Konstantin Chernyuk scored the first goal of his career as the Wichita Falls Wildcats used a pair of power-play tallies to propel themselves past the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees, 3-1, at the State Farm Arena on Friday night in Hidalgo, Texas.
Chernyuk's goal stood as the game-winning tally, while Austin Beaulieu and Tommy Apap also found twine, with Beaulieu registering an assist in the
win as well. Colin Staub chipped in with a pair of assists, and Cam Knight and Matt Koch each notched helpers, while David Zevnik made 24 saves on 25 shots to earn his seventh win of the campaign.
It took less than a minute for the ‘Cats to find the net, and they did so after an early penalty by the Killer Bees.
With the Wildcats on the power play just 20 seconds into the game, Staub worked the puck back to Knight at the blue line. Knight faked a slap-shot,
pulling Ben Johansson out to the top of his crease, before he slipped a past to an unmarked Beaulieu to tap home from the bottom of the left-wing circle. The goal marks Beaulieu's 12th of the season, and gives Wichita Falls a power-play tally in each of its last 13 games.
As the first frame wound to a close, the Killer Bees leveled the score on a man-advantage marker as well. A shot from the point was blocked in front, with a mad scramble ensuing at the top of the blue paint. Zevnik made saves on the first couple of rebounds, but the ‘Cats could not clear the puck away from Stathis Soumelidis, who tapped it home to make it 1-1.
Rio Grande Valley enjoyed a solid surge to start the second stanza, but the Wildcats weathered the storm and eventually took their second lead of the game on another power-play tally.
After Chernyuk made a great play to keep the puck in the offensive zone, the puck worked along to Beaulieu in space in the high slot as Chernyuk drove the net. Beaulieu rounded on the puck, delayed on a shot and played a seeing-eye pass through traffic to Chernyuk in the right circle, who roofed it into the top shelf for his first-career goal.
Wichita Falls expanded the edge as time ticked away in the middle frame thanks to another solid play to keep the puck in the zone, this time as Koch held a clearing attempt and sent a slap-pass to Staub at the goal line. Staub delayed briefly, then centered for Apap who got just enough of on the disc to direct it home to make it 3-1 at 19:19 of the frame.
Neither team generated too many quality looks in the third period, and Zevnik stood strong to withstand a late push from the Killer Bees, as the game finished 3-1.
The Wildcats and Killer Bees will conclude their weekend set when they reconvene at the State Farm Arena on Saturday. Puck drop is slated for
7:30 p.m., with video coverage available on
, and an audio-only broadcast available via YouTube.
Single-game tickets for the 2014-15 Wildcats season are on sale now at the Kay Yeager Coliseum box office. Stay updated on the latest team news and notes by connecting with the Wildcats on Facebook (WFWildcats), Twitter (@WFWildcats), Instagram (WFWildcats) and on YouTube (Wichita Falls Wildcats).
Wichita Falls - Austin Beaulieu (power play) (Cam Knight, Colin Staub) 0:48
Rio Grande Valley - Stathis Soumelidis (power play) (Robert Click, Wayland Williams) 16:40
Wichita Falls – Konstantin Chernyuk (power play) (Austin Beaulieu, Colin Staub) 12:11
Wichita Falls - Tommy Apap (Colin Staub, Matt Koch) 19:19