(Photo: Troy Young)
ODESSA, Texas – The Wichita Falls Wildcats (26-20-3) claimed a dramatic, 3-2 shootout victory over the Odessa Jackalopes at the Ector County Coliseum on Saturday to earn weekend split.
Evan Okeley and Nick Farmer scored for Wichita Falls, while Rudy Junda and Josh Haverstrom both scored in the shootout. Chase Munroe made 24 saves plus four more in the shootout to earn the win in net.
The Jackalopes opened the scoring, taking advantage of a turnover to do so. Mathieu Briand intercepted a pass at the blue line and had his initial shot saved, but Lukas Laub followed up to poke the puck home.
With time winding down in the frame, the Wildcats responded. A strong effort by Kyle Bauman on the left-wing wall worked the puck loose to Kristaps Bazevics at the point. Bazevics shot from the blue line was saved, but Okeley was camped out at the top of the crease to bury the loose disc upstairs. The goal, coming at 19:04 of the first, was his third tally of the season.
Wichita Falls gained the upper hand in the second period, outshooting Odessa 14-6 in the frame, and the Wildcats made the pressure count to take a 2-1 lead into the locker room.
After a failed breakout attempt, Stan Sojka dished a pass to Matt Koch, who then fired a tape-to-tape headman pass to send Farmer on a breakaway. Farmer took the pass cleanly at the offensive blue line and skated in on Eric Hancock unperturbed, before roofing a forehand effort for his 11th goal of the season.
The Wildcats held their advantage for most of the third period, but a late power play goal by Ian Mansfield tied the score at 2-2- to send the game to overtime.
In the extra session, Wichita Falls had a couple of grade-A chances in the form of Kirk Van Arkel and Koch, but Hancock turned all efforts aside to force a shootout.
In the shootout, Junda scored in the first round and Haverstrom followed up with a pretty goal in round four. Munroe then saved the final two Odessa attempts to give Wichita Falls the win.
The Wildcats are next in action on Friday, March 7 when they take on the Lone Star Brahmas in North Richland Hills, Texas. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., with video coverage available on FASTHockey.com and an audio-only broadcast available on UStream.com.
Odessa – Lukas Laub (Mathieu Briand) 14:19
Wichita Falls – Evan Okeley (Kristaps Bazevics) 19:04
Wichita Falls – Nick Farmer (Matt Koch, Stan Sojka) 3:51
Odessa – Ian Mansfield (power play) (Chad Guderian, Alex Alger) 15:44