Wednesday, 11.23.2016 / 9:42 pm CT
By Alex von Keudell / Photo: Tasleem Khan
Heading into North Richland Hills for the first time of the season, the Wildcats exchanged goals with the Lone Star Brahmas before defeating them 5-4 on Wednesday night.
As expected, the Brahmas started the first period with loads of energy. They kept the Cats pinned up in their own zone and generated multiple chances, outshooting Wichita Falls 10-2 at one point. At 9:34 of the first period, they were rewarded. Blake Evonnou released a slap shot from the left point at the end of a Wildcats penalty kill. The puck deflected off of Peter Kessel and into the left side of the net, fooling Jared Dempsey and giving the Brahmas a 1-0 lead.
The Cats would answer on their first power play of the night. Jonathan Bendorf was set up in the slot, where he ripped a perfectly placed snap shot off the elbow of the goal to tie the game. Just 28 seconds later, the Brahmas responded. They took advantage of a 4-on-2 in which Levi Wunder found Carson Kelley, who spotted Hunter Stanley wide open backdoor for a tap-in-goal to regain the lead. Then on their second power play, CJ Walker slammed home the tying goal out of a net-mouth battle despite goaltender Erik Gordon’s best efforts. The score was tied 2-2 heading into the first intermission.
Kessel led the way as the Brahmas continued to pummel Dempsey with shots on net. On their fourth power play of the game on a questionable call against Seamus Donohue, Lone Star finally converted. Kessel carried in between the Wichita Falls circles and fired a shot home for his second of the game to regain the Brahmas’ lead. Less than four minutes later, Blake Ripley scored his third goal in as many games after Walker fired a heavy shot off Gordon’s pad. Again, the teams entered the intermission level.
A game filled with quick turns of the tide showed no signs of slowing down in period three. 7:11 into the final frame, Ripley was fed a perfect cross-crease pass on a 2-on-1 rush with each team serving a minor penalty. Ripley scored his second of the game to give the Cats their first lead of the night, which lasted just 25 seconds.
Jakub Melisko unloaded a bomb from the blue line the shift after Lone Star fell behind on the scoreboard. A screened Dempsey was unable to stop the shot, and Melisko was credited with his first goal as a Brahma. As regulation time was nearing its end, a red-hot Walker flew down the right wing and centered a pass, where it was jammed past Gordon by Steven Tillie. The Cats would hold their opponents off the board for the remainder of the game and defeated the first place Brahmas by a 5-4 final on the road.
Dempsey earned his fourth win as a Wildcat, denying 38 of Lone Star’s 42 shots. Gordon’s undefeated season came to an end, stopping 21 of 26 Wichita Falls shots in his first defeat of the season. The Wildcats return to Kay Yeager Coliseum to host the Odessa Jackalopes on Black Friday.