(NOTE: Due to Tuesday's game, there will be no Wildcats Weekly pres. by Armored Roofing this week.)
The Wildcats and Bulls meet for third time in five games on Tuesday evening, one of 12 matchups scheduled for the 2014-15 campaign. Wichita Falls has posted wins in each of the first three meetings of the season, roaring to a 9-1 win over the Bulls in Amarillo on Oct. 10, before sweeping a weekend set by scores of 5-2 and 3-0 this past Friday and Saturday, respectively. Kevin Charyszyn leads the Wildcats in head-to-head scoring against Amarillo with five points (four goals, one assist), while Max Reisinger (4-0-4) and Jake Townsend (1-3-4) each have four points against the Bulls this year. The Wildcats are 12-24-1 against the Bulls dating back to 2010, but have won the last four regular-season meetings between the two teams.
Amarillo enters Tuesday’s game sitting in seventh place in the South Division with 12 points and a record of 5-10-2 after losing to Wichita Falls this past Friday and Saturday. The Bulls have struggled since sweeping Corpus Christi at the end of October, and currently own one of the league’s worst defenses. Amarillo is averaging 4.18 goals-against per game, the second-worst mark in the league, and also allow the most shots against per-game (35.7) of any team in the North American Hockey League. On the offensive end, forward Cody Gylling (7-3-10) leads the team in goals and points. Anton Martinsson has seen the majority of minutes of late, picking up decisions in six of Amarillo’s last seven contests; overall, Martinsson is 3-5-0 with a 3.74 goals against average and a save percentage of .896.
Wichita Falls continued its winning ways over the weekend, posting 5-2 and 3-0 wins over Amarillo on Friday and Saturday to register the first home sweep of the Bulls in Wildcats history. Goaltender David Zevnik was stellar throughout the weekend, posting 51 saves on 53 shots faced over the two games and earning his first-career shutout in Saturday’s 3-0 win. Offensively, Kevin Charyszyn continued his scorching streak with two goals, an assist and a team-high 10 shots on goal. The Wildcats also turned in strong performances on special teams, going 3-for-11 on the power play and killing all 10 Bulls power play opportunities. With the wins, the ‘Cats have now won three-straight games, and five of their last six. Wichita Falls is 10-2-0 since starting the season 1-2-0.
Surging Special Teams
The ‘Cats recent success can be attributed in part to a spike in productivity on special teams over the past six games. Counting this past weekend’s contests, Wichita Falls is now 10-for-30 (33.3%) on the power play in its last six games. That recent surge has seen the Wildcats power play conversion rate soar from 11.4% on Oct. 10 to the current 21.5% success rate, taking them from 21st to sixth in the league. The penalty kill has improved drastically as well, with the ‘Cats killing off 95.7% of opposing power plays (22-of-23) over their past six games to improve from 17th to sixth in the league. Dating back further, the Wildcats’ penalty kill has negated 73 of 77 opposing power plays (94.8%) since Sept. 19. Wichita Falls also currently boasts the second-best combined special teams (power play percentage + penalty kill percentage) in the NAHL (107.8%).
Kevin is Cruisin’
First-year forward Kevin Charyszyn has been on fire of late, and continued his scorching hot play against Amarillo this past weekend. Charyszyn had the game-winning goal in both wins over the Bulls, and finished the weekend with a 2-1-3 line and a team-high 10 shots on goal. The points helped the Air Force Academy-commit stretch his point-streak to seven games (7-3-10 in that span), tying him for the longest active streak in the league.
First Quarter Report
The Wildcats officially hit the quarter-mark of the 2014-15 season in their 3-0 win on Saturday, and thus far, things have been trending up for Wichita Falls. The red-and-black lead the league in offense (4.27 GPG) entering Tuesday’s contest against the Bulls, and rank in the top-10 in power play, penalty kill and are currently second in the league with a combined special teams mark of 107.8%. The ‘Cats 11 wins through 15 games played is the second-most wins at this stage of the season in team history, just behind a 12-2-1 mark through 15 games set by the 2007-08 Wildcats squad. Wichita Falls finished that year 38-18-2, which still stands as the winningest record in team history.
While the Wildcats were busy posting a pair of wins against the Bulls last weekend, a couple of alumni enjoyed strong performances on the ice. Chad Costello, who skated in 56 contests in the ‘Cats’ inaugural season in the NAHL in 2004-05, has gotten off to a solid start with the Allen Americans of the East Coast Hockey League. Costello notched his first goal of the season in 6-4 win for Allen on Nov. 8, giving him six points (one goal, five assists) in six games played for the Americans. Dennis Kravchenko, a forward on the 2011-12 Wildcats team, was the headline performer among Wichita Falls alumni at the collegiate level. The Massachusetts freshman picked up a goal and an assist in a 7-1 win over American International College, giving him a 4-4-8 line in eight games played for the Minutemen.
The Wildcats will wrap up their Hockey Heals Hunger campaign to benefit Wichita Falls Area Food Bank when they return to the Kay Yeager Coliseum to take on the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees on Nov. 21 and 22. Any fan that brings five (5) non-perishable food items for donation on Friday, Nov. 21 will receive free admission to that night’s game.