This weekend’s two-game set marks the first of eight scheduled meetings between Wichita Falls and Rio Grande Valley. The Wildcats posted a 4-3-1 record against the Killer Bees last year, with a pair of those wins coming via the shootout. Colin Staub (0-4-4) and Max Reisinger (2-0-2) both had success against the Bees last season, with Staub leading all active Wichita Falls skaters in points against RGV. Following this weekend’s matchup, these two teams will meet again on Dec. 12 and 13 when the Wildcats travel to Hidalgo, Texas.
Killer Bee Buzz
Rio Grande Valley comes into Friday’s game having lost three straight contests, and currently sits in sixth place in the South Division with a record of 7-8-4, but the Bees do boast a 6-5-4 mark in division play. The Killer Bees were swept on the road by the Lone Star Brahmas in a pair of one-goal defeats last weekend, and will conclude a nine-game road swing this weekend. Rio Grande Valley has struggled to find a set lineup in the early stages of the season, and recently acquired defenseman Adem Arifi from Amarillo to bolster its blue line. With six points (three goals, three assists) in his last 5 games, Parker Wood leads the Bees attack (7-9-16), followed closely by veteran Anthony Croston (5-10-15). RGV has utilized a goalie platoon thus far, with Ben Johansson and Nick Schmit splitting time evenly. Johansson is 4-2-3, with a 2.68 goals against average and .894 save percentage, while Schmit owns a 3-5-1 record, 3.89 GAA and .882 save percentage.
Tidbits from Tuesday’s Tilt
The Wildcats began their week with a 5-4 shootout win on Tuesday, fighting past the Odessa Jackalopes in a back-and-forth affair at the Ector County Coliseum. The Jacks took the lead three different times in the contest, but Wichita Falls erased the deficit each time to force the game to overtime, with Nick Farmer, Evan Okeley, Colin Staub and Shane Kuzmeski all finding twine in regulation. After a scoreless extra session dominated by goaltending, Alex Falconer, Farmer and Jake Townsend all scored for the ‘Cats in their first shootout of the year, and Austin Shaw stopped three of five attempts to seal the win. Townsend also picked up an assist on Okeley’s goal in regulation, giving him 45 career points and setting a new franchise record for most career points by a defenseman.
Records Break, By Jake
Veteran defenseman Jake Townsend has been re-writing the Wildcats record books in his third year in Wichita Falls. With an assist against the Odessa Jackalopes on Tuesday, Townsend now has 45 career points, surpassing Brett Morrell (2006-08) for the most career points by a defenseman in Wildcats history. Additionally, Townsend skated in his 117th game in a Wildcats sweater when the ‘Cats rolled over the Topeka Roadrunners, 5-1, on Sept 27, making him the franchise’s all-time leader in games played by a defenseman. Townsend, who has played in 127 games and counting to this point, claimed the record from Chris Nutini, who played 116 games on the Wildcats blue line from 2005-07.
The Wildcats needed a shootout to decide Tuesday’s contest, marking the first time this season the ‘Cats required a skills session to determine a winner. Last season, Wichita Falls skated in 11 contests that reached a shootout, with the red-and-black posting an 8-3 mark in those tilts. Dating back to 2—4, the Wildcats are 33-37 in shootouts.
This past weekend was one of firsts for Wildcats alumni in the collegiate ranks. Former Wildcats forward Kyle Bauman (2012-14) notched the first point of his career on Saturday night, picking up an assist in Bemidji State University’s loss to Michigan Tech. Elsewhere on Saturday, defenseman Sam Piazza (2012-14) also registered the first point of his college career, posting a helper in Michigan’s win over AIC. Also getting on the scoresheet this weekend were Tyler Ledford (2012-14) and Ben Kucera (2011-14), who both had assists in a 3-3 tie for the Air Force Academy against Robert Morris University. At the professional level, defenseman Zach Trotman (2008-09) was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) after playing nine games with the Boston Bruins.
The Wildcats will be hosting a holiday toy drive when they return home to the Kay Yeager Coliseum to face the Corpus Christi IceRays on Dec. 5 and 6. Fans are encouraged to bring unwrapped toys to be collected at Guest Services; all toys collected will go to the Pediatrics playroom at United Regional Health Care System.
Mark your calendars for this year’s Jersey of Our Back Weekend, benefitting Children’s Miracle Network and the United Regional. The annual event will be held Jan. 16 and 17, with the jersey auction taking place at the conclusion of the game on Jan. 17.