Friday, 04.21.2017 / 11:44 pm CT
By Alex von Keudell
Facing elimination and playing in their final game as a franchise, the Wildcats rallied late to force overtime but fell just short by a 4-3 score.
Evan Moyse, who had not played at all in the series, was tested early and often by a ruthless Brahmas squad dead-set on eliminating the Robertson Cup runners-up. Moyse fought off the Lone Star attack with aplomb, and gave his team a chance to achieve a tremendous accomplishment.
For the first time in the series, the Cats took the lead after Aleksi Poikola finished off a feathery centering pass by Nick Rosa. However, Lone Star’s Hunter Stanley responded with just 53 seconds remaining in the opening period to ensure the Cats did not go into the first intermission with a lead. 1-1 was the score through the first 20 minutes.
The game remained tied for the next twelve and a half minutes into the second period, but an iffy tripping penalty called against Domantas Cypas put the Brahmas onto the power play. Their man-advantage had been lethal in the series, going 3-for-10 before entering Game 3. Again, it clicked.
After forcing another turnover deep in the Wichita Falls zone, Drake Glover capitalized out of a goal-mouth scramble for his second power play goal of the series to give the Brahmas their first lead of the contest. Despite outshooting the opposition 14-9 in the middle period, the Cats entered the second intermission trailing 2-1.
With their backs against the wall, Wichita Falls put their best foot forward in a raucous third period which saw several shifts in momentum.
On a Wildcats power play 6:50 into the third period, Ryan Burnett was tripped by Carson Kelley. The play went controversially uncalled, and Kelley skated the puck down the right side on a 2-on-1 rush and sniped a shot over Moyse to score a shorthanded goal and extend the Brahmas’ lead to 3-1.
In desperate need of a response, Ricky Carballo buried a shot past Max Prawdzik after CJ Walker’s pass took a strange carom. The goal sparked life back onto the Wildcats’ bench, and they would control the pace for the remainder of regulation.
Following timeouts from both coaches, with their season on the line, the Wildcats tied the game with just 41.3 seconds remaining. Jonathan Waring’s one-timer was tipped by Carballo past Prawdzik, giving the Wildcats’ sniper his second goal of the game.
Despite rallying from behind and giving the KYC one last thing to cheer about, the Cats could not prevail. At 11:53 of the first overtime period, Austin O’Rourke tipped a point shot past Moyse to end the Wildcats’ season by a 4-3 final score.
The Wildcats organization thanks everyone who has been a part of the team over the last thirteen seasons. On behalf of the players and staff, Wichita Falls will always hold a special place in our hearts.