2011-2012 Texas Tornado Report: Gotta Find a Way

Tornado goalie Joakim Jutras lunges to save the game

The Texas Tornado (8-3-3, 19pts, #2 South) ended their run of 6 games in 8 days with two games back-to-back in Corpus Christi against the Ice Rays before returning home to the Dr Pepper Arena to take on the Wichita Falls Wildcats this past Saturday.

While all games were close, and the Tornado were able to almost re-find their early season form, they still dropped 2 of the 3 games, bringing their 10-game point streak to an end. The one win was a mighty important one, as it enabled Head Coach and GM Tony Curtale to tie the all-time wins record for United States Junior Hockey.

Tornado Fall Flat, Lose 3-1 to Ice Rays

After dropping 2-of-3 games the previous weekend, the Tornado had a back-to-back set against Corpus Christi to try and right the ship. A strong road start kept the game scoreless after one period and when Taylor Herndon scored early in the second it looked as though Texas was on it's game. The Ice Rays responded well and used a strong net-drive throughout the period to tie the game at 1 late in the second. Riding that momentum into the third, Corpus would pot two more goals and take the game 3-1. The loss sent the Tornado to their first back-to-back losses on the season.

More on the Tornado after the line change...

Tornado Fall Flat, Lose 3-1 to Ice Rays

After dropping 2-of-3 games the previous weekend, the Tornado had a back-to-back set against Corpus Christi to try and right the ship. A strong road start kept the game scoreless after one period and when Taylor Herndon scored early in the second it looked as though Texas was on it's game. The Ice Rays responded well and used a strong net-drive throughout the period to tie the game at 1 late in the second. Riding that momentum into the third, Corpus would pot two more goals and take the game 3-1. The loss sent the Tornado to their first back-to-back losses on the season.

Texas Fights For Their Road Lives, Fall Short 2-1

The Tornado tried to get back on track by playing a solid road game and amping up the physical play in the second game of the back-to-back. Giving up a 1-0 lead 1:26 into the game doesn't help, but that seemed to wake the Tornado up so-to-speak. However, carrying the play isn't always enough in hockey and when the Ice Rays scored midway through the second to extend the lead to 2-0, things got physical. The shift after the second goal featured a full 5-on-5, old-time hockey line brawl. Joe Mottiqua, Conner Burton, Skyler Spiller, Michael Hoy, and Nick Neville all received 5-minute fighting majors on the play, and the action wasn't done there as Mico Solorzano dropped the gloves a few minutes later. In the third, the Tornado tried mightily to get the game tied and when Jack Prince scored to cut the lead in half, it appeared as though the momentum might carry them through to at least an OT appearance. A late penalty killed that momentum and sent the Tornado to their third straight defeat even though Texas outplayed and out-shot the Ice Rays 41-19.

Tornado Return Home, Curtale Ties All-Time Wins Record

Facing a minor early season skid, having dropped 4 of 5 games, the Tornado returned to the Dr Pepper Arena trying to re-establish their defensive zone play, which Coach Curtale had mentioned being a problem throughout the past two weekends. In a game that was tailor-made for Ken Hitchcock, both teams strapped down defensively (neither team allowed more than 7 shots in any period)  for most of the first period. Marc Biggs converted a slick drop-pass from Jack Prince with just under 5 seconds remaining in the first to give Texas a 1-0 lead at the break. Seemingly un-phased by the late goal, Wichita Falls responded early in the second with a quick goal to tie the game at 1. The score would stay tied until midway through the third when C.J. Reuschlein converted on a Tornado PP to break the tie. Texas would have to survive a late rally, and a key play by goalie Joakim Jutras would help seal the victory. After giving up a large rebound, the puck bounced back into the slot with an oncoming Wildcat charging down from the blue-line for a point blank scoring chance. Jutras quickly made the decision to employ the "lizard-tongue" and poked the puck away to a Tornado D-man, who would clear and secure the victory 2-1. The win also allowed Head Coach and GM Tony Curtale to tie the all-time wins mark for U.S. Junior Hockey at 529.

Looking Ahead:

The Tornado will stay home this weekend, as the New Mexico Mustangs come to Frisco. New Mexico and Texas have played twice already this season, with the Tornado claiming 6-0 and 5-1 victories. The games also represent the next opportunity for Coach Curtale to break the all-time wins record for U.S. Junior Hockey.

This Saturday, October 29th is the annual "Spooktacular"! All kids 14 & under in costume will be admitted free, there will be trick-or-treating on the concourse from 6:30-7:30, a costume contest in-game, and a post-game skate with the Tornado players. Regular tickets start at $10 and can include food. Tickets can be found here.

Tornado Quick Hits

--Texas made it's first trade of the young season, sending Joe Mottiqua to Aberdeen. Full story here.

--Former Tornado D-Man Andy Wozniewski is representing Team USA at the Deutschland Cup. Full story here.

--The Tornado players carved some pumpkins with local kids from Frisco Family Services this past Wednesday. Story & video with some of the players here.

As always, be sure to follow all things Tornado at www.tornadohockey.com and www.NAHL.com

I can be reached directly at Nick@TornadoHockey.com

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