Thursday, 10.8.2015 / 9:44 pm CT
By Alex von Keudell
The Wildcats and IceRays have experienced a number of hard-fought games in their history, and tonight was no exception. The game was tight-checking and yielded few scoring opportunities in the early going. It wasn’t until the 16th minute that someone was able to break the ice.
The Cats’ only veteran center, Erich Jaeger, found himself with the puck on his tape on a point-blank chance late on the power play. He didn’t have a whole lot of time, so all he could do was put the puck on his backhand and fire away. He did just that, perfectly placing the puck over the glove of IceRay goaltender Graham Hunt and into the top corner of the net. It was the two-way center’s first goal of the season.
The second period was equally desolate as far as scoring chances were concerned. Late in the middle frame, Cats winger Austin Albrecht was the culprit of a tripping penalty. The Rays were able to capitalize on their third man advantage of the night. Drake Lindsey fired a shot from the slot and it was redirected by Mason Krueger and right to Jimmy O’Brien, who had a slam dunk goal. O’Brien’s tally would be the only goal Justin Kapelmaster would concede.
Once again, the Cats dominated the third period of play. They outshot the opposition 11-4, and outscored them 3-0. Ben Lown prolonged his hot streak tonight, earning a scoring chance by using his speed and skating from his own zone all the way around the Corpus Christi net and into the slot, where he fired a wrist shot past Hunt for his second goal of the season. Kapelmaster was given an assist on the goal!
About five minutes later, Nikita Litviak made perhaps the best pass of the season. With two IceRay defenders between him and the streaking Garrett Van Wyhe, Litviak lofted the puck over the two Rays, and it landed in the deep slot in the Corpus Christi zone. Van Wyhe, arguably the fastest skater on the Cats, turned on the jets in pursuit of the loose puck, and had just enough time to take one chop at it. It worked its way through Hunt’s equipment and gave the Cats a 3-1 lead.
Erich Jaeger would follow with his second goal of the night, in which he used Albrecht as a decoy on a 2-on-1 to fire a shot high on the glove side of Hunt, adding another insurance goal for Wichita Falls. The Cats would skate to a 4-1 victory over the Rays, and would move into sole possession of first place in the South Division over the Topeka RoadRunners. Kapelmaster stopped 21 of the 22 shots thrown his way, and improved to a perfect 5-0-0 on the year.
The Cats play the Rays again tomorrow night here at the American Bank Center at 7:05 pm CT before heading back home to prepare for Pack the House night.