(Photo: Troy Young)
WICHITA FALLS, Texas – Kyle Bauman and Rudy Junda both found the back of the net, and David Zevnik made 19 saves but the Wichita Falls Wildcats (21-15-3) stumbled to a 4-2 defeat against the Fairbanks Ice Dogs at the Kay Yeager Coliseum on Friday.
The Wildcats fell behind early while shorthanded. With Josh Haverstrom sitting in the box, Ethan Somoza sent a slap-pass to the back door where Lonnie Clary deflected it home to make it 1-0 at 2:18 of the first.
Wichita Falls had three power play opportunities in the opening frame, but despite controlling possession during those chances, the Wildcats could not find a tally to tie the game.
In the middle frame, the Wildcats used their speed to get back into the contest, and tied the affair up off a rush in transition. Haverstrom started the play with a strong cross-ice outlet pass to Sam Piazza, who skated into the zone before dishing to Kirk Van Arkel on his left. Van Arkel’s initial shot was saved, but the rebound wound up on the stick of Bauman, who stashed it home to level the score at the 5:17 mark of the second.
The line of Bauman, Haverstrom and Van Arkel almost gave Wichita Falls the advantage, as Haverstrom and Bauman entered the zone on an odd-man rush, but Kevin Aldridge was able to keep the puck out.
Fairbanks claimed the lead early in the third period and did not look back. With the Wildcats on the power play, Doug Rose cleared the puck the length of the ice from his own defensive zone. The puck bounced off the glass behind the cage and caromed back towards the crease right to Brett Gervais, who tucked it past an out-of-position Zevnik to make it 2-1.
Ten minutes later, the Ice Dogs doubled their advantage, this time on the power play. Rose rushed the length of the ice, carried the puck down low, and then centered for Chandler Madry to direct home to make it 3-1.
The Wildcats pulled one back soon after, as Junda cleaned up a Nick Farmer centering pass from the right-wing wall to make it 3-2 at the 14:38 mark, but that was as close as they would get.
With time ticking away, Gervais sent the puck into an empty net for his second of the evening, sealing the 4-2 win for Fairbanks.
These two teams met again on Saturday for the conclusion of this two-game set. Saturday is Rally Towel Night, with the first 250 fans receiving a rally towel courtesy of Coca Cola. Fans that cannot make it to the game can catch all the action on FASTHockey.com, with an audio-only broadcast available on UStream.com.
Fairbanks – Lonnie Clary (power play) (Ethan Somoza, Nick Hinz) 2:18
Wichita Falls – Kyle Bauman (Kirk Van Arkel) 5:17
Fairbanks – Brett Gervais (shorthanded) (Doug Rose, Ben Campbell) 3:36
Fairbanks – Chandler Madry (power play) (Doug Rose, Ben Campbell) 13:09
Wichita Falls – Rudy Junda (Nick Farmer) 14:38
Fairbanks – Brett Gervais (empty net) (unassisted) 19:14