(Photo: Troy Young)
The Wildcats and Brahmas continue their season series with a two-game set in North Richland Hills this Friday and Saturday. When these two teams last met on Jan. 29, Wichita Falls controlled the contest from start to finish to claim a 7-2 victory, with Will Vosejpka, Kirk Van Arkel and Rudy Junda each finding the back of the net twice. Vosejpka has thrived against Lone Star this season, with six goals and four assists in five games, while defenseman Jake Townsend has posted a 1-6–7 line in five contests against the Brahmas. The Wildcats are 4-1-0 against Lone Star this season.
The Brahmas enter this weekend after splitting a two-game set with the Corpus Christi IceRays last week. Lone Star let a late-third period lead slip away in a 4-2 loss on Friday, before rebounding for a 4-2 win in Saturday’s contest. The Brahmas currently sit in sixth place in the division with 41 points in 53 games, and need to win their remaining seven games to keep their slim playoffs hopes alive. Lone Star has struggled to generate offense this season, averaging the third-fewest goals per game in the league (2.19), but Matt Lison has been a bright spot for the Brahmas, posting 17 goals and 11 assists for a team-leading 28 points. In net, TJ Black has seen the majority of playing time, posting a 10-13-1 record, 2.48 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage in 25 games played, however Black has been pulled in his last two starts against the Wildcats.
The Weekend that Was
The Wildcats come into this weekend’s action after splitting a pair of games in Odessa last week. Wichita Falls lost 5-1 on Friday, but bounced back the next night to claim a hard-fought shootout win, 3-2. Kyle Bauman had a goal and an assist in the two contests, pushing his current point streak to four games; he has three goals and three assists for six points in that span. Chase Munroe picked up the win in net on Saturday, making 24 saves plus an additional four stops in the shootout to earn his ninth victory of the season. Both Bauman and Munroe received honorable mention in the Division Stars of the Week for their efforts. The Wildcats currently sit in fourth place in the South Division, with 55 points in 49 games played.
As the regular season enters its final month, the Wildcats currently have a magic number of three points to clinch the final playoff spot over the Corpus Christi IceRays. Any combination of Wichita Falls earning points and Corpus Christi dropping points that totals to three will see the Wildcats lock up the South Division’s fourth postseason bid. If the regular season ended today, Wichita Falls would face the Amarillo Bulls in a best-of-five series in the first round of the divisional playoffs.
Fear the First
Wichita Falls has controlled the first period against Lone Star this season, outscoring the Brahmas 11-1 in the opening frame of the teams’ previous head-to-head meetings. Additionally, the first goal will likely be critical when the Wildcats and Brahmas meet this weekend, as the team that has scored first has won the previous five matchups. Both teams own a strong overall record when tallying the game’s first goal, with Wichita Falls boasting a 15-4-1 mark when scoring first, while Lone Star is 13-9-2 when finding twine prior to its opponent.
Fans may follow the weekend’s action in a variety of ways. Video streaming is available on FASTHockey.com, with an audio-only broadcast available by visiting our Ustream channel. Fans can also follow along on Twitter (@WFWildcats) for score updates throughout the contest.