It was a much different game then the season opener against the Chicago Hitmen, but a great shutout performance by goalie Eric Garavaglia.
As well late goals by Dakota Klecha and Chris Leone both scored in the final four minutes of the game to shutout the 2 Time West Division Champion Wenatchee Wild 2-0 to-go-to 2-0 in the Showcase. And have temporally taken over the top spot in the league's South Division.
It was a shutout performance from the defense as the Wildcats to just 26 shots and didn't allow double digit shot totals in all the periods of play.
Wenatchee Goalie Marcuz Zelzer had a strong performance as well by stopping 27 of 29 Wichita Falls Shots and were able to neutralize players like Michael Di Puma and Zach Frye who are spouse to 2 of the team's biggest offensive weapons this season as the Wild will look to win a third straight West Division Title this season, while the Wildcats look to rebound after finishing 5th in the South Division and didn't make the playoffs last year.
Next up for the Wichita Falls Wildcats is Friday Afternoon at 1:15 PM as they will take on the defending Robertson Cup Champion Bismarck Bobcats in what will be the strongest test for the Wildcats this week.
If they can play well and maybe even pull off an upset, this will be a statement game for the Wildcats that they could be a major player in the South Division this season.
In addition to yesterday's Game Summary, here's a story from Greg Rajan about the Wichita Falls Wildcats New Head Coach.
Late Coaching Change doesn't hurt Wildcats
From Greg Rajan of the Wichita Falls Times Record News
Wenatchee Wild 0 Wichita Falls Wildcats 2 (0-0, 0-0, 0-2)
From Blaine, Minnesota: Unlike their opener, there wasn't a gusher of goals for the Wichita Falls Wildcats on Thursday. However, there likely was a more rewarding feeling when they skated off the ice.
In a tight defensive battle, Wichita Falls edged the Wenatchee Wild 2-0 on the second day of the North American Hockey League Showcase Tournament at the Schwan Super Rink.
The Wildcats (2-0, 4 PTS) were buoyed by a 26 save shutout from Goalie Eric Garavaglia, who made his first start in the Wichita Falls Net and put up a stellar performance.
"What can you say when your goalie gets a shutout? He was definitely on top of his game," Wildcats head coach Mark Lerose said. "I was very happy with our goaltending."
"This win is definitely more satisfying. It's great to win a game 8-1 (on Wednesday over Chicago), but with a 0-0 game going late in the third period, it was very rewarding to come out with a 2-0 victory."
The match was evenly played until the Wildcats broke out the ice with a few minutes a spare. With 4:07 left in the third period, Wenatchee Defensemen Geoff Ferguson was sent off for checking from behind, giving the Wildcats a late power play.
Wichita Falls set up in the offensive zone, with Drew Allen, near the faceoff dot, sending a cross ice pass to Dakota Klechia in the right circle. Klechia, with a half open net facing him, buried the feed pass goalie Marcuz Zelzer at 16:10 for the games first goal.
"I just saw the puck and looked at the net and saw it was wide open," said Klecha, who scored twice in Wednesday Opener. "I just tried to get it there and I did. It was an awesome feeling.
It also eased the pressure considerably on Garavaglia at the other end.
"In my mind, it was stay relaxed and keep doing the same thing I was doing," he said. "Don't change anything and don't get too excited - just stay calm.
"It was a big relief (when Klecha scored). I knew we could keep the puck out of the net for (the final 3:50). I knew I could with the kind of game I was playing and my mindset."
Defensemen Chris Leone gave the Wildcats some insurance by beating Zelzer with a right wing circle wrist shot at 18:51.
The Wildcats wouldn't have been in position to win if not for the work of Garavaglia, with two critical saves waving sticking out.
Late in the 2nd period, a bad Wichita Falls line change gave Wenatchee a two-on-none rush, but Garavaglia somehow made a toe save with his left skate.
Then about six-and-a-half minutes into the third period, he denied the Wild's Nathan Sliwinski on what appeared to be an open-net rebound at the right post.
"He kept us in it throughout the whole game," Klecha said. "And a lot of them were good scoring opportunities."
"This was a lot more exciting then Wednesday. Wenatchee is a very good team and we beat them, so everybody's talking about us and how good we are."
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