(Photo: Troy Young)
ODESSA, Texas – The Wichita Falls Wildcats thrice overcame deficits to claim a 5-4 win in a shootout against the Odessa Jackalopes at the Ector County Coliseum on Tuesday afternoon.
Nick Farmer, Evan Okeley, Colin Staub and Shane Kuzmeski each found the net for Wichita Falls, while Tommy Apap, Jake Townsend and Austin Beaulieu all chipped in with assists. The assist for Townsend marked his 45th career point, setting a new record for career points by a defenseman. Austin Shaw made 35 saves in the win to earn his eighth triumph of the year.
The Jackalopes come out of the blocks strong, and opened the scoring just after the halfway mark of the frame when Ian Mansfield found room upstairs after a nice give-and-go with Christian Hausinger.
Wichita Falls responded as the period wound down, and it was Farmer who provided the equalizer on his third goal in two games. Erich Jaeger’s strong breakout pass hit Farmer in stride, and he raced into the offensive zone, protected the puck from a backchecking Jackalope, and flipped it past Robin Johansson at 16:04 of the first.
Odessa reclaimed the lead in the opening stages of the second, as Rasmus Waxin-Engback scored unassisted on a great rush coast to coast, but once more the ‘Cats responded as time ticked down in the stanza.
First, the Wildcats tied the contest with a power-play goal from Okeley to make it 2-2 at 16:00 of the second. Townsend and Lazarus worked the puck nicely from the point to the half-wall, and down to Okeley, who wired it home. With the secondary assist, Townsend became the Wildcats’ all-time leader in career points by a defenseman with 45.
With less than a minute left in the second, Wichita Falls claimed its first lead of the contest. A strong, persistent forecheck by Beaulieu, Apap and Staub kept the pressure on Odessa, with Apap eventually springing the puck loose behind the net. He played a quick pass to the top of the crease, where Staub was waiting to slam it top-shelf to make it 3-2 at 19:25 of the second.
The ‘Cats almost doubled their edge at the outset of the third, and paid for their wastefulness in front of net, as Alex Alger tied the affair 3-3 just 1:46 into the frame.
Hampus Sjodahl then gave the Jackalopes a short-lived lead after a he squeezed a puck through Shaw’s wickets, but Kuzmeski leveled the contest less than two minutes later, as he followed up a loose puck and whistled it home to make 4-4 and push the game to overtime.
Both goaltenders stood on their heads to keep the game deadlocked in the extra session, so the game headed to a shootout.
After Kevin Charyszyn and Beaulieu missed the first two attempts for Wichita Falls, Alex Falconer, Farmer and Townsend all found the back of the net to hold the advantage. Shaw made three saves in the five-round shootout, including stonewalling Waxin-Engback to seal the ‘Cats the win.
The Wildcats are back in action this weekend when they return to the Kay Yeager Coliseum to host the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees on Friday and Saturday. Friday is Hockey Heals Hunger Night, with free admission for anyone who donates five non-perishable food items to the Wichita Falls Area Food Bank that night. Puck drop is slated for 7:05 p.m.
Single-game tickets for the 2014-15 Wildcats season are on sale now at the Kay Yeager Coliseum box office. Stay updated on the latest team news and notes by connecting with the Wildcats on Facebook (WFWildcats), Twitter (@WFWildcats), Instagram (WFWildcats) and on YouTube (Wichita Falls Wildcats).
Odessa – Ian Mansfield (Christian Hausinger) 11:51
Wichita Falls – Nick Farmer (unassisted) 16:04
Odessa – Razmuz Waxin-Engback (power play) (unassisted) 6:20
Wichita Falls – Evan Okeley (power play) (Jonathan Lazarus, Jake Townsend) 16:00
Wichita Falls – Colin Staub (Tommy Apap, Austin Beaulieu) 19:25
Odessa – Alex Alger (Max Rasberg, Christian Hausinger) 1:46
Odessa – Hampus Sjodahl (unassisted) 12:45
Wichita Falls – Shane Kuzmeski (unassisted) 14:41