ALBUQUERQUE, NM – The Wichita Falls Warriors (22-13-1-5) would be the first opponent to play in the Outpost Ice Arenas against the New Mexico Ice Wolves (14-26-2-2) who were playing in their home opener on Thursday night in the first of three straight in the series. The Warriors have the season series lead with a record of (4-1-1-0) against New Mexico this season, with all six games being played at the Kay Yeager Coliseum.
In the first period, the Ice Wolves seemed to enjoyed their home ice advantage jumping out to an early 1-0 lead on a goal just 1:38 into the opening frame. The Ice Wolves weren’t done yet early in the first either, as they would add another on a rebound goal in front to take a 2-0 lead 4 minutes into the first. It was time for the Warriors to respond quickly and enforce their will on the game, and the Warriors top line did just that. The top line of Riley Brueck, Drew Vieten, and Thomas Weis began to set the tempo for Wichita Falls and started to create some quality scoring chances. One of those chances came off of an offensive zone face-off, where Vieten (18) won the draw back to Brueck (7) who put a quick shot on net from the top of the right wing circle and Weis (16) went to the front of the net where he found himself in the right place at the right time to burry the rebound and cut the deficit down to one 5:12 into the first. The Warriors would continue to create some chances in the second half of the period but would head to the first intermission trailing 1-0. The Warriors were outshot 21-13 in the first period.
In the second period, the Warriors would come out sharper and started to control the puck in the offensive zone, putting pucks on net forcing New Mexico goaltender Beni Halasz to make some saves. However, it would be the Ice Wolves creating a 3-on-1 odd man rush the other way where they were able to take advantage of the opportunity and go back ahead by two goals at 3-1. The Warriors would trail by two goals heading to the third period. When trailing after the second period this season, the Warriors are (2-10-0-1).
In the third period, Halasz would continue his strong performance in between the pipes for New Mexico. The Warriors would try to fight their way back but chance after chance was stopped by Halasz. With just over three minutes left in the game and the Warriors still trailing by two goals, Head Coach Garrett Roth pulled goaltender Owen Bartoszkiewicz for the extra attacker to try to cut into the deficit. The Warriors would control the possession in the offensive zone with the extra attacker, but would not be able to get any quality shots on net. Weis would try to send a shot from the left point but it was blocked by Joey Larson (9) who would take it all the way into the empty net for his second of the game, putting the icing on the cake with a late 4-1 lead. The Warriors would fall by that final score, being outshot 42 to 38 in the loss.
Beni Halasz (7-6-1-1) recorded the win for New Mexico. He recorded 37 saves on 38 shots faced. Owen Bartoszkiewicz (16-9-1-3) recorded the loss for Wichita Falls. He recorded 38 saves on 41 shots faced.
Next up, the Warriors look to bounce back against the Ice Wolves in game two of the three game weekend series at the Outpost Ice Arenas. Puck drop is set for 8:30 PM CST.