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NA Now: Lone Star Brahmas

August 21, 2023

The NA Now series features a look at all 32 teams in the NAHL for the 2023-24 season, with a new team being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season. NA Now looks into each NAHL team including interviews with all the 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 (11th season)

2022-23 record: 60 GP, 37-15-8, 82 pts. (2nd in the South Division)

2022-23 leading scorer: Ryan Comishock (33 points)

2023 Playoffs: Lost South Division Semi-Finals to Shreveport, 3 games to 2

2023-24 Division: South

First regular season game: Friday, September 8th vs. New Mexico Ice Wolves

Home opener: Friday, September 29th vs. Shreveport Mudbugs

In Brahmaland, expectations are always high. That’s why despite having the third most points in the regular season in 2022-23, a first-round playoff exit left a bad taste in the mouth of head coach and general manager Dan Wildfong. “Everyone wants to win the Robertson Cup and we fell short. We try every year to obtain that goal and help our players move on. I thought we had a good year last year but not good enough as far as our expectations,” said Wildfong.

The Brahmas came out flying to open the 2022-23 season as they went 13-1-1 through October. They remained consistent through the holiday season and then suffered their worst stretch leading up to the trade deadline. The Brahmas would finish their season going 6-3-1 in their final 10 games before meeting up with Shreveport in the Robertson Cup Playoffs. The series with the Mudbugs would go the distance with three of the five games needing overtime and for the second consecutive season, the Brahmas would see their season come to an end after a 1-0 loss on home ice.

Watch: NA Now video interview with Dan Wildfong

Lone Star hasn’t missed the playoffs since their inaugural season back in 2013-14 and have won at least 37 games in eight of the nine seasons since. That run include four south division regular season champions and a Robertson Cup title back in 2017.

The Brahmas were once again the top team at keeping pucks out of their net allowing just 126 goals all season, just over two goals per game. Goalies Arthur Smith earned a commitment to Princeton, while William Gramme will be off to the University of Wisconsin. Lone Star ended up with eight NCAA commitments.

For all their success in their own zone, the Brahmas struggled lighting the lamp on the other end. Their 155 total goals ranked 25th out of 29 NAHL teams and were the lowest among teams that qualified for the postseason. That is why returning forwards Ivan Zadvernyuk and Charlie Masek will be key in the offensive step forward.

Zadvernyuk appeared in 57 games last year, scoring six times and dishing out 16 assists. In their five game playoff series with Shreveport, he notched two goals and three points. Masek played in 55 games a year ago, potting seven goals and seven helpers.

Ray Murakami returns for his third and final season in Lone Star. The blue liner from Japan led all Brahma defenseman with six goals and 24 points last season and for his NAHL career has found the back of the net 11 times and has 39 points. Antti Autere will also be back for another season in Brahmaland. As a rookie, he scored three times and added seven assists. He also scored the game winning goal in Lone Star’s Game 1 victory over Shreveport, end the second longest game in NAHL history in the fourth overtime.

This season the competition in the South Division expands to nine teams, providing another hurdle for Coach Wildfong and his club if they want to stay towards the top of the standings.

“Getting off to good start is important. You can’t get behind, but you also can’t panic either. You got to stay consistent. There’s highs and lows in a season. Every team thinks their season is going to be all highs, every player thinks their season is going to be like that and its not,” Wildfong explained. “You just can’t have too many big lulls in your season and you got to stay steady with the process and keep grinding it out.”

“You have to find your niche. Some years you can have really good defensive teams and some years you have an offensive team. You have to figure out who you are as a group and you got to figure it out quick,” said Wildfong.

Next Up: Maine Nordiques

 
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