Balanced Attack Steers 'Cats Over Odessa

Austin Beaulieu scored twice and four skaters posted multi-point nights, as the Wichita Falls Wildcats (34-13-2) skated past the Odessa Jackalopes (9-35-7), 7-4, at the Ector County Coliseum on Tuesday night.

Beaulieu had two goals and an assist in the win, while Nick Farmer, Nikita Litviak and Kevin Charyszyn each notched two points on a goal and an assist.

Matt Koch also had a multi-point outing with a pair of assists. Max Reisinger and Evan Okeley also found twine for Wichita Falls in the win, while Colin Staub, Tommy Apap, Konstantin Chernyuk, Shane Kuzmeski, Jeff Baum and Johnny Lazarus all tallied assists. Austin Shaw made 25 saves on 29 shots on goal in the win.

The red-and-black controlled the majority of the first period and outshot Odessa in the frame, 20-7, while spending large spells of time in the
offensive zone.

That pressure paid off with two goals roughly two minutes apart, but surprisingly, the tallies came off transition rushes.

Beaulieu opened the scoring at 9:21 of the first after he chased a loose puck the length of the ice. The forward picked up the disc just below the right-wing circle and stopped short to toe-drag around a back-checker, before snapping a wrist-shot home to give the ?Cats a 1-0 lead on his 20th goal of the campaign.

Soon after, Okeley doubled the Wildcats? lead after skating onto a pass from Charyszyn into the neutral zone. With just one man in front of him, Okeley shot off the left pad of Robin Johansson from just inside the offensive blue line. Johansson steered the shot wide but the rebound sat nicely for Okeley to hammer on net, where it snuck through the body of Johansson to make it 2-0 Wichita Falls at 11:29 of the frame.

The Jackalopes mounted some pressure in the second, and after the Wildcats made it 3-0 early in the frame, Odessa score two of its own to make it A one-goal game entering the third.

The ?Cats expanded their lead just over five minutes into the frame after an interception in the neutral zone allowed Lazarus to gain the zone.

The New York-native skated to the right-wing circle, dropped a pass to Reisinger and then drove the net to open up space for a shot. Reisinger did not waste the opportunity, settled the puck with his skate and shooting quickly into the top corner for his 16th goal of the year.

The Jacks did not shrink away however, and made it 3-1 on a one-timer by Razmuz Waxin-Engback from the top of the right circle on the power play.

With time ticking away in the second stanza, they cut into the lead once more. A loose puck caromed to the front of Shaw?s crease, and despite the netminder?s lunge for the loose disc, Ryan MacKeller managed to clean up the rebound to send the contest into the second intermission with the score 3-2.

In the third, Odessa tied the contest at three goals apiece early in the frame when Christian Hausinger snuck a shot through traffic in front, but
Wichita Falls responded immediately after.

With the ?Cats on the power play following a boarding minor to Nate Werhane, Koch managed to work the puck on net. With players from both sides hacking at the disc, it fell to Farmer to turn home to make it 4-3.

The red-and-black then made 6-4 after a turnover in the defensive zone by Odessa.

Farmer walked the puck from the wall and pump-faked on a shot, then played a pass down low to Charyszyn. His initial effort was stopped
by Tanner Creel, but Charyszyn stayed with the play and tucked it past the netminder for a two-goal edge.

The Jacks cut into the deficit once more when Dakoda Menslage finished off a rush with Waxin-Engback to make it 5-4, but that is as close as Odessa would come, as Beaulieu and Litviak would tack on goals in the waning stages of the contest to send the ?Cats home 7-4 winners.

The Wildcats are next in action when they return to the Kay Yeager Coliseum to face the Wenatchee Wild on the final weekend series of the
regular season. Opening faceoff is slated for 7:05 p.m. both nights Friday, March 6 will see the Wildcats Pride Booster Club hold their annual player poster auction. Then on Saturday, March 7, the first 750 fans in attendance will receive a free 2014-15 team poster courtesy of SuddenLink Media. In addition, the Wildcats will also host the annual player jersey auction during the game on March 7.

Fans should also mark their calendars for Fan Appreciation Night onWednesday, March 11. All single-game tickets are available for free, and
can be picked up by visiting the KYC Box Office beginning March 4.

Fans that cannot make it to the arena may follow all the action on, with an audio-only broadcast available via YouTube.