(Photo: Cody Wooten)
AMARILLO, Texas – Nikita Litviak turned in his second-straight multi-point outing, but it was not enough to prevent the Wichita Falls Wildcats (31-13-1) from losing to the Amarillo Bulls (19-24-4), 7-3, at the Amarillo Civic Center on Friday night.
Litviak registered a goal and an assist to stretch his point-streak to a career-best five games, while Austin Beaulieu and Austin Azzinnaro also found the net for the ‘Cats. Colin Staub, Nick Farmer and Erich Jaeger chipped in with assists, while Austin Shaw made 34 saves in the loss.
The first period saw three goals in 90 seconds between the two sides, with Wichita Falls scoring the first two, before Amarillo pulled one back in short order.
Beaulieu was first to find the net, and he did so off a broken play. After a Bulls skater lost the puck in the defensive zone, Litiviak picked up the loose disc and dropped it into space for Beaulieu to skate onto. From just inside the right-wing circle, Beaulieu picked his spot and unleashed a quick wrist-shot into the top corner to make it 1-0 on his 19th tally of the season.
Azzinnaro doubled the lead just 35 seconds later after he ghosted down the middle of the zone and planted himself at the top of the crease while Farmer played the puck to Jaeger behind the net. Jaeger then played a quick one-touch pass in front for Azzinnaro to pound home for his second of the year.
Amarillo cut into the deficit 45 seconds later, as Riley Christensen swept home a rebound following a shot from the blue line to send the teams into the locker room with the score at 2-1.
The Bulls tied the game early in the second period on a power play goal by Will Harrison, but the red-and-black reclaimed the lead when Litviak pounded home the rebound of Staub’s shot to make it 3-2 at 5:12 of the second.
Amarillo controlled from that point on however, as the Bulls posted four-unanswered goals to take a 6-3 lead into the locker room.
First, Joe Leonidas tied the contest at three apiece with a shot from inside the blue line. Next, Charlie Combs gave the Bulls their first lead off the night when he swatted a loose puck home in close after an effort from the point.
Combs was not done there though, as he picked up Amarillo’s second power-play tally of the night at 14:22 of the second. Then, with time winding down in the period, Joey DiBenedetto pushed the Bulls’ lead to 6-3 late in the frame by flipping a loose puck over a sprawled-out David Zevnik, who had relieved Shaw.
In the third, the Wildcats could not gain much traction in the offensive zone despite their best efforts, as Farmer and Jaeger spurned chances from in close, while Amarillo tacked onto its lead with a five-on-three goal from Luke Novak, as the game finished 7-3.
The Wildcats and Bulls return to the ice on Saturday to conclude their two-game set, with puck drop slated for 7:05 p.m. at the Amarillo Civic Center. 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 – Austin Beaulieu (Nikita Litviak) 6:50
Wichita Falls – Austin Azzinnaro (Erich Jaeger, Nick Farmer) 7:25
Amarillo – Riley Christensen (Kyle Hartman, Trent Dillinger) 8:10
Amarillo – Will Harrison (power play) (Luke Novak, Tristan Rostagno) 4:11
Wichita Falls – Nikita Litviak (Colin Staub) 5:12
Amarillo – Joe Leonidas (Joey DiBenedetto, AJ Duggan) 8:31
Amarillo – Charlie Combs (Ben Jentsch) 10:21
Amarillo – Charlie Combs (power play) (Luke Novak, New Player) 14:22
Amarillo – Joey DiBenedetto (Ben Jentsch, Charlie Combs) 18:37
Amarillo – Luke Novak (power play) (Will Harrison, Charlie Combs) 7:46