Saturday, 9.17.2016 / 9:53 pm CT
By Alex von Keudell
On an emotional night in which the Wildcats honored Lauren Landavazo and MaKayla Smith with purple stick tape and a ceremonial puck drop, they took down the Rays by a final of 5-2 to win their first series of the campaign.
Saturday night’s game had a much different look in the first period as both teams played responsibly and kept each other off the score sheet. The Cats managed 12 shots on net, but Tomáš Vomáčka, playing in his third consecutive game, kept them at bay. Evan Moyse was also playing his third straight game between the pipes, fighting off all eight shots the IceRays threw his way. The Wildcats’ power play woes continued in the first, as they dropped all four opportunities with the man advantage.
The puck found twine three times in the second period. Josh Tripp sprung Brad Power on a 2-on-1 rush with fellow veteran Mason Krueger. Power decided to shoot rather than force a pass, and he buried the puck past Evan Moyse to open the scoring at the 4:36 mark of the second period.
The Wildcats’ power play finally came through late in the second. Ryan Burnett lifted the stick of Cody Fleckenstein as he tried to clear the zone. After Burnett stole possession, he spun a shot on net which managed to beat Vomáčka through the pads. The veteran’s goal ended a drought of 11 straight scoreless power plays for the Cats and prolonged his scoring streak to three games. At the 18:44 mark of the second, Ricky Carballo spotted Aleksi Poikola backdoor with a beautiful cross-crease pass for the Finn to slam home a tap-in goal to give the Cats their first lead of the night.
The Cats got into some penalty trouble in the third period after C.J. Regula and Alex Rowe were each called for infractions at the same time, giving the Rays a 5-on-3 power play to work with. They dropped a man after taking a penalty of their own, but still managed to score on the 4-on-3. David Thompson scored his third power play goal of the series to tie the game at 2.
A scary moment unfolded after the IceRays tied the game. Isaac Kobienia was checked from behind by Corpus Christi’s Tucker White. Kobienia appeared to be injured at first, but was able to finish the game. On the ensuing checking-from-behind double minor, Domantas Cypas tapped home a good pass by Seamus Donohue for his first goal of the season. Waring would finish the IceRays off with his first Wildcats goal on a screen shot, tacking on an empty-netter at the end from center ice.
Moyse earned his second straight victory, stopping 24 of 26 shots. Vomáčka was charged with his second defeat, denying 29 of a possible 33. The Wildcats will head to the showcase in Blaine, Minnesota, where they will take on the Fairbanks Ice Dogs in a Robertson Cup Championship rematch on Wednesday, September 21st at 10:15 in the morning.
Photo: Cody Wooten