Standings in South Division: 3rd
Last Ten Games: 7-2-0-1
This season, winning one, losing one has been the case when these two teams have faced-off for the 2021-2022 season, and this weekend was no exception.
Wichita Falls were looking to grab 4 points to secure their playoff spot, while Odessa was looking to keep their playoff hopes alive by the weekend’s end.
Both teams got on the board before the first five minutes were played.
Wichita Falls defenseman Vincent Corcoran scored first at the 2:43 mark, giving the Warriors an early 1-0 lead. John Perdion capitalized on the slashing minor to Cade Lemmer and tied the game at 3:33 of the opening frame.
Max Dronen would find himself alone on the top of the left face-off circle and fires the puck past Odessa’s goaltender Noah Rupprecht to grab his 4th goal at 13:45 of the first period, with the Warriors regaining the lead.
The NAHL’s league-leading power play would go to work late in the period, and it was Adam Smith’s wrister from the top of the slot that would get the Warriors a 3-1 lead heading into the locker room.
The middle period would was riddled with penalties. The Warriors would start on the Armored Roofing Penalty Kill, as Dominick Rivelli would begin the period in the box and then be joined by Philip Tornqvist 50 seconds later. The Warriors would successfully kill off the two-man advantage for Odessa.
Dean Bauchiero would continue his road goal-scoring streak by netting his 4th goal at 4:34. A broken play would find him with the puck below the goal line, and he would wrap it around to bring the score 4-1. Bauchiero’s goal would end Rupprecht’s night, as he would stop 7 of the Warriors’ 11 shots. William Proctor would come in for relief, and Odessa would try to turn their fortune around.
The Warriors could keep their foot on the gas as Vieten capitalizes on a loose puck at the bottom of the right circle, and it would be a 5-1 Warriors lead. Vieten’s unassisted goal would be his 12 of the current campaign.
After a couple of ejections at 7:05 of the second period on behalf of the Jackalopes, the Warriors couldn’t find any success on a 5-minute major. They wouldn’t be able to find success on the man advantage for the rest of the night.
Tornqvist’s stick keeps on giving as he blasts home a one-time opportunity from the right circle at the 12:16 mark. That goal would be his 14th goal in his 42 games played. Tornqvist is currently sitting 2nd in goals scored among NAHL defensemen.
The final goal would come from the second-leading scorer for the Warriors in William Lawson-Body as he would put home the backhand feed from Brendan Williams with a one-timer of his own at 14:49. The two teams would play out the rest of the period, and the Warriors would head into the final frame with a 7-1 score.
The Jackalopes would grab one more goal before the end of the game, as John Wojciechowski’s shot from the point makes its way through the bodies in front of the Warriors net, and the game would finish with a score of 7-2.
Brandon Milberg would stand firm in his net and get his 18th win of the season, stopping 24 of 26 shots in the win. Rupprecht will be the official goalie on record for Odessa as he would collect his 7th loss of the 2021-2022 season.
Both teams had exchanged wins all season long, and Saturday’s game was no exception. With Odessa’s playoff hopes hanging in the balance, they could not afford to drop both games.
The first period opened up with a feeling-out process, as both teams attempted to clog the neutral zone as the play would travel up and down the ice without too much scoring action. Penalties would lead to goals for both teams as Cade Lemmer is credited with the game’s opening goal and got the Warriors the lead.
Jackalopes would score on Carter Korpi’s interference minor, as the shot from the point snaked through the screen in front. Frank Dovorany’s 5th goal of the season would tie the game at 1-1 by the period’s end.
Scoring his first goal since November 26th, Carter Korpi collects his 11th of the season, roofing the centering feed by Adisen Brueck from behind the net for the Warriors to reclaim the lead early in the second.
Odessa’s power play would strike again for the second time in this night’s game. Jackalopes forward, Perdion rockets a one-time shot from the slot past Warriors goaltender Milberg, who was making his second start of the weekend.
2-2 was the score until the Warriors’ defenseman got caught deep on a scramble in front of the net. With a Jackalopes bounce off the boards to clear their zone, it hit a streaking Trevor Taulien coming out of the penalty box. Picking up the puck in the neutral zone, he would skate in untouched, beat the Warriors goaltender on the glove side, and take the lead for the first time of the weekend.
The gap would grow in the second period’s final minute as Ryan Mansfield capitalizes on a breakaway of his own. His shot sailing past Milberg on the blocker side, and the Warriors would have an uphill battle coming out of the locker for the third period.
Cole Teleki and Ryan Kusler would start the final period in the box due to their scrap behind the Wichita Fall’s net in the closing seconds of the middle period, and that would set the aggressive tone till the finale of the game.
Nineteen separate infractions made it onto the official game sheet for the third period. Among the handful of minor penalties, two game misconducts would shorten the benches for both teams. Other penalties would include two fighting majors with 10-minute misconducts, ten-minute misconduct for a checking from behind, and a five-minute major for slashing.
At regulations end, 169 penalty minutes would be shared between both teams.
The Warriors, in penalty trouble, the majority of the first half of the third period, would pay for it as Tanyon Bajzer would pick up the puck in the slot and give Odessa their third power-play goal of the game on a 5-on-3.
Wichita Falls would pull their goalie for an extra attacker with 4 minutes left as they tried to make a late-game push on the power play, but Odessa would successfully kill off the penalty. Perdion finds the puck on a defensive face-off and sends it toward the empty net to seal the game with a 6-2.
Milberg would not be able to repeat his performance from the night before and take the loss as he split his starts on the weekend. Proctor earned his 19th win of the 2021-2022 season, turning aside 33 of the 35 shots that came his way.
Next Slate of Games:
This week, the Warriors will play three games in four nights, starting with the Shreveport Mudbugs this Wednesday night. One point separates the two teams in the South Division standings. With the teams having the same amount of games remaining, this contest can be the most significant factor in where the Warriors will finish in their quest for the Robinson Cup.
The game is scheduled for a 7:05 p.m. start and will finish the season series between the two teams.
March 25th and 26th, the Corpus Christi Ice Rays will be in the Kay Yeager Coliseum and will look to play spoiler with the weeks winding down to close the season. It will be MSU night sponsored by Synergeer on the 25th, with Billet appreciation night on the 26th.
Puck will drop at 7:05 p.m. for both nights with Coors Club, silent jersey auctions, Chuck-a-Puck prizes, and intense hockey action happening three times this week in the KYC.
Written by: Scott Masom