This weekend sees the Wildcats and Brahmas meet for just the third and fourth times this season, with Friday marking the first contest between the sides since a two-game set at the Kay Yeager Coliseum in early October. Wichita Falls is 1-1-0 against Lone Star this season, and opened the season series by claiming a thrilling overtime victory behind Nick Farmer’s game-winning goal on Oct. 3, before being dealt a 5-1 defeat the next night. Nick Farmer and Austin Beaulieu each notched a goal and an assist in the two-game split, while Kevin Charyszyn and Erich Jaeger also found twine for Wichita Falls on the weekend. The ‘Cats hold a 6-3-1 record against the Brahmas dating back to the 2013-14 campaign, and are 2-1-1 at the NYTEX Centre in North Richland Hills.
A Look at Lone Star
Despite an off weekend last week, the Brahmas enter this weekend in second place in the South Division with a record of 26-9-3, and are currently just a point ahead of the Wildcats for second place in the division. Lone Star picked up a 4-1 win over the Amarillo Bulls in its last time out on Jan. 19, using a pair of shorthanded goals in the third period to continue the Brahmas’ domination on home ice. Lone Star enters Friday’s contest boasting a streak of 20 home games without a regulation loss, with their only blemish at home coming in a 3-2 overtime loss to Wenatchee on Jan. 10, and has scored more than twice as many goals at home (93 in 22 games) than on the road (42 in 16 games). Despite the difference in offensive output between home and away contests, the Brahmas still average 3.55 goals for per game thanks largely to the efforts of veteran forward Sebastian Vidmar. In his second season with the Brahmas, Vidmar has already more than doubled his point production from 2013-14, posting 24 goals and 31 assists for 55 points in 36 games played. Lone Star has utilized a goaltending platoon for much of this season, with TJ Black and Jake Kupsky posting similar stats in a comparable amount of minutes. Black is 15-5-2, with a 1.91 goals against average and .916 save percentage, while Kupsky owns a record of 11-4-1, 2.19 GAA and .906 sv%.
Something’s Got to Give
When the Wildcats and Lone Star face off on Friday, it will mark a clash between the North American Hockey League’s top offense and one of its stingiest defenses. Wichita Falls enters this weekend’s action averaging a league-high 4.18 goals per game on 35.2 shots on goal per game, also the most in the league. On the other side of the ice, the Brahmas have allowed just 2.05 goals per game, second-fewest in the NAHL, and are conceding a league-low 23 shots on goal per game on average.
Five Tapped for Top Prospects
The 2015 North American Hockey League Top Prospects Tournament will feature multiple Wildcats skaters, with five different players making their first appearance at the annual event in Ann Arbor, Mich., this February. 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. The number of players each team sent to the tournament was determined based on each team’s winning percentage within their division as of January 18, 2015.
Several Wildcats reached career milestones in their recent split with the Corpus Christi IceRays, including forwards Colin Staub and Nick Farmer, and defenseman Matt Koch. Staub became just the fifth skater in team history to reach the 100-point plateau when he notched an assist on Jake Townsend’s goal in a 5-4 win on Jan. 22. He joins Luke Salazar (110 points, 2006-08), Kyle Kraemer (130 points, 2004-06), Skylur Jameson (135 points, 2004-08) and Adam Cardwell (189 points, 2005-08) as members of the ‘Cats century club. Farmer reached his milestone the next night when he skated in his 150th game as a member of the Wildcats. The Spokane, Wash.,-native is just the sixth player in franchise history to achieve that feat, and is the second player to reach the 150-games mark this season after Staub did so in early January. Koch’s milestone moment came in that same contest, when he picked up his 37th point of the year with an assist on Farmer’s goal, tying him for the most points by a defenseman in a single season in team history. The record was previously held by Sam Piazza, who registered 11 goals and 26 assists for 37 points during the 2013-14 campaign.
Season Ticket Sales Open
Earlier this week, the Wildcats opened season-ticket sales for next season, allowing fans to guarantee their seats for every game of the 2015-16 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.
Last weekend proved an eventful one for Wildcats alumnae in the collegiate ranks. Dennis Kravchenko, a forward on the 2011-12 squad, had the biggest performance of the weekend, posting two goals and an assist to help Massachusetts claim three points in two games against Merrimack College. Kravchenko posted the game-winning tally on Saturday, and was named the Hockey East Pro Ambitions Rookie of the Week for his efforts. The California native currently ranks fourth among Hockey East rookies in scoring with a line of 8-13-21 in 25 games played. Ben Kucera (2012-14) also had a solid showing in the Cradle of Liberty last weekend, as he picked up his first-career goal to help the Air Force Academy Falcons sweep American International College in Springfield, Mass. Elsewhere, Kyle Bauman (2012-14) continued his recent surge for Bemidji State University by tallying a goal in each of the Beavers’ wins over Minnesota State-Mankato and the University of Minnesota-Duluth last weekend. Bauman now has eight points (four goals, four assists) in 16 games played in his first year with the Beavers.
When the Wildcats host the Lone Star Brahmas on Feb. 4 and 18, all fans may take advantage of a 4-for-$24 ticket special good for any seats in the arena. Simply contact the KYC Box Office at (940) 716-5555 for tickets.
Additionally, fans may take advantage of our Valentine’s Day ticket special, with 2-for-$20 tickets available to all fans when the Wildcats host the Odessa Jackalopes on Feb. 14.