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PREVIEW: Wildcats Host IceRays in Two-Game Set

(Photo: Troy Young)

The Matchup
Tonight’s meeting marks the third of six regular-season contests between the Wildcats and the IceRays, and the only games the two teams will play at the Kay Yeager Coliseum. The squads split a two-game set in Corpus Christi at the end of October, with Wichita Falls claiming a 2-1 shootout victory on Oct. 25 before stumbling the next night. Jordan Jancze scored the lone goal in the Wildcats win, with Ben Kucera notching the decisive goal in the shootout, but the story of that contest was goaltending. David Zevnik and IceRays netminder Ben Myers both made 38 saves on 39 shots in the game, with the 28 saves for Zevnik marking a season-high. The Wildcats dropped a 4-1 decision the next night however, despite a power-play goal from Colin Staub in the contest. All-time, Wichita Falls has a 21-9-4 record in 34 head-to-head meetings with Corpus Christi.

Casing Corpus Christi
The IceRays roll into the weekend fresh off a sweep of the Lone Star Brahmas on Nov. 22 and 23, and currently sit in fifth in the division standings with an 8-12-6 record. Corpus Christi posted back-to-back 3-1 wins in a pair of penalty-filled affairs, with the two teams combining for 139 penalty minutes over the two games. Maurin Bouvet had a goal and an assist in each game, while Jake Durflinger two goals and an assist on the weekend. Bouvet has been on a hot streak of late, posting a 3-3-6 line in his last five games; he currently leads the IceRays attack, with a line of 7-9-16 in 26 games played. Corpus Christi has been solid at home but has struggled to find consistency on the road, posting a 2-9-3 mark away from home thus far.

Wednesday Recap
The Wildcats got back to winning ways on Wednesday, posting a 3-1 road victory over the Lone Star Brahmas. Wichita Falls controlled the game from start to finish, taking a 2-0 lead in the first period that the Brahmas were never able to overcome. Colin Staub opened the scoring for the Cats, tipping home Jake Townsend’s shot for his sixth goal of the year. Just about two minutes later, Will Vosejpka potted his team-leading ninth marker of the campaign. Kyle Bauman then rounded out the scoring in the third period with a power-play goal into an empty net to seal the win. The man-advantage tally gives Wichita Falls power-play goals in three-straight contests. David Zevnik started in goal for the Wildcats, making 25 saves on 26 shots.

Home, Sweet Home
Tonight’s contest marks the Wildcats’ first game at the Kay Yeager Coliseum since Nov. 8, when they bashed their way past the Brahmas, 9-1. Wichita Falls has posted a 3-3 mark in the five games since then, including a loss and a win against Lone Star on Nov. 9 and Nov. 27 respectively. That stretch also includes an even split of four games in Alaska, with the Wildcats recording a sweep of the Kenai River Brown Bears on Nov. 15 and 16, before getting swept by the Fairbanks Ice Dogs on Nov. 22 and 23. The comforts of home will be short-lived however, as the Cats continue their travels with three-straight weekend sets on the road in December.  

Leaving it Late
With the Wildcats tied late in the third period of Nov. 15’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. 29, the Wildcats had already raised $1,494 in support of Movember. To support the Wildcats’ efforts with a donation, or to join the Wildcats’ Movember team, go to http://us.movember.com/team/1037941. Remember, all contributions are important, no matter the amount.