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Lone Star Brahmas Receive Post Season Awards

Lone Star Brahmas Photo courtesy of Rebekah Bing Photography

Despite their NAHL season being cut short by the Coronavirus outbreak, the Lone Star Brahmas continue to rack up wins off the ice. When the season came to a halt the Brahmas were riding high leading the league at 86 points with seven games left to play. Lone Star was three points ahead of second place Amarillo and had a game in hand over the Bulls.

On March 31, the NAHL announced its All-Rookie Teams. To qualify as a rookie a player must not have played in a junior league prior to the 2019/20 season in any league foreign or domestic or entered the season having played less than 10 NAHL regular season games.

April 1, the league released their All-Division Teams and Division Honors for the 2019/20 season followed by league wide announcement of  All-NAHL Team, Most Valuable Player, Forward of the Year, Defenseman of the Year, Vaughn Hockey Goaltender of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, General Manager of the Year, Executive of the Year and Organization of the Year, along with the Apex Learning Virtual School Academic Achievement Award, Leadership Award and Community Service Award on April 2.

All awards were voted upon and selected by the league’s 26 head coaches.

The Brahmas managed to rack up awards on each day.

Defenseman Mitchell Digby made his way onto the All-Rookie Team and the South Division All-Rookie Team.

Forward Joey Baez and goalie Cayden Bailey were named to the 2019/20 All-NAHL 1st Team while forward Matt Guerra and defenseman Sam Brennan were named to the 2019/20 All-NAHL 2nd Team.

Cayden Bailey received an individual award as well garnering 2019/20 Vaughn Goaltender of the Year. Head Coach Dan Wildfong was named 2019/20 Coach and General Manager of the Year.

Lone Star dominated the All-South Division Team claiming four of the six spots on the team. Joey Baez and Matt Guerra took two of the three forward slots along with defenseman Sam Brennan and goalie Cayden Bailey.

Mitchell Digby

Photo courtesy Tin Reilly: Brahmas defenseman Mitchell Digby

Brahmas’ defenseman Mitchell Digby made his presence felt in his first season in the league.

Digby at 5’11” – 181 pounds is a native of Ottawa Lake, MI who is one of six Lone Star skaters who have committed to play NCAA D-I hockey at one of the US Military Academies having committed to the US Air Force Academy.

In 36 games played Digby racked up 22 points on 6G-16A with 26 PIMs and was a +19 on the season. His first point of the season came Nov 2 on the road against Topeka with a first period power play goal. He added a game winning goal at home Dec 21 with the Pilots the opponents once again.

Digby was coming into his own down the stretch as the Brahmas were ramping it up ahead of the playoffs. He had points in six of his last eight games played with 2G-6A over that stretch including two of his four multi point games.

Joey Baez

Lone Star Brahmas - Baez

Photo courtesy Hatley Studios: Brahmas forward Joey Baez.

Joey Baez, as one of Lone Star’s Alternate Captains, had a tremendous season garnering the South Division Most Valuable Player and South Division Forward of the Year honors as well.

The Tampa Florida native played much bigger than his 5’9” and 175 pound frame would suggest. In 53 games played on the season Baez accounted for 58 points on 32G-26A with 18 PIMs and a +37. Baez led the league in goals scored and was tied for 2nd in game winning goals with six.

It was rare to not see Baez’s name on the score sheet following a game. There were only four times during the season where he went back-to-back contests without registering a point. Baez had 14 multi-point games on the season including three hattricks. His first hattrick came on the road Nov 2 at Topeka with the other two coming in back-to-back home games against Odessa on Jan 3 and 4.

Baez had tallied points in six of his last seven games with 10 points on 4G-6A prior to the cancellation of the season.

In 135 regulars season games spread across three seasons in the NAHL, Baez has 48G-44A to go along with 56 PIMs and is a +33. His play earned him an NCAA D-I commitment to Army of Atlantic Hockey where he will be a teammate of former Brahma John Zimmerman as well as current Brahmas Eric Huss and Stefan Miklakos.

Matt Guerra

Photo courtesy Tina Reilly: Brahmas forward Matt Guerra

Another Florida native on the All-NAHL Teams and All-South Division Team in 5’10” – 181 pound Matt Guerra from Sanford, Florida.

After finishing last season tied for 25th in the league in scoring Guerra stepped it up this season and was setting third in the league at 63 points, one behind the league leaders. Guerra’s totals for the season were 18G-45A including five game winning goals along with 103 PIMs and a +26. His 45 assists and 20 power play assists on the season were both tied for the league lead  and he was fourth overall in power play points.

Guerra had eighteen multi-point games on the season including a five point outburst on home ice against the visiting New Mexico Ice Wolves on Oct 5. He also had a four point contests in Odessa on Oct 26 and a second four point game at NYTEX Sports Centre on Feb 8 against the Jackalopes.

Matt was riding an eight game point streak when the pandemic struck and had points in 10 of his last 11 games played. With 21 points (7G-14A) in February, Guerra was named the NAHL Bauer Hockey Forward of the Month.

In two full seasons with the Brahmas, Guerra put up 116 points in 109 games played on 30G-86A with 214 PIMs and a +21. He will be off to Robert Morris University next season where he will join former Brahmas Aidan Spellacy and Justin Addamo.

Sam Brennan

Photo courtesy David Dudich: Brahmas

Photo courtesy David Dudich: Brahmas defenseman Sam Brennan

Sam Brennan was playing in his second full season with Lone Star and recorded 10G-20A in 48 games played. He had 28 PIMs on the season and was a +15. The 6’0”- 181 pound defenseman from Brighton, Michigan wore the “A” as one of the Brahmas’ Alternate Captains during the 2019/20 season.

Brennan closed the season sixth on the team in scoring. His 10 goals were seventh in the league among blueliners and his 30 points was tied for ninth.

During the season Brennan had three multi-point games and ran up a seven game point streak from Dec 14 through Jan 17. His first points of the season came with 1G-1A against the defending Robertson Cup Champion Aberdeen Wings in game one of the NAHL Showcase Tournament in Blaine, MN. Sam had back-to-back multi-point games at the Shoebox Oct 4 and 5 against New Mexico including a game winner in game one of the series.

Brennan was an integral part of the Brahmas’ special teams and put up nine points on 3G-6A on the power play.

During the month of October Brennan registered 4G-4A to earn NAHL Baer Hockey Defenseman of the Month honors.

In 94 NAHL regular season contests he has recorded 12G-26A for 38 points with 50 PIMs and a career +23. He also had 1G-1A in five playoff games last season.

Brennan will join fellow defenseman Mitchell Digby and forward Thomas Daskas next season at the Air Force Academy in Atlantic Hockey.

Cayden Bailey

Photo courtesy Tina Reilly: Brahmas goaltender Cayden Bailey

Cayden Bailey had an outstanding season between the pipes for Lone Star as evidenced by his 2019/20 Vaughn Goaltender of the Year award. Interestingly enough, he was the third member of the Lone Star Brahmas from the state of Florida to be named to the All-NAHL Team and All-South Division Teams. The 5’11” – 180 pound netminder from Estero set the bar for goalies in the NAHL this season. In addition to being named to the All-South Division Team he also earned recognition as the South Division Goaltender of the Year.

Bailey led all NAHL netminders in multiple categories during the 2019/20 season including goals against average with a 1.32 GAA, save percentage with a 0.940 SV% and shutouts with an astounding 11 despite being 16th in games played. He also allowed the fewest goals with just 36 pucks getting past him all season.

His 20W-5L-1OTL-1SOL record had him tied for 9th in the league in wins. However, all eight goalies ahead of him in wins had played more games than Bailey except for goalie partner Ludvig Persson.

Bailey put together a 13 game win streak starting Dec 14 in Shreveport and carried that through Feb 29. He pushed his point streak to 14 games with an overtime loss to Shreveport in his final game played on Mar 7. Only three times in his 30 games played did Bailey allow more than two goals.

In January Bailey was named NAHL Vaughn Hockey Goalie of the Month. He was a perfect 5-0-0-0 in the month with four shutouts and an unbelievable 0.18 GAA and a 0.990 SV%. In a six game stretch starting on Jan 5 Bailey had a 334:07 scoreless streak that saw him record four straight shutouts.

Next season Bailey will be manning the crease for the Michigan Tech Huskies of the WCHA after making his NCAA D-I commitment in mid-March.

Dan Wildfong

Photo courtesy Tina Reilly: Brahmas head coach Dan Wildfong

Head Coach Dan Wildfong was also singled out as both 2019/20 Coach and General Manager of the Year and the South Division Coach and General Manager of the Year. Following a long playing career in the defunct CHL, Wildfong moved behind the bench of the CHL Brahmas remaining with the team in the same capacity when they moved to the NAHL.

In seven seasons as an NAHL head coach Wildfong’s teams have compiled a 0.674 Winning Percentage with a 257W-113L-22OTL-21SOL regular season record. Three times they have finished atop the NAHL South Division. In five playoff appearances Wildfong has guided his teams to a 24-12 record winning it all in 2017 with Brahmas’ first Robertson Cup National Championship.

Unfortunately, with the Coronavirus pandemic Lone Star was not able to make a run at their second cup this season. The team was poised to make a deep run into the playoffs and would have entered the post season as the top team in the league and favorite to win it all.

 

 

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