(Photo: Troy Young)
WICHITA FALLS, Texas – A late goal by Cam Knight helped the Wichita Falls Wildcats (31-12-1) earn a point, but it was not enough to keep the Lone Star Brahmas (30-10-7) from claiming a 4-3 victory in a shootout at the Kay Yeager Coliseum on Wednesday night.
Nikita Litviak picked up three points on a goal and two assists, while Staub also scored for Wichita Falls. Austin Beaulieu, Jake Townsend and Austin Azzinnaro chipped in with an assist apiece, while David Zevnik made 26 saves on 29 shots in the losing effort.
After the two teams traded spurts of offensive-zone possession through the first few minutes of the game, Wichita Falls found the net first following a faceoff win in the defensive zone.
With the draw to the left of Zevnik, Staub pulled the disc back to Litviak, who skated to the blue line and lofted it down the ice. Beaulieu raced to negate the icing and, after beating everyone to the puck at the end line, he played a blind backhand pass in front, where Staub roofed it under the cross as he crashed the crease to make it 1-0 at the 9:45 mark of the frame.
The ‘Cats opened the second period by killing of carry-over time in a tripping penalty to Litviak, but Lone Star capitalized on a power play later in the frame to tie the affair.
Austin Albrecht was assessed a five-minute major and game misconduct for head contact at 9:13 of the period. After two minutes of four-on-four play, the Brahmas went on a three-minute power play and tied the game on Liam Stirtzinger’s goal with 14 seconds remaining in the man advantage.
The Brahmas took their first lead of the contest early in the third when Alexey Solovyev snuck a shot from the point through traffic to push the score to 2-1. Later in the frame, Lone Star expanded its lead on the power play when Anton Santesson’s shot squeaked through Zevnik, making it 3-1.
Wichita Falls came roaring back immediately after, and cut into the deficit just over a minute later before finding a tying goal in the dying stages of the game.
First, Litviak got the red-and-black within one at 10:59 of the third when he spun in the slot and hammered a loose puck into the top corner for his eighth goal of the season.
The ‘Cats then tied the game with barely a minute remaining on Knight’s eighth of the season. With Zevnik coming to the bench for an extra attacker, Knight sprinted over the boards and raced to join the play in the offensive zone where the puck was trickling towards the middle of the blue line. Knight wound up and blasted a one-timer in full stride, pounding the puck through traffic and past Jake Kupsky to tie the game at three apiece.
The game then headed to overtime, and after Lone Star hit the post in the dying seconds of the extra frame, the contest moved to a shootout.
The red-and-black were unable to replicate their previous success in the skills competition though, as all four attempts were denied by Kupsky, while Solovyev and Santesson scored for the Brahmas to give Lone Star the 4-3 win.
The Wildcats are next in action when they travel to the Texas Panhandle on Friday, Feb. 20 to open a two-game set against the Amarillo Bulls. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. in both contests. Fans that cannot make it to the game may follow all the action on FASTHockey.com, with an audio-only broadcast available via YouTube.
Single-game tickets for the 2014-15 Wildcats season are on sale now at the Kay Yeager Coliseum box office. 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).
Wichita Falls – Colin Staub (Austin Beaulieu, Nikita Litviak) 9:45
Lone Star – Liam Stirtzinger (Anton Santesson) 14:00
Lone Star – Alexey Solovyev (unassisted) 3:53
Lone Star – Anton Santesson (power play) (Sebastian Vidmar, Ludvig Larsson) 9:55
Wichita Falls – Nikita Litviak (Jake Townsend, Austin Azzinnaro) 10:59
Wichita Falls – Cam Knight (Nikita Litviak) 18:53