Hawkins nets three, Tornado knock off IceRays
Brandon Hawkins helped the Texas Tornado move to 6-0-0 on Thursday night, after his natural hat trick in the second period made the difference in a 4-2 win over the Corpus Christi IceRays. J.T. Paine, who picked up his first career NAHL marker in the first period,was the only other goal scorer for the Tornado. Hunter Leisner was tested often, but made 37 of 39 saves while also collecting a roughing penalty. All four Tornado goals came in the second period while the IceRays picked up both of theirs in the third.
That made for a scoreless first period, but not an uneventful one. Texas came into the game with power-play goals in all five games so far this season, but a pair of man advantages went by the boards in the first period with the Tornado unable to sniff out a chance. Later in the period, Hawkins made his physical presence felt, putting IceRays forward Perry D’Arriso into the glass in the corner and shattering it. With 2:50 remaining on the clock, the officials decided to send the teams to the dressing rooms for intermission. Play resumed after a full first intermission, but still with time left in the period. The final 2:50 were played without incident, though Eric Purcell had a breakaway in the final seconds that was denied by Leisner, and the teams simply switched sides for the second.
Paine’s goal came at 1:14 of the second and was a lesson in hard work. Paine had the puck at the side of the net, though IceRays goaltender Ben Myers looked like he had the left post held. The first two efforts were stopped, but Paine stuck to it and kept hacking until he got it past Myers to make it a 1-0 Tornado lead.
Hawkins scored the next three goals, though the first was a complete team effort. It started after a forechecking Jason Eddy blew up the IceRays’ breakout attempt. He lost his stick, but still was able to kick the puck along the boards. After working the puck around the perimeter, Anthony Mousseau found Hawkins, who put the puck home and gave the Tornado a two-goal lead. Four minutes later, Hawkins and Scott Conway broke into the zone on a 2-on-1, Conway found Hawkins, and Hawkins went top shelf to make it a 3-0 game. Later in the third period, after the puck ricocheted around the IceRays zone, it made its way to Hawkins’ stick in the slot and he once again found the back of the net. Hawkins had his hat trick and the Tornado took a 4-0 lead into the second intermission.
Corpus Christi scored their first goal of the game early in the third, though the period started with a massive flurry by the Tornado. After the IceRays quelled the attack, Phil Pietroniero dumped the puck into the Tornado zone. Texas tried to break out, but Pietroniero intercepted a blind breakout pass and scored to cut the Tornado lead to three. Corpus Christi got a power-play goal from Tommaso Bucci with less than two minutes left in the third, but it was not enough to overtake the Tornado.
Texas and Corpus Christi will play again Friday night from AmericanBank Center with opening faceoff scheduled for 7:05 p.m.