The Wildcats’ winning streak extended to four with a 2-1 win on Friday night before dropping two to finish off the weekend in New Mexico. They lost 5-4 on Saturday and 3-2 on Sunday.
Friday, the Wildcats jumped out to a 2-0 lead and withstood a late push from the Mustangs for a 2-1 win. Nick Szopinski got the scoring started in the first off Adam Barlow’s assist, then Dennis Kravchenko added a second period goal from Chris Pontello and Tyler Bruneteau for a 2-0 lead midway through the game. Matt Leon held New Mexico scoreless until the final minute of the game when defenseman Cody Walsh scored an extra attacker goal with 53 seconds left. But the Wildcats kept the Mustangs off the board the rest of the way for a 2-1 win. The Mustangs outshot the Wildcats 18-7 in the third.
Saturday night’s game was a high-scoring back and forth affair that ended with the Wildcats on the short end of a 5-4 decision. The Mustangs scored early, scoring two goals in a 9-second span on a pair of two-on-one rushes. The Wildcats broke through in the middle of the period with Zach Pochiro scoring off Nate Chasteen’s assist to cut the deficit in half.
The Mustangs regained their two-goal lead in the second with Charles Baldwin scoring on a two-on-none, but the Wildcats exploded for three goals to take the lead by the end of the middle frame. Tyler Hope scored a power play goal assisted by Tanner Fahlstedt and Brad Shumway, then just over a minute later it was Chris Pontello picking up his second point of the weekend with a goal assisted by Barlow and Shumway to tie the game at three goals apiece. With time running out in the period and the Wildcats on the power play, Tyler Green left the puck off for Tanner Fahlstedt, who carried it from one end to the other, and snuck it past New Mexico goalie Nick Heimer for a 4-3 lead just as the final buzzer sounded on the second period. Heimer was pulled and replaced by Jake Stafford following the goal.
The Mustangs struck back quickly to regain the lead, as Jayson Angus tied things up again 26 seconds into the third period, ending Green’s night in goal. Matt Leon didn’t fare any better though, as yet another odd-man rush led to Adam Chapie blasting the puck high stick side for a 5-4 lead that the Mustangs would not relinquish.
Sunday afternoon was all Mustangs early, and they held on despite a barrage of pucks thrown at the net in the third in a 3-2 win over the Wildcats. The Mustangs scored a goal in each period for a 3-0 lead before the Wildcats sent their offense into hyper-drive, scoring twice to gut the deficit to 3-2. Dennis Kravchenko scored the first one, as his shot hit off a Mustangs’ player’s stick and into the net. Colin Staub got the lone assist. The second goal was scored by Chris Pontello off an assist from Brad Shumway, leading the Wildcats down only one goal with 8:55 left. The ‘Cats put 28 shots on net through the period, but couldn’t find the equalizer, coming close a number of times including Kravchenko ringing a shot off the post. Matt Leon stopped 23 of 26 shots in the loss.
WEEKEND NOTES: The Wildcats’ 28 shots on goal in the third period on Sunday are the most in a single period in team history… Before allowing a third period goal Friday, Matt Leon had not allowed a goal in over 160 minutes played in a row… Charles Baldwin has scored 23 goals in 62 NAHL games, but 12 of them have come in 14 games against Wichita Falls.
Captain Brad Shumway commits to R.I.T.!
Congratulations are in order for Wildcats’ defenseman and team captain Brad Shumway who committed to playing college hockey at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He is the first Wildcat to become a member of the Tigers. RIT plays out of the Atlantic Hockey Association, where he will be playing against a number of former Wildcats, including Kyle Delaurell (Air Force), Brian Sheehan (Sacred Heart), Steven Hoshaw (American International), Brett Hartung, and Zach Ledford (both Bentley). The RIT Tigers are currently in second place in the AHA this season. His commitment follows that of Dennis Kravchenko, who will play at Vermont next season.