Friday, 02.24.2017 / 9:48 pm CT
By Alex von Keudell / Photo: Tracey Koby
Looking to avenge themselves against the Amarillo Bulls, the Wildcats dominated their rivals from start to finish on Friday night and defeated them by a 3-0 score.
Wichita Falls opened the scoring 10:40 into the contest. Roman Kinal rifled a wrist shot from the left point which ripped through traffic and bounced flat behind Nikita Babintsev in the crease. Jeff Skinner hacked the puck into the gaping net for his 4th goal of the season to give the Cats a 1-0 lead.
Skinner’s first period did not go entirely smoothly. At 17:07, he was hit hard by Matt Nehls’ knee and had to be helped off the ice. Despite sustaining a hefty bruise above his knee, Skinner would return for period two. The Cats would go to a five-minute major power play as a result of the hit by Nehls, who was ejected from the contest.
Another dominant period was underway for the Cats, who outshot the Bulls 15-5 in the middle frame. Skinner toughed things out despite being injured in the first period. Shortly after the extended power play fell silent, Ricky Carballo rocketed home his 16th goal of the season to double the Cats’ lead.
Halfway through the middle period, Skinner fed Ryan Burnett a nice pass in the left circle. The Wildcats’ veteran sniped a shot under Babintsev’s glove for his team-leading 18th goal of the season. Wildcats affiliate goaltender George McBey had stopped all 11 shots faced through the first forty minutes.
In the closing period, the Bulls turned up the heat in an effort to chip away at the Wildcats’ 3-0 lead. More than half of Amarillo’s shots came in the final 20 minutes. Despite going to several power plays and generating a number of quality scoring chances, the Bulls could not solve McBey.
A cross-crease pass from the goal line deflected off McBey’s stick and fluttered over his head before nearly rolling down his back and into the net, but he somehow swung his glove behind his back and caught the puck before it trickled in. McBey would later rob Eric Cooley on a backdoor play from point-blank range, and would go on to keep the Bulls off the score sheet for the rest of the night.
McBey earned his first shutout as a Wildcat, making all 23 saves. Babintsev was charged with his 16th regulation loss, despite stopping 36 of 39 Wichita Falls shots. The Wildcats and Bulls will play each other for the final time this season tomorrow night at the KYC on Cancer Awareness Night. Puck drops at 7:05 pm CT.