ALBUQUERQUE, NM – The Wichita Falls Warriors (22-13-1-6) were looking to bounce back from a 4-1 loss against the New Mexico Ice Wolves (15-26-2-2) on Thursday night. The Warriors would head into game two of the weekend series a little shorthanded, only dressing 10 forwards and had defenseman rotate in on the fourth line.
The Warriors would start the first period with a much faster pace than the night before, controlling the puck and applying early pressure. The early pace to the game favored the Warriors forecheck and fast style of play. Wichita Falls goaltender Ryan Ullan also got off to a good start between the pipes making some big saves. One of those big saves led to a transition into the offensive zone for the Warriors top line. Thomas Weis would find Riley Brueck who lost the puck for a moment at the top of the left wing circle, but Drew Vieten (17) was there to pick up the loose puck and elevate the puck over the glove of Beni Halasz in net for New Mexico and the Warriors had the early 1-0 lead 18:38 into the first. For Vieten, the goal gave him the team leading 17th goal of the season. The Warriors would take the late goal and a 1-0 lead to the second period.
New Mexico began to find their rhythm from the night before in the second period. The Ice Wolves started creating chances in front of the crease of Ullan. The Warriors would respond with some chances of their own on the other end, but through the first half of the period neither goaltender would be beat. As the period began to get late, the Ice Wolves would find a way to get on the board as Joey Larson (10) would score his third goal of the series and tie the game 1-1. The two South Division foes would be all knotted up heading into the third period.
In the third the action would really start to pick up with both teams trading one quality chance after another. The Warriors would then began to benefit from a couple man advantages. First, 3:45 in Hunter Jones (4) would give the Warriors a 2-1 lead off of a cross pass from Drew Vieten (19). The Ice Wolves would respond once again and tie the game 2-2 on a goal by Dillan Bentley (8). The Warriors would head back to the power play, their third of the period and Drake Usher (5) would score his third power play goal of the season to put the Warriors back in front 3-2 late in the third. Vieten would pick up another assist and finish the game with 3 points on a goal and 2 assists. The two power play goals gave the Warriors their third lead of the night. The Ice Wolves would pull Halasz for the extra attacker and looked to tie the game with 1:30 remaining. The Warriors would create a turnover and Riley Brueck had a chance to hit the empty net from the offensive blue line but the shot went off of the left post and the Ice Wolves would find themselves still alive and back in the offensive zone with under 30 seconds left. The Ice Wolves would rush the face off win by the Warriors in the neutral zone and push the puck into the offensive end. With a lot of traffic in front of the net, the puck would bounce out to the top of the slot and Keegan Langefels (7) would pinch down and tie the game with only 8 seconds left and the game would head to overtime.
In overtime, the Warriors would head right back to the man advantage, an area in which they flourished in during the third period. During the first 30 seconds of the first power play, the Ice Wolves would take another penalty and the Warriors would have a 5-on-3 for over a minute in the overtime period. However, the Warriors were unable to get a high quality scoring chance off of the two man advantage and the game would remain tied after 65 minutes and head to a shootout.
In the shootout, neither shooter was able to score in the first round. In the second round, William Lawson-Body would pull off a nice move to give the Warriors the advantage in the second round, but the Ice Wolves’ Cole Hanson would respond and tie it heading to the third round. Thomas Weis would go first for the Warriors in the third round but his chance would be stopped by the left leg pad of Halasz and the Ice Wolves would have a chance to win the game with a score. Spencer Rudrud would get the opportunity and beat Ullan on the blocker side, and the Warriors would fall 4-3 losing their third straight.
Beni Halasz (8-6-1-1) would record the win for New Mexico. He recorded 34 saves on 37 shots faced. Ryan Ullan (6-4-0-3) recorded the loss for Wichita Falls. He recorded 35 saves on 38 shots faced.
Next up, the Warriors finish the weekend series with the Ice Wolves on Saturday, April 10th at 7:30pm CST at the Outpost Ice Arenas.