GAME PREVIEW – ICERAYS VS. BRAHMAS (GAME #53)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

vs.

LONE STAR BRAHMAS

Wednesday, March 11 at 7:05 P.M.

NAHL Game #638 • Home Game #26 • Season Series 2-4-1
American Bank Center • Corpus Christi, Texas
Radio: SportsJuice.com • Mobile: TuneIn Radio 
• Mobile: 87.7 FM
Video: FASTHockey.com • Twitter: @goicerays

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

Tonight’s Game: The IceRays start out a busy three-game week by closing out their eight-game season series against the Lone Star Brahmas from the American Bank Center. This evening is also Country Night, with 500 custom koozies given away by 97.5 KFTX Real Country.

Head-To-Head: The IceRays have fallen to 2-4-1 against the Brahmas this season following their sweep on the road at the hands of Lone Star. The IceRays have lost their first season series against the Brahmas with the sweep and also slide to 7-6-2 in two seasons. The IceRays have been held winless at the NYTEX Sports Center this season and are 2-1-0 at home.

Last Game: The IceRays had a late-game surge come up short, falling to the Brahmas on Saturday night at the NYTEX Sports Center. The IceRays dropped behind early with another game-opening goal by Brahmas forward Ludvig Larsson (1:26 1st) and a doubling goal by defenseman Alexey Solovyev (6:33 1st). The Brahmas scratched across one more goal by Sebastian Vidmar (PP, 13:17 2nd) to triple their lead, 3-0, before the end of the second period. IceRays defenseman Taylor Karel (0:45 3rd) scored his first NAHL goal as well as put the road side on the board, and forward Frankie Melton (6:50 3rd) drew the IceRays within one, 3-2. The IceRays pulled the goaltender for an extra skater on a power play late in the third period but could not find an equalizer. Brahmas goaltender Jake Kupsky (16-4-3) picked up the win, stopping 16 of 18 shots, while IceRays netminder Andrew Lindgren (20-13-3) grabbed the loss despite saving 21 of 22 shots in relief. Luke Pickar started the first 6:33, allowing two goals on two shots.

Slump City: The IceRays were swept for the first time since Jan. 1 & 2 against the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees and also lost three-straight games in regulation for the first time this season. The only other time the IceRays fell in three-consecutive games was between Oct. 18 and Oct. 25 against Topeka at home (5-2 L) and twice on the road against Amarillo (5-4 SOL & 6-3 L). In their recent slump, they have been outscored 14-7 as well as outshot 86-74. The IceRays have never lost four-straight games during the 2014-15 season.

Show Of Force: Travis Howe earned two penalty minutes on Saturday night, making him the all-time junior franchise leader in career penalty minutes (217). His record surpasses the mark set by Luke McDiarmid (216) in two seasons from 2012 through 2014. Howe previously set the single-season penalty minutes mark last week and now is atop both categories. This season, Howe leads the NAHL in penalty minutes as well as major penalties (7) with all of those coming in fights. This is also the first season with fights penalizing players for both a five-minute major and a ten-minute misconduct.

Playoff Picture: With eight games to go, the IceRays remain six points away from clinching a spot in the 2015 Robertson Cup Playoffs. With three wins this week, the IceRays can earn it themselves or pair either two wins with an Amarillo regulation loss or a win with two Amarillo regulation losses. In order to clinch home ice advantage in the first round, the IceRays need nine points either won or lost with Wenatchee and Rio Grande Valley, who share fifth place. The IceRays have been eliminated from contention for a first-round bye and will be eliminated from third place with one loss or one Wichita Falls win.

Bullieve: With a win on Saturday, the Lone Star Brahmas took the top spot in the South Division, the first team to dethrone the Topeka RoadRunners atop the division this season. The Brahmas own the best record in terms of win percentage (.726) in the division and rank second in the NAHL behind the Janesville Jets (.815). Since their last loss on Feb. 20 to Topeka (2-1 L), the Brahmas have won five-straight games as well as seven of their last eight overall coming into this week’s contest that begins a five-game road trip.

Du Galma, Du Fria: The Brahmas have ridden on the success of their three imports from Sweden carrying the top line: Sebastian Vidmar, Ludvig Larsson, and Oskar Andren. Vidmar and Larsson both rank in the top-20 of the NAHL in scoring with Vidmar leading the way in goals (29), assists (44), and points (73). The three combine for 150 of 326 points (46.01%) earned by the Brahmas this season as well as 34 of 78 points (43.59%) over the team’s last ten games. Vidmar leads all Brahmas with 12 points (four goals, eight assists) over the IceRays this season followed by Larsson’s nine points (four goals, five assists) and Andren’s five points (two goals, three assists). Under their leadership, the Brahmas have won all four games at the NYTEX Sports Center against the IceRays this season.

South Division Standings:
1 – Lone Star Brahmas (35-11-7, 77 PTS)
2 – Topeka RoadRunners (35-12-6, 76 PTS)
3 – Wichita Falls Wildcats (36-13-2, 74 PTS)
4 – Corpus Christi IceRays (27-20-5, 59 PTS)
5 – Wenatchee Wild (23-23-7, 53 PTS)
6 – Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees (22-22-9, 53 PTS)
7 – Amarillo Bulls (22-26-4, 48 PTS)
8 – Odessa Jackalopes (11-35-7, 29 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays remain at home on Friday, March 13 at 7:05 p.m. to begin a two-game set against the Wichita Falls Wildcats from the American Bank Center. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on SportsJuice.com, FASTHockey.com, and 87.7FM in-arena.