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'Cats Commence Road Trip in Amarillo

(Photo: Troy Young)

GAME NOTES: 2/20 vs. Amarillo Bulls

TICKETS: Single-game tickets for the 2014-15 Wildcats season are on sale now at the Kay Yeager Coliseum Box Office, and can be purchased by calling (940) 716-5555. Take advantage of 4-for-$24 tickets tonight, good on any seat in the arena.

Upcoming Promotions
‚Äč- When the Wildcats return to the KYC at the beginning of March, fans should mark their calendars for a weekend of auctions. March 6 will see the Wildcats Pride Booster Club hold their annual player poster auction, while the Wildcats will be auctioning off game-worn, player jerseys on March 7.

 

– Additionally, fans should mark their calendars for the annual Fan Appreciation Night on Wednesday, March 11, when all single-game tickets will be available free of charge.

 

The Matchup
Following their mid-week bash with the Brahmas, the Wildcats continue their battle with the cattle when they saddle up for a two-game trip to Amarillo to take on the Bulls on Friday and Saturday. These two teams locked horn four times in the span of seven days around the New Year, with the red-and-black coming away with wins in three of those contests. Wichita Falls is 7-1-0 against their rivals from the Texas Panhandle and is 3-1-0 at the Amarillo Civic Center this season thanks in large part to the efforts of Nick Farmer, who has 13 points (seven goals, six assists) against Amarillo, and Kevin Charyszyn, who has recorded 10 points on six goals and four assists. Colin Staub (3-6-9) and Jake Townsend (4-5-9) have also posted solid numbers against the Bulls, with Max Reisinger chipping in seven points on six goals and an assist as well. Amarillo has been a troublesome opponent for the red-and-black historically speaking; Wichita Falls is 15-25-1 all-time against the Bulls, and is 7-13-1 at the Amarillo Civic Center dating back to 2010.

Bulls Bulletin
Amarillo comes into this weekend set sitting in seventh in the South Division with 40 points and a record of 18-24-4, and currently trail the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees by five points for the division’s final playoff spot. The Bulls split a pair of contests against Corpus Christi at home last weekend, as they posted a 5-2 win over the IceRays on Saturday to bounce back from a 5-3 loss on Friday. Like most teams in the South Division, Amarillo is stronger at home (13-8-2) than it is on the road (5-16-2), and has a 7-3-0 mark in its last 10 contests at the Amarillo Civic Center dating back to Dec. 19 against the Lone Star Brahmas. While not as potent as in past years, the Bulls attack still boasts a fair amount of firepower, led by forwards Cody Gylling (23-17-40) and Will Harrison (15-19-34) and defenseman Kasper Emanuelsson (3-23-26). Gylling and Harrison have both found success against the Wildcats this year, posting identical lines of 4-3-7 in head-to-head play. More recently, Charlie Combs has been Amarillo’s impact player on offensive, with six points on five goals and an assist in his last five outings. In net, Anton Martinsson and Jacob Weatherly have seen an even amount of time for the Bulls. Martinsson is 11-10-1 with a 3.25 goals against average and .904 save percentage in 29 games played; Weatherly owns a 7-13-3 mark, 3.78 GAA and .888 save percentage.

Special-Teams Spotlight
As the Wildcats look to take strides on the penalty kill, this weekend will offer the red-and-black an opportunity to face off against an opponent they have fared well against in the special-teams battle. In eight games against the Bulls this year, Wichita Falls has a 15-for-44 percent (10-for-32) success rate on the man advantage, including a 7-for-16 mark at the Amarillo Civic Center. The ‘Cats have had similar success on the penalty kill against the Bulls, killing off 44 of 48 Amarillo power plays for a 91.7 percent success rate, a total that includes a season-best 9-for-9 performance on the penalty kill in a 9-1 win on Oct. 10.  

And Then There Were None
When the Wildcats scored in the closing stages of the third period to force overtime against the Brahmas on Wednesday, it marked the fifth time this season Wichita Falls has needed more than 60 minutes to decide a contest. Unlike the previous four times this season the ‘Cats played into overtime or a shootout, they were unable to come away with the win on Wednesday, as the Wildcats became the last team in the North American Hockey League to lose in overtime or a shootout this year in their 44th game of the year. That marks the second-most games Wichita Falls has played in a season before its first overtime or shootout loss, behind the 2005-06 season, when the red-and-black did not lose in overtime or a shootout until their 46th contest of the campaign, a 5-4 shootout loss to the Texarkana Bandits on Feb. 24, 2006. 

Road Warriors
After rounding out their short four-game home-stand against the Lone Star Brahmas on Wednesday, this Friday’s tilt in Amarillo marks the beginning of a five-game road trip for red-and-black. Wichita Falls will end the 2014-15 regular season playing 12 of their final 15 games on the road, including seven-straight away from the KYC to close the regular season, plus the completion of the game from Dec. 13 against the Killer Bees that was suspended due to unsafe ice conditions. The Wildcats are not the only team in the South Division to finish the year with a road-heavy slate; the Topeka RoadRunners will close the year with 12 of their last 16 on the road, while the Lone Star Brahmas close the campaign by playing 11 of their final 17 games away from the NYTEX Centre.

Top Prospects Set to Travel
Following this weekend’s action in Amarillo, five Wildcats skaters and Head Coach John LaFontaine will travel to Ann Arbor, Mich., for the annual North American Hockey League Top Prospects Tournament Defenseman Jake Townsend and forwards Nick Farmer, Tommy Apap and Max Reisinger will all represent the South Division, while forward Austin Beaulieu will skate for the NAHL Selects squad, comprised solely of players eligible for the 2015 National Hockey League draft. Additionally, Wildcats Head Coach John LaFontaine will serve as assistant coach for the South Division team. The Top Prospects Tournament has become one of the most highly-scouted events of its kind, with over 180 scouts from almost every NHL team and NCAA Division I school attending last year’s event. Last year, defenseman Sam Piazza and forward Kyle Bauman earned Division I-opportunities thanks in part to their showing at TPT. 

Alumni Update
This week’s alumni update begins with an update on Zach Pochiro (2011-12), the only Wildcat alumnus currently playing major junior hockey in Canada. A draft pick of the St. Louis Blues in 2013, Pochiro has been red-hot of late, posting four goals and three assists in five games played for the Prince George Cougars (Western Hockey League) last week. He now has 13 goals and 12 assists for 25 points in 30 games for Prince George after starting the season with the Alaska Aces of the ECHL.

 

At the collegiate level, a trio of freshmen headlined the performances of Wildcats alumni last weekend, led by Dennis Kravchenko of the Massachusetts Minutemen. Kravchenko (2011-12) was a bright spot in a down weekend for the Minutemen, posting three assists in two games to extend his point streak to seven games (4-6-10 in that span). Elsewhere last weekend, Tyler Ledford (2012-14) and Ben Kucera (2012-14) turned in solid efforts for the Air Force Academy Falcons. Ledford had an assist in both games of the Falcons’ sweep of American International College to run his point-streak to a season-best five games (0-6-6), while Kucera notched the first multi-point game of his collegiate career with a goal and an assist on Feb. 13.

 

Season Ticket Sales Open
Season tickets for the 2015-16 season are now on sale, allowing fans to guarantee their seats for every game of the new campaign. In addition to lowering prices on nearly all seats  in the Club (formerly, ‘Lower’) and Reserved (formerly, ‘Upper’) levels, the 2015-16 season will also see the Wildcats offer two new categories of seating. Fans may now get an “up-close-and-personal” look at the action on the ice with seats near the glass in the new “Premium” sections. Alternatively, fans who prefer watching the game from a higher vantage point may now reserve seats in the new, season-ticket only, “Roar Zone” located in Sec. 21. Season tickets can be reserved for as little as $75 per seat. However, fans who provide full payment for their season tickets by Feb. 28 will receive additional savings of $42 per seat. Full pricing information can be found by visiting www.wfwildcatshockey.com, or by calling the Wildcats office at (940) 716-5587.