Friday, 10.9.2015 / 9:42 pm CT
By Alex von Keudell
The Corpus Christi IceRays knew they had to bounce back against the Wildcats on Friday night after they were beaten 4-1 on Thursday. Instead, the Cats dominated the game from start to finish, defeating the Rays by a score of 7-1.
The scoring was opened by André Pison, who redirected a Max Reisinger one-timer on the power play. To say the Cats’ power play has been strong would be an understatement; they scored just seven seconds into the man-advantage. Aleksi Poikola would add his second goal of the season, blasting a one-timer past Corpus Christi goaltender Dryden McKay to give the Cats a 2-0 lead heading into the second period.
Just three and a half minutes into the second, Reisinger hit IceRay defenseman Trevor Heuser from behind and into the half boards, resulting in an injury to Heuser and a game misconduct for Reisinger. The Cats would have to finish the remainder of the game without their most veteran player, but they were completely unfazed.
Less than two minutes after Reisinger’s ejection, Poikola and Garrett Van Wyhe converged to notch the Cats’ second shorthanded goal of the season. Van Wyhe outfought the IceRay defender to the puck and set up Poikola in front of the Rays’ net. Poikola backhanded the puck off McKay’s pad and into the net, giving the Cats a 3-0 lead. About ten minutes later, Austin Albrecht found himself on a breakaway, courtesy of a beautifully placed neutral zone pass by Jeff Baum. Albrecht deked out McKay and slid the puck between his pads, giving the Cats a 4-0 lead.
The third period can be described as nothing but chaotic. Ryan Cusin finally got the Rays on the board, scoring high glove-side on Justin Kapelmaster who was otherwise perfect on the night. Minutes later, Ben Lown quelled what little momentum the Rays had gained with a glove-side snipe on McKay. That is the game turned into a free-for-all. Albrecht dropped the gloves with Adam Canepa of Corpus Christi, marking the first official fight of the Wildcats’ season. Both players landed a few good blows, but Albrecht ultimately got the better of Canepa and hauled him down to the ice.
With the game clearly out of reach and all the momentum favoring Wichita Falls, the Rays resorted to cheap shots and uncalled for tactics for the remainder of the third period. After colliding incidentally with Kapelmaster, Brad LeLievre slashed the Cats’ star goalkeeper in the back of the neck behind the play. LeLievre was given a spearing major and a game misconduct for the play, and will surely be suspended by the NAHL.
Several other undisciplined plays led to the Cats racking up a couple of 5-on-3 power play goals at the end of the game. Jacob Dalton scored the first and Nikita Litviak scored the second. By the end of the game, the Cats had outplayed, outscored, and outclassed the Corpus Christi IceRays. McKay made 18 saves for the Rays and Kapelmaster made 34 stops for the Cats.
The Wildcats’ next game will be at the KYC at 7:05 next Saturday night on October 16th. All tickets to the game are free.