AMARILLO, Texas – Behind three points from Austin Albrecht, two tallies from Nikita Litviak and a strong performance from Austin Shaw, the Wichita Falls Wildcats (39-14-5) cruised past the Amarillo Bulls (24-30-4), 6-1, at the Amarillo Civic Center on Tuesday night.
With the win, Wichita Falls has set a new franchise-record for most wins in a single season (39), surpassing the mark of 38 wins set during the 2007-08 season.
Albrecht led the ‘Cats attack with a goal and two assists, and Litviak tacked on a pair of markers as well. Austin Azzinnaro (one goal, one assist) and Jonny Lazarus (two assists) also posted multi-point nights, while Tommy Apap and Kevin Charysyn also found twine for Wichita Falls in the win.
Colin Staub, Nick Farmer, Paul Soubry, Austin Beaulieu, Max Reisinger, Jake Townsend and Evan Okeley all registered helpers in the winning effort too, while Shaw made 39 saves on 40 shots to earn his 26th win of the season.
The Wildcats opened the scoring in the contest roughly halfway through the opening frame, and did so after winning the puck back on the forecheck.
Reisinger dug the disc free from an Amarillo skater and immediately centered to Azzinnaro just above the hashmarks. Azzinnaro snapped a one-time effort on net, beating Jacob Weatherly between the legs to give the ‘Cats a 1-0 lead on his fifth goal of the season.
That lead was short-lived, as AJ Duggan scored unassisted off the ensuing faceoff to make it 1-1 at 8:25 of the first, but Wichita Falls bounced back well to take the lead once more.
Okeley picked up a puck in his defensive zone after a wrap around the wall, and chipped it ahead to Farmer in the neutral zone. With Charyszyn to his left, Farmer jabbed the puck forward while bracing for a big open-ice collision. Charyszyn stepped onto the puck and into the open ice created by the check on Farmer, walked in to the top of the right circle, and whistled a shot into the top shelf to make it 2-1.
A few minutes later, the red-and-black doubled their edge after a brilliant individual effort from Litviak.
The Russian raced past a Bulls skater in the neutral zone, before deking past Ben Jentsch in the offensive zone. Litviak then turned the corner around Jentsch, and faked a forehand effort before tucking a backhander home to give the ‘Cats a 3-1 edge on his 12th tally of the season.
In the second period, Wichita Falls killed off an early power-play opportunity for Amarillo, and used that momentum to expand its lead heading into the final frame.
First, Apap found the net after some strong work by Albrecht and Lazarus to regain possession along the wall. After a neutral-zone dump-in floated to the left-wing corner, the two combined to work the puck out in front for Apap, who slipped a shot five-hole to push the score to 4-1.
A few minutes later, Litviak picked up his second of the night after another long shift in the offensive zone for the ‘Cats. Albrecht held the puck in the corner and played a pass to the tape from Staub, fresh from the bench. Staub's shot from the high slot, was stopped, but the Litviak picked up the rebound and put a backhanded effort home from the right-wing circle to make it 5-1.
Wichita Falls tacked on an insurance tally in the third period, as Albrecht capped off his big night with his ninth goal of the season to make it 6-1, which is how the contest would end.
The Wildcats are next in action on Friday when they travel to North Richland Hills to take on the Lone Star Brahmas in the final series of the regular season. Puck drop is slated for 7:30 p.m.
Fans that will not be in attendance may follow all the action on FASTHockey.com, with an audio-only broadcast available on YouTube.
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Wichita Falls – Austin Azzinnaro (Max Reisinger, Paul Soubry) 8:16
Amarillo – AJ Duggan (unassisted) 8:25
Wichita Falls – Kevin Charyszyn (Nick Farmer, Evan Okeley) 8:55
Wichita Falls – Nikita Litviak (Jake Townsend) 12:12
Wichita Falls – Tommy Apap (Austin Albrecht, Jonathan Lazarus) 11:49
Wichita Falls – Nikita Litviak (Colin Staub, Austin Albrecht) 16:10
Wichita Falls – Austin Albrecht (Austin Azzinnaro, Jonathan Lazarus) 13:43