Friday, 10.16.2015 / 9:53 pm CT
By Alex von Keudell
The Wichita Falls Wildcats had an enormous crowd to impress at the Kay Yeager Coliseum on Friday night, as they took down the Odessa Jackalopes by a score of 6-4.
The 4,000-plus in attendance were silenced just 19 seconds into the game, as Matthew Rypien caught the Cats sleeping and scored his first goal as a Jackalope to open the scoring. However, it did not take long for the Cats to respond. After a lengthy offensive-zone surge, Nikita Litviak knocked the puck past Odessa goaltender Gunner Rivers out of a net-mouth scramble to level the score for Wichita Falls. Ryan Burnett would also score his first goal as a Wildcat, giving the Cats their first lead of the game. Three minutes afterward, Jonny Lazarus tallied a power play goal, prolonging a red-hot power play streak for the Cats.
After three unanswered goals, the Jacks finally came through with a power play goal of their own. Odessa defenseman Andrew McLean led the rush into the zone and buried the puck off a loose rebound conceded by Wildcat goaltender Julian Sime. The first period would end with the Cats leading the Jacks 3-2.
Austin Albrecht would score two goals in the middle frame, one of which was a penalty shot in which he utilized his go-to move on breakaways, in which he gets the goalkeeper moving side-to-side and slips the puck through his five-hole. However, the Jacks would once again earn some momentum for themselves at the end of a period, as Zach Zech and Carter Wade found themselves on a 2-on-0 rush. Zech slid the puck across the crease, and all Wade had to do was tap it past a sprawling Sime. The goal would be Wade’s first as a Jackalope.
The third period began strongly for the Jacks, as Ryan MacKellar managed to sneak the puck past Sime’s pad from in behind the net. The Jacks had cut the Wildcats lead to a delicate one-goal margin. After playing nearly an entire period with a one-goal lead, Litviak would finally add an insurance goal for the Cats, in which he outfought three Jackalopes to the net and slipped the puck past Rivers on the backhand to ice the game for the Wildcats.
Rivers stopped 33 of the 39 shots he faced, while Sime stopped 21 of 25. Rivers would get his first loss on the season, while Sime would get his second win.
The Cats improved to an impressive 8-1-1 record with the win, and the Jacks fell to 5-4 with the loss. The Wildcats and Jackalopes meet here at the KYC tomorrow night 7 pm CT to play the second game of a two game series at the Kay Yeager Coliseum.