Thursday, 09.22.2016 / 6:40 pm CT
The Wildcats’ offense continued its struggles on Day 2 of the 2016 Showcase, falling 3-1 to the Springfield Jr. Blues.
A scoreless first period further tested Evan Moyse’s ability to keep his team in games. He made things difficult for Springfield’s attack to get going, but the Jr. Blues’ defenders and their goaltender Joshua Sarlo also were stable in keeping the Wildcats’ attack at bay. The first twenty minutes were permeated by quick breakouts, blocked shots, and strong defense.
After going 0-for-5 against Fairbanks on the power play, the Wildcats’ man-advantage finally got going in the second period. Jonathan Waring drew a high-sticking penalty, prompting the Cats’ second power play of the game. Aleksi Poikola swung a pass to Jonathan Bendorf, who has made a habit of controlling the goal line during power plays. Bendorf spotted Burnett open backdoor, who slammed home his NAHL-leading 5th goal of the season.
Brennan Blasczczak responded after dangling through the Wildcats’ defense and slipping a shot through Moyse’s five-hole. Seven minutes later, Michael Hodgson shoveled the puck past Moyse after a goal-mouth scramble to give the Blues their first lead of the game late in the second period.
In their first two games of the season, the Wildcats made up a deficit to claw from behind in the third period and force overtime. Against Springfield, however, they had no such luck. The Blues’ defenders were smart and crisp with their breakouts all night long after allowing six goals against Johnstown on Wednesday.
Matt Long sniped a shot from the left circle on a 2-on-1 rush to beat Moyse early in the third period, partially taking the wind out of the Cats’ sails. Trailing by two goals, Wichita Falls could not get their offense going to muster a comeback and fell 3-1 to Springfield.
Moyse stopped 24 of 27 shots in his fifth straight start, falling to 2-2-1. Sarlo denied 28 of the Cats’ 29 shots on goal, improving to 1-0-0 on the season. The Wildcats will play the Bismarck Bobcats in a Robertson Cup Semi-Finals rematch on Friday, 4:15 PM on Rink 4 at the Schwan Super Rink.