Brahmas special teams dig a hole early but hope for future

F ORT WORTH, Texas – It’s no secret that a Dan Wildfong-coached team never really has an absolutely amazing power play but they usually have a great penalty kill and that kind of sort of evens things out. While that first part still holds true, the Fort Worth Brahmas’ penalty kill has been uncharacteristically bad so far this season.

Looking back, the Brahmas best power play unit under Wildfong came in his second season with 19.74% in 2008-09, the year the Brahmas won the Ray Miron President’s Cup, and his second best unit was in 2007-08 with 18.52%. Since then the best has been 16.83% in 2010-11 and through 17 games this year it stand at just 15.00%.

The lowest percentage a Wildfong-coached penalty kill has ever operated at was 81.52%, oddly enough in the same year as his best power play in 2008-09.

Brahmas Head Coach Dan Wildfong

Brahmas Head Coach Dan Wildfong

Through 17 games this season the Brahmas’ penalty kill is worst in the Central Hockey League at a miserable 75.00%. One stat that might help ease the pain is that the Brahmas are tied for the second-least penalized team in the league with Quad City.

There is some hope for the rest of the season, though, as it was the Brahmas’ incredibly rough start that dug the hole and the team’s numbers have greatly improved since. In the first seven games of the season, Fort Worth’s penalty kill was an abysmal 61.29%. You simply aren’t going to win games like that and the Brahmas record showed it at 2-4-1 with 30 goals against (4.29/game). Every team has those nights where things just go wrong, like allowing three goals on five power plays to Tulsa November 24th, but since November 10th the Brahmas’ penalty kill unit has been getting the job done at 83.33% and the team’s record stands at 6-3-1 during that period.

Wildfong is also trying to improve Fort Worth’s power play. He recently told PHN’s Robert Keith that he had the chance to work with Dallas Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan and his staff. They spent several hours going over some of video of the Stars from last season and Wildfong saw the session as helpful noting that they struggled with their power play at times last year.

The Brahmas%27 Sy Nutkevitch is tied with Brendon Hodge and Riley Boychuk with 2 power play goals each

The Brahmas’ Sy Nutkevitch is tied with Brendon Hodge and Riley Boychuk with 2 power play goals each

Wildfong said Gulutzan advised him that sometimes you just have to stick to your principles, your structure, the basics, and eventually things should work out. Wildfong also said that he doesn’t get many chances to talk to other coaches and called the experience a “relief” to be able to talk with someone nearby who has gone through the same issues and could provide him with some pointers.

One thing that has to be factoring into things is fact that the roster slowly settling in; six members of the Brahmas opening night roster are now inactive due to various reasons. On top of that there was a high rate of turnover among the new players that Wildfong brought in. Jake Morley was signed on November 20th and since then aside from minor moves and re-signing goalie Kristofer Westblom, who had been working with the team and really isn’t a new face, the roster has been set. The Brahmas have finally had the opportunity to come together and develop some chemistry with everyone, as Wildfong is fond of saying, on the same page. Wildfong hopes that chemistry will translate to improved special teams play. Only time will tell.


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