GAME PREVIEW – ICERAYS @ JACKALOPES (GAME #58)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

at

ODESSA JACKALOPES

Saturday, March 21 at 7:05 P.M.

NAHL Game #688 • Road Game #30 • Season Series 10-1-0
Ector County Coliseum • Odessa, Texas
Radio: SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM) • Mobile: TuneIn Radio

Video: FASTHockey.com • Twitter: @goicerays

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

Tonight’s Game: The IceRays play their final road game of the 2014-15 season and close out their season series against the Odessa Jackalopes from the Ector County Coliseum.

Head-To-Head: The IceRays rebounded after Thursday’s loss, improving to 10-1-0 in the season series after last night’s win. They now have a chance to win the weekend series with two of three. The IceRays are 28-14-2 all-time against Odessa.

Last Night: The IceRays rode on a strong performance by netminder Luke Pickar in their 5-3 win over the Jackalopes from the Ector County Coliseum. After Andrew McLean gave the Jackalopes an early 1-0 lead, the IceRays fired back with three-unanswered goals in the first period from Brad LeLievre (SH), Pierre Crinon, and Ryan Cusin. The Jackalopes came back in the second period to tie the game, 3-3, with goals from Eric Carreras and Razmuz Waxin-Engback. With a spark from a few fights at the outset of the third period, the IceRays moved ahead on a redirect from Joe Chitwood early in the frame and found insurance from forward Wes Michaud late in the period. Pickar saved 35 of 38 shots in the win, and Tanner Creel stopped 24 of 28 shots in the loss.

Depth Chart: 11 different IceRays skaters earned points during last night’s win, the highest total in 17 games since they did the same thing on Jan. 30 in Odessa (7-3 W). Within that number, forward Ryan Cusin picked up his first goal in 16 games (Jan. 31 @ ODA), defenseman Pierre Crinon snapped a 29-game goalless drought (Dec. 3 vs. RGV), and defenseman Travis Howe earned his first points as a defenseman since Dec. 11 against Amarillo (two assists).

#Playoffs: With two points last night, the IceRays have clinched the fourth-seed in the South Division and home-ice advantage for the opening round of the Robertson Cup Playoffs. Their opponent has yet to be determined with Rio Grande Valley, Wenatchee, and Amarillo all alive for the five-seed. Amarillo will be eliminated from the running with three points won or lost by the Killer Bees and eliminated from the playoffs with four points won or lost by the Wild. Wenatchee can still move into fifth place if they win three of their final four games remaining.

Breaking Through: With a goal last night, forward Wes Michaud now sits atop the IceRays all-time single-season record for points in a season (69), breaking Rudy Sulmonte’s mark set in the 2012-13 season. He now leads single-season goals (29) and points with a few records still remaining. Michaud is tied for first in single-season assists (41) with Sulmonte and Beau Walker as well as second in career assists (49), career goals (42), and career points (92).

Picking Back Up: Luke Pickar had an impressive performance in his fourth start in 15 games during last night’s 35-for-38 save effort against the Jackalopes. His win is the first since Jan. 30 in Odessa (7-3 W) as well as the first game started and completed since Feb. 7 against Lone Star (5-3 L). In five games against Odessa, Pickar is a perfect 5-0-0 with a 2.38 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage.

Work Horse: Goaltender Andrew Lindgren has appeared in 13 of the last 14 games, starting in 11 of 13 games (84.62%). He owns a 5-7-0 record with a 3.26 goals-against average and a .885 save percentage. While he earned NAHL South Division Star of the Week for his shutout weekend against Rio Grande Valley in mid-February, he allowed three goals or more in 10 of 13 games (76.92%). Outside of two shutout games, the only other game with two goals or less allowed came on Mar. 7 against the Lone Star Brahmas (21-22 SV, 3-2 L).

Powered Down: Since their last man-advantage on Mar. 14, the IceRays have played 133:33 minutes of hockey. All four occurrences of no power play chances in junior franchise history have come in the past two seasons with the most recent on Nov. 22, 2013 against the Lone Star Brahmas (3-1 W). The only other time the IceRays didn’t have a power play was on Oct. 5, 2013 in Alaska against the Fairbanks Ice Dogs (4-1 L). On the other hand, the IceRays have kept opponents from a power play three times in program history: Mar. 3, 2012 in Odessa (2-1 SOL); Feb. 17, 2012 against New Mexico (3-2 SOL); Nov. 12, 2011 in Wichita Falls (2-0 L).

Wax On, Wax Off: Forward Razmuz Waxin-Engback has been the hottest player for the Jackalopes over their recent uptick in production. He has earned 11 points (five goals, six assists) over his last seven games including three multi-point games and one game with three points (Mar. 19 vs. COR, 3-1 W). In addition, Waxin-Engback leads all Jackalopes players in points against the IceRays this year, recording five goals and six assists for 11 points through 11 games played with a +5 rating.

South Division Standings:
1 – Lone Star Brahmas (37-12-8, 82 PTS)
2 – Wichita Falls Wildcats (38-14-5, 81 PTS)
3 – Topeka RoadRunners (37-13-6, 80 PTS)
4 – Corpus Christi IceRays (30-22-5, 65 PTS)
5 – Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees (24-24-10, 58 PTS)
6 – Wenatchee Wild (25-24-7, 57 PTS)
7 – Amarillo Bulls (24-28-4, 52 PTS)
8 – Odessa Jackalopes (13-37-7, 33 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays head back home for their final home weekend of the regular season on Friday, March 27 to begin a two-game set against the Amarillo Bulls from the American Bank Center on Teen Night, presented by Whataburger. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on SportsJuice.com, FASTHockey.com, and 87.7FM in-arena. Tickets are available at www.Ticketmaster.com, any Ticketmaster location, or the American Bank Center Box Office.