NORTH RICHLAND HILLS (CBSDFW.COM) - Who says this isn’t a hockey town? The Texas Brahmas and their fans are certainly convinced it still is.
It’s April 20, the Dallas Stars didn’t make the NHL playoffs, the Allen Americans were knocked out in the first round of the CHL playoffs, and the team that did it is the scrappy team from North Richland Hills that call their home arena the Shoebox.
The 2,000-plus seat NYTEX Sports Centre arena couldn’t be louder if it tried. Moments after the puck dropped the clanging, banging and screaming of a near-sellout crowd has the place louder than anything witnessed in the decade-plus history of the arena 10 times its size in downtown Dallas.
The Brahmas are deep into the CHL’s Berry Conference final, and despite being down 2 games to 1 heading into game 4 of the best-of-seven series, they are showing no sign of going out without a fight.
Literally, it is a hockey game after all. Just over 5 minutes into the game a shot on goal turns into a 5-minute penalty for the opposing Wichita Thunder’s enforcer, Chris Greene.
The fans also have to be a factor in this game. Brahmas fans have repeatedly been called some of the loudest in the league, and with a do-or-die situation like the playoffs, it’s more than apparent. With just over 8 minutes off the clock, the Brahmas score and the arena erupts. Opposing players are covering their ears as they head back to their bench. The corrugated metal walls of the upper arena send the deafening scream back onto the ice, and the fans are loving it.
The Brahmas have to be loving it too. They won a close game Wednesday night at NYTEX, the crowd lifting them to a 3-2 win. This is after a series that has given them plenty of excitement already. Despite losing 8-1 Sunday night in Wichita, the event players will likely remember most is having to take shelter in the basement of Wichita’s INTRUST Bank Arena during a violent storm that produced an EF-3 tornado.
Back to Friday night, a tying goal late in the first period did nothing to stop the fans. As the White Stripes’ ‘Icky Thump’ blared through the PA, fans banged on their chairs, the floor and even the walls. A woman holding a pair of crutches spent much of the period beating the armrest of one of the crutches against a support pillar.
And as one minute is marked left in the period, the arena hits a fevered pitch. The Thunder sends a second player, Matt Robinson, to the penalty box, and the fans scream through the Brahmas power play.
These fans love their team, and are with them through the playoffs. After Friday night’s game, which the Brahmas won 2-1 after an early second period goal, the team will head back up to Kansas for game 5. If the Brahmas can hold of the Thunder (and any other tornadoes) Saturday night they could clinch the Berry Conference with a win Monday night at their beloved Shoebox.
For more information on the Brahmas, and to find out about tickets for game 6, check out their website, brahmas.com. Cowbell is optional.