GAME PREVIEW #30 – VS. RIO GRANDE VALLEY KILLER BEES

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

vs.

RIO GRANDE VALLEY KILLER BEES

Saturday, December 27 at 7:05 P.M.

NAHL Game #370 • Home Game #18 • Season Series 2-2-0
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

Tonight’s Game: The IceRays close out both the 2014 calendar year and the first half of the 2014-15 season against the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees from the American Bank Center in the fifth game of the South Texas Vo Tech Cup.

Head-To-Head: This is the fifth meeting between these two teams, who are 2-2 in their season series for the South Texas Vo Tech Cup. The IceRays trail 7-8-1 in their franchise series and have been outscored 30-21 following the IceRays 4-2 win on Dec. 3. However, the IceRays have not lost at the American Bank Center to the Killer Bees since Mar. 28, 2014 in a 2-0 shutout.

Last Game: The IceRays scored with one second remaining in overtime, their latest regular season goal in franchise history, to complete the sweep of the Amarillo Bulls, 3-2. The Bulls jumped out first with power play goals in the first two periods to take a 2-0 lead. IceRays forward Ryan Cusin (6:50 2nd) started the comeback with a great feed into the slot to set up the forward. Forward Connor Bucsis (1:53 3rd) tied the game, 2-2, early in the third period with a wrist shot from outside the left circle. After entering into overtime, it was defenseman Anthony Cortese (4:59 OT) to be the hero and help claim the 3-2 victory. IceRays goaltender Andrew Lindgren (11-6-2) earned the win, turning aside 26 of 28 shots, while Bulls netminder Jacob Weatherly (4-6-3) picked up the overtime loss with 33 saves on 36 shots.

The Final Countdown: The overtime goal by Anthony Cortese on December 12 is the latest goal in franchise history for a regular season game. The only other time the IceRays scored with one second remaining in overtime came in an exhibition game on Oct. 10, 2009 against the Laredo Bucks of the Central Hockey League (CHL). Forward Maxime Boisclair’s power play goal helped the minor professional IceRays to a 5-4 victory.

League’s Finest: Forward Wes Michaud and defenseman Anthony Cortese continue to be recognized as two of the best players at their respective positions in the NAHL. Michaud shares second in the NAHL in points (38) with Lone Star’s Sebastian Vidmar, and the two trail Fairbanks’ Chandler Madry (43) by five points. Michaud also ranks third in assists (25), just four shy of Madry (29) for the league lead. Cortese leads all NAHL defenseman in goals (10) and points (27) and is the only defenseman this season to reach double-digit goals.

Les Joueurs de Hockey: Team France had a decent showing at the 2015 IIHF U20 World Junior Championship in Division I – Group B, earning a 2-2-1 record over their five round robin games, tying for third place with Poland (2-2-1) but losing the tie-breaker on goals scored (13-11). Though they did not earn promotion to Group A, defenseman Pierre Crinon can add two more assists to his international résumé, earning a helper on the game-tying goal in their 4-3 win over Hungary and his second in their 4-3 loss to Poland. The Alternate Captain has played 27 games of international competition, recording one goal and ten assists for 11 points with 66 penalty minutes and a -7 rating.

Relief in Sight: For the first time since Oct. 11, the IceRays have the potential to use all skaters on their full roster. Over their last 17 games, the IceRays have suffered four suspensions to three players, six injuries that forced missed ice time, one player on international duty, and the flu virus running through the entire lineup. During that span, the IceRays are 9-7-1.

Two in Two: The Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees split their road weekend against the Odessa Jackalopes last Friday and Saturday with a 3-2 win and 4-3 loss from the Ector County Coliseum. Forward Kyle Stephan nailed a four-point weekend (goal, three assists) with one goal and two assists in Friday’s win. Forward Logan Wendling was also a strong contributor with one goal and two assists on Friday. Goaltender Ben Johansson earned both decisions, saving 32 of 38 shots on the weekend while playing 90:14 minutes.

Shoots and Ladders: Following their sweep of the IceRays on Nov. 28 & 29, the Killer Bees have gone back on the slopes during their last six games. The Killer Bees dropped four-straight contests before their win on Dec. 19 against Odessa, going 1-5-0 in their last six games while being outscored 21-11. This does not include the game suspended with 6:03 remaining in the second period at home against the Wichita Falls Wildcats on Dec. 13 (Wildcats lead 3-0).

South Division Standings:
1 – Topeka RoadRunners (22-6-3, 47 PTS)
2 – Wichita Falls Wildcats (21-5-0, 42 PTS)
2 – Lone Star Brahmas (20-7-2, 42 PTS)
4 – Corpus Christi IceRays (15-10-4, 34 PTS)
5 – Wenatchee Wild (12-15-5, 29 PTS)
6 – Amarillo Bulls (11-15-3, 25 PTS)
7 – Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees (10-15-4, 24 PTS)
8 – Odessa Jackalopes (7-21-4, 18 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays ring in the new year on Thursday, January 1, 2015 with the first of a two-game set against the Rio Grande Valley at 7:30 p.m. from State Farm Arena. Coverage begins at 7:15 p.m. with Countdown to Faceoff on SportsRadio Corpus Christi and FASTHockey.com.