NORTH RICHLAND HILLS — A change of scenery brought out the best in the Texas Brahmas on Wednesday night.
The Brahmas scored three times in the second period, and goalie Brad Fogal held off a late Wichita Thunder charge in a 3-2 victory in Game 3 of the Berry Conference Finals in front of 1,916 at NYTEX Sports Centre.
The Thunder leads the best-of-7 series 2-1. Game 4 is 7:30 p.m. Friday at NYTEX. The Brahmas were outscored 11-2 on the road in the first two games of the series.
“I think once we got going, we were rolling pretty good,” coach Dan Wildfong said. “I think we started shooting the puck. We were getting too fancy, too cute with them. We needed to get bodies in front of the net and shoot the puck.”
The Brahmas exploded for three even-strength goals in the second period to take a 3-0 lead. Texas right winger Adam Hogg struck first. His shot 6:34 into the second period gave the Brahmas a 1-0 lead. Left winger Chad Woollard and defenseman Erik Spady assisted on the goal, Hogg’s second of the playoffs. Hogg also assisted on a goal by left winger Mike Hellyer later in the period.
Defenseman Andrew Lackner fired a shot to the right of Thunder goalie Adam Russo to extend the Brahmas lead to 2-0 with 6:30 remaining in the second. Center Calin Wild and right winger Sy Nutkevitch assisted on the play.
Hellyer added to the scoring flurry when he back-handed a shot past Russo with 2:40 left in the period for a 3-0 lead. Russo was replaced by goalie Bryan Hogan to start the third.
“We started keeping it simple,” Wildfong said. “That’s when we started scoring goals. When you play a high-offense team, you have to keep it simple.”
Fogal stopped the first 13 shots he faced and finished with 18 saves. Wichita found the back of the net twice in the final period. Defenseman Kevin Young put Wichita on the board with an even-strength goal 2:32 into the third period to cut the Texas lead to 3-1. Wichita closed the deficit to 3-2 with 4:30 left on forward R.G. Flath’s eighth goal of the playoffs.
“He had some big key saves for us coming down the stretch,” Wildfong said of Fogal. “It was a must win.… Same thing [Friday]. We have to dig down deep.”
The Brahmas managed only three shots on goal in the first period, but they kept the Thunder contained on the defensive end. Texas killed three penalties in the period. The Brahmas defense also shut down a Thunder power-play midway through the third period.
First period — none. Penalties — Eskendjian, Texas (elbowing), 8:40. Lackner, Texas (high sticking), 10:01; Underwood, Texas (holding), 13:46.
Second period — 1, Texas, Hogg (Woollard, Spady), 6:34. 2, Texas, Lackner (Wain, Nutkevich), 11:30. 3, Texas, Hellyer (Findlay, Hodge), 17:20. Penalty — Flath, Wichita (holding), 14:28.
Third period — 4, Wichita, Young (Beauregard, Bourret), 2:32. 5, Wichita, Flath (Beauregard, Mohr), 15:33. Penalty — Hogg, Texas (slashing), 8:45.
Power plays — Wichita 0 for 4, Texas 0 for 1.
Shots — Wichita 9-4-7—20; Texas 3-12-2—17.
Saves — Wichita, Russo 15 shots-12 saves, Hogan 2-2. Texas, Fogal 20-18.
Referee — Zak Balzic. Linesmen — Shawn Morgan, Kyle DeMaggio.
T — 2:20. A — 1,916.