Catters Cruise 6-2 As Taylor Nets Hat Trick
Beaumont, TX--Max Taylor had a hat trick and an assist as the Texas Wildcatters roared back to life and tied the series with a 6-2 win over the Columbia Inferno in Game Two of the South Division Semifinals.
With a depleted roster receiving help through the return of John Adams from AHL Houston and the addition of Scott Champagne and David Schulz, each returning from injury, Texas got on the board first and never trailed in a crucial Game 2 that evens the best-of-five series 1-1.
Toby Lafrance broke a scoreless tie with 1:59 remaining in the first period, putting a rebound up and over Inferno keeper Todd Ford. Cleve Kinley added to his ECHL-leading postseason points total with an assist on the play, his first of two on the night.
The Texas lead would be shortlived, however, as Columbia would knot the game on the next shift when Tyler Doig beat Anton Khudobin with :58 seconds remaining to send the game to the first intermission tied at one apiece.
The second period would belong to Taylor and the Catters.
Advancing the puck on a two-on-one, Taylor would send a blazing shot from the top of the left circle over the glove of Ford to reclaim the lead for the Wildcatters three minutes into the period.
His second goal would extend the lead to 3-1, as he took a cross-ice feed from Jordan Morrison and sent an off-speed shot on the ice to the inside of the far post and into the net. Lafrance would collect his second point of the night with an assist on the play.
Schulz, who made his postseason debut Friday, scored a power play goal with a beautiful shot from the point that sailed over block attempt and through a screen before making its way past Ford, giving Texas a commanding 4-1 lead at the second intermission.
Dan Welch would put an end to his postseason scoring drought with a second Texas power play goal, redirecting a Champagne shot from the point seven minutes into the third period. Adams would also collect an assist on the play as Texas garnered a total of four points Sunday from players not in the Friday's Game 1 lineup.
Taylor would secure the hat trick with a blistering slap shot from the top of the circles that stayed on the ice and beat Ford through the five-hole. Mike Grenzy and Schulz would gather assists on the play.
The game blown open, the third period would see plenty see 13 separate infractions, including a pair of misconducts dealt to Moises Gutierrez of Texas and Patrick Wellar of Columbia. Columbia would capitalize on a long five-on-three power play to get their second goal of the game on a shot from the point at 13:37.
The Catters finished the game 3-for-11 on the power play and held Columbia to 1-for-7. Khudobin returned to top form with 36 saves on 38 shots. Texas fired 39 shots at Ford in the win.
The victory would be bittersweet, however, as Taylor would take a two-handed slash to the face in the game's final minute that prevented him from taking the ice as the game's first star. His status for Game 3 is undetermined.
With the series tied 1-1 and plenty of emotion evident on both sides, Game 3 should be filled with fireworks when the puck drops Tuesday at 6:05 Texas time in Columbia, SC. Game 4 is slated for the same time Wednesday.
Watch or listen on B2 Networks as both games will be broadcast live on wildcattershockey.com.
Game 5, if necessary, will return to Ford Arena on Friday, April 25 at 7:30.
Individual playoff tickets are on sale and may be purchased through the Ford Park Box Office, which is open from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday with extended hours on game days. Prices start at $7 for kids and $14 for adults. Tickets may also be purchased through Ticketmaster by phone at (409) 833-7747, online at www.wildcattershockey.com, or at any Ticketmaster location.
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