(Photo: Troy Young)
The Wildcats opened the 11th annual North American Hockey League Showcase with a dramatic overtime victory, as they beat the Minnesota Magicians, 4-3.
Kyle Bauman scored the game-winning tally in the extra frame and also had an assist, while Tyler Ledford and Evan Okeley both had two assists in the game.
The Wildcats got off to a fast start in the first period, scoring just over two minutes into the contest. Rudy Junda received a pass from Okeley and turned to put a shot on net. His first effort was blocked, but Junda fought through a heavy backcheck to get a second effort on goal and the puck eventually fluttered into the back of the net to give Wichita Falls a 1-0 lead.
Eight minutes later, the Wildcats made it 2-0 via the man-advantage. With Tony Uglem in the box for a holding call, Bauman played the puck to Sam Piazza at the blue line. Piazza’s one-time effort was saved, but Josh Haverstrom was in front of the net to clean up the rebound for his first goal in a Wildcat sweater.
The Magicians answered back in the second period, scoring two unanswered goals to tie the game at 2-2. Mario Bianchi scored on a partial breakaway fresh off the bench to make it 2-1 just after a Wildcats’ power play had expired. A few minutes later, Jordan Stejskal forced a turnover in the Wildcats’ defensive zone before feeding to Tony Uglem, who put his shot just under the bar to make it 2-2.
In the third period, Wichita Falls took an early lead thanks to Jake Townsend’s second goal of the season, as he wristed a perfectly-placed shot into the top corner to make it 3-2.
Minnesota kept fight however, and eventually tied the contest at three thanks to Will Johnson’s goal out of a goalmouth scramble with less than five minutes remaining.
Both teams had chances to win it in regulation, but nothing found the back of the net so the game headed to overtime.
In the extra session, the Magicians had a great chance to win the game as Matt Colford hit the post to Chase Munroe’s right. Bauman then picked up the loose puck in his own defensive zone and rushed the length of the ice, putting a backhanded-effort through Bryan Nies’ five-hole to give Wichita Falls the win.
The Wildcats are back in action on Thursday morning, when they tangle with the Brookings Blizzard. Puck drop is scheduled for 10:30 a.m.
Wichita Falls – Rudy Junda (Evan Okeley, Tyler Ledford) 2:09
Wichita Falls – Josh Haverstrom (power play) (Sam Piazza, Kyle Bauman) 10:47
MN Magicians – Mario Bianchi (unassisted) 5:26
MN Magicians – Tony Uglem (Jordan Stejskal) 11:51
Wichita Falls – Jake Townsend (Tyler Ledford, Evan Okeley) 3:02
MN Magicians – Will Johnson (Matt Colford) 15:08
Wichita Falls – Kyle Bauman (unassisted) 4:07