The Wildcats got back on the right track this weekend as they took home two victories to close out their six-game homestand. On Friday, they held off the Odessa Jackalopes for a 4-2 win, then followed it up with a 5-1 final on Saturday.
A fast start propelled the Wildcats to a 4-2 victory on Friday. It all started in the first period as Conor O’Neil picked up his first shorthanded goal, as he came in around the Odessa defense, and slid the puck low and hard past Odessa netminder Nick Deery for a 1-0 lead. Just six minutes into the second, it was the other special teams unit capitalizing, as Tyler Ledford scored a powerplay goal for a 2-0 lead. Only 39 seconds later, O’Neil scored again for a 3-0 lead.
Odessa got on the board midway through the period, ending Evan Cowley’s shutout bid at the nine-minute mark as Corey Hoffman tapped a puck home for a 3-1 game. But the Wildcats got it back late in the second, as George Pagonis scored a goal to go with an earlier assist for a 4-1 game.
The Jackalopes made it interesting late, as Brett Wagner scored a powerplay goal, cutting their deficit back to two goals with 2:16 left, but the ‘Cats defense held up late to carry a 4-2 win.
On Saturday, it was a crazy bounce that ended up as the eventual game-winner, as the Wildcats picked up a 5-1 win. Kyle Bauman opened the scoring for the Wildcats, sending Eliot Grauer’s centering feed to the back of the net for a 1-0 lead less then five minutes in. As the opening period came to its final minute, a shot that looked more like something from a billiards trick shot contest gave the Wildcats a 2-0 edge. A Matt Robinson faceoff win went back to Jake Townsend, who then sent a pass across the blue line to Brian Leblanc. Leblanc fired off a shot that went off Odessa goalie Nick Majerle’s blocker, bounced off the glass behind him, off his back, and into the net. The goal was Leblanc’s first in the NAHL.
The Jackalopes got themselves to within a goal as Matt Volonnino scored early in the second, but the Wildcats picked themselves up and got it back 1:40 later, as Conor O’Neil’s hot streak continued, scoring his third of the weekend for a 3-1 game.
The recently-hot powerplay continued its streak in the third as Nick Farmer scored for a 4-1 lead 42 seconds into the third period. Tyler Ledford added a late one for good measure: Will Vosejpka lifted a puck skyward, gloved down by Colin Staub, and then tapped over to Ledford who slid it in for his second goal of the weekend.
The Wildcats get the Jackalopes three more times this season, the next one coming in Odessa on March 13.