Saturday, 10.17.2015 / 10:03 pm CT
By Alex von Keudell
The Wildcats were on a four-game winning streak heading into Saturday night’s game, which would be the second game of the first series the Cats have had on home ice this season. They could not have asked for a better result, as they rallied late in the game to defeat the Jackalopes by a score of 2-1 and earn their second consecutive sweep.
Unlike Friday night’s game, which was a goal-scoring affair, Saturday’s showdown was close and it was low-scoring. Game Two consisted of far fewer mistakes, more responsible defensive play, and consequently steadier goaltending.
The Wildcats’ power play prolonged its hot streak once again tonight, as they tallied on their first man-advantage of the night. Nikita Litviak snuck the puck past the Odessa goaltender Dean Shatzer to open the scoring for the Cats about five minutes into the game. It would be the Russian winger’s third goal of the series, as he had been coming off a 1st Star performance from the prior night.
The Jackalopes would respond in the waning seconds of their first power play, which had struggled heading into Saturday night. Prior to the game, the Jacks had only converted on 12% of their extra-man opportunities, which was sixth from last in the NAHL. Eric Carreras would score the goal with just a dozen seconds remaining on the Odessa power play. His team-leading sixth goal of the season would tie the game late in the first period.
The second frame would be the only scoreless period of the series. Though no goals came from those 20 minutes of play, four penalties did. Litviak was the culprit of a slashing penalty, while Oliver Celec and Zach Zech found themselves guilty of tripping and slashing, respectively. Both penalty killing units, as well as goaltenders Shatzer and Justin Kapelmaster, did an outstanding job of shutting the door. Towards the end of the second, Erich Jaeger collided with Odessa defenseman Connor Stuart, resulting in head contact and a five minute major dealt to the veteran Wildcats center.
The Cats were outstanding on the extended penalty kill, conceding very few scoring opportunities. Throughout the third period they continued to build on the momentum they had gained from killing the lengthy penalty, until finally lightning struck. Off a long offensive surge put on by the Cats, center Nick Rosa managed to fire the puck past a red-hot Shatzer from the mid-slot, giving the Cats a 2-1 lead which they would protect en route to their fifth straight win.
Kapelmaster made 23 saves in the win, while Shatzer made 30 saves in the loss. The Cats travel to suburban Fort Worth next weekend to take on the 2nd place Lone Star Brahmas on Friday night.