24 in 24 Series: Lone Star Brahmas
August 28, 2016
The 24 in 24 series features a look at all 24 teams in the NAHL for the 2016-17 season, with a new team being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season. 24 in 24 looks into each NAHL team and will include video interviews with all 24 head coaches in the NAHL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the season, including taking a look at their strengths as a team and thoughts on the league. It will also take a look back on last season and how each team fared and what they accomplished.
Lone Star Brahmas
Head Coach: Dan Wildfong (4th year)
2015-16 record: 39-12-9, 87 pts. (2nd in the South Division)
2015-16 leading scorer: Alex Berardinelli (55 points)
2016 Playoffs: Lost in the South Division Semi-Finals to Topeka, 3 games to 1
2016-17 Division: South
First regular season game: Saturday, September 17th @ Amarillo Bulls
Home opener: Saturday, October 8th vs. Amarillo Bulls
A year after making it all the way to the Robertson Cup Semi-Finals, the Lone Star Brahmas followed things up in 2015-16 with an almost identical regular season, which included 39 wins and 87 points, which ranked 3rd overall in the NAHL behind Fairbanks and Wichita Falls. It was just one win and one point shy of 2014-15’s numbers. The Brahmas also had another incredible season in the NCAA commitment department as 17 players from the 2015-16 squad made NCAA commitments. Last season also marked the second straight year that a Brahmas player was selected in the NHL Draft as in 2016 it was defenseman Cam Clarke, who was taken in the 5th round by the Boston Bruins.
However, the season did not end as the Brahmas wanted as they fell in their South Division Semi-Final series to the Topeka RoadRunners, 3-1. Last year’s team possessed their tough trademark defense, but struggled to score at times. “I thought we had a real nice team last year, but it obviously did not end as we wanted. For us to be a successful team we have to find a way to try and win in the playoffs to put ourselves in position to ultimately win a Robertson Cup,” said Brahmas head coach Dan Wildfong.
The South Division has added another team as the Shreveport Mudbugs will take to the ice. Wildfong played for the Mudbugs for eight seasons back when the team was in the professional ranks. He thinks the Brahmas opponents, including the Mudbugs, will be a challenge in 2016-17. “The thing about the South Division is that you never know who is going to be good and every night is a test. I think it is exciting to have Shreveport in the league and adds another element to the existing rivalries in our division. It’s a great footprint”
Another thing that remains a sense of pride for the Brahmas is their ability to develop NCAA talent. In the past two seasons, 33 players have made NCAA commitments, contributing greatly to the overall NAHL record-breaking totals. “I think it has been a 100% commitment by the coaches and owners in the league to ensure that we are providing a place where players want to come to play. The coaches are developing relationships with NCAA coaches and doing the extra work to make sure they have the information they need to consider our players,” said Wilfong.
The Brahmas will open the season a week before the Showcase with a road game in Amarillo. After that it is a tough test for Lone Star as the annual event in Blaine with games against Bismarck, Minot, Coulee Region and Austin. “There is absolutely nothing like the NAHL Showcase. Everyone is there and I think what stands out for us is that we get to do some scouting too because of all the other teams there. We are looking for future Brahmas players and it truly is a massive networking event,” said Wildfong.
Wildfong said one of the best things about to the NAHL is that the league is producing college ready players. “Our coaches have done a great job to not only produce guys that can play in college, but that they are making an impact as soon as they get there. They are not sitting in the stands. When you can put up numbers in the NAHL, I think NCAA coaches know that you are guy that is going to be successful in the NCAA.”
Wildfong also gave his thoughts on the season and the Brahmas support…“I think we will begin the season not really knowing what pieces are in place until we get some games in, but we do know that our success will be because the players want it,” said Wildfong. “It is our job as coaches to put the foundation in place, but we leave it up to the guys and work together to try and accomplish our ultimate goal.”
“We are very proud of what we have built here and I think it is a place that really provides a nice experience for our players. There is so much to do and there is so much growth in the area. Being somewhere we players can have so many choices to do things outside of hockey is very important,” said Wildfong. “We have a great fan base who treat our guys great and provide us with a wonderful and loud atmosphere.”
Next in the 24 in 24 series: Minnesota Magicians