The first game of the showcase for the Wichita Falls Wildcats was a hard-fought one, as the ‘Cats and the Minot Minotauros grinded it out in a low-scoring game which would ultimately be decided by a power play goal supplemented by an empty-netter to give the ‘Cats their second win of the season.
The first period presented an outstanding scoring chance for Austin Martinsen of the Tauros, who found himself with the puck on his stick in the blue paint with ‘Cats goaltender Justin Kapelmaster down and out of the play. However, veteran center Erich Jaeger made an incredibly smart play by tripping Martinsen just before he could pull the trigger, leaving the ‘Cats to kill a penalty instead of surrendering a sure goal.
The Minot power play had quite a few good looks at Kapelmaster, but he and the ‘Cats penalty killers prevailed. Penalties by Minot’s Jack Murphy and Jared Brandt would yield no result for Wichita Falls, who also generated some scoring opportunities but they were all answered by Minot’s goalkeeper Lucas Murray.
The second period would provide no spark for either team, who were both stumped by Kapelmaster and Murray. Both penalty killing units were also spectacular, until lightning finally struck.
After the 'Cats had just killed a penalty of their own, Jacob Dalton found an opening in the nearly impenetrable Minot defense. He fired a snap shot from the high slot, which deflected past Murray to break the ice with just a dozen seconds remaining on the ‘Cats’ fourth power play.
From that point on, Justin Kapelmaster stole the show. He made 11 stops in the third period and a whopping 31 on the night to earn his first shutout as a Wildcat shortly after Adam Goodsir netted an empty-net goal from center ice. Goodsir’s parents were in the audience to witness the newly-turned 17-year-old’s team-leading third goal of the year.
The ‘Cats play tomorrow afternoon at 4 pm CT on Rink 1 at the Schwan Super Rink for their second game of the showcase. They will battle it out with the Coulee Region Chill, who defeated the Amarillo Bulls by a score of 3-2 this evening.