Cats Entering Longest Winning Streak of the Season
Four consecutive games against the Amarillo Bulls resulted in overtime victories which could have seen the results go either way. However, in each case, the Wildcats buckled down and out-worked Amarillo when push came to shove and appeared to desire the extra point more than their opponents. After dropping their first two games of the season in sudden death, the Cats have since turned their overtime record around and are now 4-2 in games lasting longer than 60 minutes. The story of last Saturday night’s victory was getting shots from the point on net and capitalizing off of second chances. All three goals Wichita Falls scored in regulation originated from shots taken at the blue line. Jonathan Waring was the one most responsible; the defenseman had a golden stick last Saturday. Nearly every time he fired a shot, the puck ended up finding its way to the back of the net. Waring had three assists that night and would be named the First Star of the Game for his efforts. We can expect the Cats to learn from this example going into this weekend’s series against a Topeka team which has struggled to keep the puck out of their own net.
Tonight’s contest will be the first time the Wildcats and RoadRunners will have played each other since May 2nd, 2016, when the Cats eliminated their rivals in Game 3 of the South Division Finals to advance to the Robertson Cup Semi-Finals. This season, Topeka remains the only team of which the Wildcats have yet to catch so much as a glimpse. Tonight’s opponents are led by veterans Marcus Russell and Max Harper, along with returning speedster Andrew Hart. Much to everyone’s surprise, the Runners are in last place in the South Division now a third of the way through their season. Though shocking, one should take this statistic with a grain of salt when considering how competitive the South Division is this year. Topeka just defeated the first place Brahmas on the road two weeks ago.
Josh Nelson Takes the Reins
The 27-year-old assistant coach Josh Nelson has been given a complete vote of confidence by the organization following the suspension to Tony Curtale. Nelson is to serve as the team’s interim head coach while Curtale’s situation is worked out. The former WCHA standout has one NAHL game under his belt as a head coach, a 4-2 victory over the Odessa Jackalopes back on October 1st. In his first year after joining John LaFontaine on the bench for the 2015-2016 season, Nelson helped to improve the Wildcats’ record five games from the previous season, improved the penalty kill from third worst in the league to the third best, and helped lead the team to its first ever Robertson Cup Finals appearance. With this year’s team solely in his hands for the time being, Wildcats fans are eager to see how he handles the situation and opportunity lying in front of him.
Paul Baxter Back for the Weekend
Former Wildcats GM and Head Coach Paul Baxter can be seen in the crowd this weekend. He will be available to fans for questions and will also be providing moral support to Coach Nelson and to the team while the coaching situation is being worked out. Baxter’s been around the game for decades and has seen just about all there is to see. His experience ought to be invaluable to the Wildcats in this situation.