GAME PREVIEW #28 – VS. AMARILLO BULLS

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

vs.

AMARILLO BULLS

Thursday, December 11 at 7:05 P.M.

NAHL Game #323 • Home Game #16 • Season Series 0-1-1
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
 

Tonight’s Game: The IceRays host the Amarillo Bulls for the first time this season as the first of a two-game set. These two games will be the final set before the IceRays take a short two-week holiday break.

Head-To-Head: These two teams met for one weekend set already this season, with the Bulls sweeping the IceRays 5-4 (SO) and 6-3 from the Amarillo Civic Center on Oct. 24 & 25. The IceRays trail 0-1-1 in the season series while also trailing 10-30-2 over the past five seasons. The last IceRays win against the Bulls came on Feb. 26, 2013 in a 4-1 win at the American Bank Center.

Last Game: The IceRays fought through illnesses to play a stronger game on Saturday from Kay Yeager Coliseum, but luck was not on their side as they dropped 8-2 to the Wichita Falls Wildcats. The Wildcats took a 5-0 lead into the third period before forward Ryan Cusin (PP)(1:41, 3rd) was able to tally first for the IceRays. Another Wildcats goal came across before forward Connor Kelly (PP)(6:15, 3rd) scored once again for the IceRays to bring the score to 6-2. Two more went through before the Wildcats were finished, resulting in the 8-2 loss. Wildcats goaltender Austin Shaw (11-1-0) picked up the win, stopping 22 of 24 shots, while IceRays goaltender Andrew Lindgren (10-6-2) earned the loss, saving 16 of 24 shots.

Going Quietly: The IceRays finished their weekend with the largest goal differentials in a two-game set. The IceRays were outscored 15-3 over their past two games while being held under 25 shots for the fifth-straight game. The team is averaging 21.00 shots per game with 2.00 goals per contest, while opponents average 29.00 shots per game and 4.60 goals per contest. The team is 1-4-0 in their last five games with their lone win coming in their sole home game on Dec. 3.

Numero Uno: One of the strongest assets to the 2014-15 IceRays squad has been special teams, and the power play unit continues to improve. They are on a four-game goal streak and rank first in the NAHL in power play for the third-straight game thanks to three power play goals over the weekend. Over their last four games, the IceRays are 7-for-22 (31.81%) with an extra skater on the ice.

Divine Nine: Forward Ryan Cusin continues to find ways to score points, notching a none-game point streak thanks to a two-point weekend against the Wildcats. Over his last nine games, the Michigan native has 13 points (7+6=13) with two power play goals and five power play assists. His streak is the longest by an IceRays player this season.

Empty Feeling: The IceRays have played 15-straight games without a full lineup available to take the ice. The last time no player was missing due to suspension or injury was back on Oct. 11 against the Lone Star Brahmas in a 5-2 loss from the NYTEX Sports Center. In that span, three players have been suspended four times, six players have sustained injuries, one player missed due to an illness, and one is currently on international duty. Despite the return of forward Joe Chitwood on Friday, the possible activation of defenseman Logan Gestro from injury, and a potential fully healthy lineup, the IceRays will still be one player short to continue the streak to 17 games following Friday’s contest.

No Bull About It: Despite being swept by Amarillo in their previous two games, a few players bring strong point totals into tonight’s game. Forward Wes Michaud registered five points (two goals, three assists) including one goal on the power play and four points on Oct. 24 in their 5-4 shootout loss. Three other players bring consecutive point streaks against the Bulls: Logan Gestro (one goal, two assists), Ryan Cusin (three assists), and Joe Chitwood (one power play goal, one assist). All three assists by Cusin came on the power play.

Bulls On Parade: The Amarillo Bulls swept their road weekend set against the Odessa Jackalopes 4-3 on Friday and 4-1 on Saturday from Ector County Coliseum. After trailing 2-0 in Friday’s contest, the Bulls charged back with four unanswered goals in the final two periods to claim the win, while Amarillo scored four unanswered to start Saturday’s contest with the Jackalopes only scoring in the third period. Forward Luke Novak led the way with three points (2+1=3), scoring both goals on the power play during Friday’s game. In total, seven Bulls players earned multi-point weekends.

Home Stretch: This end-of-week set will finish out a total seven-game road stretch before the Bulls return to the Amarillo Civic Center. In their last five games, the Bulls are 2-3-0 with all three losses coming to the Lone Star Brahmas and both wins against the Odessa Jackalopes. The last time the Bulls were home they swept the Jackalopes on Nov. 15 & 16. Dating back to that series and looking ahead to next weekend’s games, the Bulls will have played nine of 11 games against either the Jackalopes or the Brahmas.

South Division Standings:
1 – Topeka RoadRunners (19-6-3, 41 PTS)
2 – Wichita Falls Wildcats (18-5-0, 36 PTS)
3 – Lone Star Brahmas (17-6-1, 35 PTS)
4 – Corpus Christi IceRays (13-10-4, 30 PTS)
5 – Wenatchee Wild (12-10-5, 29 PTS)
6 – Rio Grande VAlley Killer Bees (9-13-4, 22 PTS)
7 – Amarillo Bulls (9-14-2, 20 PTS)
8 – Odessa Jackalopes (6-17-4, 16 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays close out their weekend set against the Amarillo Bulls on Friday, December 12 at 7:05 p.m. from the American Bank Center and the second night of Master of Arts student Cole Vittetoe's art gallery entitled, "12 Jerseys: A Celebration of Family, Friends, and Hockey." Coverage beings at 6:50 p.m. with Countdown to Faceoff on SportsJuice.com, FASTHockey.com, and 87.7 FM in-arena. For tickets, go to www.Ticketmaster.com or any Ticketmaster location, or purchase your tickets at the American Bank Center Box Office.