GAME PREVIEW #32 – AT RIO GRANDE VALLEY KILLER BEES

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

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RIO GRANDE VALLEY KILLER BEES

Friday, January 2 at 7:30 P.M.

NAHL Game #397 • Road Game #14 • Season Series 3-3-0
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 finish off the second half of their two-game set against the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees from State Farm Arena.

Head-To-Head: This is the seventh game of the South Texas Vo Tech Cup, with the Killer Bees technically enjoying a 3-2-1 series lead after last night’s win against the IceRays. Both teams continue to own home ice during the season series with Rio Grande Valley the only ones to be able to gain a point on the road.

Last Game: The IceRays were held at bay during their 3-1 loss last night to the Killer Bees from State Farm Arena. Anthony Croston (11:17, 1st) opened the scoring on the power play followed by a goal by newcomer Andrew Scofield (16:38, 1st). Frankie Melton (0:41, 3rd) gave the IceRays some life in the third period with a tally on the second chance created by Connor Kelly, however it was too much to handle as Dean Balsamo added a third goal at 17:10 of the third period to help secure the win. Andrew Lindgren picked up the loss, stopping 23 of 26 shots, while Nick Schmit earned the win, turning aside 25 of 26 shots.

Three for 3: Three players formerly in the NA3HL this season scored points in last night’s game, two of whom recorded their first career points. IceRays forward Frankie Melton (St. Louis Jr. Blues) scored the lone IceRays goal in the third period, and forwards Andrew Scofield and Austin Wisely (Peoria Mustangs) combined for their first goal and assist, respectively. The three players combined for 100 points (51 goals and 49 assists) before their recalls to the NAHL.

M.I.A.: Both the IceRays and Killer Bees played last night without some of their top producing skaters. Forwards Wes Michaud (injury) and Tanner Lomsnes (wedding) are two of the IceRays’ top-three point producers with Michaud ranking first in goals (13), assists (25), and points (38) and Lomsnes sitting in second in goals (12) and third in assists (15) and points (27). On the other side, forward Kyle Stephan and defenseman Wayland Williams were also slated on the scratches list. Stephan leads the Killer Bees in goals (9), assists (15), and points (24) while Williams is the team’s top point-producing defenseman (9).

Road To Ruin/Recovery: The IceRays are the only team in the NAHL without a win on the road. The team is 0-9-4 in their 13 games in opposing arenas with their last series coming in a 1-0 and 5-3 sweep by the Killer Bees. 10 of the next 14 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?: With Wes Michaud missing the trip due to an upper body injury, the IceRays will play their 20th consecutive game without a full lineup. Since the last time on Oct. 11 against  Lone Star, 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 10-8-1.

Back To The Cap: Yesterday, the IceRays traded forward Nate Colwell to the Brookings Blizzard (NAHL) in exchange for a 2015 Tender. With that move and the addition of Frankie Melton to the full-time roster, the IceRays are back to the maximum of 23 players. Colwell, 18, played 22 games with the IceRays, recording one goal and nine assists for ten points with 36 penalty minutes and a -4 rating. Previous to arriving in Corpus Christi, the Colorado native played four games with the Kenai River Brown Bears, earning one goal and one assist for two points with ten penalty minutes and a -3 rating.

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.

Bee Keeping: The Killer Bees have vaulted over the .500 in home wins for the second time this season with last night’s victory. Previous to that, the Killer Bees had lost their last two home games, which doesn’t include a game postponed due to unsafe ice conditions while trailing Wichita Falls 3-0 with 6:03 left in the second period. Those previous two losses were to the Wildcats (3-1 L) and Lone Star (3-0 L). The past three wins from State Farm Arena have all come against the IceRays.

South Division Standings:
1 – Topeka RoadRunners (25-6-3, 53 PTS)
2 – Lone Star Brahmas (21-8-2, 44 PTS)
3 – Wichita Falls Wildcats (21-7-0, 42 PTS)
4 – Corpus Christi IceRays (16-11-4, 36 PTS)
5 – Wenatchee Wild (12-15-6, 30 PTS)
6 – Amarillo Bulls (12-15-3, 27 PTS)
7 – Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees (11-16-5, 27 PTS)
8 – Odessa Jackalopes (8-21-4, 20 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays come home to the American Bank Center on Friday, January 9 at 7:05 p.m. for the first of a two-game set against the Odessa Jackalopes in the only home weekend in January. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. with Countdown to Faceoff on SportsJuice.com, FASTHockey.com, and 87.7 FM in-arena.