(Photo: Troy Young)
Friday’s contest between the Wildcats and Jackalopes marks the seventh of ten regular-season games between the two teams, and also starts a run of four-straight games against Odessa for the Wildcats. These two teams split a weekend set when they last met on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. Odessa claimed a 9-2 victory in game one of that series to break the Wildcats’ 15-game winning-streak against the Jacks, before Wichita Falls rebounded with a 7-5 win in a see-saw battle the next night. Will Vosejpka (5-3–8) and Kyle Bauman (4-4–8) have thrived against the Jackalopes this season, while Chad Guderian leads Odessa with a 4-2–6 line in six games against the Wildcats. Wichita Falls is 5-1-0 against the Jackalopes this season, and owns a 17-8-0 all-time record against Odessa.
Following a weekend off, the Jackalopes enter the weekend on a five-game losing streak, having most recently been swept by the Lone Star Brahmas on Feb. 7 and 8. Starting Friday, Odessa will play 11 of its final 13 games at home, good news for a team that is 6-19-1 on the road. The Jackalopes currently sit in last place in the South Division, with 30 points in 47 games played. Lukas Laub leads the Odessa offense, with 12 goals and 10 assists for 22 points, while Alex Alger has compiled a line of 9-12–21, including two goals and three assists against the Wildcats this season. In net, Yoshihiro Kuroiwa and Eric Hancock have split time for the Jackalopes. Kuroiwa is 7-21-0 with a 3.58 goals against average and .898 save percentage, while Hancock is 6-9-4 with a .297 GAA and .908 Sv%.
Wildcats Get Back to Work
The Wildcats enter Friday’s contest ready for a return to winning ways after losing two games to the Roadrunners last weekend. Wichita Falls struggled to generate offense in those contests, only finding the back of the net once in the two-game set, but the Wildcats will view this weekend as an opportunity to rediscover their scoring touch. In six games against Odessa this season, they are averaging 4.17 goals per game, well above their season-average of 2.53 GPG. Wichita Falls enters the weekend sitting in fourth place in the division standings, with 49 points in 45 games played.
On the Road Again
After concluding their nine-game home-stand last weekend, the Wildcats will hit the road for a difficult run of away tilts. Wichita Falls will play eight-straight contests away from the Kay Yeager Coliseum beginning with two road games against Odessa on Feb. 21 and 22, marking the longest run of consecutive road games this season. Included in that span is a demanding stretch of four games in five days that will see the Wildcats travel to Lone Star on March 7 and 8, before visiting the Roadrunners for a midweek set on March 10 and 11.
Wildcats Shine at Top Prospects Tournament
The North American Hockey League held its 7th Annual Top Prospects Tournament in Troy, Mich., this week, with three Wildcats turning in strong performances at the highly-scouted event. In two games played, forward Kyle Bauman scored a goal for Team South and defenseman Sam Piazza had an assist and three shots on goal, while Wildcats netminder David Zevnik made 15 saves in just over 60 minutes of action. For Bauman, the goal was the third of his career at the Top Prospects Tournament, having previously posted two goals and an assist for Team Texas in 2013.
After being acquired in a trade with the Lone Star Brahmas at the trade deadline, Todd Koritzinsky made an immediate impact in his first game as a Wildcat last Friday. The Verona, Wisc.-native tallied a goal in his Wichita Falls debut, stashing home Colin Staub’s centering feed at the 18:11 mark of the first period. He becomes the second Wildcats forward to have scored in his first game following a mid-season acquisition, joining Kirk Van Arkel, who scored against the Lone Star Brahmas in his first game on Nov 8.
Fans may follow the weekend’s action in a variety of ways. Video streaming is available on FASTHockey.com, with an audio-only broadcast available by visiting our Ustream channel. Fans can also follow along on Twitter (@WFWildcats) for score updates throughout the contest.