(Photo: Troy Young)
Friday’s contest is the first of 12 regular-season meetings between the Wildcats and Bulls in 2014-15, with the ‘Cats looking to improve on a 9-24-1 all-time record against Amarillo. Wichita Falls posted a 3-4-1 record against Amarillo in the regular season last year, and notably notched the organization’s first-ever two-game sweep of the Bulls in December. Interestingly, the road team was victorious in every game but one in the eight meetings between the two teams last year. Nick Farmer leads all active Wildcats in head-to-head scoring against Amarillo, with six points (four goals, two assists) in 16 games against the Bulls.
Amarillo (2-4-2) enters this weekend in seventh place in the South Division, an unfamiliar position for a team that has finished first in the division each of the last three seasons. The Bulls dropped a pair of one-goal contests last Saturday and Sunday to the Topeka Roadrunners, and have now earned only one point in their last four games. Amarillo is looking to retool its offense in 2014-15 after losing its top six scorers from last year, a group that accounted for 53 percent of the Bulls offense. As the only returning forward with 25 or more points last year, forward Cody Gylling will be looking to shoulder the load on offense this year, but defenseman Rusian Rakhmatov currently leads the Amarillo attack with six points (no goals, six assists) in eight games played. The Bulls also feature a trio of new netminders, with Jacob Weatherly seeing the majority of minutes thus far; in six games played, he is 2-2-2 with a 2.97 goals against average and a .906 save percentage.
Look Back at Lone Star
The Wildcats enter Friday’s contest looking to bounce back from a 5-1 loss to the Lone Star Brahmas that saw their five-game winning streak come to an abrupt end last Saturday. Wichita Falls came from behind to claim a 3-2 win in overtime on Friday, with Nick Farmer playing the role of hero in the extra session, but the ‘Cats could not complete the sweep the next night. The Wildcats currently sit in second place in the South Division with a record of 6-3-0, four points behind first-place Topeka.
Plenty of Penalties
Historically speaking, games between the Wildcats and Bulls have provided plenty of fireworks beyond just goals scored. Last season, the two squads combined for 328 penalty minutes and 12 fighting majors in eight head-to-head meetings, good for an average of 41 penalty-minutes per game. Things may play out a bit differently this weekend however; while the Bulls are averaging the second-most penalty-minutes per game (24.4), the Wildcats have played cleaner games thus far, posting 11.6 penalty-minutes per game on average.
The first period may be a crucial one in Friday’s contest. The Wildcats boast a 3-0-0 record when leading after one period of play, and are 4-0-0 when potting the game’s first goal. On the other hand, Amarillo is getting outscored 11-3 in the first period this year, and have yet to take a lead into the first intermission.
With a new season of college hockey in its infancy, there are several Wildcats alumni looking to leave their mark at the NCAA level. No fewer than 10 former Wildcats are entering their freshman season at various institutions across the country, including: D Sam Piazza (2012-14) – University of Michigan; D Erik Oullette (2012-13) – College of the Holy Cross; D Matt Purmal (2011-12) – St. Lawrence University; D Tucker Poolman (2011-12) – University of North Dakota; F Dennis Kravchenko (2011-12) – University of Massachusetts; F Kyle Bauman (2012-13) – Bemidji State University; F Rudy Junda (2012-13) – University of Denver; F Will Vosejpka (2012-14) – United States Air Force Academy; F Ben Kucera (2012-14) – United States Air Force Academy; F Tyler Ledford (2012-14) – United States Air Force Academy
Following this weekend’s action, the Wildcats will return to the KYC on Friday, Oct. 17 to face the Odessa Jackalopes on Magnet Schedule Night. The first 2,500 fans in attendance will receive a magnetic 2014-15 schedule courtesy of Darrel and Carol Walker – State Farm.
The Ford House Military Appreciation Night will return on Saturday, November 8 when the Wildcats host the Amarillo Bulls. Any person with valid military identification, including active and retired personnel and family members, will receive free admission to that evening’s contest as the Wildcats honor those who put their lives on hold to serve our country.