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Road Trip Continues with Two Tilts in Topeka

(Photo: Cody Wooten)

Game Notes: 2/27 vs Topeka

Upcoming Promotions
– When the Wildcats return to the KYC at the beginning of March, fans should mark their calendars for a weekend of auctions and giveaways. March 6 will see the Wildcats Pride Booster Club hold their annual player poster auction. Then on March 7, the first 750 fans in attendance will receive a free 2014-15 Team Poster courtesy of SuddenLink Media. In addition, the Wildcats will also host the annual player jersey auction during the game on March 7.

– Additionally, fans should mark their calendars for the annual Fan Appreciation Night on Wednesday, March 11, when all single-game tickets will be available free of charge.

Season Ticket Sales Open
Season tickets for the 2015-16 season are now on sale, allowing fans to guarantee their seats for every game of the new campaign. In addition to lowering prices on nearly all seats  in the Club (formerly, ‘Lower’) and Reserved (formerly, ‘Upper’) levels, the 2015-16 season will also see the Wildcats offer two new categories of seating. Fans may now get an “up-close-and-personal” look at the action on the ice with seats near the glass in the new “Premium” sections. Alternatively, fans who prefer watching the game from a higher vantage point may now reserve seats in the new, season-ticket only, “Roar Zone” located in Sec. 21. Season tickets can be reserved for as little as $75 per seat. However, fans who provide full payment for their season tickets by Feb. 28 will receive additional savings of $42 per seat. Full pricing information can be found by visiting www.wfwildcatshockey.com, or by calling the Wildcats office at (940) 716-5587.

The Matchup
The Wildcats and RoadRunners meet for their final two regular-season tilts this Friday and Saturday with the season series between the two sides still to be settled. Wichita Falls and Topeka have split the previous six matchups evenly, with each team posting a home sweep at the expense of the other side before the ‘Cats and ‘Runners split a weekend set at the Kay Yeager Coliseum on Jan. 9 and 10. Head-to-head meetings have been difficult to predict between the two sides this year, with both teams registering close wins along with more comfortable blowouts, but the Wildcats enter this weekend having outscored the RoadRunners in their previous six encounters, 21-19. Nick Farmer leads the Wildcats in scoring against Topeka with seven points on two goals and five assists, while Colin Staub (three goals, three assists), Johnny Lazarus (three goals, three assists) and Matt Koch (six assists) are close behind with six points apiece. Wichita Falls is 31-65-10 all-time against Topeka, and owns a 9-22-3 road record against the ‘Runners.

RoadRunner Recon
Topeka enters this weekend’s series sitting atop the South Division with a record of 34-11-4 and 72 points, and have already clinched a playoff spot. The RoadRunners have a three-point lead on the Lone Star Brahmas in second place, and are seven points clear of the Wildcats in third but the ‘Runners have played three more games than Wichita Falls. Topeka recently concluded a seven-game road swing with a split against the Brahmas, winning 2-1 on Feb. 20 before dropping a 6-2 decision the next night, and will be eager to return to home ice. The RoadRunners are 22-3-1 as the home team this season, and have won 13 of their last 16 tilts at Landon Arena dating back to Nov. 28 against Lone Star. Topeka currently owns the league’s sixth-best offense led by the exploits of Jasen Fernsler (14-33-47) and Mike Gornall (15-31-46), while defenseman Daniel Brickley has contributed 33 points (10 goals, 23 assists) from the blue line with 21 of those points coming on the power play. The ‘Runners also boast one of the league’s best goaltending tandems, with first-year netminder Matej Tomek spearheading the efforts. Tomek owns a 21-4-2 record, 1.59 goals against average and .937 save percentage, and currently leads all league goaltenders or is tied for the league-lead in goals against average and shutouts (6).

Playoff Picture
As the 2014-15 regular season approaches its conclusion, Wichita Falls enters this weekend’s series against Topeka needing just one point to clinch a playoff spot. As they chase the division title and a first-round bye in the South Division playoffs, the Wildcats find themselves in complete control of their postseason destiny. Although they currently trail the Lone Star Brahmas by four points for second place, and the Topeka RoadRunners by seven points for first place, the red-and-black have played three fewer games. When combined with their remaining head-to-head meetings with the RoadRunners and Brahmas, the Wildcats find themselves in prime position to make a run into one of the top two spots in the South Division standings.

A Knight of Cam-elot (of points)
When Cam Knight found the back of the net and picked up in assist in last Saturday’s 5-3 win over Amarillo, he became the third Wildcats blue-liner to crack the 30-point plateau this season. In 46 games played, the Alabama Huntsville-commit has nine goals and 22 assists for 31 points, making him the first defenseman in team history to record 30 or more points in his first season in the North American Hockey League. Prior to Knight’s 31 points and counting, the most points recorded by a Wildcats defenseman in their first season in the NAHL was 29 by Tucker Poolman (seven goals, 22 assists) in the 2011-12 campaign.

The Best Defense is a Good Offense
With an average of 4.15 goals per game, the Wildcats boast the North American Hockey League’s top offense. Much of the red-and-black’s high-powered attack stems from the offensive abilities of the Wichita Falls defensive corps. Entering this weekend, Wildcats defensemen have accounted for 141 points on 36 goals and 105 assists, led by Matt Koch’s 41 points (six goals, 35 assists). Not only do those 141 points make the ‘Cats the highest-scoring defensive unit in the league, they also represent a new franchise record for points by the Wildcats defensive unit, surpassing the previous mark of 129 points set by the 2007-08 squad.

Top Prospects Return
Five Wildcats are rejoining the team this week following a successful showing at the 2015 North American Hockey League Top Prospects Tournament. The Wildcats sent five first-time participants to the Top Prospects Tournament this season, including defenseman Jake Townsend and forwards Nick Farmer, Max Reisinger and Tommy Apap, who represented the Wildcats on Team South, and forward Austin Beaulieu, who dressed for the NAHL Selects team. Farmer registered a goal in Monday’s 9-2 defeat to the United States National Team Development Program – U18 team, and ended the two-day showcase tied for the lead in shots on goal with 10. Reisinger and Townsend both chipped in with assists for Team South, and Apap recorded one shot on goal over the two outings. Townsend was also the only skater on Team South to finish the two-day event without a negative plus-minus mark. Beaulieu proved to be a difference-maker for the NAHL Selects, a team comprised solely of players eligible for the 2015 National Hockey League Draft. The Coral Springs, Fla.-native recorded an assist and finished with a plus-1 mark, and also scored the decisive goal in the shootout to seal the Selects’ 3-2 win over the USNTDP-U17 squad on Tuesday.