Wildcats Drop Close Battle to Brahmas in Home Exhibition
By Alex von Keudell
The long-awaited pre-season began at Kay Yeager Coliseum on Saturday night, as the Wildcats dropped the exhibition contest to the Lone Star Brahmas by a final score of 2-1.
A slow start to the game did not last long after the teams had felt each other out. The Wildcats out-skated the Brahmas largely in the first period, outshooting their rivals 10-4. The lone goal of the first frame was scored by defenseman Seamus Donohue, who slapped home a shot after a big rebound was conceded by Lone Star goaltender Erik Gordon. Gordon fought off the initial slap shot from veteran Wildcat Aleksi Poikola, but could not control the rebound.
Another dominant period looked to be in order for the Wildcats at the start of the second, as Gordon made a huge stop on Ryan Burnett just ten seconds in. He also made a crucial save on Ilya Skvortsov moments later to keep his team within striking distance.
Lone Star was given two opportunities to level the score on the power play, after two separate penalties were called against C.J. Regula and Ricky Carballo. Though they managed a good chunk of sustained pressure on their second man-advantage, the Brahmas could not solve the Wildcats’ goaltenders. Iiro Salminen was a perfect 12-for-12 on shots faced, while Gordon turned aside 16 of 17. Halfway through the game, Salminen and Gordon were replaced by Patrik Jokela and Alec Calvaruso, respectively.
Momentum in the game shifted quite drastically after the goaltending change was made. A game which had been dominated by the Wildcats in all three zones for the first half turned around in Lone Star’s favor. Halfway through the third period, Hunter Stanley found the puck on his stick on a partial breakaway and he ripped a wrist shot through the legs of Jokela to tie the game. Just moments later, veteran Brahma Carson Kelley swatted at a loose puck in the blue paint and beat Jokela to go give Lone Star its first lead of the night.
Things went from bad to worse after Domantas Cypas was given a five minute major for an illegal hit he delivered in front of his own net. He was joined shortly after by Jonathan Waring in the penalty box, forcing the Cats to kill a 5-on-3 power play late in the third period.
Though the Wildcats had a strong night on the Parkway Grill Penalty Kill, going 4-for-4, they were unable to tie the game and dropped their first exhibition 2-1. Salminen made 12 of 12 stops and Jokela made 10 of 12 for the Cats, while Lone Star’s Gordon denied 16 of 17 and Calvaruso was a perfect 9-for-9. The Wildcats will play the Brahmas again in their second and final exhibition game on Tuesday, September 6th, at NYTEX Sports Centre at 7:05 pm. Admission to the game is free to the public.