Tornado sweep season series with 6-2 win over Fresno
Ondrej Kopta and Jack Prince each scored twice in the Texas Tornado’s 6-2 victory over the Fresno Monsters on Friday night. Drew Allen picked up a goal and two assists in his first game in over a month after returning from an injury. Garland native Hunter Leisner, acquired from Aberdeen earlier in the week and making his first start in net with the Tornado, saw just 19 shots but picked up his first win with the team. With the win, Texas improves its record to 26-11-6, good for 58 points and second in the South Division.
Though the Tornado peppered Monsters goaltender Tomas Sholl with 15 shots in the first period alone, they didn’t get their first goal until the 17:08 mark. Koptaskated into the zone on the right wing and took a wrist shot from the top of the circle. The shot appeared to ricochet off the stick of a Monsters defenseman, then knuckled underneath Sholl’s blocker for the opening goal of the contest.
Kopta doubled his total just 21 seconds later, this time stuffing the puck home on the rebound. Mico Solorzano fired a shot on goal from the left-wing circle, on which Sholl was able to make a pad save. The puck remained loose at the top of the crease, however, and Kopta was found the net and squeezed it past Sholl for the 16-year-old Czech’s sixth goal of the season. Kopta’s two-goal performance marks his first multi-goal game of his junior hockey career.
The Tornado picked up right where they left off when the second period got underway, even with the team on the penalty kill. The Monsters won the initial faceoff of the power-play, but the long reach of Jack Prince allowed the captain to poke-check the puck off the stick of a Monsters defenseman at the blue line. The puck rolled through neutral ice and into the Fresno zone, where Prince could get back to it and score shorthanded to give the Tornado a 3-0 lead at 3:58 of the second. Sholl was replaced by Macauley Haight just a couple of minutes following Prince’s goal, and neither team scored in the remainder of the period.
Using his fresh legs to his advantage, Allen looked strong all night and scored early in the third period to extend the Tornado lead to 4-0. Jordan Greenberg got to a puck in the corner and centered it out front for Allen, who was driving to the net and got his stick on the puck, got it past Haight and scored to make it a four-goal game.
Fresno would not fold, however, scoring twice in just under two minutes to cut the Tornado lead to 4-2. Initially, a short-handed goal from Mikhail Bushinski got Fresno on the board. After a Fresno clear, miscommunication between Leisner and Prince led to neither player making a move at the puck loose in the corner. Leisner had his back to the play when Fresno got a pass out in front of the net to Brennan Bradley. Leisner somehow got to the first shot, but Bushinski swept up the rebound and scored shorthanded. A quick wrist shot from Riley Borer 1:50 later made it a 4-2 game, and suddenly the Monsters were buzzing all around the Tornado zone.
Two minutes following, Borer’s goal, Lucas Whelan scored for the second time in as many weekends on a blast from the point on a pass from Prince. Whelan wound up and fired one which rang off the post but redirected over the goal line as Texas extended its lead to 5-2. Just 1:14 later, another goal from Prince, this time with him waiting at the doorstep, put the final outcome in no doubt.
The Tornado have the rest of the weekend off, but are back at it on Thursday, February 2nd with a game against the Wichita Falls Wildcats. Opening faceoff from Dr Pepper Arena is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.