Wichita Falls ran into a struggling Chicago Hitmen team where after 3 losses last weekend in their pre showcase action, the Hitmen got crushed from a flury of goals throughout the game to get an 8-1 win. It was also the first victory for new head coach Delarose who took over for Mike Flanagian who took a job with the AHL's Norfolk Admirals just before the season started.
It's starting to look like the Chicago Hitmen will be struggling this year in the East Division which includes teams like the Traverse City North Stars, St. Louis Bandits and the Janesville Jets this season.
Next up for the Wichita Falls Wildcats against the Wenatchee Wild tomorrow afternoon.
From Greg Rajan for the Wichita Falls Times Records News
From Blaine, Minnesota: It would be hard to stop the first impression the Wichita Falls Wildcats made on Wednesday Afternoon.
The Wildcats opened the North American Hockey League Showcase with a flourish, pummeling the Chicago Hitmen 8-1 at Schwan's Super Rink.
That made a winner of Derek Lerose in his debut behind the Wichita Falls bench a little more then two weeks after he was wired to replace Mike Flanaigan, who left to be an assistant with the AHL's Norfolk Admirals.
"I'm very happy about the result," Lerose said. "I saw a lot of very good things. But still, as a coach, you're never completely happy and there are a lot of things to work on."
The Wildcats certainly got off to an auspicious start, taking three penalties in the first 11 minutes. But they managed to kill off those infractions, setting a tone for the rest of the game.
The other half of the Wichita Falls Wildcats special teams then came through late in the first. Drew Allen and Sean Keane knocked home power play rebounds a little more then three minutes apart for a 2-0 lead.
"After they called three penalties on us, we were getting a little down," said forward Dakota Klecha, who finished with two goals and two assists. "Then we started and we got back into the grove of things. Then we just started rolling."
Mac Olsen scored just 35 seconds into the middle period. His score seemed to sting the Hitmen in a major way. Wichita Falls turned the game into a rout with two more second period goals from Drew Hildebrandt and Klecha.
"Anytime its 2-0, the next goal is huge," Larose said. "It's 3-0 or 2-1 and when we went up by 3 goals, I think they got a little deflated."
Lost in the offensive bonanza was the solid workplace put in by goalie Tyler Green, who rebuffed 33 of 34 Hitmen Shots in his first Wildcats start. His lone blemish came when Chicago scored on a five-on-three advantage when the game was already out of hand. But Green seemed to have more fun watching things unfold at the other end.
"I loved what I was seeing in the crease," he said. "We got out to a big cushion and guys were playing well in front of me. I loved the way my defense was playing and blocking shots. They don't get much credit, but they did really well."
However, despite the lopsided win, there was one glaring negative: The constant parade to the penalty box. The Wildcats found themselves on the penalty kill 13 times to just five for Chicago.
"I'm extremely concerned," Lerose said. "That is uncharacteristic of my teams and that's definitely my biggest concern coming out of this game."
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