GAME PREVIEW #6 – AT KEYSTONE ICE MINERS

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

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KEYSTONE ICE MINERS

Saturday, September 20 at 9:30 A.M.

NAHL Game #47 • Road Game #4 • Season Series 0-0-0
Schwan Super Rink #4 • Blaine, Minn.

NAHL Showcase Game #4
Video: FASTHockey.com • Twitter: @goicerays

Coverage begins at 9:15 a.m. with Countdown to Faceoff

Today’s Game: The IceRays close out their North American Hockey League Showcase schedule as they take on the Keystone Ice Miners at Schwan Super Rink #4 in Blaine, Minn. This is the second time they’ll play each other in franchise history.

Yesterday: The IceRays powered ahead of the South Division foe Wenatchee Wild to claim a 2-0 victory. All scoring occurred in the first period. Anthony Cortese knocked in his fourth goal of the season at 18:58 on a rebound chance initially created by IceRays forward Connor Kelly. Kelly and forward Brad LeLievre would claim assists on what would become the game-winning goal. Just 47 seconds later, forward Tanner Lomsnes was credited with his second goal of the year and gave the IceRays a 2-0 lead. Defender Trevor Heuser took a hard shot from the blue line that was redirected by a Lomsnes skate in front of the net. IceRays goalie Andrew Lindgren earned his first shutout of the season, stopping all 29 shots. Wenatchee netminder and former IceRays goalie Forbes Ploszaj was awarded the loss, stopping 25 of 27 shots faced.

D-D-D-Defense!: Over the past two games, the IceRays have only allowed one goal in their last 43 shots faced between Luke Pickar and Andrew Lindgren (.977 save percentage). Before that, the IceRays allowed 11 goals over their last three games (.872 save percentage). Since arriving at the NAHL Showcase, both netminders have combined for a .955 save percentage (63 saves on 66 shots).

Tale of Two Sides: The IceRays have produced better results on special teams since returning to Blaine, Minn. The team has stopped their last eight man-down situations against opponents and 9-of-10 at the NAHL Showcase. On the other side, the power play has struggled to get moving, converting just one of their ten chances at the Showcase.

Showcase Past: The IceRays have played 19 games at the NAHL Showcase, going 10-7-2 over their last five 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). The team is now 3-3-1 under Becanic.

2013-14 Ice Miners: Last season, the Keystone Ice Miners finished their final season as the Port Huron Fighting Falcons hailing from Port Huron, Michigan. The Fighting Falcons finished atop the North Division, recording a 35-15-10 record for 80 points. In the playoffs, they would play the four-seed Johnstown Tomahawks and sweep the series, 3-0. Their run would cease in the Division Final, falling to the Michigan Warriors, 3-1. After the season, the Fighting Falcons relocated to Connellsville, Penn., just 45 minutes outside of Pittsburgh.

Their Last Meeting: The IceRays met the then-Port Huron Fighting Falcons last season at the NAHL Showcase on the final day at 9:00 a.m., where the Fighting Falcons would edge the IceRays, 4-3, in a shootout. IceRays forward Joe Costello gave his side the early 1-0 lead at 6:26 on an unassisted goal, but the Fighting Falcons answered back just eight seconds later thanks to Bryan Yim. Port Huron edged out to a 2-1 lead in the second on an unassisted Noah Batis goal. The IceRays tied things up, 2-2, in the third period at 2:52 when Tony Roisum evened the tally. After the Fighting Falcons regained the lead, 3-2, Eric Purcell became the hero with just 22 seconds remaining in regulation to send the contest into overtime. After a scoreless five-minute period, it took only four rounds for the Fighting Falcons to claim the win, beating the IceRays 4-3 (2-0 shootout).

Soaring To The Sunset: In their four seasons as the Port Huron Fighting Falcons, the Keystone organization ended with a 111-104-0-7-16 record (.515 win percentage), reaching the playoff two out of their four years including a trip to the Robertson Cup Finals in the 2011-12 season. The Fighting Falcons fell in that final to the former Texas Tornado (now Lone Star Brahmas).

Mining Players: The Ice Miners bring back 11 players from their 2013-14 roster. Leading the way is forward Vito Aluia, leading returners in goals (13) and points (33). Defender Alex Archibald leads returners in assists (24). Also included from last year’s roster are: Noah Batis (11+10=21), Matt Jones (6+15=21), Austin Romzek (11+8=19), Nick Le Sage (5+14=19), Jon Hall (10+6=16), Reed Scahill (0+16=16), Taylor Fernandez (6+7=13), Lucas Little (0+11=11), and goalie Alex Blackenburg (17-5-3, 2.12 GAA, .931 SV%).

South Division Standings:
1 – Topeka RoadRunners (5-0-0, 10 Pts)
2 – ICERAYS (2-2-1, 5 Pts)
3 – Lone Star Brahmas (2-1-0, 4 Pts)
4 – Wichita Falls Wildcats (2-2-0, 4 Pts)
5 – Odessa Jackalopes (2-2-0, 4 Pts)
6 – Amarillo Bulls (1-2-0, 3 Pts)
7 – Wenatchee Wild (1-2-0, 3 Pts)
8 – Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees (1-2-0, 3 Pts)

Next Game: The IceRays return to the American Bank Center one week from today to open their 2014-15 home schedule on Saturday, September 27 against the Lone Star Brahmas. Opening faceoff is at 7:05 p.m. with coverage beginning at 6:50 p.m. with Countdown to Faceoff on SportsJuice.com and FASTHockey.com.