February 4, 2013 - North American Hockey League (NAHL) - Wichita Falls Wildcats
The Wildcats snapped their four-game losing streak in convincing fashion, taking six points out of Odessa this weekend. The boys in black picked up a 6-2 victory on Thursday, held on in a 5-4 decision Friday, then won the finale in a shootout on Saturday 4-3.
After dropping four in a row, the Wildcats bounced back nicely to kick things off, winning 6-2 on Thursday. Matt Robinson and Tyler Ledford each connected for a pair of goals in the win.
The Jackalopes got on the board first with defenseman Matthew Montemurro finding the back of the net for an early 1-0 lead. The 'Cats got outshot in the opening period, but Matt Robinson evened things up on the scoreboard off an assist from Rudy Junda to knot things at a goal apiece. The offense kept rolling in the second period as Ben Kucera and Tyler Ledford each scored before Odessa cut the lead back to one with a tally from Steven Haydon.
Any nervousness among Wildcats fans was quashed quickly in the third period as Robinson and Ledford each tallied their second of the night, with a Colin Staub powerplay goal sandwiched in between for the 6-2 win. Evan Cowley stopped 29 of 31 Odessa shots, and was named first star. Second went to Ledford with his pair of goals and an assist, and the third went to Kyle Bauman, who had an assist on Staub's goal.
Friday's game looked like more of the same early, but the Wildcats had to thwart a late comeback attempt in a 5-4 victory. Conor O'Neil was credited with two goals (after earlier being awarded the hat trick), while Colin Staub had three points.
The Wildcats extended their streak to seven unanswered goals, starting with Will Vosejpka picking up the first one 5:35 into the game as the line of Junda-Vosejpka-Robinson continued its hot streak. Conor O'Neil scored his first of the night five minutes later and the 'Cats led 2-0 through twenty minutes.
The team kept on rolling in the second as Staub scored his second powerplay goal in as many games (originally credited to O'Neil, leading to the previous reports of a hat trick in the third period), followed by Tyler Ledford deftly redirecting Jake Townsend's shot for a 4-0 score. At the other end, Evan Cowley was solid in net, with the defense limiting him to facing only 15 shots, all of which he stopped successfully.
The third period wasn't as nice to the 'Cats as the Jackalopes made a game of it in the final five minutes. Leading scorer Lawrence Cornellier got them on the board with just under twelve minutes to play, followed by two goals in under two minutes as Matt Volonnino and Taylor Portner cut a four-goal deficit down to a single goal. O'Neil struck only a minute later to give the 'Cats a two goal cushion. That goal would prove to be important: with the net empty and an extra attacker, Taylor Portner scored again with 1:30 left to make it a 5-4 game. Fortunately, the Wildcats held the Jacks off the board in the final 90 seconds to take home the two points.
It appeared that the offense would continue hard and heavy on Saturday as the teams battled to a 2-2 tie through the opening twenty minutes. Josh Racek made it a 1-0 Odessa lead just under eight minutes in before George Pagonis waltzed in on a breakaway and evened things up. Just over a minute later, Mike Mezzano regained the lead for Odessa, followed almost exactly a minute later by a Will Vosejpka goal for a 2-2 game.
The second period remained tied until the final moments when Eliot Grauer unleashed a wrister from the slot on the powerplay for a 3-2 lead. It looked like the lead would hold as Cooper Cook came up with several huge saves in the third on a few breakaways and odd-man rushes, including stopping Jimmy Peplinski on two shots in a span of about a quarter of a second. But Peplinski wouldn't let the opportunity pass him by a second time, scoring off his own rebound with 5:22 to play to make it a 3-3 game.
With the final five minutes and overtime going scoreless, the game went to a shootout. Both Cook and Odessa netminder Nick Deery matched up shooter-for shooter: each stopped the first three shooters, allowed a goal on the fourth, stopped the fifth, gave up a goal on the sixth, and stopped the seventh. It wasn't until shooter number eight that the tie was finally broken: Colin Staub scored for the Wildcats, while Cook shut down Matt Volonnino's wrister with the glove hand to take home the victory and a weekend sweep.
The Wildcats return home for the remainder of February, starting with two games against Amarillo this weekend. The 'Cats take on the Jacks three more times this season: twice in Wichita Falls on February 22-23, and once in Odessa on March 13.
WEEKEND NOTES: The Wildcats scored a powerplay goal each night, extending their streak to four games with a goal on the man advantage... Conor O'Neil missed Saturday's game with an upper body injury... Evan Cowley was out Saturday and will be out this coming weekend as he travels to Sweden to represent the USA U18 team at the Five Nations Tournament. The Wildcats called up goalie Michael Baldwin from the Dallas Ice Jets to take his place Saturday.
NAHL SOUTH DIVISION NOTES: Topeka and Corpus Christi split their weekend series up in Kansas. The IceRays took a shootout win on Friday before losing 3-1 Saturday... In the battle for the top of the division, Amarillo regained first place by sweeping Texas.
WF vs. CC: The battle for the final playoff spot
HEAD TO HEAD
4 (2h, 2a)
REMAINING vs. AMA
6 (4h, 2a)
REMAINING vs. TXT
6 (4h, 2a)
REMAINING vs. TPK
3 (2h, 1a)
REMAINING vs. ODS
6 (4h, 2a)
2 (in CC)
REMAINING vs. EACH OTHER
2 (in CC)
Scouting the Amarillo Bulls, February 8-9
The Wildcats take on the leaders of the South, the Amarillo Bulls, in two games this weekend. The Bulls are atop the division following a sweep of Texas this past weekend, leading the Tornado by three points, and holding a 31-5-6 record. The Wildcats are 0-4 vs. Amarillo this season.
The Bulls are led in scoring by T.J. Sarcona. He has 47 points including a team-best 32 assists. Their top goal scorer is Mike Davis with 19. Omar Mullan leads the team with 104 penalty minutes, but will be out this weekend due to a suspension handed down after being assessed a game misconduct last week in Topeka. Sarcona and Joe grabowski are behind him on the PIM ledger with 59 minutes in the box each.
The Bulls have some of the best goaltending in the league as well. Paul Berrafato is among the league's top netminders, with a 1.79 GAA and .919 save percentage. The Wildcats have gotten to him though-against the 'Cats, his GAA is a full goal higher and save percentage 36 points lower (2.88 and .883 in 145:46 of action between the pipes).
Ben Kucera and Matt Robinson have led the Wildcats in scoring against the Bulls this season: Kucera has a goal and two assists for three points, while Robinson has the most goals against the Bulls with two. Daniel Vaysberg has been strong on the blueline with a +3 rating. Cooper Cook has only faced the Bulls once, entering that particular game in relief of Evan Cowley. He is expected to get his first start against the Bulls on Friday.
Evan Cowley on Team USA!
Wildcats' goalie Evan Cowley will be representing the United States this week, playing for the National Under-18 Team at the Five Nations Tournament in Jonkoping, Sweden!
Cowley is the lone player on the team not from the United States National Team Development Program, whose U17 and U18 teams play a USHL schedule. He is the first Wildcats' player ever to appear in the Five Nations and one of two goalies on the roster.
The Americans won the U18 Five Nations four years in a row before their winning streak was snapped in a third-place finish last season. The Tournament features teams representing Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic, and Russia in addition to the United States. Several future NHL players have played in the U17 and U18 Tournament including Kyle Palmieri, Patrick Kane, Phil Kessel, Matt Greene, and Jack Johnson just for the USA alone.
The Tournament takes place this week, February 6-10. You can follow the results on Twitter @USAHockeyScores with a hashtag of #5nationsU18.
Upcoming Wildcats' Events
We're on the air! Join us for the Wildcats' Coaches' Radio Show at our new show host, El Mejicano on Wednesdays at 7 pm. The Voice of the Wildcats, Drew Pelto, will interview the Wildcats' coaches and your favorite Wildcats' players. If you can't get to the show, tune in on the radio at 7:30 pm on 94.9, KOLI, The Outlaw. All in attendance wearing a Wildcats' jersey will get 20% off!
Get out on the ice! We have our February open skating schedule on the Games and Ice Events tab at WFWildcatsHockey.com. We also offer birthday party packages at a Wildcats game or an open skating session. Any questions about our ice programs? Contact Sarah Scrivner in the Wildcats office.
Don't forget, our annual Children's Miracle Network "Jersey Off Our Back" Auction is coming up this week (February 9) after the Wildcats take on the Amarillo Bulls! Help the Wildcats support CMN and take home one of the Wildcats' special jerseys in their post-game auction.
Become a fan on Facebook! Get all our updates at http://www.facebook.com/WFWildcats
And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @WFWildcats!
AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE
Dan Sexton had a game-tying goal on Friday, but the Norfolk Admirals couldn't hold off a three-goal outburst in the third, losing 5-2 to the Adirondack Phantoms.
Cal Heeter was sent down to the Trenton Titans last week after the Philadelphia Flyers sent goalie Brian Boucher to the Adirondack Phantoms. He stopped 23 of 25 shots in his ECHL debut before being ejected in the third period.
Kyle Kraemer had three goals and two assists over the weekend as the Ontario Reign went 2-1 against San Francisco and Utah.
NCAA DIVISION 1
Kyle Delaurell had a goal in Air Force's 2-2 tie against American International on Friday.
Brian Sheehan had a goal and an assist as Sacred Heart lost a pair of games to Robert Morris.
Brett Hartung had Bentley's lone goal in a 2-1 loss to Niagara on Friday.
P.J. Musico stopped 13 of 14 shots he faced in Penn State's exhibition win over Ohio University.
NCAA DIVISION 3
Shaun Jameson had a trio of assists as Wentworth won 8-3 over Johnson and Wales, and tied Nichols 2-2.
Chris Leone picked up a goal and two assists as Adrian took home a win and a tie against Lake Forest.
Brandon Stroud had a goal and two assists as well, as Western New England took a pair of wins over Becker and Curry.
Following the trend, Brett Kaneshiro had a goal and two assists as Curry picked up a win over Suffolk and lost to New England College.
Adam Cardwell had the eventual game-winner as Wisconsin-River Falls beat Wisconsin-Stout 3-0 on Thursday.