(Photo: Cody Wooten)
NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, Texas – The Wichita Falls Wildcats handed the Lone Star Brahmas their first regulation loss at the NYTEX Centre on Saturday night, claiming a 4-3 win to earn a split of the weekend series.
Austin Beaulieu led the way on offense for Wichita Falls with a goal and an assist, while Colin Staub, Alex Falconer and Jake Townsend also found the net for the red-and-black. Max Reisinger two added assists for the ‘Cats, Tommy Apap and Shane Kuzmeski registered helpers as well, and Austin Shaw made 26 saves in net to earn his 17th of the season.
Wichita Falls wasted no time getting on the board, scoring on the game’s first shift and the first shot on goal of the night.
After the Brahmas won the opening draw back into their own zone, the ‘Cats went in on an aggressive forecheck, and sprung the puck loose behind the Lone Star net. Apap picked up the loose disc and sent a tape-to-tape pass to Beaulieu ghosting into the slot. Beaulieu made no mistake from above the hashmarks, beating TJ Black on the blocker side to make it 1-0 just 15 seconds into the contest.
The game opened up in the second period as the teams traded chances, and while Shaw proved to be a difference-maker with a world-class save, the same could not be said for Black.
With the score still 1-0, a broken play in the ‘Cats defensive zone led to Sebastien Vidmar walking in alone from the hashmarks. Vidmar faked forehand, then pump-faked on a backhand, before pulling the puck back to his forehand. Shaw read him the entire way, snapping his effort out of the air with a brilliant glove save to keep Wichita Falls in the lead.
The red-and-black made that save count moments later with a pair of goals in 80 seconds.
First, Staub brought a puck down in the neutral zone and skated into traffic following Beaulieu’s clearance. After chipping to space, Staub skated onto the disc and beat Black through the legs to make it 2-0 at 11:09 of the second.
Moments later, Falconer notched his ninth of the season as he skated onto a pass from Reisinger and snapped a wrist-shot inside the far post to push the lead to 3-0 at the 12:37 mark.
As the period wound to a close, the Wildcats tacked another tally onto the scoreboard. A clearance by the Brahmas was chopped out of mid-air by Reisinger, and worked along to Townsend at the blue line. Townsend then teed up a big slap-shot that snuck through a maze of bodies for his second goal of the weekend, and 10th of the campaign.
The Brahmas piled on the pressure in the third period, and after being pegged back through the first ten minutes of the third, they finally found a break through at 10:55 of the frame, as Storm Wahlrab tipped a slap-pass home for a power-play goal to make it 4-1.
Once on the board, Lone Star threw everything in its arsenal at Shaw’s cage, and made things tense with a pair of goals in the last five minutes. First, Roman Uchyn tucked an effort home from in close to make it 4-2. Then, with the Brahma net empty, Ludvig Larsson snuck an effort to shrink the Wildcats’ lead to 4-3.
With time winding down, the Brahmas pushed forward in desperation, but Wichita Falls received a timely save from Shaw and a couple of crucial blocks in the waning moments to hold on for the 4-3 win.
The Wildcats are next in action when they host the Brahmas at the Kay Yeager Coliseum on Wednesday, Feb. 4. Puck drop is slated for 7:05 p.m., with four-packs of tickets available for just $24, good for any seat in the arena. Fans that cannot make it to the game may follow all the action on FASTHockey.com, with an audio-only stream provided via YouTube.
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).
Wichita Falls – Austin Beaulieu (Tommy Apap) 0:15
Wichita Falls – Colin Staub (Austin Beaulieu) 11:09
Wichita Falls – Alex Falconer (Max Reisinger, Shane Kuzmeski) 12:37
Wichita Falls – Jake Townsend (Max Reisinger) 19:00
Lone Star – Storm Wahlrab (power play) (Anton Santesson, Sebastian Vidmar) 10:55
Lone Star – Roman Uchyn (AJ Vanderbeck, Quinn Carrol) 15:20
Lone Star – Ludvig Larsson (extra attacker) (Sebastian Vidmar, Oskar Andren) 19:10