(Photo: Troy Young)
NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, Texas – Nick Farmer scored late in the third period, and Sam Piazza scored the winning goal in the shootout, as the Wichita Falls Wildcats (26-20-3) earned a 3-2 victory over the Lone Star Brahmas at the NYTEX Sports Centre on Friday.
The win, combined with a Corpus Christi loss, clinches a playoff spot for the Wildcats.
Todd Koritzinsky also scored for the Wildcats, while Ben Kucera picked up an assist in his first game back from injury. David Zevnik made 20 saves, and stopped all five shots faced in the shootout, to earn his 18th win of the season.
The opening period was all Wichita Falls, as the Wildcats outshot Lone Star 16-5 through the first 20 minutes. That pressure paid off as the frame wound to a close thanks to a power-play tally.
Piazza and Kucera cycled the puck along the blue line, allowing traffic to develop in front of the net. Piazza then skipped a shot along the ice that Koritzinsky deflected between the legs of a screened TJ Black in the Brahmas’ net. The goal, coming at 17:17 of the period, was Koritzinsky’s sixth marker of the season.
In the second, the Wildcats created a handful of quality scoring chances, as Josh Haverstrom had a breakaway effort snuffed out, and Koritzinsky just missed the net on a give-and-go play with Tyler Ledford, but the period ended the way it started, with the Wildcats holding a 1-0 advantage.
The Brahmas came out flying in the third period, and took a 2-1 lead on goals from Hogan Davidson and Matt Lison within the first 10 minutes of the frame, but the Wildcats fought back to even the score off an offensive zone draw.
Farmer won the faceoff to the right of Black and chopped it towards the net. He then fought through a stick check, stepped towards the goal and, as he was tripped down to the ice, snuck a shot over the line to make it 2-2 on his 12th marker of the campaign.
Neither team could find twine in the last five minutes of the third, nor overtime, so the game proceeded into a shootout.
After the first three shooters from each squad were stymied, Piazza stepped up and scored in round four to give the Wildcats the advantage. Zevnik then stonewalled the next two shooters to give Wichita Falls the win, the second-straight shootout win for the Wildcats.
The Wildcats and Brahmas return to the ice on Saturday to conclude their weekend set. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the NYTEX Sports Center. Video coverage will be available on FASTHockey.com, with an audio-only broadcast accessible via UStream.com. Fans may also following the Wildcats on Twitter (@WFWildcats) for in-game score updates.
Wichita Falls – Todd Koritzinsky (power play) (Sam Piazza, Ben Kucera) 17:17
Lone Star – Hogan Davidson (Alexey Solovyev, Michael Crowley) 2:33
Lone Star – Matt Lison (Anthony Mousseau, Alexey Solovyev) 8:54
Wichita Falls – Nick Farmer (unassisted) 15:11