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PREVIEW: Wildcats Face Off Against Fairbanks

(Photo: Troy Young)

Game Notes

Clean Sweep in Kenai
The Wildcats opened their Alaskan road trip with a sweep of the Kenai River Brown Bears in two tight contests last weekend. On Friday, Wichita Falls used a late third period goal from Will Vosejpka to earn a 3-2 win, as Chase Munroe made a season-high 38 stops. Munroe equaled that save total in Saturday’s contest to lead the Wildcats to a 2-1 shootout victory; he also stopped all five shooters he faced in the shootout. Stan Sojka scored the lone regulation goal for Wichita Falls, the first of his career, while Tyler Ledford notched the decisive tally in the shootout, the second time he has done so this season. The Wildcats moved back into second place in the division standings after sweeping the Brown Bears, with 29 points in 22 games played.

Fairbanks Faceoff
The Fairbanks Ice Dogs enter play this weekend sitting in second place in the North American Hockey League’s Midwest Division, four points behind the division-leading Minnesota Wilderness. The Ice Dogs swept the Wilderness last weekend, claiming back-to-back 2-1 victories to push their current win streak to four games, all of which have come at home. Fairbanks boasts the division’s most potent offense, with 62 goals in 21 games played, while also owning the league’s second-best defense (1.95 GA/G). The Ice Dogs are led on offense by Colton Wolter (3-14-17) and Kyle Lee (5-11-16), while Tayler Munson and Jacob Hetz are tied for the team lead in goals scored (7). In net, Kevin Aldridge has been on a hot streak recently, allowing only one goal in each of his last four starts, all wins for Fairbanks. In 15 games played, Aldridge has a 9-6-0 record with a 2.07 goals against average and a .918 save percentage. Last season, the Ice Dogs and Wildcats split the series in Fairbanks.

Munroe Making Moves
After backstopping the Wildcats to a road sweep of the Kenai River Brown Bears, Chase Munroe was honored as the NAHL Easton Divisional Star of the Week for the South Division for the week ending Nov. 18. The Naperville, Ill.-native made a season-high 38 saves in both contests, stopping 76 of 79 total shots thrown his way for a weekend save percentage of .962. Munroe also made five saves in last Saturday’s shootout to earn his first shootout win of the campaign, and did not allow an even-strength goal all weekend. In 13 games played, the first-year netminder is 7-4-2 with two shutouts, a 2.04 goals against average and a .924 save percentage. Munroe is the second Wildcats player to garner Star of the Week honors this season, after Jordan Jancze was tabbed the division’s top performer for the week ending Sept. 29.

Your Defense is Offensive
The Wildcats defense was influential on both ends of the ice in last Friday’s 3-2 win over Kenai River, as both Sam Piazza and Alfred Johansson found twine. Piazza’s goal came with Wichita Falls a man down, marking his first-career shorthanded goal. It was his third tally of the season, and first since Sept. 19 against the Brookings Blizzard, while Johansson’s strike marked his second of the year, and was his first since Sept. 21 against the Austin Bruins. Friday’s contest also marked the second time this season defensemen have accounted for multiple markers, after Piazza and Jake Townsend both found the back of the net against Odessa on Sept. 14. Wildcats blue-liners have now scored eight of the team’s 64 goals. 

Leaving it Late
With the Wildcats tied late in the third period of Friday’s contest against Kenai River, they needed late heroics to claim the win. Will Vosejpka’s goal at 19:17 of the third period provided exactly that, as Wichita Falls snatched a 3-2 victory from the Brown Bears. Vosejpka’s goal stands as the latest game-winning tally the Wildcats have recorded this season, surpassing Ben Kucera’s marker against the Odessa Jackalopes on Oct. 12, which came at 9:23 of the third period. Last season, the Wildcats’ latest game-winning score came on March 2, when Colin Staub scored with just eight seconds remaining to cap off a comeback win over the Topeka Roadrunners. 

Movember Update
This November, the Wildcats are joining other NAHL teams in partnering with Movember to change the face of men’s health. Throughout the month, players, coaches and staff will grow mustaches to raise money for Movember’s campaign to support men’s health and raise awareness for the fight against prostate and testicular cancer. As of Nov. 20, the Wildcats had already raised over $1,100 in support of Movember. To support the Wildcats’ efforts with a donation, or to join the Wildcats’ Movember team, visit http://us.movember.com/mospace/2886229. Remember, all contributions are important, no matter the amount.

Programming Note: Please note that there will not be away audio on FASTHockey for this weekend's game. Be sure to select the "Home" feed when watching the game, and follow @WFWildcats on Twitter for in-game updates.