(Photo: Cody Wooten)
WICHITA FALLS, Texas – Behind three points from Jake Townsend and goals from five different skaters, the Wichita Falls Wildcats (31-12-0) bested the Odessa Jackalopes (9-31-6) to complete the weekend sweep at the Kay Yeager Coliseum on Saturday night.
Townsend notched a goal and two assists in the win, giving him 30 points on the season, while Tommy Apap and Max Reisinger both tallied a goal and an assist. Austin Azzinnaro and Alex Falconer also found twine for the red-and-black, with Colin Staub, Evan Okeley, Nikita Litviak, Erich Jaeger and Kevin Charyszyn chipping in with assists. David Zevnik turned aside 21 shots to earn his 12th win of the year
Odessa opened the contest with strong early pressure, but it was the ‘Cats who found twine first.
After being hemmed into the defensive zone for a spell, Wichita Falls gained the zone through a measured transition rush. With Staub on the puck in the right-wing corner, Apap went to the slot waiting for a pass that just evaded his reach. The loose disc fell right to Azzinnaro, who sniped it inside the far post to give the red-and-black a 1-0 lead on his first-career tally.
The Wildcats then expanded their edge around the halfway mark of the first, using traffic in front to create an opportunity. Townsend sent a shot on net from the blue line that Tanner Creel stopped but could not control. The rebound sat invitingly for Falconer, to tap home for his 10th tally of the year at 9:09 of the frame.
Wichita Falls wasted no time expanding the edge in the opening moments of the second stanza, and once more, Townsend was the creator.
After his initial blue-line shot was blocked, Townsend recollected and moved into a shooting lane, before floating a wrist-shot on net. Apap was camped out at the top of the crease and managed to get just enough of a deflection on the puck to redirect it past Creel for his seventh of the season.
Having set up the previous two tallies for the ‘Cats, Townsend would have his goal a few minutes later, finding the back of the net on a rush with Reisinger. After gaining the zone on a two-on-one, Reisinger toe-dragged to change the shooting angle and ripped a strong wrister from the left circle that Creel could not collect, allowing Townsend to tap it over the goal line to make it 4-0.
Robin Johansson was brought in to relieve Creel following the goal, but did not fare much better, as Reisinger notched his 15th of the season on a wicked wrister from the circle to make it 5-0 at 12:08 of the second.
Odessa disrupted Zevnik’s shutout bid a few minutes later, with Eric Carreras slipping a shot between the legs of Zevnik to make it 5-1 on a transition rush after Wichita Falls could not clear the puck down the ice.
In the third, the Jackalopes tacked on a consolation goal when Corey Hoffman jabbed a loose puck home through a pile of players in the crease, but that was all they would muster, as the ‘Cats skated away with the 5-2 win.
The Wildcats are next in action when they host the Lone Star Brahmas in a pivotal match-up on Wednesday, Feb. 18 at the KYC. Puck drop is slated for 7:05 p.m., with 4-for-$24 tickets available for all fans by calling (930) 716-5555. Fans that cannot make it to the game may follow all the action on FASTHockey.com, with an audio-only broadcast available via YouTube.
Single-game tickets for the 2014-15 Wildcats season are on sale now at the Kay Yeager Coliseum box office. Stay updated on the latest team news and notes by connecting with the Wildcats on Facebook (WFWildcats), Twitter (@WFWildcats), Instagram (WFWildcats) and on YouTube (Wichita Falls Wildcats).
NOTES: With the win, the Wildcats equaled their win total (31) from the 2013-14 campaign; the franchise for most wins in a single-season is 38, held by the 2007-08 squad.
Wichita Falls – Austin Azzinnaro (Tommy Apap, Colin Staub) 4:19
Wichita Falls – Alex Falconer (Jake Townsend, Nikita Litviak) 9:09
Wichita Falls – Tommy Apap (Jake Townsend) 1:51
Wichita Falls – Jake Townsend (Max Reisinger, Evan Okeley) 7:07
Wichita Falls – Max Reisinger (power play) (Erich Jaeger, Kevin Charyszyn) 12:08
Odessa – Eric Carreras (Corey Hoffman, Hampus Sjodahl) 14:25
Odessa – Corey Hoffman (unassisted) 14:13