(Photo: Troy Young)
WICHITA FALLS, Texas – Behind strong efforts from Kyle Bauman and Rudy Junda, the Wichita Falls Wildcats (23-17-3) claimed a 7-5 victory over the Odessa Jackalopes in a dramatic affair at the Kay Yeager Coliseum on Saturday.
Bauman had a goal and two assists for his second-straight three-point game, while Junda recorded a three-point night on a pair of goals and an assist too. Will Vosejpka also had three points (one goal, two assists), and Kirk Van Arkel contributed two helpers as well. Jake Townsend, Max Reisinger and Josh Haverstrom each found the back of the net for Wichita Falls, with Haverstrom’s tally standing as the game-winning goal. David Zevnik started in net, making 25 saves to claim the win.
For the second night running, Odessa opened the scoring. After Mathieu Briand won an offensive zone faceoff for the Jackalopes, Leo Lumm roofed a wrist shot to make it 1-0 at 10:30 of the first.
The Wildcats responded less than 90 seconds later however. After missing Friday’s contest, Bauman made an immediate impact on his return, burying Van Arkel’s centering feed from the right-wing corner to make it 1-1 at the 11:54 mark.
Wichita Falls took the lead as the period wound down thanks to a quick transition and a fortunate bounce. After the Jackalopes had cleared the zone, Andrew Kerr restarted the attack immediately, playing a simple pass up to Bauman at the offensive blue line. Bauman touched it along to Junda, whose shot ticked off the glove of Eric Hancock, and flipped into the net. The goal marked Junda’s eighth tally of the season, tying last year’s total.
Odessa needed less than 30 seconds to knot the affair however, with Razmuz Waxin-Engback feeding an inch-perfect pass from the left-wing wall to Alex Alger crashing the crease, who directrf it home to make it 2-2 at 17:27 of the first.
The second period saw the Wildcats race out to a 5-2 lead in the first half of the frame, before Odessa scored twice late to make it 5-4.
Rudy Junda picked up his second goal of the night to make it 3-2, cleaning up the rebound from Piazza’s well-placed shot for his second multi-goal game of the week. Next it was Townsend’s turn to get on the scoresheet. Bauman picked up the puck in the neutral zone and deked around two Jackalopes to get into open space in the slot, before passing to Townsend on his left to tap home to make it 4-2. Then Max Reisinger got involved in the action, picking up his sixth goal of the season to make it 5-2 out of a netmouth scramble.
The Jackalopes shrunk the deficit to 5-3 with a power play goal from Briand, who buried Ian Mansfield pass from the corner for his 10th goal of the season. Then, with time winding down in the frame, the Wildcats’ lead was cut to one as Waxin-Engback stuffed home a loose puck out of a pileup in front of the net with less than 30 seconds remaining.
Odessa carried that momentum into the third period and leveled the score on Andrew McLean’s breakaway goal at the 6:46 mark, but Wichita Falls regained control of the contest and eventually took the lead with less than seven minutes remaining.
Josh Haverstrom intercepted an attempted breakout pass at the offensive blue line and swooped into the zone, taking the puck wide to the right-wing wall. The speedy winger curled back towards the middle, before ripping a wrist shot to the far side to make it 6-5 at 13:11 of the third.
As the Jackalopes pressed hard for a responding tally, Zevnik saved his best for last, making a handful of remarkable pad saves to keep the Wildcats in the lead.
With time ticking away, Wichita Falls tacked on an insurance tally, as Will Vosejpka tucked the puck into an empty net to make it 7-5.
The Wildcats are next in action on Friday, Feb. 14 when they host the Topeka Roadrunners. Fans that cannot make it to the Kay Yeager Coliseum can catch all the action on FASTHockey.com, with an audio-only broadcast available on UStream.com.
NOTES: Rudy Junda’s multi-goal game was his second in three games this week, and third of the season…Will Vosejpka extended his point streak to four games with three points tonight; he has a 5-4–9 line in that span…Kyle Bauman also extended his point streak to four games (4-4–8); Bauman also now has a line of 11-12–23 in 17 career games against the Jackalopes.
Odessa – Leo Lumm (Mathieu Briand, Derek Brown) 10:30
Wichita Falls – Kyle Bauman (Rudy Junda, Kirk Van Arkel) 11:54
Wichita Falls – Rudy Junda (Kyle Bauman, Andrew Kerr) 17:11
Odessa – Alex Alger (Razmuz Waxin-Engback, Tate Sykes) 17:27
Wichita Falls – Rudy Junda (Sam Piazza, Will Vosejpka) 2:32
Wichita Falls – Jake Townsend (Kyle Bauman, Evan Okeley) 3:29
Wichita Falls – Max Reisinger (Kirk Van Arkel, Will Vosejpka) 6:47
Odessa – Mathieu Briand (power play) (Ian Mansfield, Chad Guderian) 10:11
Odessa – Razmuz Waxin-Engback (Lukas Laub, Alex Alger) 19:31
Odessa – Andrew McLean (Alex Alger, Razmuz Waxin-Engback) 6:46
Wichita Falls – Josh Haverstrom (unassisted) 13:11
Wichita Falls – Will Vosejpka (empty net) (Tyler Ledford, Matt Koch) 19:35