The Fort Worth Brahmas are closing in on the end of the regular season scratching and clawing for every point to compete for home-ice advantage in the playoffs.The team’s past five games have been decided by one goal, with three settled in shootouts.The Brahmas are 3-2 in that stretch and wrap up the home portion of their regular-season schedule with games against Allen on Friday and Saturday nights at NYTEX Sports Centre in North Richland Hills.The team finishes with four games on the road before opening the playoffs. Fort Worth coach Dan Wildfong is already sensing postseason-style play from his team in the narrow decisions.“When you’re playing close games, that means you’re playing good defense,” he said.This weekend’s games were originally scheduled to be played at the Fort Worth Convention Center, where the Brahmas are 5-0 this season, but were moved to the team’s cozier home facility.“Obviously we’re fighting for the No. 1 spot, and [NYTEX] is an intimidating place to play,” said Ed Chamberlain, the team’s general manager and alternate governor.Fort Worth enters the weekend in third place in the CHL standings, six points behind first-place Allen. The Americans have won eight of the 14 meetings this season, including the past two following a 6-1 Brahmas win on Feb. 23.At home, the Brahmas are 19-6-6, trailing only second-place Wichita in home victories. While Fort Worth faces Allen in three of its final six games, it will need help to catch Wichita, which leads the Brahmas by three points.Fort Worth has risen from a rocky start and last place in the standings to reaching first place at one point in mid-January.The team also has suffered a continuous run of injuries, among them prolific scorer Phil Fox, who missed 21 games from December to February. Franchise stalwart Chad Woollard retired in January, but players such as midseason acquisition John Snowden (25 goals, 52 points), Tomas Klempa (31 assists, 48 points) and goalie Kristofer Westblom (21 wins, four shutouts) have helped carry the team.While moving up in the standings to secure home-ice advantage is a goal, Wildfong has a long-range vision for the final week of the season.“We’ve got to make sure we’re doing all the right things to get ready for playoff time,” he said.
Allen vs. Brahmas
7:30 p.m. Friday, NYTEX Sports Centre, North Richland Hills
Records: Brahmas 34-19-7, 75 pts; Allen 36-14-9, 81 pts