(Photo: Troy Young)
WICHITA FALLS, Texas – Ben Kucera scored twice for the Wichita Falls Wildcats (30-21-4), but a three-goal third period carried Kenai River to a 5-3 win at the Kay Yeager Coliseum on Saturday.
The Wildcats came out of the gate with a head full of steam, recording the first three shots of the contest, but a giveaway gifted the Brown Bears a scoring chance. Matt Koch threw the puck blindly towards the middle of his own blue line right onto the stick of Albin Karlsson, whose wrist shot found the top corner to make it 1-0 at the 2:54 mark of the period.
Kenai River doubled its lead late in the first frame after Wichita Falls got into penalty trouble. With the Brown Bears enjoying a five-on-three power play, Gustav Berglund snuck a shot from the point that beat a screened David Zevnik to make it 2-0 at 16:01 of the first.
Wichita Falls wasted no time getting back into the game in the second period, using a pair of quick-fire strikes to knot the score less than three minutes into the period.
First, Will Vosejpka picked up his 18th tally of the season, as he rifled a shot from the left circle past Kris Oldham after Rudy Junda worked the puck free behind the net. Less than a minute later, Kucera leveled the affair when he cleaned up the rebound on Koch’s bad-angle shot from the left-wing wall.
Kucera was not done there however. With time winding down in the second stanza, Tyler Ledford gained control of the puck below the goal line and passed to a wide-open Todd Koritzinsky in the slot. Koritzinsky held on a shot, and fed a pass to Kucera camped out at the right post, who settled the puck and roofed his effort to make it 3-2 Wildcats.
In the third, Kenai River regained the upper hand, tying the contest and taking the lead in quick succession early in the final frame. Matt Rudin and Ben Campbell scored less than three minutes apart to make it 4-3. Zack Zulcanycz then added a fifth for the Brown Bears, banking his effort off Chase Munroe to make it 5-3, which is how the game would end.
The Wildcats are next in action when they travel to Amarillo to take on the Bulls on Friday, March 21. Video coverage will be available on FASTHockey.com, with an audio-only broadcast accessible via UStream.com. Fans may also follow the Wildcats on Twitter (@WFWildcats) for in-game score updates.
Kenai River – Albin Karlsson (Alec Butcher) 2:54
Kenai River – Gustav Berglund (power play) (Albin Karlsson) 16:01
Wichita Falls – Will Vosejpka (Rudy Junda) 1:53
Wichita Falls – Ben Kucera (Matt Koch) 2:37
Wichita Falls – Ben Kucera (Todd Koritzinsky, Tyler Ledford) 18:28
Kenai River – Matt Rudin (Tommy Dierl, Jack Gessert) 1:09
Kenai River – Ben Campbell (Albin Karlsson, Alec Butcher) 3:49
Kenai River – Zack Zulkanycz (unassisted) 8:40