The Texas Tornado completed the sweep of the Wichita Falls Wildcats via a shootout on Saturday. Things did not go well for the Tornado early. For the second night in a row Texas was held to just seven shots on goal in the first period. However, instead of going into the first intermission scoreless like last night the Tornado found themselves down by two.
The first Wildcats goal came after Texas goaltender Hunter Leisner made a stick save then shuffled the puck behind his net. Unfortunately Ben Kucera was right there to spit it back out front to a streaking Kyle Bauman who was just joining the play after coming off the bench. Bauman put the puck in the back of the net at 7:10. Just five minutes later Kristaps Bazevics found Nick Farmer heading into the Tornado zone. Farmer fired a shot toward the net which went off a defender’s stick and redirected over the blocker to give the Wildcats the early two goal lead.
The Tornado managed to get on the board early in the second to start their come back. At 2:57 CJ Reuschlein sent a rocket on goal and Evan Cowley made the initial save but lost control of the puck. Jackson Leef crashed the net looking for a rebound and slammed it home just as he was pushed into the net. The Wildcats bench argued that the net was off its moorings but to no avail as referee Jake Brenk was in perfect position to see the puck cross the line before the net came off. It took Jason Eddy just 13 seconds to knot the score at two. Following the faceoff the puck found last night’s hero Nick Neville at the point and he made a bid for this third goal of the series. Neville’s shot went off a shin guard in front, but Eddy was there to control the carom and put it past Cowley.
At 7:41 of the third Texas took its first lead of the night on another Eddy blue collar goal. This time it was Louie Rowe who put the puck on net but the result was the same and Eddy cleaned up the rebound. The Tornado’s lead was fairly short lived though as the Wildcats finally managed to get a goal on their eighth power play of the game. The goal came at 12:53 on a Colin Staub deflection of an Eliot Grauer shot from the point.
In overtime Texas had two good chances early but Cowley was up to the task, then with just 25 second to go in the extra period Michael Hoy was hit with a tripping minor. Wichita Falls had things set up on the man advantage as they fed Bauman at the left wing circle for a big one-timer. However, Leisner went post to post to make a highlight reel save as the horn sounded.
Brandon Hawkins, the leagues leading scorer, got the shootout started for Texas as he stick handled between his legs to the backhand and put it behind a totally befuddled Cowley. In the second round Rudy Junda tied it up for Wichita Falls, but that would be as close as they would get. Neville and Leef scored in the fourth and fifth rounds while Leisner slammed the door closed on the remaining Wildcats shooters to grab the win.
Texas turned things around after the slow start to win the shots on goal battle 36-29. The Tornado were held off the board on their two power play opportunities, but the penalty kill had a marvelous game allowing only a single goal on eight penalty kills.
Elsewhere around the NAHL South Division, Amarillo turned the tables on Topeka after being shut out last night. The Bulls came out with a 3-1 win in a game that included three fights, a checking from behind misconduct, a cross checking game misconduct and an obscene gesture game ejection. In Odessa the Corpus Christi Icerays jumped out to a four goal lead then cruised to a 6-2 victory.