(Photo: Troy Young)
BLAINE, Minn. – Alex Falconer scored in overtime and Evan Okeley potted a pair of goals to help the Wichita Falls Wildcats claim a comeback victory over the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, 6-5, on Wednesday at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, Minn.
Cam Knight and Paul Soubry each notched their first-career goals in the contest, and Nick Farmer tallied his first goal of the season, while Colin Staub registered a pair of assists. Shane Kuzmeski, Cole Nichols, Wilson Vershayand Austin Bealieu also picked up a helper for their first points with the Wildcats, with David Zevnik stopping all 14 shots faced to claim the win in relief.
Fairbanks opened the contest in control, outshooting the Wildcats heavily in the early stages, and the Ice Dogs made the pressure pay before too long. Jesper Ohrvall scored twice in the span of three minutes to give Fairbanks a 2-0 lead, with the goals standing as Ohrvall’s fifth and sixth tally through the first three games of the season.
The Wildcats clawed their way back into the contest as the period wound to a close however, thanks to a power play tally from Farmer.
The veteran forward took a pass in the neutral zone from Knight and galloped into the offensive zone from the right-wing wall. Farmer skated towards the left-wing face-off circle, before spinning around and sneaking a shot through the five-hole of the Ice Dogs’ netminder for his first goal of the season.
Wichita Falls carried that momentum into the second stanza, potting two goals in quick succession to take the lead.
First, Soubry picked up his first-career goal, deflecting a blue-line effort home from the slot. Vershay and Nichols received credit for assists on the play, marking the first points of their respective careers.
Just over a minute later the ‘Cats had the lead, as Knight wired a wrist shot through traffic on the power play to make it 3-2. It was Knight’s first goal of his career, with Beaulieu picking up an assist on the play for the first point of his career.
The lead was short-lived however, as Fairbanks tallied three goals before the end of the frame. Cayden Cahill tied things up at three, before Jacob Hetz and John Teets scored 33 seconds apart to take the score-line to 5-3.
A goaltending change for Wichita Falls to start the frame gave the ‘Cats life entering the third, and Okeley took over the game from there.
Five minutes into the frame, Nikita Litviak and Staub combined to work the puck down low in the offensive zone as Okeley ghosted into the zone unmarked. Litviak’s feed from the behind the cage hit Okeley on the tape, and the forward did the rest, burying his shot for his first tally of the year to make it 5-4.
After the ‘Cats killed off two consecutive penalties, they continued to pile up chances in the offensive zone, and Okeley was in the right spot at the right time to turn home a puck from close range.
A broken play sent a loose disc skittering across the slot. With a bevy of defenders around him, Okeley was the quickest to react, as he jabbed the puck past Samuel Kany in the Fairbanks net to even the contest at five and send it to overtime.
Fairbanks never threatened in the extra session, and with half of the sudden-death period played, the Wildcats pounced on a chance to rush up the ice.
After taking a feed from Tommy Apap, Falconer skated down the right side and cut towards the top of the faceoff circle. His first shot was blocked, but the rebound caromed right to him for a follow-up chance that deflected off a body and fluttered over the should of Kany and dropped behind him into the net to give Wichita Falls the 6-5 victory.
The Wildcats are next in action on Thursday, when they tackle the Minnesota Magicians. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:45 p.m., with video coverage available on FASTHockey.com.
Stay updated on the latest team news and notes by connecting with the Wildcats on Facebook (WFWildcats), Twitter (@WFWildcats), Instagram (WFWildcats) and on YouTube (Wichita Falls Wildcats).
Fairbanks – Jesper Ohrvall (Chandler Madry) 6:30
Fairbanks – Jesper Ohrvall (power play) (Dalton Skelly, Jacob Hetz) 9:28
Wichita Falls – Nick Farmer (power play) (Cam Knight) 19:31
Wichita Falls – Paul Soubry (Cole Nichols, Wilson Vershay) 4:10
Wichita Falls – Cam Knight (power play) (Austin Beaulieu) 5:27
Fairbanks – Cayden Cahill (Caleb Schroer) 7:32
Fairbanks – Jacob Hetz (power play) (Jesper Ohrvall, Chandler Madry) 16:18
Fairbanks – John Teets (Robin Karlsson) 16:51
Wichita Falls – Evan Okeley (Nikita Litviak, Colin Staub) 5:03
Wichita Falls – Evan Okeley (Colin Staub, Shane Kuzmeski) 14:27
Wichita Falls – Alex Falconer (Tommy Apap) 2:28