(Photo: Troy Young)
AMARILLO, Texas – David Zevnik made 36 saves, and Will Vosejpka and Tyler Ledford each scored, as the Wichita Falls Wildcats (31-22-4) claimed a 3-2, shootout victory over the Amarillo Bulls at the Amarillo Civic Center on Saturday night.
Rudy Junda, Nick Farmer and Colin Staub each tallied an assist in the contest, with Josh Haverstorm potting the winning goal in the shootout.
The Wildcats carried the play in the early stages of the first, recording four shots on net before the Bulls could tally one of their own, but it was Amarillo who opened the scoring. Adem Arifi launched a one-timer from the point that rang of the post and fell right to Mitchell Vanderburgh, who cleaned up the rebound to make it 1-0 at 11:55 of the period.
Wichita Falls got on the front foot in the second, as Staub just barely missed on a couple of chances in front of the net, but persistence paid off for the Wildcats in the form of two goals in quick succession.
With the teams skating four-on-four, Farmer dumped the puck in wide of the cage. Junda was the first to it, and rifled it across the crease, where Vosejpka was camped out to roof a shot over Paul Berrafato to make it 1-1. The tally was Vosejpka’s 19th of the season, and came at 15:19 of the period.
Barely three minutes later, Wichita Falls took the lead on a partial breakaway. Jake Townsend forced the puck into the neutral zone, where Staub played it along to Ledford. With a heavy backcheck coming, Ledford split the defense and placed a perfect shot under the crossbar to make it 2-1 on his eighth marker of the season.
Amarillo started the third period on the power play, and cashed in in short order, as Brett Szajner cleaned up his own rebound to make it 2-2 just 1:11 into the final frame, setting the stage for a frantic third period.
The Wildcats and Bulls traded chances through the remainder of the contest, with Junda almost finding the back of the net in the final 90 seconds of the game, but Berrafato made the save, and the game headed to overtime.
Neither team generated much offense in the extra session, forcing the game to a shootout. In the shootout, Junda stepped up first and found the back of the net, with Ben Kucera and Sam Piazza following suit after Kyle Bauman’s effort was saved in round two. Zevnik stopped the first two shooters for the Bulls, giving Wichita Falls the edge heading into the fifth and final round. In the final round, Haverstrom stepped up, skated in slowly and unleashed his favorite move, pulling the puck back behind him, before flipping it under the bar to give the Wildcats the win.
The Wildcats are next in action when they host the Lone Star Brahmas on Wednesday, March 26. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at the Kay Yeager Coliseum. Tickets are available by calling (940) 716-5555. Those that cannot make it to the game can catch all the action on FASTHockey.com, with an audio-only broadcast available via UStream.com. Fans can also follow the Wildcats on Twitter (@WFWildcats) for in-game updates.
Amarillo – Mitchell Vanderburgh (Adem Arifi, Cody Gylling) 11:55
Wichita Falls – Will Vosejpka (Rudy Junda, Nick Farmer) 15:19
Wichita Falls – Tyler Ledford (Colin Staub) 18:33
Amarillo – Brett Szajner (power play) (Mike Davis, Patrick Pollock) 1:11