Catters Burned 4-2, Inferno Take 1-0 Series Lead
Beaumont, TX--A depleted Texas Wildcatters team missing seven regulars from the lineup went down 4-2 to the Columbia Inferno in Game 1 of the South Division Semifinals Friday night in at Ford Arena.
John McNabb posted a his second shorthanded goal of the playoffs and Cleve Kinley extended his points streak with a goal but that was all the Catters could muster and provided the few bright spots in a flat performance by the South Division's top seed.
Texas never led and trailed from the outset. Anton Khudobin, who allowed four goals on 21 shots before being pulled for Kris Tebbs in the second period, gave up a big rebound to former Wildcatter Daniel Sparre who slammed it home just :19 seconds into the game to put Columbia up 1-0.
McNabb would split the defense and walk in unabated to ring up his second shorthanded goal of the playoffs to knot the game two minutes later, but that would be the only spark of the first period as Columbia would score again before the end of the frame to make the score 2-1 at the first intermission.
Columbia would go up 3-1 when Eric Lundberg escaped from a Wildcatters defender and picked a top corner from inside the left face-off dot.
Kinley's goal would come on the power play and bring Texas within one. The defenseman-who leads the ECHL in playoff scoring with 11 points-followed his centering pass from the corner and was able to gather the puck and slam it past Columbia goalie Todd Ford to make the score 3-2. The goal extends Kinley's points streak to 8 games dating back to March 29.
Tyler Doig scored his second of the playoffs on the power play at 16:32 to give the Inferno a 4-2 lead and spur Head Coach Malcolm Cameron to replace Khudobin with Tebbs.
Tebbs would only face six shots in 22 minutes of work as the Wildcatters outshot the Inferno 12-6 in the third period and 34-27 for the game, a fact not indicative of the low number of quality scoring opportunities.
Columbia would finish the game 2-for-6 on the power play and Texas 1-for-7. Ford moves to 3-0-0 against the Wildcatters with the 32 save performance Friday.
Several new names graced the back of Wildcatters jerseys Friday night, due in part to injury and in part to AHL recalls. Absent from the Wildcatters lineup were forwards Scott Champagne and Brandon Benedict, each nursing injuries, and an astounding four defensemen. Jonathan Paiement remains on recall to Hershey as does John Adams in Houston. Defenseman AJ Thelen is on the injured reserve with a shoulder injury and David Schulz remains day-to-day as an ankle injury heals.
Forward Ross Carlson has also remains with the Houston Aeros, who began the AHL's Calder Cup playoffs tonight.
To augment the blueline, Cameron had to make several emergency acquisitions, adding two defensemen from juniors to the Wildcatters roster.
Tysen Dowzak, a 6-5, 225 pound defenseman played his first professional game tonight after joining the team Thursday from the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League. He was joined by Eric Felde, a fellow WHL skater who arrived just in time for the skatearound Friday morning.
Felde did not register a point while seeing limited ice time while Dowzak played regular shifts and finished the game -1.
The Wildcatters will have 48 hours to get acquainted with their teammates before Game 2 of the best-of-five series gets underway Sunday at Ford Arena at 6:05.
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