(Photo: Troy Young)
WICHITA FALLS, Texas – Behind a balanced attack and strong goaltending, the Wichita Falls Wildcats powered past the Topeka Roadrunners, 5-1, at the Kay Yeager Coliseum on Saturday afternoon to complete the weekend sweep.
Austin Beaulieu scored twice and added an assist and Colin Staub registered a goal and two helpers, while Nikita Litviak and Jonathan Lazarus each recorded a goal and an assist. Tommy Apap and Erich Jaeger chipped in with two helpers apiece, and Austin Shaw made 21 saves on 22 shots for his fourth-straight win.
An eventful first period saw the Wildcats found the net first after dogged determination on the forecheck.
After Jaeger was dispossessed in the corner, Lazarus won the puck back to keep the attack going. He played a short pass to Jaeger below the goal line, who quickly played it back in front for Lazarus to stash home to make it 1-0.
Wichita Falls dominated the start of the second stanza, but did not make the pressure pay until a shorthanded breakaway led to a 2-0 lead.
With Shane Kuzmeski in the box, Beaulieu intercepted a pass at the Topeka blue line and raced ahead of the backcheckers. He faked a backhand effort to open up space to shoot, before slipping the puck between the legs of Drew Vogler for his third tally of the weekend.
Topeka started the third period in strong fashion and cut the deficit in half on Daniel Rzavsky’s second goal of the weekend, but the Roadrunners would get no closer as the ‘Cats roared back with three unanswered goals.
First, Nikita Litviak skated into the offensive zone on the right side after a feed from Lazarus. The Russian deked past one man, dangled around another and waited for Vogler to go down into a butterfly, before flipping it over the prone goaltender to make it 3-1.
Barely three minutes later, Beaulieu picked up his second of the game, wristing an effort home from the high slot after a Topeka turnover.
Beaulieu continued his strong play to set up the fifth and final goal. He gained the zone on the left side, slammed on the brakes, and rifled a pass to Apap at the right-wing half-wall. Apap then sent a beautiful pass to the back door, where Staub tipped it home for his first tally of the season to complete the scoring.
The Wildcats are back in action on Oct. 3 and 4 when they host the Lone Star Brahmas. Oct. 4 is First Responders Appreciation Night presented by What-A-Burger, with all police, firefighters and EMTs receiving free admission with valid ID. That weekend is also the Wildcats Pride Boost Club pumpkin auction.
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Wichita Falls – Jonathan Lazarus (Erich Jaeger, Nikita Litviak) 7:29
Wichita Falls – Austin Beaulieu (shorthanded) (unassisted) 8:59
Topeka – Daniel Rzavsky (Mike Gornall) 7:34
Wichita Falls – Nikita Litviak (Jonathan Lazarus, Erich Jaeger) 11:42
Wichita Falls – Austin Beaulieu (Colin Staub, Tommy Apap) 14:48
Wichita Falls – Colin Staub (Tommy Apap, Austin Beaulieu) 18:19