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'Cats Welcome Jacks for Two-Game Set [UPDATED]

(Photo: Troy Young)

2/5 Wildcats Weekly presented by Armored Roofing

GAME NOTES: 2/14 vs Odessa Jackalopes

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
– Fans may take advantage of our Valentine’s Day ticket special, with 2-for-$20 tickets available to all when the Wildcats host the Jacks on Feb. 14.

– Fans may also take advantage of a 4-for-$24 ticket special good for any seats in the arena when the ‘Cats host the Lone Star Brahmas on Feb. 18. Simply contact the KYC Box Office at (940) 716-5555 for tickets.

– 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.

The Matchup
Tonight’s match-up between the Wildcats and Jackalopes marks the seventh meeting of the season between the two teams. With a record of 4-2-0 in head-to-head action, Wichita Falls holds a slim margin over Odessa, and earned a weekend split against the Jackalopes in the two squads’ most recent meetings at the end of November. After last night’s win, the ‘Cats are 2-1-0 against the Jacks at the Kay Yeager Coliseu, with the red-and-black using an 8-5 win in a back-and-forth affair on Oct. 17 to avenge a 4-3 season-opening loss on Sept. 13. Colin Staub leads the Wildcats in scoring against Odessa with eight points (four goals, four assists), while Evan Okeley (3-3-6) and Alex Falconer (4-2-6) both have six points against the Jackalopes. Historically speaking, Wichita Falls owns a 24-12-0 all-time record against Odessa, and is 13-6-0 against the Jacks at the Kay Yeager Coliseum dating back to the 2011-12 season.

Friday Flashback
Friday’s contest saw the Wildcats and Jackalopes lock horns in a back-and-forth battle, but it was the ‘Cats who claimed the win behind two goals from Evan Okeley and a pair of shorthanded tallies. After weathering an early surge from Odessa, Wichita Falls started the scoring when Okeley pounded home a loose puck at the back door after an initial shot went wide. Matt Koch pushed the score to 2-0 on the man advantage just two minutes later with a skipping shot from the blue line that evaded Tanner Creel to break a 0-for-6 run on the power play. In the second, Matt Beranek pulled the Jacks within one just 14 seconds into the frame. A shorthanded goal for Okeley briefly restored the ‘Cats’ two-goal lead, but Andrew McLean and Derek Brown scored less than a minute apart to level the score 3-3 heading into the third. In the final frame, Colin Staub gave Wichita Falls a 4-3 lead on a shorthanded breakaway, only for the Jackalopes to strike back immediately after on Brown’s second of the game. The Wildcats would not be denied the win however, as Nikita Litviak stepped up 34 seconds later to pot the game-winning goal out of a mad scramble in front of the net. Reisinger also had a strong night for the red-and-black with two assists in the win, while Cam Knight, Nick Farmer, Paul Soubry and Shane Kuzmeski each tacked on a helper as well. Austin Shaw started in net for the ‘Cats, making 30 saves to earn his 19th win of the year.

Odessa Overview
The Jackalopes make their way to the Kay Yeager Coliseum sitting in eighth place in the South Division with a mark of 9-30-6 and 24 points, having most recently been swept at home in a three-game set against the Corpus Christi IceRays at the end of January. Odessa has had to contend with a road-heavy schedule through the first two months of the season, with this weekend’s contests representing two of the Jacks’ last four road tilts. With a 3-21-3 mark as the away team, the Jackalopes have struggled through the road portion of their schedule and have not won a road game since a 7-3 win over Rio Grande Valley on Oct. 2, but Odessa does have an away win against the Wildcats this season thanks to a 4-3 victory to open the season on Sept. 13. The Jacks boast one of the league’s more accomplished offensive units thanks in large part to the efforts of the Kenny Hausinger, who has 50 points (16 goals, 34 assists) and is the league’s seventh-leading scorer, and veterans Razmuz Waxin-Engback (16-20-36) and Derek Brown (15-22-37). Hausinger and Brown have been a thorn in the side of Wichita Falls this year, with Hausinger posting 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in six games against the ‘Cats, while Brown has notched nine points (five goals, four assists) in head-to-head competition. Robin Johansson has seen the most time in net for Odessa, although newcomer Tanner Creel has been the goaltender of record in 14 of 16 games since joining the Jacks after leaving the United States Military Academy. Johansson is 5-11-3 with a 4.36 goals against average and .870 save percentage in 25 games played; Creel has compiled a 2-10-2 mark to go along with a 4.04 GAA and .880 save percentage.

Thirty Wins and Counting
Last night’s win marked the 30th of the year for the Wildcats, making this year’s squad just the third team in franchise history to record 30 wins in a season, joining the 2013-14 and 2007-08 squads. Additionally, after registering 31 wins in 2013-14, this also represents the first time the ‘Cats have posted 30 wins in consecutive campaigns. With just 42 games played, this is the fewest games Wichita Falls has needed to reach the 30 win mark, surpassing the 44 games needed to reach 30 wins in 2007-08. 

Road Ready
After rounding out their short four-game home-stand next Wednesday against the Lone Star Brahmas, the Wildcats will close the 2014-15 regular season with 12 of their final 15 games on the road. That stretch includes 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. Wichita Falls is 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.

Alumni Updates
Wildcats alumni turned in strong performances at the collegiate level last weekend, starting with goaltender P.J. Musico at Penn State University. Musico (2009-10) started and won both games for the Penn State Nittany Lions in their weekend sweep of the Wisconsin Badgers, turning aside 62 of 65 shots faced over the two games in the process; Musico is now 4-1-1 on the year with a 1.92 goals against average and .938 save percentage. Elsewhere around the NCAA, forward Dennis Kravchenko (2011-12) continued his strong freshman campaign at Massachusetts with a 2-1-3 line over two games to help the Minutemen split the weekend. With 25 points on 10 goals and 15 assists, Kravchenko currently ranks third in scoring among all first-year skaters in Hockey East. Forward Tyler Ledford (2012-14) also had a solid showing last weekend, posting three assists for Air Force in two games against Sacred Heart. He now has 10 points on two goals and eight assists in 31 games for the Falcons.

At the professional level, forward Chad Costello (2004-05) has continued his scorching play. Through 45 games, Costello has a league-leading 73 points on 22 goals and 51 assists for the Allen Americans, who are currently in first place in the ECHL. Also of note in the ECHL, former Wildcats defenseman Zach Josepher (2006-07) signed with the Elmira Jackals after starting the season with the Missouri Mavericks.

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.