The Capitals season may not have begun as they hoped, but there were plenty of positives that came away from Thursday and Friday's shootout losses. The Caps earned two points in the standings during their first series of the season, falling in a shootout in both games.
Thursday night's contest saw the Caps take the early lead off a Dylan Wattles netter at 10:40 of the first (assisted by Spencer Sabourin and Tre Opack). Nashville responded with a goal of their own (Trent Kulczyk assisted by Colton Anderson and Rudy Kalvitis at 18:17) on a power play to start the second period, sending the game into the final(?) frame tied at one. With a man advantage and less than 10 minutes remaining in regulation, Igor Valko found the puck behind goaltender Nathan Klebe and tapped it in (assisted by Tre Opack and Andrew Cooley) to put the Caps up 2-1. Nashville countered quickly on the back of Rudy Kalvitis who scored unassisted at 11:17.
The ensuing overtime passed without incident leading to a shootout. Nashville's Jacob Lainesse tallied the first goal on the Predator's third attempt. Klebe stood tall, blocking all four Topeka attempts before Alex Durand put the game away, sealing the first ever win for Nashville at 3-2
On Friday morning, the Junior Predators led 3-1 in the third period when Colton Sprenger (assisted by Jayden Munnelly and Steve MacIver at 12:36) and Hank Roers (unassisted on a power play at 15:19) roared back to force the game into OT for the second straight game.
The extra five minutes of play were insufficient once again and the teams headed to another shootout. Each club netted their first attempt (Kyle Van Wyck for Nashville and Dylan Wattles for Topeka) but the result would be the same. Jacob Lainesse was successful on the visitor's third attempt and the Caps were unable to answer, falling to the Junior Predators 4-3.
For the series, Wattles (1 goal, 1 assist) and Opack (2 assists) emerged atop the pack with two points each. Wattles was joined by Valko, Sauer, Roers, and Sprenger as Capitals with goals to start the season. Goalies Brett Malkmus and Bailey Aust combined for 47 saves and only five goals allowed in 130 total minutes played.
The Capitals hit the road for a three-game set against the Texas Junior Brahmas starting September 26th. They return to Landon Arena on October 11th to face Twin City. Tickets for all games this season are only $5 and parking is free.