Tornado rally back to earn third straight win
The Texas Tornado needed a third period comeback, but recovered from a pair of two-goal deficits to defeat the Wichita Falls Wildcats by a 4-3 margin on Friday night at Dr Pepper Arena. After a hat trick in Thursday’s Tornado victory, Tornado captain Jack Prince chipped in with two more goals, including the game-winner with 2:23 left in the third period. The Tornado captain is now tied for the league lead in goals with 31, while his 60 points rank him 4th in the NAHL. Joakim Jutras stopped 33 shots in his first start since January 21st against Topeka. With the victory, Texas is now on a three-game winning streak.
The Wildcats jumped out to an early lead when, at 2:28 of the first period, George Pagonis scored his first goal of the game on a late-developing 3-on-2 into the Tornado zone. Six minutes later, Pagonis doubled his total after Jutras left a rebound loose in his crease after stopping a shot by Patrick Yudez. Jutras attempted to freeze the puck by falling backwards on top of it, but left enough of it loose to allow Pagonis to swoop in and score to give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead after the first period.
After a three-goal output on Thursday’s game, The Tornado power-play scored three more times on Friday, and cashed in early in the second period. Initially, Texas had the power-play set up below the goal line. But it worked its way around the boards and to the right point, where Nick Neville sent a slap shot through a screen and past Wildcats goaltender Jo Jo Jeanetta. Neville’s fourth goal of the season came at 4:49 and cut the Wildcats lead in half.
Later in the period, however, the Wildcats regained their two goal lead. Zach Mohr controlled the puck in the left-wing circle, stickhandled away from a defender, and slipped a pass to the slot for Renato Engler, who put it past Jutras to make it a 3-1 game.
Texas cut the deficit to within a goal before the close of the second period on another slap shot from the point, this one from Michael Hoy. The puck appeared to deflect off the stick of a Wildcats defenseman before changing direction and beating Jeanetta, while the Tornado goal was the first of three unanswered to close out the game.
The game-tying goal came from Prince at 5:33 of the third period, one in which he scored on the power-play from a seemingly impossible angle. After Jeanetta stopped a pair of shots coming from close range, the puck trickled wide of the net. Prince got to it there and, while standing behind the goal line, banked the puck of the inside of Jeanetta’s pads and in for the goal.
It remained 3-3 for the majority of the third, but when the Wildcats took another penalty with 3:15 left regulation, Prince went back to work. Lucas Whelan found Drew Allen in the slot, but he was stopped by Jeanetta. He couldn’t get to Prince’s shot , however, who slammed home the rebound for his fifth goal in two games, and his fifth game-winning goal of the season.
The Tornado and Wildcats will close out this three-game weekend series on Saturday, with a 7:00 faceoff from Kay Yeager Coliseum in Wichita Falls.