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Wildcats Welcome Wenatchee for Action-Packed Weekend [UPDATED]

(Photo: Cody Wooten)

GAME NOTES: 3/7 vs. Wenatchee Wild

TICKETS: Single-game tickets for the 2014-15 Wildcats season are on sale now at the Kay Yeager Coliseum Box Office, and can be purchased by calling (940) 716-5555. 

Upcoming Promotions
FRIDAY, MARCH 6: Friday will see the Wildcats Pride Booster Club hold their annual player poster auction. Check out all the posters up for auction at their table behind Section 29, or click here to get a sneak-peek! Bidding will close at the start of the third period on Friday night.

SATURDAY, 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.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 11: Fan Appreciation Night – all single-game tickets are available free of charge just by visiting the KYC Box Office. For group reservations, fans should call (940) 716-5587.

Season Ticket Sales Open – Early-Bird Deadline Extended! (CLICK FOR FULL-SEASON TICKET INFO)
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 March 6 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.

Friday Flashback
The Wildcats opened the weekend set with Wenatchee by posting a 3-1 win, with three different skaters finding the back of the net for Wichita Falls. After a scoreless first period, the ‘Cats opened the scoring in the early stages of the second period. Jake Townsend collected Shane Kuzmeski’s breakout pass in the neutral zone, side-stepped a defenseman and walked in on net before beating Michael Bullion between the legs with a shot from the left circle. The Wild responded with a power-play goal from Dan Bailey, whose wrister from the point pin-balled through traffic and into the net, but the level score was short-lived. Just 28 seconds later, Townsend blasted a one-timer on cage from the right point that deflected off Austin Albrecht’s stick and into the roof of the net for a 2-1 lead for the red-and-black. Colin Staub tacked on an insurance goal in the third from Austin Beaulieu and Nikita Litviak, giving him 50 points on the season and sealing the win for Wichita Falls. Austin Shaw picked up the win in net, making 21 saves on 22 shots for his 23rd triumph of the campaign.
 
The Matchup
Tonight will see the Wildcats conclude their regular-season series against the Wenatchee Wild, while also serving as a potential playoff preview. Prior to last night’s 3-1 win, Wichita Falls took both games from the Wild in Wenatchee in December, winning 3-2 on Dec. 19 and 3-1 on Dec. 20 behind strong performances in net from David Zevnik and Austin Shaw, respectively. Quick-fire strikes keyed the ‘Cats’ success in those two wins; Colin Staub and Konstantin Chernyuk scored 1:26 apart at the end of the second period on Dec. 19, while Jonny Lazarus and Austin Beaulieu struck within 1:23 of one another in their 3-1 win on Dec. 20. Staub finished the weekend set with two goals, while Chernyuk and Beaulieu each had two points on a goal and an assist and Matt Koch had a pair of assists against the Wild. The all-time series between Wichita Falls and Wenatchee has proven to be an even one, with the red-and-black holding a slim 9-7-2 edge over the Wild, including a 5-2-1 mark at the KYC. 

First to Fifty 
When Colin Staub found the back of the net in the third period of Friday’s 3-1 win over Wenatchee, it marked his 50th point of the season. The Colorado Springs, Colo.-native is the first Wichita Falls skater to reach the half-century mark in points since 2010-11, when Dakota Klecha (28 goals, 22 assists) and Ryan Frost (14 goals, 36 assists) both finished the campaign with 50 points. A number of other Wildcats are within reach of the 50-point plateau as well, with Austin Beaulieu (21-27-48), Nick Farmer (19-26-45) and Matt Koch (6-39-45) closing in on that benchmark as well. Should all three of those reach 50 points on the season, it would equal a franchise mark for most skaters with 50 or more points in a season, set in 2004-05 (Kevin Huck, Chad Costello, Kyle Kraemer, Brent Sarcone) and 2007-08 (Adam Cardwell, Luke Salazar, Grant Everett, Skylur Jameson). 

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The Matchup
This weekend sees the Wildcats conclude their regular-season series against the Wenatchee Wild, while also serving as a potential playoff preview. Wichita Falls took both games from the Wild in Wenatchee in December, winning 3-2 on Dec. 19 and 3-1 on Dec. 20 behind strong performances in net from David Zevnik and Austin Shaw, respectively. Quick-fire strikes keyed the ‘Cats’ success in those two wins; Colin Staub and Konstantin Chernyuk scored 1:26 apart at the end of the second period on Dec. 19, while Jonny Lazarus and Austin Beaulieu struck within 1:23 of one another in their 3-1 win on Dec. 20. Staub finished the weekend set with two goals, while Chernyuk and Beaulieu each had two points on a goal and an assist and Matt Koch had a pair of assists against the Wild. Friday’s contest represents the first time these two have faced off at the Kay Yeager Coliseum since the Wildcats registered a 6-3 win over the Wild on Jan. 9, 2010. The all-time series between Wichita Falls and Wenatchee has proven to be an even one, with the red-and-black holding a slim 8-7-2 edge over the Wild, including a 4-2-1 mark at the KYC. 

A Wild Weekend
Wenatchee enters play this weekend sitting in fifth place in the South Division with a record of 23-21-7 and 53 points, and finds itself locked in a battle for positioning in the playoff race. After splitting a home series against the Amarillo Bulls last weekend, the Wild own a comfortable nine-point advantage over the Bulls for the final playoff spot, but are only one point ahead of the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees as the two squads jockey for the fifth and sixth seed in the division playoffs. Wenatchee has rebounded nicely after a sluggish start to the season, and is 11-6-2 since the calendar turned to 2015, including an 8-3-0 mark over its last 11 outings. The Wild are led on offense by Brendan Harris, who has 42 points on 16 goals and 26 assists, while Jake Ahlgren is close behind with 41 points (17 goals, 24 assists). Kyle Stephan has also proved to be a valuable addition since being acquired from the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees in January, with five goals and eight assists for 13 points in 14 games for Wenatchee. The Wild have utilized a tandem in net this season, with Zach Quinn and Michael Bullion receiving equal time for the most part. Quinn, who was acquired from the Kenai River Brown Bears in October, is 13-11-4 in 30 games played with Wenatchee, with a 2.47 goals against average and .905 save percentage; Bullion enters the weekend with a 7-7-2 mark, 2.61 GAA and .894 save percentage.

Tuesday Tidbits
The Wildcats opened their week with an offensive explosion, putting seven past the Odessa Jackalopes en route to a 7-4 win over Odessa at the Ector County Coliseum on Tuesday. Wichita Falls raced out to a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals from Austin Beaulieu and Evan Okeley before stretching its lead to 3-0 in the early stages of the second when Max Reisinger found the back of the net. The Jacks bounced back to level the contest on three-unanswered goals of their own though, culminating in Christian Hausinger’s tying tally 1:40 into the third frame. Undeterred, the ‘Cats quickly reclaimed the lead on a power-play goal from Nick Farmer, before Kevin Charyszyn’s team-leading 22nd of the season pushed the score to 5-3. After a power-play goal for Odessa shrunk their lead to one goal, the red-and-black picked up insurance tallies from Beaulieu and Nikita Litviak to seal the 7-4 win. Beaulieu registered a game-high three points on two goals and an assist in the win, while Nick Farmer, Nikita Litviak and Kevin Charyszyn each notched two points on a goal and an assist. Matt Koch also had a multi-point outing with a pair of assists. In total, 14 different Wichita Falls skaters registered at least one point, with Austin Shaw posting 25 saves to earn his 22nd victory of the year.

Spreading the Offense
The Wildcats have boasted the North American Hockey League’s top-ranked offense for much of the season, but interestingly, the red-and-black also boast one of the league’s most balanced attacks. Entering play on Friday, Wichita Falls is one of only two teams in the NAHL that features a different team-leader in goals (Kevin Charyszyn, 22), assists (Matt Koch, 39) and points (Colin Staub, 49). The only other team in the NAHL with a different skater leading the team in each of those categories is the Springfield Jr. Blues. 

Fast-Approaching Fifty
With the 2014-15 regular season winding to a close, a handful of Wildcats are within touching distance of the 50-point mark. Colin Staub (19 goals, 30 assists) currently needs just one more point to reach the half-century mark, while Austin Beaulieu (21-26-47), Nick Farmer (19-26-45) and Matt Koch (6-39-45) are close behind. Should a Wichita Falls skater reach 50 points before the end of the regular season, they would be the first player to hit that mark for the red-and-black since 2010-11, when Dakota Klecha (28 goals, 22 assists) and Ryan Frost (14 goals, 36 assists) both finished the campaign with 50 points.

Another Game, Another Record
When Jake Townsend buried the game-winning goal in overtime in the Wildcats’ 3-2 win over Topeka on Feb. 28, he claimed yet another franchise record in the process. The winning tally took Townsend’s total to 12 on the year to set a new team record for goals in a single-season by a defenseman, surpassing Sam Piazza’s mark of 11 goals set during the 2013-14 campaign. Now in his third year with Wichita Falls, Townsend currently holds the franchise record for career points by a defenseman (70), career goals by a defenseman (23), most power-play goals by a defenseman (5) and career games played by a defenseman (159). The Highlands Ranch, Colo.,-native has also tied the single-season and career records for game-winning goals by a Wildcats defenseman (2).