NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, TX – Anyone familiar with the North American Hockey League and North American 3 League in junior hockey is familiar with the catchphrase “Ladder of Development”.
Together, the leagues work to produce exciting hockey and develop talented players into future NCAA and professional athletes. In order to see an example of how the system works you don’t have to look any further than the 2019 Fraser Cup Champion Texas Brahmas.
In the first two months of the 2019-20 season, the Texas Brahmas have nine players who have or will skate with NAHL teams. In Brahma Land, players are not only prepared for high-level competition, but they are being put in the perfect positions to earn opportunities with NAHL teams.
Players to skate or play with NAHL teams this season
- Findlay Wood – Lone Star Brahmas
- Dylan Smith – Lone Star Brahmas
- Andrue Trelstad – Lone Star Brahmas
- Michael Thomas Jr. – Lone Star Brahmas
- Ian Erdman – Lone Star Brahmas & New Mexico Ice Wolves
- Jack Cooper – Minnesota Wilderness
- Leevi Selanne – Minnesota Wilderness
- Matej Palfy – New Mexico Ice Wolves
- Tyler Blanchard – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
“I think that having multiple players being called up to skate and play with different NAHL teams goes to show how excellent our program is,” said Ian Erdman. “Not many people earn the opportunity to get to play in the NAHL, but here at the Texas Brahmas, it really shows that when you are a hard-working team-player, your individual efforts will get noticed and rewarded.”
Placing team success over individual success is how the Texas Brahmas assure its players that their opportunities will come. Buying into the bigger picture now helps clear the road to the NAHL in the future.
“We have built a winning program that high-end players are wanting to play for,” said Texas Brahmas Head Coach Ryan Anderson. “When you pair the dedicated players that we are lucky to have with the facility and training that is provided to them great things can happen.”
The opportunities for the players begin with stepping through the doors at the NYTEX Sports Centre. The Texas Brahmas are under the same roof as one of the top teams in the NAHL, the Lone Star Brahmas.
“Obviously it is a huge advantage sharing the NYTEX Sports Center with the Lone Star Brahmas,” said Anderson. “Coach Dan Wildfong and coach Ryan Theros take a vested interest in our players. They want the Texas Brahmas to be as successful as possible and our players are encouraged to stop in and speak with them on a regular basis.”
Multiple players have skated with Lone Star this season including Dylan Smith who has seized his opportunity and earned playing time with the Brahmas making six appearances.
“The Texas Brahmas prepare us for when we skate with an NAHL team by having a program that is run like an NAHL program,” said Smith. The learning curve makes it so much easier. I remember skating with Lone Star for the first time and if we didn’t run similar systems I would have been completely lost, but the Texas Brahmas prepare you for your future and I love being part of an organization that is making me a better player.”
The high expectations placed on the players Brahma Land only make it that much easier once they reach the next level to showcase their skills to an NAHL team.
“I think it is a lot easier because playing for the Texas Brahmas every one of us knows what the teams at the next level are expecting from us,” said Matej Palfy. We are trying to practice and play with so much pace, speed and structure which is important at the next level.”
The preparation goes well beyond the ice for Texas Brahmas players. Being mentally prepared and a smart hockey player is one of the biggest factors towards Anderson’s guys standing out.
“Whether it’s from video sessions with coaches or position-specific work during the week, the coaches use everything to help us players gain the knowledge we need, work on skills that improve our play and perfect details that define players at the next level,” said Erdman.
It’s just a matter of time before the list of Texas Brahmas who earned opportunities to skate and play with NAHL teams expands to double-digits and continues proving that the league’s “Ladder of Development” is reaching new heights.
The Texas Brahmas are home this weekend hosting the Louisiana Drillers at NYTEX Sports Centre Saturday and Sunday at 2:05 p.m.