This weekend’s series between the Wildcats and Topeka Roadrunners features two of the top offensive teams in the league. The Roadrunners enter Friday’s contest averaging 4.50 goals-per-game, the second-highest average in the league, while Wichita Falls is just behind Topeka, posting 4.00 gpg on average. Colin Staub leads all active Wildcats in career scoring against the Roadrunners, with nine points (three goals, six assists) in 18 games against Topeka. In eight head to head meetings last season, the ‘Cats posted a 2-6-0 record against the ‘Runners in 2013-14. The Wildcats are 27-60-10 all-time against Topeka, dating back to 2004-05 when the franchise was located in Santa Fe, NM.
A Tussle with Topeka
Topeka comes into the Kay Yeager Coliseum sitting in first place overall in the North American Hockey League thanks to a 6-0-0 start. Returning forwards Jasen Fernsler (3-6-9, 6 GP) and Daniel Rzavsky (3-5-8, 6 GP) have played a large part in the Roadrunners’ hot start to, along with first-year netminder Matej Tomek, who was named the Star of the Week for the South Division after posting two shutout wins at the NAHL Showcase last week. Topeka finished in second place in the NAHL’s South Division last year and roared through the divisional playoffs, sweeping Rio Grande Valley in the first round and besting Amarillo in a five-game series to claim the South Division Championship, before bowing out to the Austin Bruins in the Robertson Cup Semi-Finals.
The Wildcats return home to the KYC this weekend after a strong showing at the annual league showcase last week in Blaine, Minn. The ‘Cats posted a 3-1-0 record in their four contests, opening with a thrilling 6-5 victory in overtime over the reigning Robertson Cup Champion-Fairbanks Ice Dogs, before concluding the event with consecutive wins against the Minnesota Wilderness and Michigan Warriors, respectively. Kevin Charyszyn (4-1-5) and Cam Knight (1-4-5) each posted five points in the four games to lead the Wildcats in scoring, while Austin Shaw posted wins in his first two career starts. Dating back to the 2004-05 campaign, Wichita Falls now owns a 27-12-5 mark in games played at the NAHL Showcase.
The Rooks are Rolling
With five games played in 2014-15, the Wildcats offense has so far been paced by first-year players. Kevin Charyszyn (4-1-5), Alex Falconer (3-2-5), and defenseman Cam Knight (1-4-5) hold the early team-lead in points, while Tommy Apap (1-3-4) is tied for second on the team in scoring. In total, first-year players have tallied 13 of the Wildcats’ 20 goals and 31 of 50 points to account for 65% of the team’s goals and 62% of all points in the early stages of the campaign.
Shaw Shutting ‘Em Down
Rookie goaltender Austin Shaw is off to a solid start in his junior career. The Highlands Ranch, Colo.-native posted wins in his first two starts at the NAHL Showcase last week, including a 31-save shutout performance against the Minnesota Wilderness in his first-ever appearance. Shaw continued that shutout streak through the first two periods of his next start against the Michigan Warriors, before allowing the first goal of his career at the 6:09 mark of the third. His streak of 106:09 is the longest shutout streak to start a career by a Wildcats goaltender in franchise history, surpassing Eric Gravaglia’s mark of 75:39 to start his career in 2010-11.