(Photo: Troy Young)
TOPEKA, Kans. – Behind Jake Townsend’s goal in overtime and a stellar performance from goaltender Austin Shaw, the Wichita Falls Wildcats (33-13-2) claimed a 3-2 win in overtime over the Topeka RoadRunners (35-11-5) at Landon Arena on Saturday night.
Townsend’s goal marked his 12th of the season, setting a new single-season record for most goals by a Wildcats defenseman, surpassing the mark set in 2013-14 set by Sam Piazza.
Colin Staub and Kevin Charyszyn also found twine for the ‘Cats, while Matt Koch and Austin Beaulieu chipped in with an assist apiece. Shaw made 36 saves on 38 shots faced to earn his 21st win of the campaign.
The first period saw the Wildcats weather an early storm from the RoadRunners, before the red-and-black found the back of the net first out of a mad scramble in front of the net.
A cross-ice pass landed on the tape of Townsend, who pump-faked on a shot and stepped around a sprawling Topeka defenseman before putting the puck on net. Drew Vogler lunged for the loose puck but could not cover cleanly, allowing Staub to tap it home for his 19th tally of the season.
The ‘Runners tied the contest late in the period though, cashing in on their first power-play opportunity of the night. A shot from the circle was saved by Shaw, but the rebound landed right on the stick of Cam Strong to tuck home to level the contest, 1-1, entering the second frame.
The second period played out more evenly, but it was Wichita Falls who picked up the best scoring chance of the frame when Charyszyn raced into the zone on a breakaway. The forward got Volger down onto the ice, but he could not lift his backhand effort over the leg pad as the score held at 1-1.
Charyszyn would not be denied though, and eventually picked up his team-leading 21st goal of the year in the latter stages of the frame. With the ‘Cats on a power play, Koch walked along the blue line and shot through traffic from the point. After it deflected off a body in front, Charyszyn managed to get his stick to the skittering disc to direct it past Vogler to give the Wildcats a 2-1 lead.
Topeka controlled the third period and outshot Wichita Falls 15-6 in the period, but the Wildcats stood strong until late in the frame when, with just over two minutes remaining, Daniel Rzavsky tied the contest on a great individual rush up the ice, beating the defenseman and Shaw to send the contest to overtime for a second-straight night.
In the extra session, the ‘Runners had the first good look at a game-winning tally on a two-on-one rush but Yu Hikosaka’s pass was into the skates of Sam Rennaker and squirted away to Staub.
Staub moved the puck quickly up the ice for Beaulieu and raced forward to join the play as the red-and-black entered the zone with numbers. From the left circle, Beaulieu held on a shot and played a brilliant saucer-pass over a Topeka stick to a trailing Townsend at the hashmarks. The veteran defenseman made no mistake with the chance, roofing it over Vogler to give Wichita Falls the win.
The Wildcats are next in action on Tuesday, March 3 when they travel to Odessa to take on the Jackalopes. Puck drop is slated for 7:05 p.m. at the Ector County Coliseum, with video coverage available on FASTHockey.com and an audio-only broadcast available via YouTube.
Single-game tickets for the 2014-15 Wildcats season are on sale now at the Kay Yeager Coliseum box office. Stay updated on the latest team news and notes by connecting with the Wildcats on Facebook (WFWildcats), Twitter (@WFWildcats), Instagram (WFWildcats) and on YouTube (Wichita Falls Wildcats).
Wichita Falls – Colin Staub (unassisted) 12:31
Topeka – Cam Strong (Dominic Lutz, Daniel Brickley) 16:52
Wichita Falls – Kevin Charyszyn (power play) (Matt Koch) 17:52
Topeka – Daniel Rzavsky (Will Scherer, Mike Gornall) 17:51
Wichita Falls – Jake Townsend (Austin Beaulieu) 1:03