GAME PREVIEW #31 – AT RIO GRANDE VALLEY KILLER BEES

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

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RIO GRANDE VALLEY KILLER BEES

Thursday, January 1 at 7:30 P.M.

NAHL Game #387 • Road Game #13 • Season Series 3-2-0
State Farm Arena • Hidalgo, Texas
Radio: SportsRadio Corpus Christi • Mobile: TuneIn Radio

Video: FASTHockey.com • Twitter: @goicerays

Coverage begins at 7:15 p.m. with Countdown To Faceoff

Tonight’s Game: The Corpus Christi IceRays will embark on the new year and the second half of the season in the first of a two-game set on the road against the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees from State Farm Arena.

Head-To-Head: This is the sixth game of the South Texas Vo Tech Cup, with the IceRays taking the series lead 3-2-0 after Saturday night’s win on home ice. In their last trip to Hidalgo, the IceRays were swept 1-0 and 5-3 in their two games. Neither side has lost against one another at home this season.

Last Game: The Corpus Christi IceRays (16-10-4) rode on the wings of two Nic LaBurn goals to claim a 2-1 overtime win against the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees (10-15-5) from the American Bank Center. The IceRays close out their first half with three-straight wins. The Killer Bees struck first on the power play when forward Guy Roby (7:25, 1st) stuffed the puck home on a multi-chance play to give the road side a 1-0 lead. Defenseman Anthony Cortese and forward Ryan Cusin worked together to find LaBurn (18:31, 2nd) on the far side of the net to tie the game, 1-1, on the power play. In overtime, LaBurn (3:12, OT) answered the call again on a second chance play to claim the 2-1 win. Andrew Lindgren (12-6-2) picked up the win, saving 21 of 22 shots, while Killer Bees netminder Nick Schmit (3-7-2) earned the loss on a 28-save effort in 30 shots faced.

Late-Game Heroics: The IceRays have now won two-straight games in at least overtime for the first time in three seasons. The last time the IceRays won two-straight games post-regulation was Jan. 7, 2012 at Amarillo (3-2 SO) and Jan. 12 against Odessa (2-1 SO), the same score of the past two IceRays wins. The IceRays played back-to-back games of extra time twice last season with the most recent coming on Nov. 10, 2013 against Amarillo (4-3 OTL) and Nov. 15, 2013 at Odessa (3-2 SOL).

Feel The Power: Forward Nic LaBurn added his sixth power play goal of the season, making the second IceRays player to score at least that number this season (Wes Michaud, 6). Both LaBurn and Michaud now rank tied for seventh in the NAHL in power play goals. As a team, the IceRays have scored power play goals in four of their last six games while breaking a two-game skid.

Home, Sweet Home: The IceRays own the second-longest active home winning streak in the NAHL with nine-straight wins. They only trail Lone Star (16) for first. Their nine wins is also the second longest streak of the season, only trailing Lone Star’s current streak The IceRays also have the fourth-best home points percentage (.889) in the NAHL, trailing only Lone Star (.941), the Minnesota Wilderness (.929), and Topeka (.921) for top marks.

Road To Ruin/Recovery: The IceRays are the only team in the NAHL without a win on the road. The team is 0-8-4 in their 12 games in opposing arenas with their last series coming in a 1-0 and 5-3 sweep by the Killer Bees. 11 of the next 15 games will be on the road, with nine of the 11 games in January in buildings other than the American Bank Center. On top of that, the IceRays are without practice ice during the entire month of January, so any time on the ice the team grabs will be in cities other than Corpus Christi.

Relief in Sight?: For the first time since Oct. 11, the IceRays will have a full roster available. Over their last 18 games since, the IceRays have suffered four suspensions to three players, six injuries that forced missed ice time, one player on international duty, one player at a wedding, and the flu virus running through the entire lineup. During that span, the IceRays are 10-7-1.

The Upward Track: The IceRays finished the second quarter of the season 10-5-0 while dominating on home ice with a 10-1-0 record in 11 appearances at the American Bank Center. Their 20 points in 15 games outpaces their mark from the first quarter (16 points). Unfortunately, they couldn’t gain more ground on the top teams with Wichita Falls (13-4-0, .765), Lone Star (13-4-1, .750), and Topeka (11-4-2, .706) all earning a higher win percentage while maintaing their positions above the IceRays in the standings.

No Bee Zone: In a qucik turnaround for the Killer Bees, they were shutout 3-0 by the Lone Star Brahmas on Monday from State Farm Arena. The Killer Bees only managed 12 shots with two coming in the first period. Alexey Solovyev’s shorthanded goal in the second period was the game-winner with Sebastian Vidmar and Pat Egan tacking on empty net goals in the final minute of the game. Nick Schmit saved 21 of 22 shots in the loss, while TJ Black picked up a 12-save shutout.

South Division Standings:
1 – Topeka RoadRunners (24-6-3, 51 PTS)
2 – Lone Star Brahmas (21-8-2, 44 PTS)
3 – Wichita Falls Wildcats (21-7-0, 42 PTS)
4 – Corpus Christi IceRays (16-10-4, 36 PTS)
5 – Wenatchee Wild (12-15-5, 29 PTS)
6 – Amarillo Bulls (11-15-3, 25 PTS)
7 – Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees (10-16-5, 25 PTS)
8 – Odessa Jackalopes (8-21-4, 20 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays close out their first series of 2015 on Friday, January 2 against the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees at 7:30 p.m. from State Farm Arena. Coverage begins at 7:15 p.m. with Countdown to Faceoff on SportsRadio Corpus Christi & FASTHockey.com.