GAME PREVIEW #1 – AT TOPEKA ROADRUNNERS

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

at

TOPEKA ROADRUNNERS

7:05 P.M.

NAHL Game #1 • Road Game #1 • Season Series 0-0
Landon Arena, Kansas Expocentre • Topeka, KS

Radio: SportsRadio Corpus Christi 1230AM • Audio: TuneIn Radio App (KSIX)
Video: FASTHockey.com • Twitter: @goicerays

Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. with Countdown to Faceoff
 

Tonight’s Game: The IceRays open their 2014-15 campaign against their divisional foe, Topeka RoadRunners. This is the second-straight season the IceRays have started their season in Topeka on their way to the North American Hockey League Showcase. Last year, the IceRays fell in both games to the RoadRunners, 2-1 and 4-0. In their four previous season openers, the IceRays have a combined 2-2 record.

Last Year’s Opener: The IceRays fell in their season opener 2-1 agains the Topeka RoadRunners, despite outshooting their opponent 33-14. Corpus Christi started off the scoring at 14:40 with a Danny Middleton unassisted goal in the first period. Less than two minutes later, Tyler Poulsen evened the score, 1-1, with an assist from Philip Middleton. Jerad Tafoya netted the game-winner at 16: 28 of the second period with the assist going to James Ring. Topeka’s Drew Vogler earned the win, stopping 32 of 33 shots, while Forbes Ploszaj made 12 saves on 14 shots for the IceRays.

Past Woes: Last season, the IceRays finished the 2013-14 campaign with a 19-31-10 record, placing sixth out of seven in the South Division with 48 points in Head Coach John Becanic’s first season with the team. For the veteran junior coach, it was his second losing season of his ten-year head coaching career. For the organization, it was their third in their four-year existence in the North American Hockey League.

Turning The Page: This season, the IceRays brought back only six players from their 2013-14 roster. Forward Westin Michaud leads the returning players with a team-high 13 goals and nine assists for 22 points. Also included in the returners are forwards Brad LeLievire (10 goals, 10 assists), Connor Kelly (five goals, 10 assists), and Joe Chitwood (three goals, three assists), and defensemen Jason Lem (two goals, six assists) and Trevor Heuser (one goal, four games).

Size Does Matter: One of the biggest drawbacks from the 2013-14 season was the size and physicality of the roster. The team had nine players at six-foot or higher with four of the nine over six feet tall. This season, 13 of their 23 players stand at least six feet tall with 10 players above six feet. Six of the eight defensemen are at least six feet tall.

Experience, Experience, Experience: Only one player (Keenan Spillum) comes into Corpus Christi without any junior hockey experience, making this one of the oldest rosters for the IceRays to-date. Most of the IceRays this season are either 18 or 19 years old, with five players at 20 years old (Anthony Cortese, Travis Howe, Nic LaBurn, Markus Kojo, and Connor Kelly) and two players at 17 years old (Spillum and Luke Pickar).

2013-14 RoadRunners: Topeka finished the 2013-14 season on a strong note, earning a 39-15-6 record with 84 points, placing them second in the South Division only behind the Amarillo Bulls by two points. The RoadRunners swept the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees 3-0 in the South Division Semi-Final and defeated the Bulls 3-2 in the Division Final before falling in the Robertson Cup Final 2-1 to the league runner-up Austin Bruins.

Commitment To Excellence: Of their eight seasons in the North American Hockey League, the RoadRunners have finished second place in their division seven times, winning the South Division in 2010-11. Despite their regular season success, the RoadRunners have never won the Robertson Cup.

Topeka True: 12 players return to the RoadRunners roster for the 2014-15 season, including two of their top-six scorers and one goaltender. Forward Jasen Fernsler finished third on the team in goals (12), assists (23) and points (35), and Ryan Polin recorded the fifth-most points on the squad (25). Netminder Drew Vogler served as the number two goalie last season but still served up a 10-9-2 record with a 2.30 goals against average and .904 save percentage.

RoadRunner Kill: The IceRays were held winless in their four appearances against the RoadRunners, going 0-3-1. In their combined four meetings, the IceRays were outscored 17-7 and shutout twice (both 4-0). All time, the IceRays own a 1-15-2 record against Topeka. Their lone win came on Feb. 1, 2013 in a 3-2 shootout win, in which Charles Baldwin’s first round goal decided the competition (2-0). Since then, the IceRays are 0-4-1.

2013-14 Standings:
1 – Amarillo Bulls (40-14-6, 86pts)
2 – Topeka RoadRunners (39-15-6, 84pts)
3 – Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees (35-18-7, 77pts)
4 – Wichita Falls Wildcats (31-25-4, 66pts)
5 – Lone Star Brahmas (23-33-4, 50pts)
6 – ICERAYS (19-31-10, 48pts)
7 – Odessa Jackalopes (15-40-5, 35pts)

Next Game: The IceRays will close out the weekend on Sunday, September 14 at 1:00 p.m. against the RoadRunners. Coverage of the game can be heard on SportsRadio Corpus Christi starting at 12:45 p.m. with the opening faceoff at 1:00 p.m. Follow along on the TuneIn Radio App, FASTHockey.com, and on Twitter (@goicerays).