The Texas Tornado (6-1-1, 13pts, T-2nd South) came off the opening weekend wins against Fairbanks with a huge boost of confidence. Beating the defending league champions twice in your own barn will do that for a team. The challenge that presented itself this past weekend when the New Mexico Mustangs rolled to town was quite different. The best teams find a way to play their game at their level, no matter how poorly the competition plays.
You could say that the Tornado accomplished this task just fine, with two dominating wins over New Mexico by final scores of 6-0 on Friday and 5-1 on Saturday.
After the jump more on the weekend's games and a look ahead...
New Mexico came into the weekend in the lower portion of the standings, but this early in the season, its hard to use those as definitive tell-tale signs of a team's overall strength. Thus, it was up to the Tornado to keep the pedal to the metal and play with the same intensity that they had found at the end of the Blaine trip and through opening weekend.
After what most would consider poor starts in the first 10 minutes of both games last weekend, Coach Curtale made it a point this week to focus on being prepared to play right out of the gate. With two goals by Nick Neville and Skyler Spiller in the first 6:20 of the game and numerous more scoring chances, the Tornado took this game from the start and were never in danger of losing, leading 2-0 after the first.
With the skill game well in-hand, New Mexico came out in the second and tried to get physical to turn the momentum in their favor, as two fights erupted in the 2nd period. Texas answered that bell as well by responding with two more goals from Jordan Greenberg and Mico Solorzano to take a 4-0 lead to the 3rd. Justin Greenberg and Marc Biggs added goals in the 3rd and Reid Mimmack finished off the shutout, as the Tornado used 6 different goal scorers to completely overpower the Mustangs 6-0, in a game where they out-shot New Mexico 52-13.
In back-to-back settings such as this, the hard thing to keep high is the motivation and work ethic. Coach Curtale helped curb some of that potential laziness and inserted Joakim Jutras into the cage for this game, his first action in nearly a month. It paid off immediately as Mico Solorzano found the twine just 21 seconds into the game. Texas used a late period PP to secure a goal from Lucas Whelan, and another 2-0 lead after one period of play.
Perhaps gassed completely or just downright beaten, the Mustangs could offer little in the way of resistance in the second period, as a goal by Jordan Lovick put Texas up 3-0 just 59 seconds into the middle frame. Justin Greenberg added a late second period tally and for the second time in as many nights, the Tornado took a commanding 4-0 lead to the 3rd.
Perhaps the only disappointment on the weekend came after Jordan Greenberg scored to put Texas up 5-0. With just under 6 minutes remaining the Mustangs found a way to get a goal and spoil the back-to-back shutout parade, however they were still outshot in the game 39-18 and even more thoroughly dominated throughout the weekend.
With a 4 game win-streak and points in 6 straight, Texas now faces a daunting task of playing 6 games in 8 days, with travel included. On Friday, October 14th the Tornado will travel to Wichita (2-7-1, 5pts, #6 South) for a match-up with the Wildcats. These teams met in the pre-season with Texas taking a 5-1 victory, but that's pre-season.
They will then return home to Frisco for a Saturday-Sunday set against the Topeka Roadrunners (6-3-1, 13pts, T-2nd South) on October 15th and 16th before heading back on the road to play two games against Corpus Christi (4-5-0, 8pts, T-3rd South) on Wednesday, October 19th and Thursday, October 20th. This stretch run concludes with the annual "Pack the House" (5 tix for $25) game on Saturday, October 22nd against Wichita Falls.
Tornado Quick Hits:
--Captain Jack Prince was named the Combat Hockey 3rd Star of the Week for his performance in the weekend series against New Mexico. Cap'n Jack recorded 5 assists and was a very healthy +3 on the weekend. Full story here.
--There are several Tornado alumni making news in the hockey world, most notably Stephane Da Costa scoring his first NHL goal for the Ottawa Senators the other night. Full story here.
--The Tony Curtale Show is back! The first of four shows was held last night at Hooters in Frisco. More details here.
You can always find updated news on the Texas Tornado at www.tornadohockey.com and www.NAHL.com.
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