Thursday, 9.15.2016 / 9:48 pm CT
By Alex von Keudell
For the second consecutive night, the Wildcats fell behind, rallied to force overtime, but lost the game heartbreakingly in extra time. The Corpus Christi IceRays defeated the Cats by a final of 4-3 on Thursday night.
Three unorthodox goals took place in the first 20 minutes. For the second consecutive game, the Cats fell behind in the first minute and a half of play. Two Corpus Christi veterans came together as Keenan Spillum ripped a screen shot which was redirected by Mason Krueger and through the pads of Wildcats goaltender Evan Moyse. The puck barely managed to cross over the goal line. The Wildcats’ veterans responded with a goal of their own. Aleksi Poikola threw the puck into the offensive zone from center ice. It hopped off the end boards and bounced right to Ryan Burnett, who tucked it into the net to level the score.
Wildcats defenseman Ryan Orgel caught two very tough breaks in the first period. One of his shots on a Starbrite Cleaners Power Play ricocheted off the inside of the left post and stayed out. Shortly after, he inadvertently redirected the puck into his own net. The Cats exited the first period trailing 2-1.
In the middle frame, several more offensive opportunities presented themselves to the Cats. Ricky Carballo hit the right post on a drive to the net, Bobby DeFriest was robbed off a backdoor play, and Jonathan Bendorf was stymied by the right pad of IceRays goaltender Tomáš Vomáčka on a 3-on-1 rush. The Rays added an insurance goal on a power play of their own after David Thompson ripped a shot low on the glove side of Evan Moyse to go up 3-1.
The Wildcats took control in the third period for the second straight game. Trailing by two goals, Bendorf drove hard to the net and tucked the puck past Vomáčka to give the Cats their first power play goal of the game. Later in the period, Orgel drove into the left corner and spun a beautiful pass to an unsuspecting Steven Tillie, who was playing in his Wildcats debut. Tillie slapped the puck behind the net, where Carballo snatched it and tucked it into the near side of the net.
For the second straight game, the Cats went to overtime. With a threat developing as Cole Gammer rushed the puck down the right side, Orgel was called for tripping and was sent to the penalty box, giving the Rays a 4-on-3 power play for the remainder of overtime. Corpus’ Thompson unloaded a one-timer from nearly the same spot from which he scored his first goal, beating Moyse high on the glove side and giving the Rays the overtime victory in their first game of the season.
Moyse was handed his first overtime defeat for the Cats, stopping 28 of the 32 shots he faced. Vomáčka earned his first victory in his IceRays debut, denying 29 of a possible 32. The Cats and Rays will meet again on Friday night for Game 2 of the three-game home stand. Puck drops at 7:05 pm CT.