The field was been narrowed down to the 16-best goals, moves, and saves from the 2015-16 season and seeded based on organizational rank. You have decided the final two best plays this season. Now, YOU must decide which will be crowned the 2016 IceRays Best of the Bend!
(9) Acciaioli Nets First NAHL Goal
Round 1: 69% of the vote
Quarterfinals: 54% of the vote
Semifinals: 52% of the vote
Many players on this year's IceRays squad scored their first NAHL goals, but none was as impressive as the snipe made by defenseman Matt Acciaioli. He joined the team in mid-October and was in and out of the lineup the entire season, but his first (and only) goal looked a lot like another play in our competition. On December 29, the IceRays began their four-game, five-day stretch against the Odessa Jackalopes, and they found themselves tied in the middle of the first period, 1-1. Not even one minute after the first, the IceRays got their second. Acciaioli received a pass at the left point and with room to work moved along the left wall into the circle. An unintentional two-man screen allowed the 18-year-old to set up a shot from the left side. He waited until he reached just above the goal line extended to flip a shot at the top of the net. It slipped underneath the short side of the Odessa goaltender and into the back corner of the net just inside of the crossbar. The goal was also his first point as an IceRay out of the six he would claim in 25 games.
(11) Kircher Goes The Distance For OT Win
Round 1: 61% of the vote
Quarterfinals: 66% of the vote
Semifinals: 91% of the vote
It seems that center Toby Kircher has a flair for the dramatic, picking up three overtime game-winning goals this season across two teams, but this came on a play created on his own while on the road in Odessa during December. With the three-on-three format, Kircher had time to collect the puck at his own blue line and range around the zone to create the next attack and think about his decisions. After two wide circles, he led the charge right at the Jackalopes defense and advanced to their blue line. Much like Cavanagh would do in February, he slipped through two stick checks and found an open lane to the right of the Odessa goaltender and flipped a backhanded shot over the near-side shoulder to reach top shelf and seal the victory for the IceRays. For the second-straight day, the bottom seed is a thread through stick lifts.
The decision is up to YOU. Which play will become the 2016 Best of the Bend Play of the Year: Acciaioli's first NAHL goal from just above the goal line, or Kircher's do-it-yourself backhanded overtime-winner? Voting will last two days, concluding on Thursday, May 26 at 11:59 p.m. CDT.
The winning play will be the inaugural Best of the Bend.