then, Jason Guerriero. He’s now an assistant coach at Brown. I have pictures with him in my room and a stick signed by him and a team signed stick of the 2000-01 Tornado.”
His dream growing up to play for his hometown junior hockey team will become a reality in a few months. Head Coach Dan Wildfong expects Hallbauer to come in and be a huge addition to the defensive corp.
“We lost a lot of guys so we need to fill that back end,” Wildfong said. “We always try to build from the net, the D and out. I think Kyle brings a lot of offensive upside to our team. He’s got a lot of skill. Good speed. He came to visit us down here. He visited about three or four programs and he chose us so it shows that we’re doing something right and we really want to help him get a Division I commit. We’ve moved a lot of guys on and I think he saw that so that’s why he chose Lone Star.”
The 5-foot-11, 185 pound defenseman played last season in the Ontario Junior Hockey League with the Kingston Voyageurs, the same team that produced Jack Zielinski.
Hallbauer was the leading American-born defensive scorer in the OJHL last season, racking up 15 goals and 44 points through 52 games. His offensive upside abilities undoubtedly caught the attention of coach Wildfong and fans could see the Howell, New Jersey resident on the ice quite a bit this fall.
“He’s going to have that opportunity (to compete for power play time) right off the bat and obviously he’s proven that where he was last year in Kingston so we expect him to come in here and help us with that as well,” Wildfong said.
The Brahmas could potentially lose all seven active defensemen (to NCAA and USHL teams) from the Robertson Cup winning team, but Hallbauer brings a championship background with him.
When his family moved to the northeast, Hallbauer played for the New Jersey Hitmen in the USPHL and he racked up 63 points in 84 games and won the 2015 USPHL Under-18 Championship.
The former USPHL All-Star mentioned that he enjoyed watching the Brahmas’ success through the postseason.
“Well actually when I signed (with the Brahmas), it was probably the end of the first round of playoffs so I was obviously really excited then and as the playoffs went on, I kept getting more and more excited that they were doing so well and then they won. Hopefully I can be a part of that again next season,” Hallbauer said.
Hallbauer is entering his final year of junior hockey eligibility, and he is the full package both on and off the ice. He’s a team first kind of guy who “would rather get an assist than score a goal. I like seeing my teammates enjoying their time and being successful.”
His two-way game should fit in well in North Richland Hills and he is eager for his next junior hockey adventure to begin.
“I think as a player I learned to make better decisions and I look forward to continue to develop into a better hockey player and making the best out of it in Texas,” Hallbauer said. “Off the ice I like doing stuff with billet families and the fans and having them enjoy the season as much as us. On the ice, you can look for my speed because I feel I’m a pretty fast skater and I can shoot the puck pretty hard.”
Hallbauer will attend the Brahmas main camp at NYTEX Sports Centre from July 27-30 before the season gets underway.
* 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. Each team is granted ten (10) tenders – plus or minus any trades. Tendered players are not eligible for the NAHL draft. *