Saturday, 03.11.2017 / 10:04 pm CT
By Alex von Keudell / Photo: Tracey Koby
Looking to become the first team since December 4th to sweep the Corpus Christi IceRays, the Wildcats coughed up a tenuous third period lead and fell 2-1 to close their three-game home stand.
The Cats had another very strong start to the game, dominating the first five minutes of play. Just 3:09 into the contest, Roman Kinal ripped a slap shot from the left point off the pad of Tomáš Vomáčka. A rebound popped right to Matt Hanewall at the bottom of the left circle, where he backhanded the puck past Vomáčka’s blocker and into the net. Hanewall’s goal was his second in as many nights.
The IceRays would respond by outskating and outshooting the Wildcats for the remainder of the first period. Fortunately for Wichita Falls, goaltender Jared Dempsey, playing in his first game after committing to Army West Point, stood tall and made 18 saves in the opening frame.
Second periods have been kind to the Wildcats over the three-game series, and Saturday night was no exception. They tipped the scales and leveled the shots on goal, outshooting Corpus Christi 13-7 in the middle frame. However, they did not manage to solve Vomáčka.
Both teams had numerous power play opportunities. The IceRays had a 58-second 5-on-3, but they failed to convert as a red-hot Wildcats penalty kill shut the door. Then, the Cats would go to back-to-back power plays and were also unsuccessful in connecting.
For the fourth straight game, the IceRays controlled the tempo in the third period. They put nine consecutive shots on net before the Cats responded with one of their own. Finally, at 44:59, the Rays came through.
Mason Krueger picked up a loose puck after a long shot from the blue line was fought off by Dempsey’s shoulder. The IceRays Captain picked his shot perfectly and fired the puck into the top corner of the net to tie the game.
Just a minute and a half later, Corpus Christi found another opening. Brendan Miller got a shot off on Dempsey from the goal line. The Cats’ net-minder sprawled out after making the save, and David Baskerville managed to sneak it past his outstretched left pad. All of a sudden, the IceRays had a 2-1 lead in the third period.
Despite turning the game around and registering some shots on goal, the Cats could not slip one past Vomáčka. The Czech goaltender made 12 third period saves, one of which was an extremely close call with six seconds remaining. The IceRays held on and snagged a 2-1 victory.
Playing in his first game of the series, Dempsey was charged with his 7th regulation defeat of the season despite making 35 of a possible 37 saves. Vomáčka was splendid in goal at the other end, going 36 of 37 and earning his 16th victory of the season. The Wildcats will travel to NYTEX Sports Centre next Friday to take on the first place Lone Star Brahmas. Puck drops at 7:30 pm CT.