John Kirtland Fires a Shot During the Weekend Set with Topeka
The Texas Tornado (7-1-3, 17pts, #2 South) rode into this stretch of 6 games in 8 days on a 4-game win streak, and had picked up points in 7 straight games. While the point-streak is still in tact and now stands at 10 games, the win-streak is not, and there are certainly some lessons to be learned from how they lost the games.
It wasn't all bad this week as the Tornado picked up points in all 3 games and sandwiched two bad losses with a good, solid win. However, the way they lost has to be picked up on and improved quickly moving forward.
More on the Tornado after the jump...
"Safe is Death" - John Tortorella
The game started as well as a road game could. The Tornado used 2 PP goals from C.J. Reuschlein and Mico Solorzano to stake themselves to a solid 2-0 lead midway thru the second period. However, it would not last as the Wildcats trimmed the lead on a late second period goal and then used two early third period goals to take a 3-2 lead. When Captain Jack Prince was signaled for tripping with 2:04 to play, the streaks seemed doomed. Texas mustered up an attack and C.J. Reuschlein found a way to pound home a rebound and force OT with just 16.7 seconds remaining. It wasn't meant to be on this night, as the Wildcats struck in OT and sent the Tornado back to Frisco with a 4-3 loss.
After traveling back late Friday, the Tornado had no time to sit around and sulk about the OT loss, with the then-second place Topeka Roadrunners visiting for the weekend set. The teams traded early PP goals, with the Tornado goal coming from Jack Prince. Taylor Herndon scored late in the first and Texas took a 2-1 lead to the intermission. Topeka opened the scoring in the second to tie the game at 2, but answer goals from Joe Mottiqua and C.J. Reuschlein gave the Tornado a 4-2 lead. The Roadrunners would respond with a goal and the teams would skate into the third with Texas up 4-3.
The third provided no scoring, but two late penalties and an extra-attacker forced Texas to withstand a furious 6-on-3 for the final 37.9 seconds. Some key saves by Joakim Jutras and some solid PK work secured the 4-3 victory for the Tornado and broke the tie with Topeka for second in the division.
After surviving the late surge on Saturday, the Tornado faced Topeka on Sunday afternoon for the 3rd game of a 3-games-in-3-days set. Texas came out strong, riding a first period goal from Marc Biggs to a 1-0 lead after one. Taylor Herndon scored early in the second and when Biggs tallied his second of the night to put the Tornado up 3-0 less than 5 minutes into the second it appeared that the rout was on. Topeka had other plans.
As if awakened by the 3rd goal, the game suddenly shifted. Texas stepped off the gas and Topeka took advantage and were able to pot a goal prior to the second intermission and trailed going into the 3rd 3-1. Back-to-back penalties just 9 seconds apart began the undoing as Topeka capitalized on the 5-on-3 PP to cut it to 3-2 and then used the momentum to power through and tie the game at 3 with under 5 minutes to play and force the extra session. For the second time in 3 games, the Tornado could not recover and fell 4-3 shortly into OT.
All in all, it was a tough 3-day set for the Tornado, but certainly some lessons to be learned and built-upon going down the stretch. The silver lining in all of this is that Texas has now picked up at least 1 point in 10 straight games and now sit squarely in second place in the South Division.
Tornado Quick Hits:
--Coach Tony Curtale registered his 400th win with the Tornado on Saturday, and is now just 1 win shy of become the all-time winningest coach in United States Junior Hockey history. More here. Good chance he breaks that in Corpus Christi. Speaking of which...
--No rest for the weary. As I am writing this the Tornado are arriving in Corpus Christi to battle the Ice Rays on Wednesday and Thursday. You can listen live with play-by-play broadcaster Corey Hersch, here.
--PACK THE HOUSE! Saturday, October 22nd @ 7:30pm at the Dr Pepper Arena in Frisco is the annual "Pack the House" game for the Texas Tornado against the Wichita Falls Wildcats. You can get 5 tickets for $25! Link here.
I can be reached directly via email at Nick@tornadohockey.com