(Photo: Troy Young)
NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, Texas – Colin Staub scored two goals for the Wichita Falls Wildcats (39-15-5), but it was not enough to prevent the Lone Star Brahmas (39-12-8) from claiming a 5-4 win at the NYTEX Centre in North Richland Hills on Friday night.
In addition to Staub’s two tallies, Nick Farmer and Kevin Charyszyn also found twine for Wichita Falls. Austin Beaulieu chipped in with two assists, with Matt Koch, Konstantin Chernyuk, Jonny Lazarus and Nikita Litviak registering helpers as well. Austin Shaw made 25 saves in net in the losing effort.
Wichita Falls raced out to an early edge in the first period, striking on the first shift of the game, but the Brahmas battled back to take the lead entering the first intermission.
Staub found the net first after just 34 seconds, and did so after a nice play by Litviak to get the disc into the offensive zone. As he side-stepped an open-ice collision and tumbled to the ice, Litviak forced the disc onto the tape of Beaulieu, who in-turn played to Staub in the slot. With a man on his back, Staub protected the puck well and beat Jake Kupsky with a wrist shot for an early 1-0 lead.
Lone Star struck back on the power play though, with Oskar Andren tipping in a shot from the blue line to tie the score, 1-1, barely three minutes later.
The Brahmas then took their first lead of the night at 10:17 of the first when Hogan Davidson managed to squeeze a shot through the legs of Shaw on a breakaway, sending Lone Star into the break with a 2-1 advantage.
In the second period, both teams found the net twice as the Brahmas twice opened up two-goal leads, but both times the ‘Cats clawed into the deficit.
Sebastian Vidmar scored within the first 40 seconds of the frame when he swatted home a loose puck following a friendly carom to make it 3-1 on his league-leading 35th goal of the season.
The red-and-black cut the deficit down to one on Staub’s second of the night, as he punched home a bouncing puck in front of the net after an effort by Chernyuk was partially blocked in front. The goal gave Staub 60 points on the year, and made the score 3-2 at 6:08 of the second.
The Brahmas re-opened their two-goal advantage following another friendly bounce, as a shot from the point was saved by Shaw but hit a Wildcat skater in front of the net and trickled over the line, but the two-goal lead did not last long.
After a big blast from Jake Townsend was turned aside, the ‘Cats forced a turnover on the forecheck when Jonny Lazarus blocked a clearing attempt. The puck landed right at Farmer’s feet, who wristed it home with a quick shot to send the game into the second intermission with the Brahmas leading 4-3.
An early third-period tally from Chad Guderian restored a two-goal lead for Lone Star, however the Wildcats would not go quietly.
With just under four minutes to go, Koch held a loose puck at the left-wing wall. After skating to the corner, Koch centered for Charyszyn in the high slot, who rifled a wrister into the top shelf. The goal, scored at 15:42 of the period, marked Charyszyn’s team-leading 27th of the season and gave him 50 points on the year.
Wichita Falls threw everything forward in the final minutes in search of a tying goal to force overtime, but none materialized, as the Brahmas held on for the 5-4 win. The loss eliminates the Wildcats from contention for the South Division regular-season title.
The Wildcats are next in action when they conclude their regular-season schedule against the Brahmas. Puck drop is slated for 7:30 p.m. at the NYTEX Centre in North Richland Hills.
Fans that will not be in attendance may follow all the action live on FASTHockey.com, with an audio-only broadcast available via YouTube.
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NOTES: With his two goals, Colin Staub reached 60 points for the season; he is the first Wildcats skater to reach 60 points since Brian Sheehan (29 goals, 31 assists)…Kevin Charyszyn’s goal gives him 50 points on the year, making him the fifth Wichita Falls skater to reach 50 points, setting a new a team record for most skaters with 50 or more points, surpassing the previous mark of four set during the 2004-05 campaign and replicated during the 2007-08 season.
Wichita Falls – Colin Staub (Austin Beaulieu, Nikita Litviak) 0:34
Lone Star – Oskar Andren (power play) (Anton Santesson, Caleb Thompson) 3:20
Lone Star – Hogan Davidson (Liam Stirtzinger) 10:17
Lone Star – Sebastian Vidmar (Alexey Solovyev, Ludvig Larsson) 0:40
Wichita Falls – Colin Staub (Austin Beaulieu, Konstantin Chernyuk) 6:08
Lone Star – Storm Wahlrab (AJ Vanderbeck, Cody Wickline) 10:47
Wichita Falls – Nick Farmer (Jonathan Lazarus) 15:42
Lone Star – Chad Guderian (Pat Egan, Caleb Thompson) 2:11
Wichita Falls – Kevin Charyszyn (Matt Koch) 15:42