Friday, 02.10.2017 / 11:18 pm CT
By Alex von Keudell
With affiliate goaltender George McBey making his Wildcats debut, the visiting Cats dropped a heartbreaking 4-3 shootout decision in Amarillo.
The Wildcats wasted no time setting the tone. Following back-to-back Amarillo icings, Isaac Kobienia spotted a loose puck off a carom and swatted it past Nikita Babintsev for his third goal of the season to give the Cats a 1-0 lead just 1:13 into the game.
A promising start to the night on the power play quickly took a sour turn for the Wildcats. A pass from the right circle to the blue line was intercepted by Amarillo’s Charlie Singerhouse, who found himself on a shorthanded breakaway before being hooked by Jonathan Waring. Singerhouse would score on the ensuing penalty shot to tie the game.
The Cats’ following power play would yield a better result. Ryan Burnett found the puck on his stick after a shot by Nick Rosa was blocked. Burnett twisted home a wrist shot to regain Wichita Falls’ lead heading into the first intermission.
Turnovers proved to be costly for the Wildcats early in the second period. Alex Truscott and Cole Lussier within two and a half minutes and made the Cats pay for mishandling the puck. The Bulls gained their first lead of the game 6:29 into the middle frame.
A lightning-like Wildcats power play struck again halfway through regulation. CJ Walker scooped up a rebound coughed up by Babintsev in front of his crease, and the 17-year-old rookie re-tied the game for Wichita Falls.
McBey and Babintsev shut the door for the third period as the teams went to a fifth straight overtime against each other. Babintsev was forced to make numerous superb saves, and the Bulls did all they could to hunker down and withstand the Cats’ onslaught. Wichita Falls outshot Amarillo 10-1 in sudden death overtime.
In the shootout, Singerhouse managed to sneak a backhand shot through McBey’s five-hole to give the Bulls the advantage. Seamus Donohue, CJ Walker, and Steven Tillie were all denied by Babintsev, and the Bulls escaped with a 4-3 victory.
Babintsev made 47 of a possible 50 saves for his 12th win of the season. McBey was handed the shootout defeat despite a valiant 44/47 save effort in his Wildcats debut. The Cats and Bulls will wrap up the series tomorrow night at the Amarillo Civic Center. Puck drops at 7:05 pm CT.