Friday, 11.18.2016 / 10:14 pm CT
By Alex von Keudell / Photo: Tracey Koby
Mayhem unfolded at Kay Yeager Coliseum on Friday night, as the Wildcats fell 8-7 at the hands of the Topeka RoadRunners.
It had been a while since the Wildcats conceded a goal right at the start of a game. The last time Wichita Falls fell behind within the first three minutes of a game was against the Shreveport Mudbugs on October 15th. However, just 1:42 into Friday night’s contest, Topeka defenseman Jay Keranen ripped a wrist shot from the right circle and beat Evan Moyse blocker-side for his first goal as a RoadRunner to give his team a 1-0 lead.
Steven Tillie and his line went to work and responded less than two minutes later, grinding down the Runners in their own end before Tillie buried his fifth goal of the season out of a goal-mouth scramble to level the score. After a lackluster Wildcats power play fell silent halfway through the opening period, John DeRoche scored for Topeka after the Cats turned the puck over in their own zone. Matt Hanewall nearly tied the game back up on a penalty shot, but Ryan Snowden stood tall.
The second period proved to be the Wildcats’ undoing on Friday night. Unanswered goals scored by DeRoche, Max Harper, Alex Frye and Marcus Russell ended Moyse’s night and put the Cats down 6-1 late in the second and caused fans to begin heading for the exits. With 22 seconds to go in the middle frame, Blake Ripley charged down the left wing and wristed a heavy shot low on the blocker side of Snowden to give the winger his second point of the night. His goal sparked some life in the building and into his team entering the second intermission.
The third period can be accurately summarized by only one word: pandemonium. Heading into the final frame trailing 6-2, the Cats had a mountain to climb. Poikola scored 3:10 into the third to cut the deficit to three. After Wichita Falls dropped another power play, CJ Regula and Steven Tillie each scored within 11 seconds of each other to cut to within a goal with plenty of time remaining.
DeRoche tallied a hat trick 15:25 into the period to give Topeka a 7-5 lead. The next two minutes saw three different swings in momentum. Ryan Orgel scored for Wichita Falls, Marshall Bowery scored for Topeka, and Ryan Burnett scored again for Wichita Falls.
Scoring three times to cut the deficit to just a single goal, the Cats had two and a half minutes to find a way to tie the game trailing 8-7, and went to a late power play. With Peyton Frantti serving a hooking penalty, the Cats pulled Jared Dempsey and went with six attackers, but just couldn’t find the elusive tie to force overtime, and fell by an 8-7 final. Snowden earned the victory while Moyse was charged with the defeat. The Cats and Runners will close out this tumultuous series on Saturday night at Kay Yeager Coliseum. Puck drops at 7:05 pm CT.