This weekend will close out the regular season for the Lone Star Brahmas with the Wichita Falls Wildcats in the NYTEX Sports Centre. There will be a lot on the line in the series as the Brahmas can lock down first place in the NAHL South or fall as far as third place by the time the weekend in done. The top three teams in the division are separated by a total of two points, so any of the three could win the division crown. With the top two teams getting a first round bye in the playoffs and the chance to get healthy that goes along with it.
The Brahmas and Wildcats have met six times previously this season with the Brahmas holding a slight advantage with a 3 – 1 – 2 record against Wichita Falls. Four of the six games have been one point games with three going beyond regulation.
10/03/14 – Brahmas 2 at Wildcats 3 OT
10/04/14 – Brahmas 5 at Wildcats 1
01/30/15 – Wildcats 3 at Brahmas 6
01/31/15 – Wildcats 4 at Brahmas 3
02/04/15 – Brahmas 3 at Wildcats 4 SO
02/18/15 – Brahmas 4 at Wildcats 3 SO
Lone Star is coming off a series split with the Wenatchee Wild. Both nights, the Brahmas tallied in the first to open the scoring. On Friday night it was Sebastian Vidmar that got things started, but Wenatchee tied it up just over three minutes later. The Wild went on to score the next three to take a 4 – 1 lead. Ludvig Larsson scored on the power play at 13:11 of the third then Sean Giles lit the lamp at 15:40 to pull the Brahmas within one, but they could not get the game tying goal and fell 4 – 3. TJ Black was saddled with the loss making 26 saves. Saturday, Liam Stirtzinger kicked off the scoring with the only first period goal. After a Wenatchee goal in the second, the contest went into the third period tied at one. That is when the Brahmas took over. Hunter Stanley put Lone Star back on top followed by a pair of Oskar Andren goals to put the game out of reach. Jake Kupsky got the call in net and took the win facing 23 shots on the night.
Wichita Falls was on the road in Hidalgo, TX for two games against the Rio Grande Killer Bees. Both games of the series went beyond regulation with the Killer Bees taking game one in overtime. Wichita Falls fought back from two down to tie it up on goals from Tommy Apap and Jake Townsend with Townsend’s come on the man advantage. Rio Grande scored the game winner just 2:19 into overtime. Austin Shaw got the start and loss allowing three goals on 24 shots. Game two saw the Wildcats fall behind by two goals before Kevin Charyszyn got them on the board. Nick Farmer had a shorthander in the second to knot the score and they took the lead on an unassisted goal from Konstantin Chernyuk. The lead was short lived with Rio Grande pulling even just 59 seconds later. After a scoreless overtime the game went to a shootout where Townsend and Farmer scored for the Wildcats while the Killer Bees scored three times for the 4 – 3 shootout win. David Zevnik was hit with the loss making 23 saves through overtime. Their third game of the week had the Wildcats in Amarillo on Tuesday night where they had a relative stroll in the park with a 6 – 1 win. The six goals came from five different Wildcats skater. Austin Azzinnaro, Charyszyn and Nikita Litviak scored in the first. Apap and Litviak added goals in the second and Austin Albrecht closed it out in the third. Shaw turned back 39 shots for the win.
|Last 5 Games
The Brahmas have had a very strong penalty kill all season and they will need to be on their game again this weekend as Wichita Falls boasts the number one power play unit in the NAHL at 25.46%%. Lone Star comes into the series with the 2nd overall penalty kill in the league at 87.83%. When the Brahmas go on the power play, they are converting at 19.64% which is 8th in the NAHL. They will need to take advantage of a Wichita Falls penalty kill which is setting at 22nd in the league at 78.06%.
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At home the Brahmas’ power play moves up a couple of spots to 6th 22.5% on 31 goals in 138 opportunities. They will be up against a Wildcats’ road penalty kill unit that has allowed 25 goals in 109 times shorthanded or 77.1% which ranks 22nd.
Lone Star’s home penalty kill is ranked 2nd in the league allowing 13 goals on 128 kills or 89.8%. The Wichita Falls road power play unit is ranked tops in the league scoring 26 times in 99 opportunities or 26.3%
Special teams play has figured prominently in the six head to head meetings this season. The Brahmas are 8 for 19 on the power play or 42.1% while holding Wichita Falls to 1 for 19 which is 5.3%.
Goaltending Comparison Last 5 Games
Who is Hot (Last 5 Games)
Inside the Game
With Lone Star at 84 points, Wichita Falls at 83 points and Topeka at 82 points the teams are so close you could throw a blanket over all three and there are numerous post season scenarios in play. The Brahmas must have at least one regulation win or an overtime win and an overtime loss against Wichita Falls to ensure themselves at least second place and a first round bye. If Topeka sweeps their three game series in Wenatchee, they take first place in the division regardless of what the Brahmas do against Wichita Falls as they would have 41 wins and control the first tie breaker.
Five of the top 25 scorers in the league will be playing in the series. For the Brahmas it will be Sebastian Vidmar 34G – 44A and Ludvig Larsson 21G – 33A. Vidmar leads the league while Larsson is tied for 12th. The wildcats will have Collin Staub 24G – 34A Austin Beaulieu 22G – 31A and Nick Farmer 22G – 30A. Staub is 9th in the league while Beaulieu is tied for 16th and Farmer is tied for 20th.
The series will pit the league’s top ranked offense and 2nd ranked defense. Wichita Falls comes in as the only team in the league averaging more than four goals per game at 4.16. The Brahmas’ defense is 2nd in goals against average at 2.16 and behind only the Minnesota Wilderness in shots on goal allowed with 24.03. Lone Star’s offense will enter the game ranked 4th in the NAHL at 3.47 goals per game while Wichita Falls’ 3.00 goals against average is 11th.
TJ Black will enter the series as the 4th best goalie in the league with a 2.03 GAA and .914 SV% with his goalie partner Jake Kupsky right behind him in 5th on a 2.09 GAA and .913 SV%. Wichita Falls goalie tandem come in ranked 25th and 26th. Austin Shaw has a 2.85 GAA and a .904 SV% while David Zevnik has a 2.86 GAA and a .894 SV%.
The Brahmas have someone ranked in the top six in every offensive category except shorthanded assists.
Matt Koch leads all defensemen in scoring with 50 points on 7G – 43A. Jake Townsend 14G – 27A is 4th and Cam Knight 9G – 24A is 10th. Alexey Solovyev 10G – 22A leads Lone Star defensemen and is 12th in the league while Anton Santesson 7G – 21A is 19th.