(Photo: Troy Young)
Wednesday’s meeting between the Wildcats and Brahmas is the season’s eighth and final matchup between the two teams. Wichita Falls owns a 5-1-1 record against Lone Star, most recently claiming three of four points on the road against the Brahmas when the teams last met on March 7 and 8. The Wildcats earned a 3-2 shootout victory in game one of that series, before the Brahmas battled back for a 2-1 win in a shootout the next night. Although Lone Star has proven to be a handful when playing at home this year, Wichita Falls has posted commanding wins in the three head-to-head meetings at the Kay Yeager Coliseum. The Wildcats are averaging 7.33 goals per game against the Brahmas in games played at the KYC, most recently registering a 7-2 victory on Jan. 29. Will Vosejpka has notched 10 points (six goals, four assists) in seven games against Lone Star this season, while Kyle Bauman has registered eight points (five goals, three assists) against the Brahmas.
Looking at Lone Star
The Brahmas are looking to end 2013-14 on a high note, as Wednesday’s contest marks their final game of the season. Lone Star enters this midweek contest with a 3-2-0 record in its last five contests after splitting a series with the Odessa Jackalopes last weekend. The Brahmas dropped a 4-3 decision on Friday, before TJ Black’s fourth shutout of the season carried Lone Star to a 3-0 win on Saturday. Roman Uchyn posted three goals and an assist for the Brahmas over the two-game set, giving him eight points in his last 10 games. On the year, Matt Lison leads the Lone Star offense with 19 goals and 13 assists for 32 points in 57 games played, with three of those points (two goals, one assist) coming against the Wildcats. Black has seen the majority of time between the pipes for the Brahmas, posting a 13-14-2 record, a 2.37 goals against average and a save percentage of .922.
Wildcats Weekend Review
The Wildcats roll into Wednesday’s battle with the Brahmas after splitting a hard-fought series with the Amarillo Bulls last weekend. On Friday, Sam Piazza scored his 11th goal of the season and David Zevnik made 27 saves, but the Bulls escaped with a 3-1 win thanks to third period goals by Patrick Pollock and Tyler Gernhofer. Wichita Falls would exact revenge the next night however, claiming a 3-2 shootout victory behind a stellar, 36-save performance by Zevnik. Will Vosejpka and Tyler Ledford both scored in regulation, while Rudy Junda, Ben Kucera, Piazza and Josh Haverstrom each found twine in the shootout. The Wildcats are 31-22-4 following Saturday’s win, marking the second-highest single-season win total in team history, and are locked into the fourth seed in the South Division playoffs.
When last Saturday’s contest against Amarillo extended beyond regulation and overtime, it marked the 11th time this season the Wildcats have had a game decided in a shootout. Wichita Falls has excelled in the shootout this season, posting an 8-3 record in games requiring a shootout. Additionally, the Wildcats have tallied 22 shootout goals on 57 attempts, the most of any team in the North American Hockey League. Individually speaking, forward Rudy Junda leads all NAHL skaters with eight shootout goals, while David Zevnik has six shootout wins, tying him with Aaron Nelson of the Bismarck Bobcats and Alex Okicki of the Johnstown Tomahawks for most in the league.
Look Ahead at the Weekend
The Wildcats return home to wrap up the 2013-14 regular season with three games at the Kay Yeager Coliseum this week. Following Wednesday’s tilt with Lone Star, the red-and-black will host the Topeka Roadrunners for two games this weekend. The ‘Runners enter the final weekend of the season trailing the Amarillo Bulls by two points for first place in the South Division. The last time Wichita Falls tangled with Topeka, the ‘Cats swept the Roadrunners on the road, posting a 3-2, come-from-behind victory capped by Kyle Bauman’s game-winner in overtime on March 10, followed by a 4-1 triumph keyed by Sam Piazza’s hat trick on March 11. The Wildcats are 2-4-0 against Topeka this season.
Jersey Auction Returns
The Wildcats will host their annual jersey and equipment on auction on Saturday, March 29, when Wichita Falls hosts the Topeka Roadrunners. Fans will be able to bid on game-worn jerseys, including the Wildcats’ limited-edition 10th Anniversary sweaters, as well as a helmet autographed by the entire 2013-14 squad. Bidding will take place via silent auction, with the auction closing at the start of the third period on Saturday.
Cats Alumni Set for NCAA Tournament
As the college hockey season nears its conclusion, a number of Wildcats alumni find themselves celebrating conference championships, and looking ahead to the NCAA tournament. Evan Cowley, a goaltender on the 2012-13 squad, and his Denver Pioneers claimed the inaugural National Collegiate Hockey Conference championship with a 4-3 win over the Miami Redhawks last Saturday. Denver will take on Boston College in the first round of the NCAA tournament on March 29. Taylor Herndon, a forward who appeared in 24 games for Wichita Falls during the 2009-10 season, will also play in the NCAA tournament after his Minn. St.-Mankato Mavericks won the Western Collegiate Hockey Association title. The Mavericks triumphed over Ferris State, 4-1, last weekend, and will take on UMass Lowell in the first round. Additionally, former Wildcats Dakota Klecha (2010-11) and Daniel Gentzler (2009-10) will meet in the first round of the NCAA tournament when the Ferris State Bulldogs and Colgate Raiders meet on March 28; Klecha is a sophomore at Ferris State, while Gentzler is in his junior year at Colgate.
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.