Behind a shutout from Austin Shaw and a four-goal eruption in the third period, the Wichita Falls Wildcats surged past the Topeka RoadRunners, 7-0, at the Kansas Expocentre on Saturday night to even their South Division Semifinal series at a game apiece.
Shane Kuzmeski score twice for Wichita Falls in the win, while Nick Farmer, Max Reisinger and Kevin Charyszyn each posted multi-point nights with a goal and an assist each.
Austin Albrecht also turned in a two-point effort with a pair of assists, and Nikita Litviak and Johnny Lazarus also found the net for the 'Cats.
Evan Okeley, Cam Knight, Paul Soubry and Konstantin Chernyuk chipped in on offense as well, as they each posted a helper in the win. In net, Austin Shaw turned aside all 23 shots he faced for the shutout win.
A frantic first few minutes saw both teams spawn breakaway chances in the span of 15 seconds, but while Tyler Irvine of Topeka did not capitalize on his opportunity, the Wildcats did in the form of Litviak.
Irvine raced into the offensive zone for the 'Runners on a clean breakaway to start the sequence, but Shaw stonewalled him on a five-hole bid.
Wichita Falls immediately transitioned up the ice, with Albrecht hitting Litviak with a tape-to-tape outlet pass.
Litviak surged into the zone, stickhandled by a defenseman then fooled Matej Tomek with a shot fake, before tucking the puck home around the outstretched leg of Tomek to give the 'Cats their first lead of the series at 2:36 of the first.
In the second, the red-and-black expanded their lead on a goal within the first two minutes, and then stretched their edge further with a goal inside the last five minutes of the frame, with both tallies coming from Kuzmeski.
The defenseman first made it 2-0 after intercepting a breakout pass from the 'Runners. After settling quickly, Kuzmeski sent a wrist shot towards the cage that floated past a screened Tomek for his second of the postseason.
Kuzmeski then doubled his output after an offensive zone faceoff that the Wildcats won cleanly to the Illinois native. Rather than a quick shot, Kuzmeski skated around the circle and below the goal line, then centered for Reisinger whose effort was saved by Tomek. The rebound landed right on the stick of Kuzmeski who had circled the cage, and he slammed it into the roof of the net for a 3-0 lead after two periods of play.
Wichita Falls extinguished any last vestiges of a comeback for Topeka with four goals in just over four minutes to start the third period.
First, Farmer buried a feed from Okeley to finish off a two-on-one that resulted from an open-ice hit by Charyszyn that caused a turnover in the neutral zone to make it 4-0.
Reisinger joined the offensive output just over two minutes later, as he sniped the top corner from the right-wing circle for his first tally of the 2015 playoffs.
Moments later with the Wildcats on the power play, Charyszyn nabbed his second of the weekend when he got the final touch on a shot by Farmer that pinballed around in the slot, making it 6-0.
The offensive eruption concluded just 14 seconds later, as Albrecht set up Lazarus for an easy tap-in on the backdoor after the pair forced Topeka into a turnover in the defensive zone to push the score to 7-0, which is how it would end.
The Wildcats are in next action when the return home for Game 3 against the RoadRunners on Monday night. Puck drop is slated for 7:05 p.m. Fans that cannot make it to the game may follow all the action on FASTHockey.com, with an audio-only stream provided via YouTube.
Tickets for the 2015 Robertson Cup playoffs are on sale now at the Kay Yeager Coliseum box office, and can be purchased in person or by calling (940) 716-5555. 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).