Friday, 01.27.2017 / 10:21 pm CT
By Alex von Keudell / Photo: Tracey Koby
Playing in Shreveport for the first time in franchise history, the Wildcats cruised to a 5-1 stomping of the Mudbugs to snap their four-game losing streak.
Both goaltenders made a clear statement in the opening segments of the game. Evan Moyse of the Wildcats and John Roberts of the Mudbugs were both at their best in the first 20 minutes of play, stopping 10 and 11 shots, respectively.
Two power plays were fought off on each side by strong goaltending and smart defensive reads. Blake Ripley nearly had a breakaway late in the first frame, but Roberts aggressively swept the puck away from the winger before he caught up to it.
After a controversial hit was delivered on Seamus Donohue by Frankie Melton, the Wildcats Co-Captain dropped the gloves and fought Shreveport’s leading scorer. Donohue delivered multiple blows to Melton’s back before being pushed off-balance and onto the ice. Both teams would be forced to play without their superstars for fifteen minutes in the second period.
The Wildcats’ offense exploded for three goals in the second period. After killing off an extended Mudbugs’ surge early on, Jeff Skinner gave Matt Hanewall a beautiful stretch pass through the neutral zone. Hanewall had a clear lane to the net, and he managed to rip a shot inside the left post to beat Roberts on the blocker-side and score his first goal as a Wildcat.
Blake Ripley would show persistence and double the Cats’ lead a dozen minutes later. After having his stick lifted in the slot, the winger stayed with the puck and rifled home his eighth goal of the season on the second effort. Fees would tack home his third goal of the season to end the middle period after Wyatt Mathews’ initial shot was stopped, and Fees pounced on the rebound.
C.J. Walker buried his sixth goal of the season just a minute into the closing period, thereby ending Roberts’ evening as Shreveport replaced him with Dylan Lubbesmeyer. It did not take long for the Wildcats to shake him up.
Ilya Skvortsov fed Hanewall a pass in front of the net with a no-look centering feed from below the goal line. Hanewall tucked home his second goal of the night to give the Cats a 5-0 lead. Andrew Lane finally solved Moyse and gave Shreveport some life with a goal off a faceoff win 5:11 into the third. His first Mudbugs goal, however, was too little, too late.
The wheels came off shortly thereafter. Seventy-six total penalty minutes were handed out following Lane’s goal. Ricky Carballo fought Dominick Procopio, while Seamus Donohue and CJ Walker were given offsetting unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. A scrappy end to the one-sided affair set the stage for an enticing end to the series tomorrow night.
Moyse played an outstanding game for the Wildcats, falling just shy of his first shutout in a 34/35 save night. Roberts was charged with his eighth regulation defeat, stopping 28 of 32. Lubbesmeyer was 15/16 in relief. The Wildcats and Mudbugs will close out the series at George’s Pond tomorrow night. Puck drops at 7:11 pm CT.