GAME PREVIEW – ICERAYS @ BULLS (GAME #44)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

at

AMARILLO BULLS

Friday, February 13 at 7:05 P.M.

NAHL Game #539 • Road Game #22 • Season Series 2-1-1
Amarillo Civic Center • Amarillo, Texas
Radio: KSIX 1230AM/96.1FM/103.3FM • Mobile: TuneIn Radio

Video: FASTHockey.com • Twitter: @goicerays

Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. with Countdown To Faceoff
 

Tonight’s Game: The IceRays begin their final trip to the Amarillo Civic Center as well as a two-game set against the Amarillo Bulls. 

Head-To-Head: Following a two-game sweep of the Bulls on Dec. 11 & 12, the IceRays now own a 2-1-1 record against Amarillo this season and trail 13-33-2 over the last five seasons including playoffs. The last time the IceRays won in Amarillo was on Feb. 23, 2013 in a 2-1 edging in their final of six games from the Amarillo Civic Center that season.

Last Meeting: On Dec. 12, the IceRays forced overtime and scored with one second remaining in the extra frame to win 3-2 against the Bulls from the American Bank Center. After Amarillo jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the second period with goals by Will Harrison (PP, 13:52 1st) and Joey DiBenedetto (0:58 2nd), the IceRays pushed their way back into the game with a goal by forward Ryan Cusin (6:50 2nd) to draw within one, 2-1. Forward Connor Bucsis (1:53 3rd) helped send the game into overtime, and Anthony Cortese (4:59 OT) scored the latest goal in franchise history to claim the win before the final horn. Andrew Lindgren stopped 26 of 28 shots in the win, and Jacob Weatherly turned away 33 of 36 shots in the overtime loss.

Last Game: The IceRays couldn’t overcome the deficit as they fell to the Lone Star Brahmas on Saturday night from the American Bank Center. After dropping the opening goal, Frankie Melton poked in the tying-goal in the first period. Two power play goals stretching into the second period pushed the Brahmas back ahead, 3-1, before Nic LaBurn brought the IceRays back within one. The Brahmas scored another two goals to take a 5-2 lead into the third period. Matt Colford scored the game’s final goal for the IceRays. Jake Kupsky saved 23 of 26 shots in the win, and Luke Pickar stopped 29 of 34 shots in the loss.

Thank You Fans: The IceRays hosted one of the largest crowds in franchise history on Saturday night, welcoming 6,965 fans into the American Bank Center for Stars & Stripes Night, presented by Whataburger and First Title Company. That number broke the junior franchise record set last season on Nov. 23, 2013 (6,674 fans) in a 3-1 win over the Lone Star Brahmas. It also marks the seventh time over 6,000 fans have enjoyed an IceRays game since the 2010-11 season with four of those coming last season. The all-time franchise record for most fans at one game was set on Mar. 25, 2006, when 7,584 watched the Rayz (CHL) against the Laredo Bucks (3-2 OTL).

All Good Things…: Saturday’s loss ended a 12-game home winning streak, the third longest in the NAHL this season. The streak lasted from Nov. 7, 2014 through Feb. 6, 2015, and during that time the IceRays outscored their opponents by a 2:1 ratio (50-25 total) and earned four overtime wins and one shootout win. That mark only trails the Lone Star Brahmas (18 wins) and the Janesville Jets (14 wins, active) for the longest home winning streaks this season.

…Must End: Saturday also ended a nine-game point streak for defenseman Anthony Cortese. In the final nine games of January, Cortese racked up two goals and 13 assists for 15 points. Over that span, he also recorded assists in each game, earned four multi-point games, and seven power play assists. Each streak is the longest for an IceRays skater this season.

Bulled Over: The Amarillo Bulls only grabbed one point while being swept by the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees, falling 2-1 (1-0 shootout) on Thursday and 4-1 on Friday from State Farm Arena. Amarillo jumped out to a 1-0 lead in each game with Brady Crabtree, JJ Huerena, and Joey DiBenedetto combining for the team’s only points on Thursday and Cody Gylling going unassisted on Friday. Goaltender Anton Martinsson played in both games for the Bulls, saving 29 of 30 shots as well as three of four in Thursday’s shootout loss and 20 of 24 on Friday.

Ferdinand Over Dillinger: In a difficult stretch against a must-win opponent, the Bulls dropped three of their four games against the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees, picking up just three points with a 1-2-1 record. Their sole win came on Jan. 31 at home (4-2 W). Moreover, in their past seven games, the Bulls have gone 2-4-1 combined against the Lone Star Brahmas (2nd), Odessa Jackalopes (8th), and Killer Bees (6th). A large part has to do with their five-on-five play, which accounts for 24 of the 26 goals scored (92.31%) against Amarillo. In addition, the power play has gone quiet, scoring only twice in 29 chances (6.90%).

South Division Standings:
1 – Topeka RoadRunners (32-10-3, 67 PTS)
2 – Lone Star Brahmas (28-10-6, 62 PTS)
3 – Wichita Falls Wildcats (29-12-0, 58 PTS)
4 – Corpus Christi IceRays (24-14-5, 53 PTS)
5 – Wenatchee Wild (19-19-7, 45 PTS)
6 – Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees (18-20-6, 42 PTS)
7 – Amarillo Bulls (17-23-4, 38 PTS)
8 – Odessa Jackalopes (9-29-6, 24 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays cap off their two-game series on Saturday, February 14 against the Amarillo Bulls at 7:05 p.m. from the Amarillo Civic Center. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM/96.1FM/103.3FM) and FASTHockey.com