Friday, 11.25.2016 / 10:00 pm CT
By Alex von Keudell / Photo: Troy Young
On Black Friday, Jared Dempsey led the Wildcats to their third straight victory as they triumphed 4-2 over the Odessa Jackalopes.
The Cats came out of the gates flying in front of a Black Friday crowd. They dominated play for the first few minutes and demonstrated superb puck movement on their first power play, but they couldn’t sneak a shot past Jonny Hogue early on. Instead, it was Odessa who scored first.
Off a broken play, the Jackalopes’ leading scorer Chase Thudium managed to slide the puck across the crease, where Zach Zech was lurking on the other side and slammed it past Dempsey. Four minutes and four seconds later, the Cats responded. Playing in his first game in nearly a month, Isaac Kobienia held the puck in the offensive zone near the blue line. He spotted Matt Hanewall in the high slot, who fed Ilya Skvortsov a backdoor pass where the Russian slapped home his seventh goal of the season.
Period two was dominated by the red-and-black, who outshot the opposition 19-10 in the middle twenty minutes. Two power plays chockfull of excellent puck movement and quality scoring chances were suppressed by the play of Hogue.
Finally, the Wildcats found an opening in the Jacks’ goaltender. While shorthanded, Dempsey played the puck down the ice and lofted a 100-foot pass onto the tape of Aleksi Poikola, who was left uncontested with nothing but open ice separating him and Hogue. Poikola went to his forehand on the breakaway and beat Hogue cleanly to give the Finn his first shorthanded goal of the season and credit the Wildcats’ goaltender with his first assist.
Odessa got off to a quick start in the third period, scoring just 45 seconds in and tying the game 2-2. Continuing their habit of responding quickly to goals, Burnett scored his eighth of the season just 19 seconds later. Just two minutes after regaining the lead, CJ Regula smashed the puck past Hogue on a big rebound to double the Cats’ lead and put the game out of reach for the Jackalopes. Dempsey shut the door for the rest of the game en route to a First Star of the Game performance.
Dempsey stopped 38 of 40 shots in his fifth victory as a Wildcat. Hogue denied 31 of 35 in his sixth regulation defeat of the season. The Wildcats will play their final home game of 2016 on Saturday, November 26th in a rematch against the Odessa Jackalopes at 7:05 pm.