The Texas Tornado built an early lead against the Corpus Christi Icerays then had to scramble for a third period goal to grab the win. On paper this game should never have been in doubt. Coming in the Tornado had dominated the Icerays winning seven of eight games and they were playing in Corpus Christi where the Icerays have a losing record this season.
Early on the Tornado got out to a lead when Cameron Brown battled Wayland Williams for the puck along the boards behind the Icerays’ net. Brown won the puck to JT Paine in the near corner. Paine skated it above the goal line and found Brandon Platt flying down the far side with a cross ice pass. Platt sent the puck over Ben Myers’ left shoulder at 2:49. Texas went two goals up at the 13:00 minute mark as a result of a strong individual play by CJ Reuschlein. Captain Jackson Leef got the play started as he sent the puck up the near board from the corner to Reuschlein at the halfwall. Reuschlein stick handled, splitting the defense of Brandon Smith and Ryan Chiasson to find Louie Rowe in front for a wrister over the left pad. With just under four and a half minutes to go in the first, the Tornado struck again. Justin Greenberg sent the puck deep into the offensive zone where Drew Mayer took it behind the net and into the near corner. Mayer fed it to Nick Blasé at the near point for a onetimer that went five hole on Myers staking the Tornado to a three goal lead.
Things were looking good for Texas coming out of the intermission. The second period has been the worst period for the Icerays all season while it has been the best period for the Tornado. Entering the game, Corpus Christi had a -12 goal differential in the middle frame and Texas was at +23. However, they threw the stats sheet out the window tonight.
The Icerays got on the board at 2:26 when Emil Romig pulled the puck off the end boards to the near point where he spun and sent a pass to Perry D’Arrisso at the left hash marks. D’Arrisso had great vision to find Andrew Paras all alone in the far circle for a slapper past the glove hand of Hunter Leisner. The Icerays closed to within one when Beau Walker went on a breakaway and carried the puck into the Tornado zone with Michael Economos trailing. The two crisscrossed just inside the blueline then Walker delayed and fed the puck across to Economos who had Michael Hoy draped on his back yet managed to redirect it past Leisner’s left pad. Time of the goal was 12:59. With the momentum shifting in their direction, it took the Icerays just 39 seconds to knot the score at three. Romig sent a shot from the near point that Leisner knocked down with the glove but he was unable hold on to it, leaving the puck in the crease for Rudy Sulmonte on the backdoor. Sulmonte did not waste the chance as he flipped it over the diving Leisner.
Both teams were doing a lot of dumping and chasing in the third trying to get the fore check going to turn pucks over deep in the offensive zone. While both teams had some chances nobody was able to convert until 14:45. Leef controlled a bouncing puck at the far hash marks, circled to the point just inside the blueline and sent a wrister on net. Brandon Hawkins who was set up in front had occupied the defenseman Williams. Myers made the save but it went to Reuschlein off to his left and he put a centering pass back out front. Leef who had followed his initial shot pounced on the centering pass and blasted it past Myers before he could recover.
The Tornado who average nearly 35 shots per game, managed only 20 on the evening and were outshot by the Icerays who had 26. Neither team was able to convert on their lone powerplay opportunity.
Elsewhere around the NAHL South Division, the Tornado got some help in the pursuit of the division leading Amarillo Bulls from the Topeka Roadrunners. Topeka used to two third period powerplay goals to send the game to overtime before winning 4 – 3 in a shootout. Wichita Falls continued the Odessa Jackalopes struggles as they cruised to a 6 – 2 win at the Kay Yeager Coliseum.