Behind two goals from Nikita Litviak, the Wichita Falls Wildcats claimed an 8-5 victory over the Odessa Jackalopes in a back-and-forth affair at the Kay Yeager Coliseum on Friday night.
Cam Knight, Colin Staub and Max Reisinger each notched a goal and an assist, and Austin Beaulieu, Alex Falconer and Paul Soubry also found the net in the win. Evan Okeley tallied three assists in the contest, while Tommy Apap and Matt Koch both registered a pair of helpers. David Zevnik made nine saves in relief of Austin Shaw to earn his second win of the year.
The Wildcats raced into the lead in the first 10 minutes of the opening frame on a pair of goals in less than five minutes.
Staub started the scoring on his second goal of the season, jamming home a loose puck into an open net after Tommy Apap won an offensive-zone draw forward and tied up the Odessa netminder.
Wichita Falls doubled its lead on a transition rush a few minutes later, after Nick Farmer gained the offensive blue line and sent a pass into the skates of Shane Kuzmeski. The puck caromed behind Kuzmeski, but landed squarely on the stick of Falconer, who snuck his shot inside the post to make it 2-0.
The lead was short-lived however, as two goals in 30 seconds for the Jackalopes tied the affair. First, Jesse Junttila walked down from the blue line and buried a centering feed from the corner to make it 2-1. Seconds later, an off-target effort caromed off the glass and onto the stick of Chad Guderian, who squeezed a shot past Shaw.
The Jackalopes then took the lead as the period wound to a close, with Hampus Sjodahl roofing a wrist shot from the slot to make it 3-2.
The back-and-forth battle continued in the second frame, with the two teams combining for another four tallies, but Wichita Falls controlled play, outshooting Odessa 21-5 in the stanza.
First, Knight pulled the Wildcats even at 3-3 following a great rush through the middle of the ice. After gaining the offensive zone, he dished for Okeley to his right and skated to the front of the net. Okeley raced to the bottom of the circle and returned the pass to Knight, who turned it home.
The Jackalopes regained the lead shortly after, as Derek Brown deflected a point shot through the five-hole of Shaw, but Wichita Falls continued to press and tied the contest thanks to a fortuitous bounce.
Litviak gained the blue line along the right-wing wall and cut towards the middle. From the top of the circle, he sent a harmless shot that was heading wide of the cage, but Robin Johansson waved at the puck as it went by and deflected the puck into his own net to make it 4-4.
The ‘Cats piled on the pressure immediately after, and made that pressure pay in the last 90 seconds of the second stanza. Reisinger took a pass from Okeley and gained the zone on the left side before circling all the way around the net. His wrap-around attempt was blocked, but he was first to the rebound, and turned it home to make it 5-4 Wildcats on his fourth goal in two games.
Odessa scored early in the third to tie the game at 5-5 on a blue-line blast from Christian Hausinger, but Wichita Falls responded quickly through Beaulieu.
After Staub chipped the puck off the boards into neutral ice, Beaulieu raced onto it and into the zone along the right-wing wall. As the Jackalopes defense closed in, Beaulieu let fly with a sneaky wrister that handcuffed Johansson, and nestled inside the right post to make it 6-5.
The ‘Cats then put the affair to bed with goals from Litviak and Soubry to push the score to 8-5, where it would stay.
The Wildcats are next in action when they travel to Corpus Christi to take on the IceRays on Oct. 30 and 31, before returning home to the KYC for two games against the Amarillo Bulls on Nov. 7 and 8.
Wichita Falls - Colin Staub (Tommy Apap) 4:31
Wichita Falls - Alex Falconer (Nick Farmer, Kevin Charyszyn) 9:00
Odessa - Jesse Junttila (Derek Brown, Kenny Hausinger) 9:24
Odessa - Chad Guderian (Christian Hausinger, Matt Beranek) 9:54
Odessa - Hampus Sjodahl (Nicolas Carbone, Alex Alger) 15:16
Wichita Falls - Cam Knight (Evan Okeley, Max Reisinger) 10:10
Odessa - Derek Brown (Jake Hamilton, Kenny Hausinger) 11:44
Wichita Falls - Nikita Litviak (Matt Koch) 12:37
Wichita Falls - Max Reisinger (Evan Okeley) 18:39
Odessa - Christian Hausinger (Nicolas Carbone, Jake Hamilton) 2:52
Wichita Falls - Austin Beaulieu (Colin Staub, Tommy Apap) 5:21
Wichita Falls - Nikita Litviak (Matt Koch, Austin Albrecht) 7:45