Thursday, 11.17.2016 / 9:47 pm CT
By Alex von Keudell / Photo: Tracey Koby
The Cats prolonged their win streak to five games on Thursday night against the Topeka RoadRunners and skated to a 2-1 victory.
Heading into their season’s first game against Topeka, the Cats were 0-2 in Thursday night contests. However, under the tutelage of Interim Head Coach Josh Nelson, the Wildcats flourished in all three zones to start the game.
Despite heading to the penalty box twice in the opening frame, the Cats outshot their opponents 13-8. Jared Dempsey was strong in net to start his second game in a Wildcats uniform, fighting off all eight Topeka shots in the first 20 minutes. At the 6:39 mark of the game late on their first power play, Nick Rosa gave Ricky Carballo a perfect cross-crease pass for the Texan to just tuck home for his sixth goal of the season to give the Cats a 1-0 lead.
The second period brought more of the same domination by the Wildcats, who surged all over the RoadRunner zone in an effort to double their lead. Early on in the middle frame, Rosa was kneed by Topeka’s Matt Barnes, who was given a five minute major penalty. Though they generated a plethora of scoring chances, the Wildcats were silenced by Snowden on their extended man-advantage.
The red-and-black kept their heads up after dropping a very lengthy power play, and scored just a few minutes later. Carballo scored his second of the night after a shot from the blue line by Jonathan Waring caromed off the backboards and right into Carballo’s wheelhouse. The Keller, TX native tallied his seventh goal of the season, tying Ryan Burnett for the team lead.
The RoadRunners picked up their play tremendously in the third period, looking like an entirely different team. They put the pressure on Dempsey to keep his team in front, and 6:32 into the final period, the Topeka captain struck. Marshall Bowery scooped up a loose puck in the blue paint and shoveled a powerful backhand shot into the net to end Dempsey’s shutout bid. Despite buzzing for the tying goal in the late stages and getting a brief 6-on-3 man advantage, the Runners could not capitalize and the Cats escaped with the 2-1 triumph.
Both goaltenders had strong games. Dempsey improved to 2-0 as a Wildcat, stopping 29 of 30 shots. Snowden played valiantly in his fifth regulation defeat, making 49 of a possible 51 saves. The NAHL’s longest standing rivals will rematch on Friday night in Game 2 of a three game series at Kay Yeager Coliseum.