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Cats Drop Seventh Straight in Bitter Overtime Loss

Friday, 03.31.2017 / 10:14 pm CT
By Alex von Keudell / Photo: Zesty Prints

Hoping to even up the series on Friday night, the Wildcats scored a late goal to force overtime but fell 4-3 to the Odessa Jackalopes. Their seven-game losing skid is now their longest in over ten years. The last time a winless slump reached seven games was on March 23rd of 2007.

Going to an early power play, a fresh Wildcats unit took the ice and confidently relayed the puck around the offensive zone. Isaac Kobienia and others came close to opening the scoring, but Jonny Hogue made several key saves to keep the game scoreless.

For the second straight night, Odessa drew first blood. Ex-Wildcats prospect Chris Donaldson drove down the left side into the Wichita Falls zone, protecting the puck from Karim Del Ponte. From his backhand, he shoveled a shot over Jared Dempsey’s shoulder on his blocker side to open the scoring 10:57 into the contest.

Less than three minutes later, a breakdown in the Wildcats’ zone led to a wide open shot for Odessa defenseman Christian Hausinger. Blake Ripley had his stick tangled up with a Jackalopes forward, and was held from defending Hausinger. The defenseman seized his opportunity, stepped into the right circle and rifled a heavy wrist shot inside the right post to beat Dempsey glove-side and double the Jackalopes’ lead.

Caught on their heels to start the second period, the Cats would finally break the ice after an enormous fray transpired near the Wichita Falls bench. Following an illegal hit by Riley Bechard on Matt Hanewall, four players were penalized. Kevin Fees, Connor Wood, Chris Donaldson and Hogue each received discipline, and the Cats went to a 5-on-3 power play.

As soon as the two-man advantage expired, Ryan Orgel blasted a shot from the mid-slot which was redirected by Nick Rosa and past Hogue to get the Cats on the board at 35:43. Just 53 seconds later, they’d tie the game.

Ricky Carballo lofted a pass over the Odessa defense on a clearing attempt, and it landed in the left corner of the Jackalopes’ zone. Kobienia collected it and made a no-look pass to an open Domantas Cypas. The Wildcats defenseman slung a shot past Hogue to tie the game 2-2 late in the second period.

The Jackalopes went to another power play late in the second period. With just two seconds remaining on the man advantage, Ludwig Stenlund faked a slap shot, causing Ricky Carballo to slide out of position. Displaying tremendous poise, the Swedish power forward slipped the puck across the slot to Tyler Pietrowski, who fired home the go-ahead goal with just a minute remaining in the middle period.

It took the Wildcats 20 minutes of play to finally respond. With Dempsey pulled for a sixth attacker, Orgel fired a heavy one-timer from the left point through a crowd of bodies and beat Hogue short side to tie the game with just 57 seconds remaining, forcing overtime.

Just a minute into the three-on-three sudden death period, Zach Zech cycled around the Wildcats’ zone, spotted Chase Thudium fresh off the bench, and Thudium fed Hausinger a pass for a backdoor one-timer which won the game in overtime for Odessa.

Dempsey denied 35 of 39 shot attempts in his first overtime defeat of the season. On the other end, Hogue was credited with his 16th victory as he fought off 25 of 28. The Cats will close out the three game road trip tomorrow night at the Ector County Coliseum. Puck drops at 7:05 pm CT.