Needing not just overtime but a shootout as well, the Texas Tornado moved to 8-0-0 on the season with a 3-2 win over the Wichita Falls Wildcats on Sunday. Brandon Hawkins scored his team-leading ninth goal of the season, while Justin Greenberg added his second of 2012-2013 in the Tornado victory. Jerry Kaukinen made his second start of the season in net and made 24 stops in the win. The Tornado have won eight straight to start the season and ten in a row dating back to the Robertson Cup in May. It’s the team’s longest winning streak since 2010-2011, when they won 15 straight.
Greenberg and Hawkins both netted goals in the shootout, as did Scott Conway. Kyle Bauman and Sami Salminen each scored for the Wildcats, but when George Pagonis missed the net in the fifth round, the Tornado secured the win. It’s the second time they’ve been pushed to a shootout, beating the Coulee Region Chill, 4-3, at the Combat Hockey/NAHL Showcase in Blaine, Minn.
The Wildcats struck first in the opening period on a goal from Charlie Hemstrom. Hemstrom, who was with St. Louis for the Robertson Cup last season, wound up and blasted a shot from the blue line that made its way through traffic and beat Kaukinen for the goal. It looked like it was re-directed, but Hemstrom was given credit for his first goal of the season, as Wichita Falls took a 1-0 lead into the second period.
The second was dominated by the Tornado, however, who outshot the Wilcats by a 12-5 margin and scored the period’s only two goals. First it was Hawkins, who has scored all ten of his goals in the last five games. Conway took a pass from Jason Eddy, stickhandled to get some space, and spotted Conway at the left post. It was an easy one-timer for the 18-year-old, whose goal at 2:35 tied the score. With less than a minute to play in the period, Greenberg and C.J. Reuschlein combined for a nice play to tie the score. As Greenberg came into the zone, he found Reuschlein down low. Reuschlein quickly returned the puck to Greenberg, who scored as he was cutting to the net and gave the Tornado a lead.
Texas took that lead into the third period, but the Wildcats took advantage of a power-play and tied the score. Hemstrom set this play up, after taking the puck at the right point and finding an open Salmined cross-ice at the left post. From an identical spot to where Hawkins tied the score a period earlier, Salminen did the same and scored the goal that went on to force overtime. Neither team scored in the extra frame, but the Tornado had enough firepower and Kaukinen made the stops he needed to to ensure the victory.
The Tornado will be back on the ice on Thursday for a 7:30 contest against the Topeka Roadrunners.