A pair of early goals turned out to be all the offense the Texas Brahmas needed Friday night.
The Brahmas limited the high-octane Wichita Thunder to 12 shots, and goalie Brad Fogal stopped 11 in a 2-1 victory in Game 4 of the Berry Conference Finals in front of 2,373 at NYTEX Sports Centre.
Texas has bounced back after dropping the first two games to tie the best-of-seven series 2-2. Game 5 is at 7:05 tonight in Wichita.
Center T.J. Fox scored his team-leading sixth goal of the playoffs 2:12 into the second period to give the Brahmas a 2-1 lead. It was Fox’s third game-winning goal of the playoffs.
“What I liked about us is we played disciplined,” Brahmas coach Dan Wildfong said. “I just think our penalty kill stepped up when we needed to. Our power play got us a big goal.”
Fogal helped the Brahmas hold onto the lead the rest of the way by making key saves to deny the Thunder power play. Wichita had two power plays in the second period but could not capitalize. The Brahmas played a similar level of defense in the final period with Fogal glove-saving a slap shot by defenseman Kevin Young — one of just two Thunder shots in the fianl period — to neutralize a Thunder power play with just over eight minutes remaining in the game.
“We needed this one as much as the last one,” Wildfong said. “Now we need to get one out there.”
Brahmas defenseman Erik Spady capitalized on a first-period power play to put the Brahmas up 1-0. The goal was Spady’s second of the playoffs. Texas gained the man advantage when Fogal was knocked down from behind by Wichita forward Chris Greene, who received five minutes for charging and a game misconduct. Texas has scored the first goal of the game in seven consecutive games against the Thunder.
Wichita evened the score at 1 with just over four minutes remaining in the first when forward Thomas Beauregard caught Fogal out of position and slid the puck into the open net for his fourth goal of the postseason.
“They played good defense, too,” Wildfong said of Wichita, which had 15 saves from goalie Adam Russo. “They blocked a lot of shots.”
Several of the overhead lights went out during the second intermission, prompting an additional 10-minute delay between the end of the intermission and the start of the third period.
First period — 1, Texas, Spady (Findlay, Lackner), 8:36 (pp). 2, Wichita, Beauregard (Tetrault, Chappell), 15:30. Penalties — Greene, Wichita (charging major, game misconduct), 5:17; Robinson, Wichita (high sticking), 19:14.
Second period — 3, Texas, Fox (Woollard, Hogg), 2:12. Penalties — Woollard, Texas (roughing), 9:37; Spady, Texas (roughing), 14:24.
Third period — none. Penalties — Seiebel, Wichita (cross checking), :49; Nutkevich, Texas (delay of game), 11:27; Seibel, Wichita (kneeing major, game misconduct), 13:38; Flath, Wichita (elbowing), 15:07; Fox, Texas (interference), 15:33.
Power plays — Wichita 0 for 3, Texas 1 for 6.
Shots — Wichita 5-5-2—12, Texas 5-2-12—19.
Goalies — Wichita, Russo, 19 shots, 17 saves; Texas, Fogal 12-11.
T — 2:45. A — 2,373.