(Photo: Troy Young)
This weekend’s series marks the third of four two-game sets the Wildcats and Bulls will play this season, with each team owning a 2-1-1 record against the other in four head-to-head meetings. The two teams met in Amarillo in late December in a series that saw Wichita Falls post its first-ever sweep against the Bulls. Behind Colin Staub’s shorthanded tally in the third period, the Wildcats posted a 4-2 win on Friday, Dec. 20 for their first win in Amarillo since Nov. 23, 2011. The ‘Cats claimed a shootout victory the next night, as David Zevnik made 33 saves on 34 shots to clinch the sweep. Nick Farmer has had success against the Bulls so far this season, with three goals and an assist in four games played against Amarillo. Historically speaking though, the Wildcats have found life difficult against the Bulls; dating back to the 2010-11 campaign, Wichita Falls owns an 8-21-1 record against Amarillo.
The ‘Cats are Back
The Wildcats return to the ice after an off-week last weekend looking to get back to winning ways after getting the second half of the season off to a bumpy start in Topeka. Ben Kucera scored the lone Wildcats goal on the weekend, as the ‘Cats lost a pair of goaltending battles to the Roadrunners, 2-0 and 2-1, on Jan. 3 and 4, respectively. The goal marked Kucera’s ninth tally of the season, surpassing his season total of eight from last year. The defeats snapped a season-high six-game winning streak for the Wildcats, and allowed Topeka to leapfrog them in the division standings. Wichita Falls now sits in third place in the NAHL South Division, with 45 points in 36 games played, but is only one point behind the second-place Roadrunners.
All About Amarillo
Amarillo makes its way to Wichita Falls sitting in first place in the NAHL South Division with 56 points in 39 games. The Bulls have reversed their fortunes since the last time they took on the Wildcats. When the two teams met in December, Amarillo was in the midst of a seven-game losing streak, capped off by a 2-1 shootout loss to Wichita Falls before the holiday break. The Bulls have not lost since that shootout defeat however, and enter this weekend riding a seven-game winning streak. Amarillo’s potent offense leads the league in both total goals scored (130) and power-play goals (44), and boasts four players with at least 30 points, including Mike Davis who leads the team with 42 points on 15 goals and 27 assists. In net, Paul Berrafato and Collin Delia have split time evenly, with each playing in 21 games. Delia is 14-5-0 with a 1.60 goals against average and a .938% save percentage, while Berrafato is 13-5-2 with a 2.27 GAA and save percentage of .916%.
Home Sweet Home
Friday’s contest against Amarillo marks the beginning of a nine-game home stand for the Wildcats, their longest of the season. Wichita Falls has not played at home since besting the Lone Star Brahmas, 6-2, on Dec. 11. Since then, the ‘Cats have played six-straight contests on the road, part of a longer stretch of 14 out of 17 games away from home. Wichita Falls enters the weekend owning an 8-4-2 record in games played at the Kay Yeager Coliseum.
With the season roughly two-thirds of the way completed, a number of Wildcats find themselves approaching career milestones. Will Vosejpka needs just one more point to reach the 50-point plateau for his career. Additionally, with 91 games played for his career, Vosejpka is one of a handful of Wildcat veterans approaching the century club in games played. Along with Vosejpka, Colin Staub (95), Kyle Bauman (95), Tyler Ledford (94) and Ben Kucera (93) all have a chance to join the 100 games club over the course of the ‘Cats’ nine-game home stand.
Jersey Off Our Back Night Returns
This weekend, the Wildcats are wearing custom-designed jerseys in support of Children’s Miracle Network. Following Saturday’s contest against Amarillo, the jerseys will be auctioned off with proceeds going to benefit Children’s Miracle Network and the United Regional Foundation. Last year, the Wildcats raised roughly $27,000 for Children’s Miracle Network through the Jersey Off Our Back promotion, with goaltender Evan Cowley’s jersey selling for a remarkable $5,000. Dating back to 2003, the Wildcats and their predecessors, the Wichita Falls Rustlers, have raised over $500,000 for Children’s Miracle Network, with all funds going directly to United Regional Health Care System.
Party Like it’s 2004!
The Wildcats 10th Anniversary celebrations continue this month, as the ‘Cats offer discounted concessions in January. In recognition of the 10th season of Wildcats hockey in Wichita Falls, we’re rolling back food and drink prices to their 2004 levels during all home games this month. That’s a 40 percent discount on beer, $1.50 savings on sodas and a mark down of $2.00 on burgers, just to name a few, as the Wildcats say “thank you” to our fans for their continued loyalty and support.
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.