The Atlanta Capitals opened their home portion of the regular season this past weekend hosting the NA3HL South Division leading Texas RoadRunners. The visitors took all three games against a shorthanded Capitals squad, but improvement was seen after each game played.
Fatigue would play a factor throughout the weekend, including the series opener on October 8. The two teams played a scoreless first before Texas opened scoring at 1:11 of the second. Atlanta tied the game at 7:28 when third-year forward Kirill Nikulichev scored his second of the season on the powerplay. Anthony O’Neal and Dylan Walker assisted on the goal.
Momentum quickly swung in favor of the RoadRunners though as they outshot the home team 45-14 over the final two periods. Matthew Edestrand scored what would be the game winner at 12:56 of the second before his team added three more in the third for a 5-1 win.
Goaltender Paul Jarvis took the loss while making 52 saves for the Capitals.
17-year old Coleman Garnier made his first-ever Junior hockey start in the Saturday game giving up three goals in the opening period. The former Corona del Sol High School standout, who is making the jump from Arizona High School Hockey Association to the NA3HL, settled in after the first giving up just one goal in the final 40 minutes. Garnier finished the game with 44 saves (.917 save%).
Another rookie, 18-year old Kaleb Miller, scored his first Junior goal of his career late in the second period making the score 3-1. Assisting on the play was Frederic Sterling and Nikulichev.
Texas scored late in the period making it 4-1, a result which stood after the two teams played a scoreless third. The RoadRunners put 48 shots on net in the game while Atlanta finished with a season high 38.The Sunday matinee game proved to be the most competitive of the weekend despite a slow start by the Capitals. Texas outshot the Caps 20-3 in the first and took a 2-0 lead into intermission.
The teams battled in a highly competitive second that saw numerous scoring opportunities by both, neither to beat the opposing goaltender. Shots in the second frame were 23-17 in favor of the RoadRunners.
Second year forward Nick Mumford put his team in position for a victory when he scored his first of the season at 8:36 of the third. Dylan Walker assisted on the powerplay goal which cut the Texas lead in half, 2-1. The RoadRunners depth proved too much though as they would add another late in the game for a 3-1 final.
Veteran goaltender Brendan Smith was excellent in his second start of the season though stopping 60 of 63 shots (.952 save%) against.
The Capitals are back at the IceForum Duluth this weekend playing host to the El Paso Rhinos (1-2-0-0).