Hunter Leisner earned his first shutout of the season, stopping all 29 shots that came his way in a 2-0 Texas Tornado victory over the Corups Christi IceRays on Saturday. Jackson Leef picked up his second game-winning goal in as many nights, breaking a scoreless tie at the 7:46 mark of the third period. Scott Conway added an empty net goal with less than four seconds remaining to make it a 2-0 final score from American Bank Center in Corpus Christi. The win is the sixth straight for Texas, who have also won 11 of their last 12 games.
The Tornado may have come away with the victory, but the IceRays came out firing on all cylinders in the first period, outshooting Texas 14-7. Leisner was forced to stand on his head a few times in the first, but handled every challenge that came his way. His biggest test in the first came after Perry D'Arrisso split the Tornado defense and walked in with Rudy Sulmonte on a 2-on-0 break. D'Arrisso foud Sulmonte at the near post, but Leisner moved well laterally to make the pad save. Later in the first, the Tornado had a 5-on-3 after penalties to Jalen Schultz and Joe Ginley, but were unable to convert.
A penalty to Leef late in the first gave the IceRays 1:48 of power-play time to begin the second period. Once the puck dropped in the second, it was IceRays goaltender Ben Myers's turn to stand out. The Tornado peppered Myers with 21 shots on goal in the middle period, but Myers turned them all aside. Leisner faced nine shots, though the one that didn't register as a shot on goal was the closest the IceRays came to scoring all night. Emil Romig had the puck at the top of the left circle and took a wrist shot with a screen in front. Leisner reacted late, but the puck rang off the crossbar and out of play, keeping the game scoreless.
In the third period, Leef finally broke through to give his team the lead. With both teams struggling to beat the opposing goaltender, it took a fortuitous bounce to break the tie. CJ Reuschlein took a wrist shot that went high, but kicked off the glass behind the net and deflected back out front. Leef spotted the puck and rifled it home for his seventh goal of the season and what would go on to be his second straight game-winner.
As the third went on, the Tornado did themselves no favors by taking two penalties, one to Michael Hoy and the other to Brandon Hawkins. Sporting a top-five penalty kill, however, Texas did not allow a power-play goal on either opportunity and maintained their one goal lead. Then, as the clock ticked down, Justin Greenberg found Conway in the neutral zone, who made a move to get past a defender and sent the puck into the empty net for the insurance goal.
Elsewhere in the South division, Amarillo clobbered Topeka 7-2, meaning the Tornado remain two points behind the Bulls for first place. Texas will play host to the Odessa Jackalopes next Friday and Saturday at Dr Pepper Arena in Frisco. The league's worst team record-wise, Odessa was actually the last team to beat the Tornado, back on December 15th. Game time for both contests is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.