GAME PREVIEW #3 – VS. KENAI RIVER BROWN BEARS

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

vs.

KENAI RIVER BROWN BEARS

Wednesday, September 17 at 1:30 P.M.

NAHL Game #13 • Home Game #1 • Season Series 0-0-0
Schwan Super Rink #2 • Blaine, Minn.

NAHL Showcase Game #1
Video: FASTHockey.com • Twitter: @goicerays

Coverage begins at 1:15 p.m. with Countdown to Faceoff

Today’s Game: The IceRays open up the North American Hockey League Showcase this afternoon against the Midwest Division-leading Kenai River Brown Bears. This is the only time these two teams will meet in the 2014-15 season. The IceRays and Brown Bears ahve never met at the NAHL Showcase in the five previous years of the IceRays history.

Last Game: The IceRays fell in the second of two games against the Topeka RoadRunners, 5-2, at the Kansas Expocentre. Topeka took the lead early in the first period on the power play, but Nic LaBurn would answer the call at 17:18 on the power play to tie the game, 1-1. Wes Michaud gave the IceRays their first lead of the season, 2-1, with a power play goal at 6:37 of the second period. From there, the IceRays took more penalties and allowed four unanswered goals throughout the game. Six of the seven goals in the game came on the power play between both teams. Power play units went 6-for-15 in the game.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear: These two teams have played eight times over the last two seasons, splitting the  series with four wins apiece. The IceRays own a 4-2-2 record against the Brown Bears. Kenai River has won the last four games (all in 2013-14), but the IceRays won the first four games.

Last Time They Met: The IceRays lost their final game against the Brown Bears in the 2013-14 season, 3-1, on March 8 at the American Bank Center. The game was relatively even through the full 60 minutes in terms of chances, with the IceRays leading 28-27 in shots. The IceRays scored the only goal of the first period at 18:01 with a Luke McDiarmid goal assisted by Tony Roisum and Mal Ville. From the second period on, the scoring was all Kenai River. Just 29 seconds into the second period, Frankie Spellman netted a power play goal with the help of Gustav Berglund and Albin Karlsson off a Jesse Shelton roughing call to tie the game, 1-1. In the third period, the Brown Bears scored two more unanswered goals. At 8:30, Jake Wolter gave Kenai River the lead, 2-1, and Alec Butcher put the game away at 16:39 to make the score, 3-1. Spellman recorded two points in the game (1+1=2). Forbes Ploszaj earned the loss, saving 24 of 27 shots, and Kris Oldham earned the win, saving 27 of 28 shots.

Living WIth Sin (Bin): The IceRays recorded 34 penalty minutes in Sunday’s game against the RoadRunners on 12 infractions compared to Friday’s eight penalty minutes. The turning point of the game came at 7:54 of the second period when defender Markus Kojo checked Topeka forward Jasen Fernsler from behind, earning him a double-minor penalty and a 10-minute misconduct. From there, the IceRays were awarded eight more penalties throughout the game, going 7-for-11 on the penalty kill.

Topeka Troubles: Over the last two seasons, the IceRays are 0-3-1 on opening weekend against the Topeka RoadRunners, outscored by Topeka 15-6 in those four games. Those are the only games Corpus Christi has played before the NAHL Showcase in their five-year history.

Showcase Past: The IceRays have played 16 games at the NAHL Showcase, going 8-6-2 over their last four years. In 2013-14, the IceRays went 1-2-1 under John Becanic, winning their first game 5-4 against Minot. They would lose to Coulee Region (3-2), MN Wilderness (2-0), and Port Huron (4-3 SOL).

2013-14 Brown Bears: Kenai River finished the 2013-14 season with a 28-24-8 record, recording 64 points and finishing fourth in the Midwest Division. The Brown Bears wouldn’t make it out of the first round of the playoffs, losing to the eventual Robertson Cup Champions, Fairbanks Ice Dogs, 3-2. Sacred Heart University forward Alec Butcher led the team in every major category, scoring 24 goals and 42 assists for 66 points with a +20. Forward Matt Rudin finished second in goals (15), and Niagara University forward Albin Karlsson finished second in assists (29) and points (43).

Small Den: The Brown Bears only bring back five players from last year’s squad. Forward Matt Rudin returns as the leading scorer for the team, recording 15 goals and 15 assists for 30 points. Also returning are defenders Ben Campbell (1+3=4), Gustav Berglund (2+7=9), and Tyler Andrews (6+10=16), and gaolie Zach Quinn (17-18-4, 2.55 GAA, .924 SV%).

Alaska Split: Kenai River split their back-to-back games against the Fairbanks Ice Dogs on Friday and Saturday night, losing 3-1 on Friday and winning 5-3 on Saturday. On Friday, Fairbanks raced out to an early lead in the first period, but Kenai River would tie in the second period. The IceDogs pulled away in the third period with two goals in the first half of the period. On Saturday, Kenai River and Fairbanks traded goals in the first and second periods, but it would be the Brown Bears to pull away in the final period, outscoring the IceDogs 3-1. Matt Rudin scored two goals on Saturday night, and Matt Wikman is the only Brown Bear to carry a two-game point streak into the NAHL Showcase.

South Division Standings:
1 – Topeka RoadRunners (2-0-0, 4 Pts)
2 – Odessa Jackalopes (1-0-0, 2 Pts)
3 – ICERAYS (0-1-1, 1 Pts)
4 – Wichita Falls Wildcats (0-1-0, 1 Pts)
5 – Amarillo Bulls
6 – Lone Star Brahmas
7 – Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees
8 – Wenatchee Wild

Next Game: The IceRays play their second game of the North American Hockey League Showcase Thursday evening when they take on the Minnesota Wilderness. Coverage from Schwan Super Rink #2 begins only on FASTHockey.com at 7:45 p.m. with Countdown to Faceoff followed by the opening drop at 8:00 p.m.