The Rio Grande Killer Bees played even with the leader of the South Division Tuesday for 65-plus minutes, but in the end it was the Wichita Falls Wildcats who escaped with a 2-1 shootout victory at the Kay Yeager Coliseum in Wichita Falls, Texas.
In spite of the loss, the Killer Bees moved into sole possession of second place in the South Division by picking up a point in the shootout.
After a scoreless first period, Killer Bees forward Austin Hoff (Snohomish, Wash.) scored the first goal of the game with 7:35 remaining in the second frame.
Hoff TMs goal began with a faceoff win in the Rio Grande Valley zone and a successful break out. Hoff carried the puck down the near boards and slipped a pass to Anthony Croston (Phoenix, Ariz.), who blistered a strategically placed low shot. Wichita Falls goalie David Zevnik couldn TMt control the rebound, and Hoff pounced on the puck and flicked it into the top of the net.
Ben Greiner (Newport Beach, Calif.) also assisted on Hoff TMs goal, which was his second of the season.
The Wildcats tied up the game nine second into the third period. Off of the opening faceoff, Tyler Ledford fired a shot from the right wing, which Olli Kalkaja (Oulu, Finland) kicked aside, but the rebound popped to Max Reisinger, who buried the scoring opportunity. Colin Staub also assisted on the equalizer.
Kalkaja did his part to assure the Killer Bees a point when he stopped Kyle Bauman one-on-one with a defender in tow with 7:24 left in the third period. Kalkaja also denied Bauman in overtime during another breakaway.
I think he saw a little bit of consistent action tonight, said Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees head coach Joe Coombs, and I think he TMs a much better goalie when he sees that consistent action.
The game was decided in a shootout after five minutes of 4-on-4 play yielded no goals in overtime.
Greiner, the first shooter off the Bees TM bench, buried his shot 5-hole to stake his team to an early lead in the shootout. However, the lead didn TMt last long when Wichita Falls TM first shooter also scored on a 5-hole blast.
The overtime session remained tied 1-1 until Ledford, the Wildcats TM fourth shooter, tucked his shot into the cage on his forehand. Bees forward Aleksi Luhtalampi (Rauma, Finland) had a chance to continue the shootout, but Zevnik denied his shot.
Kalkaja made 27 saves on 28 shot for the Bees while Zevnik stopped 22 of the 23 shots he faced. Neither team scored a power-play goal. Rio Grande Valley went 0-for-4 on its power plays while Wichita Falls failed to score on its three man-advantages.