SUNDOGS INCREASE LEAD IN DIVISION TO THREE POINTS
Leavitt Collects Points 100, 101, 102 and 103 with Two Goals, Two Assists
AMARILLO, Texas - The Arizona Sundogs of the Central Hockey League looked to conclude a six-game road trip against the Amarillo Gorillas Saturday night at the Amarillo Civic Center with a firm hold on first place in the Southwest Division. Coming into the game, the Sundogs held a one-point advantage over second place clubs the Odessa Jackalopes and New Mexico Scorpions. Arizona rode an eight-goal performance and strong goaltending by Rob McVicar to increase their lead in the Southwest Division to three points. CHL leading scorer Alex Leavitt tallied two goals and two assists to pass the century mark with 103 points on the season (33g/70a) with seven games to play in the 2007-08 campaign.
Sundogs-Gorillas Box Score
Arizona struggled in the opening minutes of play Saturday night against Amarillo but goaltender Rob McVicar kept the Gorillas off the scoreboard with several outstanding saves early in the period. Arizona collected the first lead of the game 6:44 into the contest as Dan Laperriere fired a slap shot from the point past Gorillas netminder Dan McWhinney for his 16th of the season, unassisted. Amarillo evened the score less than two minutes later with a powerplay goal following a Mark Kolanos tripping penalty. Chris Lipsett collected passes from Bill Vandermeer and Trevor Read and beat McVicar for his 29th of the year. Just shy of the midway point of the period, Arizona regained a one-goal lead as CHL leading scorer Alex Leavitt redirected a Laperriere shot from the blue line for his 32nd goal and 100th point on the season. The Sundogs opened a 3-1 lead with their first powerplay goal of the night as Cory Urquhart fed a cross-ice pass to Laperriere who pinched from his defensive position and put a one-time shot over the right leg pad of McWhinney at the 18:22 mark for his second goal and third point of the period. Leavitt was credited with the second assist for his 69th helper and 101st point of the year. Arizona tallied one more shot than Amarillo in the period for a 13-12 advantage through 20 minutes of play.
The Sundogs were faced with a daunting task of killing a five-minute Dusty Collins charging penalty as he collided with McWhinney in the goal crease. Arizona killed off the first half of the penalty while collecting two shorthanded breakaways by Leavitt. McWhinney turned away the first Leavitt effort but the CHL’s leading scorer capitalized on his second chance to give his club a 4-1 lead, sliding the puck through McWhinney’s legs for the Sundogs’ seventh shorthanded tally of the year. Veteran defenseman Chris Bartolone assisted on Leavitt’s second goal of the game for his 35th helper of the year. With 1:37 remaining in the middle period, Jon Landry put an innocent shot on net from the point that Dusty Collins redirected above a crouched McWhinney for his 18th marker of the season to increase the Sundogs’ lead to 5-1. Amarillo answered back just 25 seconds later to pull back to within three as Austin Sutter tallied his 19th of the season on passes from CHL rookie-leading scorer David Nimmo and Marcus Reszka to close out scoring in the second period.
Arizona regained a four-goal cushion early in the third frame as Urquhart notched his first goal and second point of the night at the 1:42 mark. Landry and Leavitt collected assists on the play for their second and fourth points on the night. With the goal, Urquhart has gathered multiple-points in six of nine games since joining the Sundogs this season. Second-year player Karl Sellan collected his second-straight 20-goal season with 12:25 to play in regulation as he squeezed the puck through McWhinney from the goal line for his to give his club a 7-2 lead. Tyler Liebel and Kevin Cormier collected their first points of the game on the Sellan tally. Following Arizona’s seventh goal, Gorillas Head Coach Jim Wiley replaced starting netminder Dan McWhinney with backup Dan Bauer. While on a 5-on-3 advantage, the Gorillas cut Arizona’s lead to 7-3 as Sutter lifted a rebound over the glove of McVicar for his second of the game from Chris Lipsett and Read with 7:32 to play in the third. The Sundogs’ Rob Lehtinen pushed the score to 8-3 with three minutes to play in regulation, deflecting a Adam Wood pass into the net for his seventh of the season. Collins grabbed an assist on the play for his second point of the night.
Rob McVicar appeared in net for Arizona and stopped 43 of 46 shots on net to improve to 6-4-2 on the season with the win while Dan McWhinney started in net for Amarillo and blocked 18 of 25 shots before being replaced by backup goaltender Dan Bauer in the third period. Bauer made four saves on five shots in his relief effort. The Sundogs finished 1-for-5 on the powerplay while holding the Gorillas to a 2-for-8 showing with the man advantage. With the win, Arizona matches its 2006-07 win and point totals with 32 wins and 70 points with seven regular season games to play.