The Texas Brahmas finished the 2014-15 season with a 26-15-6 record, good for third place in the NA3HL South Division. The Brahmas swpet the second place Topeka Capitals in the opening round of playoffs, but fell just short in the South Division Finals to league-leading Nashville.
Head Coach Al Rooney had a successful first season behind the bench in Brahmaland, but he is now focused on building his team for the 2015-16 season. There are several avenues of approach that he is utilizing for building next season's roster between returning players, tendering players, drafting playings, signing free agent players, etc. The off-season is already in full swing and we sit down with coach Rooney to get the pre-summer update.
Q: With a strong first season, how many players do you expect to move on from this year's squad and how many do you expect to return?
"Out of the 25 man roster that we finished the season with, several are aging out and moving on. We expect five, possibly even seven players to move into the North American Hockey League (NAHL) next season, which is really the main goal. But we also expect five to seven players to return to serve as a solid core and build upon last year's success."
Q: How do you go about building that roster? What approach do you have to bring in 15 to 20 new players?
"We have last year's roster, which serves as a protected list for all our players who still have junior hockey eligiblility. We also have nine tenders available to us and we have utilized three of those (Smith, Anderson, Perrone) and are speaking with several other potential Brahmas. We also have the ability to trade those tenders within our league for veteran players or draft picks."
Q: Speaking of the draft, when is it and how does that work?
"The NA3HL Draft takes place June 16th, 2015 [one week after the NAHL draft]. It's an eight round draft, but due to trades we have nine selections to help us fill our roster. For example, last year we had 14 picks, seven of which played with us. Our first round draft pick, Devin Pierce, recently tendered with the Lone Star Brahmas of the NAHL after one season with us."
Q: With all this added together, what does the schedule look like this summer?
"Our May pre-draft camp in Chicago is held in conjunction with our NA team as is our open camp in June here at NYTEX. Our final main camp will also be here at NYTEX in August and that is directly prior to training camp. I'll also be attending Top Notch Prospects in May which is in Dallas as well as attending the Elite Edge Showcase in Nashville, Tennessee. Lastly, I will be at a select few NA tryout camps throughout the summer."
It's certainly a busy off-season for head coach Al Rooney. If you're interested in becoming a Brahma, be sure to fill out a form for the coaching staff and they will be in contact with you.