GAME PREVIEW #16 – VS. WICHITA FALLS WILDCATS

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

vs.

WICHITA FALLS WILDCATS

Thursday, October 30 at 7:05 P.M.

NAHL Game #167 • Home Game #8 • Season Series 0-0-0
American Bank Center • Corpus Christi, Texas
Radio: SportsJuice.com • Mobile: TuneIn Radio • In-Arena: 87.7 FM

Video: FASTHockey.com • Twitter: @goicerays

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

 

Today’s Game: The IceRays look to rebound from a three-game skid in their first of eight games against the Wichita Falls Wildcats. Tonight's game is the first of the second quarter of the season. This is also the first of two Thursday games currently on the schedule. In their last five games, the IceRays are 1-2-2.

Head-To-Head: Over the last four seasons, the IceRays are 14-18-6 against the Wildcats and 10-9-1 in games from the American Bank Center. They went 2-3-1 in last season’s meetings, winning 4-1 on Oct. 26 at home and 4-2 on Nov. 30 on the road.

Last Game: The IceRays were stifled in their weekend finale against the Amarillo Bulls, 6-3, and remain winless on the road. After a 5-0 deficit to start the third period, forward Nic LaBurn scored two of the first three goals–all on the power play–within the first three minutes of the period. Forward Joe Chitwood would gain the other tally, but it wasn’t enough to crawl back from the team’s largest deficit of the season. Andrew Lindgren started in net, saving 17 of 20 shots before being exchanged for Luke Pickar, who in turn saved eight of ten.

Shootouts Go South: The IceRays have yet to win a shootout under Head Coach John Becanic. Over the past two seasons, the IceRays are 0-13 when in a shootout with their opponent. The last shootout won by the IceRays is March 9, 2013 at home in a 5-4 win against the Wichita Falls Wildcats, in which forward Brandon Smith earned the game-winner and goaltender Ben Myers recorded the win.

Cruisin’ Cusin: With three assists last weekend, forward Ryan Cusin remains hot over his last five games, tying Wes Michaud’s season-high for points in consecutive games at five games. Cusin has seven points (one goal, six assists) over that stretch of time. Also heating up is forward Joe Chitwood, who now has points in four of his last five games thanks to his first goal and an assist last weekend.

Wes Coast Offense: Forward Wes Michaud added another assist on Saturday to earn five points last weekend against the Amarillo Bulls (2+3=5), earning him NAHL South Division 2nd Star of the Week. Michaud is the first IceRays player this season to be awarded one of the two Stars of the Week. Michaud now has eleven points over his last seven games, and he leads the team in assists (11) and points (17).

Forward Progress: Forward Brad LeLievre remains out with a lower body injury suffered on October 11 in the team’s 5-2 loss to the Lone Star Brahmas. LeLievre has been sidelined for four-straight games and is doubtful for this weekend’s games. Forward Jack Jenson missed last weekend’s games with an upper body injury and remains out indefinitely. There is no official timetable set for his return.

New Blood In The Water: The IceRays acquired forward Griff Jeszka from the Coulee Region Chill on Tuesday in exchange for a 2015 1st Round Pick. Jeszka, 19, appeared in nine games this season with the Coulee Region Chill, recording three assists with ten penalty minutes and a +1 plus/minus. The six-foot-one, 175-pound forward also appeared in 47 games last season with the Chill, recording eight goals and ten assists for 18 points with only 12 penalty minutes.

Wildcats Win Weekend: The Wichita Falls Wildcats were idle last weekend, but in their last matchup on October 17 they defeated the Odessa Jackalopes, 8-5. The Wildcats scored two goals in the first period and three in each of the final two periods to claim the victory, and trailed only once. Forward Evan Okeley led all skaters in points with three assists, and six other Wildcats had multi-point games, including a two-goal effort from forward Nikita Vitviak.

Strange Scheduling: The Wichita Falls Wildcats have played only two games over the last three weeks, last appearing in a 8-5 win over the Odessa Jackalopes on Oct. 17. The Wildcats moved the back end of that original two-game set against Odessa to Sep. 13 so the team could open their season at home before the NAHL Showcase.

Shaw-Save Redemption: Wildcats netminder Austin Shaw is having a stellar season for the Wildcats, continuing his spark from two years ago. Shaw is ranked fourth among all goaltenders in GAA (1.74), fifth in save percentage (.938), and is the only goaltender with at least five starts to remain undefeated (6-0-0). The seventh round NAHL draft pick played 21 games in 2012-13 with the Colorado Thunderbirds, earning a 0.98 GAA and .940 save percentage before being drafted in 2013 by the Omaha Lancers (USHL).

South Division Standings:
1 – Topeka RoadRunners (13-2-1, 27 Pts)
2 – Lone Star Brahmas (8-4-1, 17 Pts)
3 – Wichita Falls Wildcats (8-3-0, 16 Pts)
3 – Corpus Christi IceRays (6-5-4, 16 Pts)

5 – Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees (5-5-2, 12 Pts)
5 – Amarillo Bulls (5-6-2, 12 Pts)
7 – Wenatchee Wild (3-6-3, 9 Pts)
8 – Odessa Jackalopes (4-10-0, 8 Pts)

Next Game: The IceRays finish their weekend set against the Wichita Falls Wildcats on Friday, October 31 at 7:05 p.m. in the American Bank Center. Friday is Sticks & Treats presented by the Corpus Christi Caller-Times as well as Frosty Friday. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on SportsJuice.com, FASTHockey.com, and on 87.7 FM in-arena. Tickets for the game can be purchased on www.ticketmaster.com and by calling the American Bank Center Box Office at 361-826-4744.