(Photo: Troy Young)
Weekend Wildcat Wrap
The Wildcats head into their mid-week set against the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees fresh off a four-point weekend against the Odessa Jackalopes. Both contests against Odessa featured a Wildcat potting a pair of goals; Will Vosejpka netted twice in Friday’s 4-2 victory, while Ben Kucera notched both Wichita Falls goals in Saturday’s 2-1 triumph. Goaltenders David Zevnik and Chase Munroe split time in the two-game set, with each earning a win in their respective starts. Thanks to the weekend success, Wichita Falls remains in first place in the North American Hockey League’s South Division, three points ahead of second-place Amarillo.
The Killer Bee Buzz
The Killer Bees make their way to the Kay Yeager Coliseum for the second series of the year between the Bees and the Wildcats. Since getting swept by Wichita Falls in September, the Killer Bees have won four-straight games, sweeping the Odessa Jackalopes on the road on Oct. 4 and 5, before taking two from the Lone Star Brahmas at home last weekend. Ben Greiner is the Killer Bees’ leading scorer with a line of 4-7-11, and enters Tuesday’s game riding a five-game point streak that has seen him post a goal and five assists. Tyler Bruneteau leads the team in goals scored with five after scoring four times against Lone Star on Oct. 12. Olli Kalkaja has started every game but one for RGV, posting a 6-2-3 record with a 2.04 goals against average and a .903 save percentage. Rio Grande Valley currently sits in third place in the NAHL South Division with 15 points in 12 games played.
Rio Grande Valley Redux
Tuesday’s matchup marks the third meeting between the Wildcats and the Killer Bees. Wichita Falls claimed victory in the previous two contests, recording 3-2 and 3-1 road wins on Sept. 28 and 29, respectively, to earn the sweep. Jordan Jancze was the headline-grabber in those games, scoring three goals, including the game-winning goals both nights, and also notching an assist to lead the Wildcats’ attack.
Tuesday and Wednesday’s contests against the Killer Bees represent outliers in the Wildcats schedule. Of the 60 regular-season games that Wichita Falls will play in 2013-14, only 10 are scheduled for days other than Friday, Saturday or Sunday. The Wildcats are already 2-0 in weekday action this season, recording wins in their midweek contests against the Minnesota Magicians and Brookings Blizzard at the 2013 NAHL Showcase in September. Last year, the red-and-black posted a 6-1-1 record in weekday games.
Twice as Nice
With their two-goal performances against Odessa over the weekend, Will Vosejpka and Ben Kucera became the fifth and sixth Wildcats skaters to post a multi-goal game this season. Kyle Bauman was the first to accomplish the feat, scoring twice against Odessa in the season opener on Sept. 13. Nick Farmer and Rudy Junda both turned the trick against the Brookings Blizzard on Sept. 19, while Jordan Jancze potted a pair against Rio Grande Valley on Sept. 28.
This past weekend saw several Wildcat players reach personal milestones. In Friday’s 4-2 victory, Will Vosejpka recorded the first multi-goal game of his NAHL career. Ben Kucera’s two tallies on Saturday also represented the first multi-goal performance of his tenure in Wichita Falls. Jack Kelly recorded an assist on Colin Staub’s goal in Friday’s game to earn his first career point in the NAHL. Staub reached a milestone himself, recording a goal and an assist on the weekend to give him 40 points for his Wildcat career.
Pugnacious Penalty Kill
With the Wildcats leading the league in penalty minutes with 319, Wichita Falls’ penalty kill unit has proved incredibly valuable this season. After another strong showing last weekend against Odessa, including going 7-for-7 on the penalty kill in Saturday’s contest, the Wildcats have now negated 20 of the last 22 opposition power plays. Overall, Wichita Falls has killed off 58-of-63 shorthanded situations for a 92.1% success rate, which is the best mark in the NAHL South Division and is the fourth-best success rate in the league.