(Photo: Troy Young)
Hidalgo, Texas – The Wildcats (5-1-1) spoiled the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees’ (2-2-3) homecoming on Saturday, taking a 3-2 win in the first hockey game in the Rio Grande Valley in almost two years.
Jordan Jancze scored twice, including the eventual game-winning goal, and Andrew Kerr had two assists to pace the Wichita Falls attack. David Zevnik made 20 saves on 22 shots to earn his second win of the season.
The fans did not have to wait long for the action to pick up, as the Killer Bees opened the scoring just 1:32 into the game. After some miscommunication behind the Wildcats’ net, Nathan Flynn grabbed the loose puck and threw it towards the slot for Evan Schmidbauer, who buried his shot to make it 1-0.
Wichita Falls wasted no time in responding though, tying the score just three minutes later. Andrew Kerr’s wrist shot from the point hit Kellen Wasell in front of the net but the puck was not cleared away from the top of the crease. Jancze pounced on the opportunity, picking up the loose disc and stashing it past the outstretched right pad of Olli Kalkaja to make it 1-1.
The Wildcats took the lead on the power play soon after. After Will Vosejpka and Sam Piazza exchanged passes at the top of the offensive zone, Piazza put a one-timer on-net that came to rest next to the right-hand post. Nick Farmer was the quickest to react, stuffing the puck past Kalkaja and over the line to give Wichita Falls a 2-1 advantage.
The Killer Bees pressed in the middle frame, and managed to tie the score at two after a turnover at the blue line. Will Clark stripped Jake Townsend of the puck and skated in one-on-one before beating Zevnik high on the blocker side at 14:51 of the second period.
Wichita Falls responded with a breakaway of their own at the 18:11 mark. Rudy Junda received the puck from Kerr in the Wildcats’ defensive zone and played an inch-perfect stretch pass up to Jancze, who had snuck out of the zone unnoticed. Jancze took the pass in the neutral zone and skated in all alone, beating Kalkaja with a backhand through the legs for his second tally of the night.
In the third period, the Killer Bees buzzed around the Wildcat cage in search of a game-tying goal but Wichita Falls repelled each attack to claim the win. These two teams will do battle again on Sunday afternoon, with puck drop scheduled for 4:00 pm. Fans can catch all the action on FASThockey.com.
Rio Grande Valley – Evan Schmidbauer (Nathan Flynn) 1:32 Wichita Falls – Jordan Jancze (Kellen Wasell, Andrew Kerr) 4:47 Wichita Falls – Nick Farmer (power play) (Sam Piazza, Will Vosejpka) 8:08
Rio Grande Valley – Will Clark (unassisted) 14:51 Wichita Falls – Jordan Jancze (Rudy Junda, Andrew Kerr) 18:11