NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, TX — After a disappointing trip to Topeka in which the Brahmas picked up one out of four possible points, they look to hit the road one last time before the highly-anticipated home opener on October 20th.
This weekend, the Brahmas are in Odessa to play the Jackalopes for the first time this season. The last time these two teams played was late in the 2016-17 regular season, and it was certainly an interesting one. The Brahmas and Jackalopes ended up combining for 308 penalty minutes, with a line brawl and plenty of fireworks contributing to that high PIM total.
While the rivalry between the two teams tends to be heated, this weekend isn’t about that, especially on the Brahmas’ end.
The reigning NAHL champions haven’t gotten off to the start they had hoped, and Head Coach Dan Wildfong has shuffled his roster to try to get the team going.
Early returns on some of the newcomers looked promising, with steady defensive play from defenseman Connor Stuart and forwards Ture Linden and Connor Pooley and defenseman Jakub Sirota picking up points in Topeka last weekend.
With several more new faces in the lineup, Wildfong and Assistant Coach Justin Hale will certainly be looking for increased offense from their team.
Julian Biondo leads the Brahmas in scoring currently, with Austin O’Rourke and Michael Montambault close behind, but goals have been hard to come by lately. It’s not for lack of chances, but sometimes you just can’t buy a bounce, and the Brahmas certainly haven’t been given any by the hockey gods.
Luckily, the goaltending has been enough to keep the team afloat while the offense figures itself out. Mitchell Gibson and the newly-acquired Harrison Feeney have been very solid, giving the team a chance to win every night.
They’ll need to do it again this weekend as the Brahmas look to get back in the win column.
On Odessa’s end, forward Evan Rochowiak and defenseman Zac Herrmann lead the way with 10 points each. Evan Somoza (5-2–7) and Zach Heintz (1-6–7) are offensive threats as well, and the Brahmas will be working to shut them down.
In terms of goaltending, starter Brett Epp has been solid for the Jackalopes in net. Back-up Alex Camarre has been even better thus far this season, although the sample size is smaller.
The important thing for the Brahmas this weekend is to come out strong and string together a full 60 minutes of play like the coaching staff knows they can. The talent is there, and the roster is stronger for its recent additions. Chemistry will develop, and the Brahmas should be a force to be reckoned with once things start clicking.
Hopefully, things start clicking sooner rather than later.
Puck drop in Odessa will be at 7:11 PM on both nights. If you aren’t making the trip out to Ector County Coliseum, games will be streamed live on Hockey TV. Make sure to follow along by keeping an eye on our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat accounts!