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Suominen Signs Pro In Finland

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, TX – Brahmas defenseman Samu Suominen announced this weekend that he has signed a professional contract to play for TUTO Hockey in his native Finland.

In 34 games during the 2015-16 season, the 6’1” – 190 lbs. defenseman recorded 10 points and finished the season a +12.

“I’ve always dreamed about playing pro hockey and now I’ve been given the chance to make that happen.  Of course it wasn’t an easy decision after having a great organization like the Brahmas, where they made it known they wanted me back,” Suominen said.

“We’re really proud of Samu and happy with his decision.  Any time you get an offer to play professional hockey, anywhere in the world, that says something about your ability,” Brahmas Head Coach Dan Wildfong said of the signing.

The two-way defender will begin his contract with TUTO Hockey in the fall, a Tier II pro team based out of Turka, Finland.  Founded originally as Turun Toverit in 1929, the organization became TUTO Hockey in 1988. 

“I’m really excited about the chance to play in a pro league and play with older guys,” Samu continued.

Suominen becomes the second import-defensemen in as many years to sign a professional contract overseas after a year with the team.  2014-15 defensemen Anton Santesson spent the 15-16 season with Helsingborgs HC and IK Oskarshamn in his native Sweden.  Helsingborgs has already retained his rights for the 2016-17 season as well.

“For Samu to be able to begin his professional hockey career at home is fantastic.  The beauty of this level of junior hockey is that there are other routes than just college commitments and Samu is the perfect example.  There’s nothing wrong with the path he is headed and we’re all really happy for him.”

Kupittaan jäähalli is the team’s home facility and it seats 3,000.  The building was constructed in 2006.  Tier I club TPS additionally plays their home games at the same arena as a member of the SM-liiga.

“I had a great time in Texas and my time with the organization was something special.  I also want to thank the whole staff and all of the players who made it possible for me and it made my time in Texas so fun,” the Fin concluded by saying.

With 14 players from the 2015-16 season having committed to Division I or Division III NCAA Hockey, Suominen becomes the 15th to announce his continuation of his hockey career.

Brejcha Commits To Curry College

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, TX – Forward Tomas Brejcha became the 14th Brahma from the 2015-16 season to announce his college commitment this weekend, declaring he’ll be playing for Curry College in the fall.

Brejcha recorded 24 points in 36 games during the season, which was his first in North America.  At 6’3” – 210 lbs. the native of the Czech Republic made his presence felt on more than just the score sheet as well, displaying a physical existence at all times.

“Curry’s Head Coach T.J. Manastersky is one of the absolute nicest men I have met here in the United States.  He made it clear that he really wanted me and he did everything to make sure I was on his team,” the 1995-born forward said.

Brahmas Head Coach Dan Wildfong remarked his happiness by saying, “Tomas really learned how to manage his ability this year and we’re really proud that he has the opportunity to continue his hockey career here in America.  It’s something he wanted and it feels great to be able to provide him with that chance.”

Located in Milton, Massachusetts, Curry College competes in the NCAA Division III Eastern College Athletic Conference – Northeast.  The school’s official athletics name is the Colonels.

“Curry’s location is great.  It’s close to Boston and it’ll be a great area not only for hockey but to experience as well,” Tomas said of his new future home.  “We don’t have college like this in the Czech Republic so I am excited to have the opportunity to go.  The only things I know about college are from movies but I am so happy that I'll now have the chance to find out for myself.”

Many will remember Brejcha’s season being plagued by a horrific injury suffered in November after being lacerated by a skate in Corpus Christi.  The cut caused the big left-handed shot to miss over two months before returning to action in Odessa at the end of January.

“The fact that Tomas was even able to come back from that sort of injury is incredible.  He knew it was going to keep him out of action for a long time but the way he handled that time off is what really set him apart.  He put the work in to stay in shape, lost weight, and became visibly more mobile when he came back.  It’s one thing to come back from that but to come back the way he did was really something,” Wildfong stated about the situation.

When he re-entered the lineup, #95 had his best production of the year, averaging a point-per-game in the last 15 regular season games.

“The Brahmas are one of the best teams in the North American Hockey League for a reason.  There’s a reason there are scouts in Brahmaland every weekend.  It’s a big name in junior hockey because they know that this organization develops players.  The team I’m joining at Curry is very young and I want to go the Final Four at least one time.”

With the commitment the organization now has 14 players who dawned a Brahmas sweater this season committed to play college hockey.  That ranks third overall in the NAHL.

Mellberg Commits to American International College

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, TX – Martin Mellberg announced his commitment to American International College (AIC) on Tuesday, becoming the 13th member of the 2015-16 season to make a college advancement.

This past season Mellberg played in all 60 games for the team, one of only three members to do so.  Over that span he compiled 16 goals and 26 assists for a total of 42 points.  The campaign was his first in North America after spending four years with the Timra program in Sweden.

“I believe AIC is a good fit for me.  They are doing a lot to enhance their hockey program and their new head coach, Eric Lang, believes in me and sees me as an important piece of what they are trying to build,” Mellberg said.

Brahmas Head Coach Dan Wildfong echoed the thoughts of his newest commit saying, “I think it’s a great opportunity for Marty.  Obviously they gave him a good package and I think it’s a tremendous fit for both parties.”

As prefaced, Mellberg will be a part of the first campaign under the newly named head coach of the Yellow Jackets.  Lang, an AIC alumni himself, is taking over after Gary Wright stepped down from the program after 32 years.

American International College is located in Springfield, Massachusetts but before the Brahmas former #10 relocates, he spoke high praise of the North American Hockey League and how it helped him get to the Atlantic Hockey conference.

“The North American Hockey League is a good place to play because it gets a lot of exposure to college scouts.  I knew throughout the whole season that schools were watching me and my teammates every single week.”

“[AIC] is in the middle of revamping their program and I think Martin is going to be a perfect example of what they want their identity to be moving forward.  He’s going to go there and be a huge asset right off the bat.  I’m thrilled for him,” Wildfong continued on the situation.

The Swedish forward turns 21 on July 6th and is eager to get started with his new journey in the fall.

“It feels really good to be able to go to school again.  It may sound weird but I’m looking forward to start studying.  Furthermore, I’m looking forward to seeing how much more I can develop as a hockey player,” the import forward concluded with.

With 13 Division I college commitments, the Brahmas are now second in the North American Hockey League in that category.

Robertson Cup Predictions

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, TX – The Robertson Cup Semi-Finals and Final take place outside the Twin Cities this weekend, where the 40th Champion will be named on Sunday.  The Fairbanks IceDogs (Midwest), Wichita Falls Wildcats (South), Bismarck Bobcats (Central), and the Aston Rebels (East) are the four divisional winners that have a chance at the Cup.

Because the IceDogs won the regular season North American Hockey League title with 49 wins and 101 points, they will face the fourth seeded Rebels who made it out of the newly aligned Eastern division.  The Wildcats own the second best record in the league (93 points) so they will face-off against the Bobcats (78 points) in the best-of-three series.

Former Brahmas Liam Stirtzinger (Fairbanks) and Darion Hanson (Aston) are still competing in the playoffs.

Our Inside the Bullpen staff will break down their thoughts and predictions for this week’s Robertson Cup action. Each team will practice Wednesday, start the three-game series on Thursday, and the two teams that advance will play in the Championship game on Sunday May 15.

 

Nick Marek (Director of Broadcasting / Play-By-Play):

#1 Fairbanks IceDogs (49-8-3, 6-3 in playoffs) vs. #4 Aston Rebels (35-21-4, 6-0 in playoffs)

NICK’S PICK: Fairbanks

"Do not gloss over the Rebels.  Just because the three of us are choosing Fairbanks to win this match-up, it doesn’t mean the series won’t be close.  Aston is 6-0 in the Robertson Cup Playoffs and former Brahma and Union commit Darion Hanson sports strong numbers in net this month.

That being said, Fairbanks is too deep of a team and they were more battle tested in the Midwest (no offense to the East teams). Fairbanks won two overtime games this post-season and average well over 30 shots per game.  Not to mention they have one of the hottest playoff goalies in Gavin Nieto (1.70 GAA, .928 SV%) and league MVP Todd Burgess has 13 points through nine playoff games.  Fairbanks wins this series in two games, but I would not be surprised if it went the distance."

#2 Wichita Falls Wildcats (44-11-5, 6-0 in playoffs) vs. #3 Bismarck Bobcats (37-19-4, 6-3 in playoffs)

NICK’S PICK: Bismarck

"This series really intrigues me.  You have the coach of the year in John LaFontaine against a Bobcat’s team that won its first Central Division title since 2011-12.  Both teams are deep and have played good hockey since March.  The difference maker for me is that Bismarck was more challenged during the playoffs; they won their share of close games, and survived an elimination game on Monday against last year’s runner-up in Austin.

Wichita Falls does have seven players averaging at least a point-per-game in the playoffs, but they haven’t faced a defense like Bismarck since they played the Brahmas in January.  Wichita Falls recently beat an up-tempo Topeka team, but now they face a shut down Bobcat unit that finished second in the NAHL in goals against per game (2.22).  Bismarck is ready for Wichita Falls and offensively; they have a more balanced attack.  Six Bobcats have three or more goals, whereas Wichita Falls has been relying solely on their veterans who are used to playing their style of game. This series WILL go three games and Bismarck comes out on top."

NICK’S CHAMPION: Fairbanks

Fairbanks and Bismarck would be a terrific match-up for the Robertson Cup Championship. It would feature two stellar defensive teams, two hungry organizations, and a potential goaltender battle between two of the best (Gavin Nieto and Minnesota-Duluth product Hunter Shepard).  Ultimately, Liam Stirtzinger’s IceDogs end on top and I would make sure FastHockey.com is on my big screen this Sunday.

Walt Ruff (Communications Manager / Color Commentator):

#1 Fairbanks IceDogs (49-8-3, 6-3 in playoffs) vs. #4 Aston Rebels (35-21-4, 6-0 in playoffs)

WALT’S PICK: Fairbanks

#2 Wichita Falls Wildcats (44-11-5, 6-0 in playoffs) vs. #3 Bismarck Bobcats (37-19-4, 6-3 in playoffs)

WALT’S PICK: Wichita Falls

“I believe the Fairbanks IceDogs will be taking home the 2016 Robertson Cup because of how well rounded they are.  I’ll never forget their game against the Brahmas at the Showcase and everyone dubbing it as a potential championship matchup.  Anytime you have four of the top six scorers in the league, it’s clear your offense is dynamic.  Don’t get me wrong; I’ve been big on saying that it’s a bit skewed that a lot of their points came against Kenai River, however they’re still dominant.  Furthermore, it’s evident they can score from the blue line as well, with both Jakob Stridsburg and Alex Mehnart finishing in the top six in scoring among defensemen.  To top it all off, they’re backstopped by the goaltender with the best goals against average and save percentage in the entire league, Gavin Nieto.

I don’t see Aston being too much of a problem for them in the first round solely because the Rebels don’t have as much firepower up front.  I believe the IceDogs will be taking on the Wichita Falls Wildcats in the finals because of how hot they’ve been and how well rested they will be.  Bismarck punched their ticket on Monday night, an entire week after Wichita Falls had decided their fate.  Additionally, Bismarck really struggled in a few games against Austin.  Led by the outstanding goaltending of Justin Kapelmaster, the ‘Cats should prevail.”

 

Chad Siewert (Vice President):

#1 Fairbanks IceDogs (49-8-3, 6-3 in playoffs) vs. #4 Aston Rebels (35-21-4, 6-0 in playoffs)

CHAD’S PICK: Fairbanks

#2 Wichita Falls Wildcats (44-11-5, 6-0 in playoffs) vs. #3 Bismarck Bobcats (37-19-4, 6-3 in playoffs)

CHAD’S PICK: Wichita Falls

“The IceDogs will win the Robertson Cup this year because their offense can score at will.  Their offense is just too strong and I don’t believe Wichita Falls has the tools needed to stop them.”

Brown Signs NA3HL Tender

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, TX – The Brahmas officially announced on Monday that they have signed Texas Jr. Brahmas forward Brock Brown as their North American 3 Hockey League tender.

In 45 games with the Brahmas NA3HL affiliate this season, Brown had eight goals and 36 assists for a total of 44 points.  The 2015-16 campaign was the second one in a Brahmas sweater for the Hendersonville, Tennessee native and he is thrilled to have the opportunity to be spending his third with the North American Hockey League team.

“These past six months I've been more dedicated to hockey and improving my level of play than I ever have in my life.   When I got the call and they told me my whole body got the chills,” Brown said.

His head coach Al Rooney seconded the happiness for his player stating, "I'm very excited for Brock and this opportunity that lay ahead of him. I have complete faith in him as a player and person. His work ethic and commitment will have him ready for this step next season."

Brown was named as the captain of the NA3HL Brahmas in November and his production skyrocketed following.  The early-1997 born took a crucial part on the team’s penalty kill, which finished the best of all 34 teams in the league upon conclusion of the regular season.  Furthermore, #12 ended the season with points in eight-straight games, propelling his team to the organization’s first ever Silver Cup appearance.

"I think the job he did this season – top penalty killer, faceoff guy, 200 foot player – was fantastic for us and he will need to up his game from that to be a difference maker for Lone Star next season.  He played a variety of roles for us this season so I think that multidimensional ability will serve both him and Lone Star well next season," Rooney continued of his now former-player.

“[As a Brahma] I've learned more about playing a well-rounded game.  I’m making sure I contribute offensively and defensively, so overall becoming a more dependable player for my coach.  This summer I'm committed to working on bettering my conditioning, my shot power, plus my lower body and core strength.  I'm more excited to play and more motivated to work and train than I have ever been.  Everything is up from here.”

Brock is now guaranteed a spot at the Brahmas Main Camp, which takes place July 21 – 24 in Detroit, MI.  The camp is invitation only.

For more information on the Brahmas advancement of players, be sure to like the “Lone Star Brahmas” and “Texas Brahmas NA3HL”, as well as following them on Twitter at “@LoneStarBrahmas” and @TXBrahmas”.

Game Over

TOPEKA, KS – The Brahmas season came to a crashing halt on Saturday night when Ryan O’Connor scored the overtime winner with 15.2 seconds remaining to give the Topeka RoadRunners a 5-4 victory.

RoadRunners netminder Juho Niku had been sensational all series but his Saturday night started with a nightmare of a turnover that resulted in Troy York feeding Hogan Davidson for an empty-net goal in front.  The Brahmas held first blood for all of 14 seconds, but then Jack Nickels responded with a shot that snuck through traffic and past an unbeknownst Corbin Kaczperski.  The Kansas Expocentre came alive with the tally and pushed the RoadRunners to yet another goal just moments later.  Andrew Hart capitalized off of a York turnover and beat Kaczperski upstairs to give the home team a lead after one.

When the second period began, Max Harper of Topeka pushed the lead back to two after Johnny Walker set him up in front.  However, just like the last time the RoadRunners held a two-goal lead, the Brahmas charged back with one of their own when Cody Wickline outsmarted the Topeka defense and intercepted a pass that he spun around and allowed Joey Fallon to bury below the glove of Niku.  Unfortunately the RoadRunners would grab a two-goal lead once again though, courtesy of their post-season hero, Quinn Preston.

Although they had a two-goal lead in the third, the RoadRunners elected to get comfortable and sit back, a tactic that the Brahmas made them pay for.  With just 6:50 remaining, Alex Berardinelli twisted an odd angle shot through traffic that beat Niku five-hole.  The goal seemed to deflate Topeka and the Brahmas cashed in on it again minutes later.  Martin Mellberg entered the zone and held on for his troops to accompany him, before sending a saucer pass cross-ice to Hogan Davidson.  #37 wound up for a slapshot, selling everyone inside the arena before going back cross-ice for Tyler Drevitch, who roofed one at the 1:58 mark to tie the game.

Knotted up at 4-4 the teams pushed on into overtime, where the Brahmas controlled a large portion of the extra frame.  However, in the final minute, Ryan O’Connor beat Corbin Kaczperski with a writser to send his team to the 2016 South Division Finals.

Juho Niku earned the victory stopping 39 of 43.  Corbin Kaczperski suffers the loss allowing five goals on 39 shots.

The Brahmas 2015-16 season has now come to a close.  Thank you to all of our valued members who go into making Brahmaland such a great place and be sure to stay tuned to all Brahmas social media pages the next few days for more information regarding end-of-the-season festivities!

Brahmas Fall In Game Three

TOPEKA, KS – Back in their home barn the Topeka RoadRunners fled past the Brahmas by a score of 5-2 on Friday night.

The home side dominated the opening 20 minutes, getting a goal from last Saturday’s overtime hero Quinn Preston to kick things off.  Before the Brahmas could get off the ice for intermission, Yu Hikosaka burned Corbin Kaczperski after his defense left the slot exposed.

To begin the second, Ryan O’Connor of Topeka extended his team’s lead to 3-0 with a power play tally.  The Brahmas netminder saw none of the shot and all of the momentum favored the RoadRunners.  However, the Brahmas finally struck in the closing moments of the second, not once, but twice.  With 2:11 remaining and on the man advantage, Cam Clarke placed a shot on goal that was buried on a second chance by Peter Kessel.  Exactly 30 seconds later, the Brahmas crashed the net again, and this time it was Jakob Romo polishing off the scrum.  The tables had turned and it was all Brahmas to close out the second until John Zimmerman was given a game misconduct for obscene language.  After some more pushing and shoving at the buzzer, Sami Tavernier was ejected as well for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Fast and up-tempo play continued into the third but no offense was to be found until Johnny Walker wristed one past Kaz with six minutes to go.  Dan Wildfong would pull his netminder in favor of the extra attacker for the final few minutes, until JB Baker put the icing on the cake, giving the RoadRunners a 5-2 win and a 2-1 lead in the series.

Juho Niku picked up the win stopping 23 of 25 and Corbin Kaczperski suffers the loss, allowing four goals on 17 shots.

Game Four of the series takes place tomorrow at the Kansas Expocentre at 7:05.  Tickets will be $5 at the door but if you can’t make the trek north, be sure to catch all the action on FastHockey.com.  Additionally, the game will be aired live in ZuRoma Bar & Grille inside NYTEX Sports Centre for fans to come out and watch.

Back To Kansas

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, TX – Quinn Preston played hero for his team on Saturday, picking up the overtime goal that gave the Topeka RoadRunners a 2-1 win.

For the second straight evening, Carson Kelley opened the scoring when he buried a rebound effort in the first period.  The opportunity came as a direct result of a Hogan Davidson face-off win, which was then placed on net by Dalton Skelly and deposited by the California kid.

While that was the only goal in the first, Topeka evened the score in the second when Luka Maver buried a second chance opportunity of his own on the power play.

All 20 minutes of the third whistled by without a goal, thus rewarding the crowd with some free hockey inside the NYTEX Sports Centre.  The sudden-death scenario only lasted 5:52 seconds, and that was when Quinn Preston dropped a pass for Shawn Brennan, who placed a shot off the pads of Kaczperski, leaving a rebound for the initial passer.

The series now heads to Topeka tied at 1-1.  Both games will be broadcast on FastHockey.com and begin at 7:05 on Friday and Saturday.

One For One

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, TX – Thanks to a complete effort the Brahmas opened the post-season with a 3-1 victory over the Topeka RoadRunners.

The opening frame whistled by without any score, thanks to both teams setting a tremendous example of shot-blocking.  However, first blood came in the second when Carson Kelley buried a cross-ice feed from Johan Lundgren.  The Swede raced from his own zone, up through center, and beat his defender wide and backhand saucer a feed over to the California boy.

Fellow Swede Martin Mellberg extended the lead to 2-0 roughly halfway through the third when he exited the penalty box, stormed into the zone and buried a second chance opportunity.  It would be the first goal of the third but the second belonged to Topeka, courtesy of Dom Lutz.  Directly off of a designed play from the face-off, the RoadRunners captain ricocheted a wrister off of the skate of a Brahma and past Corbin Kaczperski.  The third and final goal of the frame came when Tyler Drevitch cashed in off of a rebound right on the doorstep.  #4’s tally was the nail in the coffin and concluded the evening’s action with the Brahmas up 3-1.

Corbin Kaczperski picks up the win in net, stopping 13 of 14.

Tomorrow night the two teams go head-to-head once again with puck drop scheduled for 7:30.  Tickets are on sale now at 817-336-4ICE, online at LoneStarBrahmas.com, or at the box office.

Giles Announces Commitment to Robert Morris

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, TX – The Lone Star Brahmas are thrilled to announce that captain Sean Giles has committed to Robert Morris University for the 2016-17 season.

“You know initially I didn’t feel like I thought I would, but after getting my first practice in with the boys (since committing to RMU) and hearing how happy they were for me I’m just ecstatic,” Giles said.  “It was really exciting to talk to my friends and family and they were all telling me congratulations.  It’s just really cool.”

“I think it’s a great opportunity for him to go in there and play a lot,” head coach Dan Wildfong said.  “Obviously he’s been such a great leader here.  I think it’s going to transcend over there and he’s going to be a great asset for (the Colonials) not just on the ice, but off the ice as well.”

Giles spent two seasons with the Brahmas, and since day one, he has been one of the team’s shut down defenders.  Both years he has been a pivotal part of the Brahmas penalty kill, earning himself a top spot on the NAHL’s second best killing unit, which is operating at nearly a 90-percent clip.  Additionally, his plus-13 rating was the second best on the team and highest of any Lone Star defenseman.

“I think my first year in Lone Star I really had to focus on being more of a man in our end defensively,” Giles explained.  “I had to find a role just being held accountable and make sure the coaches could trust me in our zone to not get scored on.  Whereas this year, I think I’m starting to take a little bit more of an all situations role.  I still want to have that shut down role… but I think that this year I’ve become a more complete player in all three zones.”

“I think he’s really done a great job in his role,” Wildfong added.  “When he was a midget, he did a lot on the power play and was a lot more offensive.  He really learned to not just play up, but how to shut down guys.  He’s learned how to lead a team.”

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound defenseman is more than just a one trick pony.  His offensive game is on the rise and it will continue to improve now that he is seeing steady minutes on the power play unit.  Giles has 24 assists and 28 points for Lone Star in two seasons.

“He’s been working after practice on getting his shot away. He’s more mobile out there I think that’s a side of his game we haven’t even touched on like we could and that’s something Robert Morris is going to see a lot more of,” Wildfong said.

Last season, the Colorado Rampage product scored the game-winning, overtime goal to eliminate the Topeka RoadRunners in Game 4 of the South Division Finals.  He carried that momentum into the 2015-16 season.

Giles began the year as one of two alternate captains, but earned the captaincy in January by demonstrating a team first mentality throughout his North American Hockey League career.

“I think that the leadership role I’ve taken on has helped me mature.  Obviously when I have to think about the team more than myself, it’s about the big picture.”

The big picture from an individual perspective, however, is to continue to advance ones hockey career, and that is exactly what Giles is doing by attending Robert Morris.

“Robert Morris is moving a ton of guys on to the American League and I think it’s a great program not only hockey wise by in the classroom as well,” Wildfong said.

Giles plans on studying engineering at Robert Morris and he looks forward to taking his community involvement to the greater Pittsburgh area.  When it comes to the ice, Giles said he is ready for his next opportunity.

“RMU is going to give me a chance to play right away and I told them that I would have used my extra year (of junior eligibility) if I needed to, but they lost three really big seniors (defensively) who played a lot of games for them and I think that it’s a good fit,” Giles said.  “They have confidence in me and I want to go in and work hard for a spot in the lineup right away.”

There is no denying the Colorado Springs, CO native put in hard work throughout his career to earn a college scholarship.  He is constantly critiquing his game, developing new skill sets, and working with his teammates and coaches to improve. 

One thing is for sure.  Giles does not waste any time when it comes to his development and the Atlantic Hockey Conference is about to see what No.27 is all about.

“As cliché as it sounds, I hear a lot of coaches say that ‘you have to do better today than you did yesterday.’  Even if you’re a little bit tired at the end and you want to get off, staying those extra ten or fifteen minutes will pay off so much.  You won’t even feel it the next day; you’ll just have the reward.  If you just do what the team does then everyone would be at the same level, but if you put the extra work in you can separate yourself,” Giles explained.