Down 0-2, Fort Worth Brahmas confident home ice will balance playoff ledger

Posted Wednesday, Apr. 17, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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The Fort Worth Brahmas are hoping the comfort of home can help erase a deficit in their second-round CHL playoff series.

The team returns to NYTEX Sports Centre in North Richland Hills trailing 2-0 in its best-of-seven series against Wichita.

The Thunder, the CHL's top scoring team during the regular season, outscored the Brahmas 8-4, going 3-for-7 on the power play, in taking the first two games in Wichita.

Brahmas coach Dan Wildfong acknowledged that Fort Worth faced a tough task winning on the road against Wichita, which led the CHL with 26 home victories during the regular season and is 4-0 there in the postseason.

“They’ve got a good team, there’s no question about that,” said Wildfong, in his sixth season with the Brahmas, the last five of which have resulted in playoff berths. “We came hard in the first game.... They took the advantage.”

In Game 1, Fort Worth held a 1-0 lead on a score by Shawn Szydlowski, but Wichita tied the score less than 2 minutes later and added a pair of goals in the second period. In Game 2, Fort Worth allowed three goals in the first period, but a pair of second-period scores by defenseman Ross Rouleau put the Brahmas back in the game. After a Wichita goal, the Brahmas pulled to within one but could not net the tying goal, falling 4-3.

Rouleau, the team captain in his fifth season with the Brahmas, has four assists to go with his goals, setting a personal career postseason high with six points, outpacing the five points he registered in 12 postseason games last year.

Wichita, on the heels of its 240-goal, regular-season output, has four players among the top 13 postseason scorers, including Kevin Young, who has seven assists, five on the power play.

Scoring hasn’t been a concern for Wildfong, whose team is tied with Wichita for the postseason lead with seven power-play goals.

“We just haven’t been able to get the breaks,” he said.

Szydlowski, a rookie, netted the only goal in Fort Worth’s 1-0 opening-series clincher and has five points.

Kristofer Westblom, Fort Worth’s rookie goalie, has carried the bulk of the work in the postseason, registering all four wins and posting a 2.50 goals against average.

Wildfong said he expects his team to return to its home ice — where it’s 2-0 during the playoffs — with a sense of urgency and prove tough to beat, as usual.

“We’ve had one of the best records at home in the past six years in professional hockey,” he said.

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