Goals by Jayson Angus and Tate Rusk in the final six minutes of regulation made the difference Saturday night at the Santa Ana Star Center. The New Mexico Mustangs would come away with a 3-1 victory over the Wichita Falls Wildcats, wrapping up a two game series between the teams.
The defensive battle saw stellar performances from both Wildcats goalie Jo Jo Jeanetta and Mustangs goalie Randy Graham, with both recording more than 30 saves in the game.
A minimum amount of penalties would keep action moving throughout. A total of eight infractions were called, including delay of game penalties for Wichita Falls’ Zach Pochiro and New Mexico’s Adam Chapie after the two scuffled in the final seconds of the middle period.
The teams remained tied 0-0 until Angus scored the first of his two goals with 1:06 remaining in the first period. Josh Bretner would pick up the assist on Angus’ ninth goal of the season, giving the Mustangs a 1-0 lead.
Appearing in just his second game with the Wildcats, George Pagonis would tie things up 0:39 into the second period with his first Wildcats goal of the season. Patrick Yudez recorded the assist on the goal.
Proving difficult to solve, Jeanetta and Graham would hold the score at 1-1 deep into the third period when Angus came up with his second goal of the game. Redirecting a shot by Jimmy Peplinski at the 14:00 mark, Angus’ 10th goal of the season would prove to be the game winner.
The Wildcats would have a chance to tie things up in the final minute of play as they went on their fourth powerplay of the night. Pulling Jeanetta, Wichita Falls had a 6-on-4 advantage, but New Mexico would cash in when Tate Rusk bounced the puck off the glass into the empty net for a shorthanded goal.
Graham would record 33 saves on 34 shots in goal to improve to 6-11-0 on the season.
Taking a tough loss, Jeanetta would stop 32-of-34 shots on goal as he falls to 1-2-0 on the season.
The last place Mustangs improve to 10-23-2 on the season and draw back to within four points of sixth place Wichita Falls in the NAHL South standings.
The Wildcats drop to 12-21-2 and remain two points behind fifth place Odessa.
Wichita Falls hits an odd part of their schedule next weekend, keeping the team on the move.
The Wildcats will be in Frisco for a one game set against the Texas Tornado on January 13, then come home to Kay Yeager Coliseum to face New Mexico on January 14. The Wildcats and Mustangs will barely have time to make the trip to New Mexico where they wrap up the weekend at the Santa Ana Star Center on January 15.
Friday’s game against the Tornado has a schedule start time of 7:30 p.m., while the puck drops for the lone home game at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday. Sunday’s game in New Mexico begins at 1:00 p.m. Mountain time, 2:00 p.m. Central.