Saturday, 11.26.2016 / 10:06 pm CT
By Alex von Keudell / Photo: Troy Young
The Wildcats ended their last home game of 2016 in overtime Saturday night, ousting the Odessa Jackalopes by a 4-3 final.
No side dominated the start of the game the way the Wildcats dominated the first handful of shifts on Friday night. The first period was evenly played, with both teams exchanging even scoring chances and goals.
A red-hot C.J. Walker opened the scoring 17:06 into the game after driving the net from the right wing and backhanding a shot past Jon Flakne. It only took Odessa 110 seconds to respond. Trevor Zenas crashed the net and sniped a shot high blocker-side on Jared Dempsey to level the score heading into the first intermission.
Nick Rosa scored his first goal of the 2016-2017 season after a shot from Burnett was stopped by Flakne, then bounced off Rosa and into the net. Since returning, Rosa has scored at nearly a point-per-game pace, tallying a goal and five assists through seven games this season.
At 13:30 of the second period, the Jackalopes took full advantage of a 3-on-1 break. Dom Cypas was caught flatfooted, leaving Roman Kinal the lone Wildcat to defend the Odessa rush. Chris Donaldson gave a cross-crease pass to Connor Wood, who tapped the puck into Zach Heintz’s wheelhouse. Heintz slammed home his fifth goal of the season to cap off a perfectly executed play and tie the game 2-2.
An unorthodox goal was scored by the Jacks five minutes into period three. Zach Zech tossed the puck to Noah Poindexter who was left uncontested in the Wildcats slot. It deflected off of Poindexter’s skate and past the left pad of Dempsey to give Odessa its first lead of the game.
With fatigue beginning to set in for the Wildcats, the KYC faithful grew nervous with their team trailing in period three. However, the Cats drew back-to-back penalties, went onto a 5-on-3 power play, failed to convert, and found an opening just as the Jackalopes returned to full strength.
Aleksi Poikola spotted Jonathan Bendorf wide open across the slot, and fed him a beautiful circle-to-circle pass. The RPI commit Bendorf ripped a one-timer past Flakne for his team-leading fourth power play goal of the season, tying the game 3-3.
A controversial hooking call against Odessa to end regulation gave the Cats a late power play with which to work. Though it fell flat to end regulation, they would come through on the 4-on-3 in sudden death overtime.
Ilya Skvortsov slap-passed the puck to Seamus Donohue from the right circle to the crease, and the Wichita Falls Captain tucked home his team-leading third game-winning goal of the season to give the Wildcats their fourth straight win.
Dempsey stopped 31 of 34 in his seventh victory of the season, while Flakne halted 36 of 40 in his first overtime loss. The Wildcats will play the Corpus Christi IceRays at the American Bank Center on Thursday, December 1st to kick off a month-long stretch of road games.