The Atlanta Capitals played four games on home ice this weekend as they welcomed the second place Texas Jr. Brahmas and fifth place Euless Jr. Stars. The Caps took seven of a possible eight points to gain ground in their quest to overtake Texas and Point Mallard in the NA3HL South.
The long weekend began on Thursday against the Texas Jr. Brahmas. Atlanta jumped out to a 2-0 lead on two goals less than a minute apart, scored by Kyle Rimbach and Jesse Brown. The Brahmas retaliated by burying 6 unanswered goals, including two on the power play and Atlanta trailed 6-2 headed into the third. The Caps began to mount a comeback, as Steve MacIver and Colin O’Connor closed the gap to 6-4. Texas stopped the bleeding, going up 7-4 midway through the final period. Undeterred, the Caps chipped away, with Ross Bartlett scoring a shorthanded goal, and Aleksi Hoivala narrowed the gap to a single goal. Atlanta pulled the goalie down the stretch and with the extra attacker, Kyle Rimbach tied it up at 7-7 in the final minute. The heroic comeback was tarnished a bit, as Texas ultimately prevailed in the three round shootout.
The following night, Texas took the 1-0 lead in the first but Rimbach buried a power play goal to even it up, the first of six unanswered goals on the way to a 6-1 Atlanta win behind the strength of an Alex Johanson hat trick, goals by Philip Pugliese and Drake Cartwright, and a 39-save effort from Aleksandr Zendejas.
Saturday, Atlanta followed a similar modus operandi, as the visiting Euless Jr. Stars scored first only to see Atlanta explode with six unanswered goals in response. When Euless managed a second goal to make it 6-2, the Capitals ramped it up a notch to bury seven more unanswered goals to go up 13-2. Euless added a power play goal in the final minute for the final 13-3 margin. Kyle Rimbach and Arturas Laukaitis each posted a hat trick, and Evan Camba added a pair of goals. Single goals were contributed by Pugliese, Frank Trazzera, Alex Johanson, Jesse Brown, and Ryan Dumond. Cory Boettcher had light work, facing only 14 shots in the game.
The Capitals kept their foot on the gas when they took the ice on Sunday morning, blasting a league season high 82 shots on goal and scoring 7 unanswered goals in the first period alone. Euless managed two shorthanded goals and a power play goal in the second period, despite being outshot 33-10 in that frame alone. In the third, the only goal came at 15:08 as Ross Bartlett capped the two game sweep with his second of the game, matching Alex Johanson and Evan Camba who had two each. Drake Cartwright scored the other goal for the Capitals. Corey Boettcher stopped 16 shots in the win.
Atlanta (26-8-2) will now head to Evansville this weekend for a three game set that includes a rescheduled makeup game from October when bus trouble kept the Thunderbolts from reaching Atlanta in time for the Friday game. TheSunday game this week will be treated as a Capitals home game. The games will be available to view on FASTHockey.com.
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