CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Kevin Charyszyn potted a pair on the power play, but it was not enough to keep the Wichita Falls Wildcats from stumbling to a 7-4 defeat to the Corpus Christi IceRays at the AmericanBank Center on Thursday night.
Evan Okeley had a goal and an assist in the contest, Austin Albrecht also scored his first-career goal and Nick Farmer registered an assist to extend his point-streak to a team-best five games in the loss.
The first frame played out evenly but the Wildcats found the back of the net first, and did so after almost conceding at their own end.
With the ‘Cats’ power play unit on, Corpus Christi’s Connor Kelly raced away on a shorthanded break. He faked forehand and tried to stuff a backhand home, but Austin Shaw kicked out his right pad to deny him. Wichita Falls wasted no time transitioning to attack, as Matt Koch hit Okeley on a stretch pass out of the zone. Okeley skated down the right-wing wall and circled the net, before finding Charyszyn alone in front to snipe home for his eighth tally of the year.
The IceRays responded a few minutes later though, as Anthony Cortese’s effort from the blue line snuck past Shaw to make it 1-1 at the 16:44 mark of the frame.
Corpus Christi controlled the start of the second stanza, and before the Wildcats knew what hit them, they were down 5-1.
First, Nathan Bryer and Mason Krueger scored 14 seconds apart to make it 3-1. Ryan Cusin then finished off a well-worked odd-man rush for the IceRays to make it 4-1, before Nic Laburn swatted a puck out of mid-air and past Shaw to make it 5-1 on the power play.
The Wildcats did not go away quietly however, and tacked on a pair of tallies from Charyszyn and Okeley before the end of the frame.
With Wichita Falls on the power play, a bad-angle look by Nick Farmer was knocked to the back wall. Charyszyn picked up the puck as it caromed towards the net, stickhandled, and stuffed the puck five-hole on Andrew Lindgren to make it 5-2.
Then, with time winding down in the second, the Wildcats pulled one closer after Okeley rushed down the right side, cut towards the middle at the faceoff dot and roofed a shot to make it 5-3 at 19:51 of the frame on his fourth tally of the year.
The Wildcats created a great chance to pull even closer at the start of the third, as Okeley found Max Reisinger all alone in the slot, but Reisinger’s shot was smothered on a remarkable glove save by Lindgren to keep it 5-3.
Corpus Christi tacked on an insurance tally a few minutes later, as Connor Bucsis found the back of the net after a defensive zone turnover by the Wildcats.
Albrecht would score a consolation goal for Wichita Falls at 12:33 of the third, but the ‘Rays then tacked on an empty-net goal to complete the scoring at 7-4.
The Wildcats and IceRays will meet again on Friday at the American Bank Center to conclude their two-game set. Puck drop is slated for 7:05 p.m., with video coverage available on FASTHockey.com and an audio-only broadcast available via YouTube.
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Wichita Falls – Kevin Charyszyn (power play) (Evan Okeley, Matt Koch) 13:37
Corpus Christi – Anthony Cortese (Logan Gestro, Mason Kreuger) 16:44
Corpus Christi – Nathan Bryer (Nic Laburn, Nate Colwell) 5:27
Corpus Christi – Mason Kreuger (Joe Chitwood) 5:41
Corpus Christi – Ryan Cusin (Wes Michaud, Tanner Lomsnes) 11:13
Corpus Christi – Nic Laburn (power play) (Anthony Cortese, Wes Michaud) 12:39
Wichita Falls – Kevin Charyszyn (power play) (Nick Farmer, Nikita Litviak) 16:14
Wichita Falls – Evan Okeley (Turk Scatliff) 19:51
Corpus Christi – Connor Bucsis (Wes Michaud, Joe Chitwood) 3:24
Wichita Falls – Austin Albrecht (Cam Knight) 12:33
Corpus Christi – Nic Laburn (empty net) (Connor Kelly, Wes Michaud) 18:55