GAME PREVIEW – ICERAYS VS. BULLS (GAME #59)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

vs.

AMARILLO BULLS

Friday, March 27 at 7:05 P.M.

NAHL Game #697 • Home Game #29 • Season Series 3-2-1
American Bank Center • Corpus Christi, Texas
Radio: SportsJuice.com • Mobile: TuneIn Radio 
• In-Arena: 87.7FM
Video: FASTHockey.com • Twitter: @goicerays

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

Tonight’s Game: The IceRays begin their final weekend of the 2014-15 season with the first of a two-game set against the Amarillo Bulls from the American Bank Center on Teen Night, presented by Whataburger.

Head-To-Head: Following a split of their last weekend set in February, the IceRays and Bulls both own a 3-2-1 record against each other heading into their final two meetings of the season. The IceRays are 14-34-2 against Amarillo in their franchise history but are a perfect 2-0-0 from the American Bank Center this season.

Last Meeting: The IceRays fell in an ugly end to the weekend set 5-2 to the Bulls from the Amarillo Civic Center on Feb. 14. All seven goals came on special teams with forward Wes Michaud (PP) opening the scoring for the IceRays early in the first period before Luke Novak (PP) and Charlie Combs (SH) gave the Bulls a 2-1 lead heading into the intermission. Amarillo pressed on in the second period with goals from Will Harrison (PP) and Combs (PP) to jump ahead 4-1. Combs (PP) finished the hat-trick mid-way through the third period before Matt Colford (PP) finally answered for the IceRays less than a minute later. Both teams combined for 23 power play chances. Anton Martinsson saved 38-of-40 shots in the win, and Andrew Lindgren stopped 25-of-30 shots in the loss.

Last Game: The IceRays dropped their second weekend set of March during their 4-1 loss to the Odessa Jackalopes on Saturday night from the Ector County Coliseum. The Jackalopes found the early stroke with goals from forwards Kenny Hausinger and Razmuz Waxin-Engback on breakout plays to give Odessa an early 2-0 lead. IceRays forward Wes Michaud brought the road side within one, 2-1, just before the end of the opening period. Hausinger gave the Jackalopes back their two-goal advantage, 3-1, early in the third period, and forward Hampus Sjodahl put the game out of reach with a breakaway goal in the final period. Tanner Creel earned the win, stopping 34 of 25 shots, while Andrew Lindgren picked up the loss, turning away 24 of 28 shots.

Ides Of March: The month of March hasn’t been kind to the IceRays, dropping to 3-6-0 in nine games and will be the only month this season that the IceRays did not finish with at least a .500 record. Since the last meeting with the Bulls on Feb. 14, the IceRays have also dropped to a 5-8-0 record and have gone 3-3-0 at home. The IceRays last four wins at home came in overtime or later (one in overtime; three in shootout), and the last regulation win the IceRays have won at home came on Jan. 9 against the Odessa Jackalopes (4-2 W), a nine-game stretch.

Faltering Five: Despite the depth of the IceRays squad, scoring in the top-six behind Wes Michaud has been sparse. Since scoring a hat-trick in a five-point night on Feb. 28 against Rio Grande Valley, forward Tanner Lomsnes has been goalless in eight games and only has three points in that span despite sitting second in goals and points. Defenseman Anthony Cortese has four assists in six games but has been without a goal since Jan. 31 against Odessa (16 games) and now shares first in NAHL defensive scoring with Matt Koch (WFS). Ryan Cusin has earned points in two-straight but was without a goal in 15 games before Friday’s tally. Forward Matt Colford hasn’t scored a goal in his last 13 games with four assists in that span, and forward Nic LaBurn is pointless in nine-straight games. Among the top-six not named Michaud, those five skaters have scored one goal in 63 combined man games.

Front And Center: In addition to the records broken, Wes Michaud is leading the IceRays into the postseason with his production on the IceRays. He owns 18 points (12 goals, six assists) over his last 11 games and has recorded seven goals over his last six games. Of the 13 games played in the fourth quarter, the Colorado College commit has scored points in nine of 13 games and goals in eight of those nine games. Michaud is the first IceRays player to record more than 30 goals, 40 assists, and 70 points in a single-season and ranks third in the NAHL in points (71) behind Fairbanks forward Chandler Madry (72) and Lone Star forward Sebastian Vidmar (78).

Down And Out: After winning five-straight games to make a push for the playoffs, the Amarillo Bulls lost their fourth-straight game on Tuesday, falling 6-1 to the Wichita Falls Wildcats to close their home schedule and bowing out of contention for the Robertson Cup Playoffs. The Bulls have been held to two goals or less in each of their last four games while only nine players picked up points. Forwards George Mika and Elijah Barriga have been leading the charge for the Bulls as of late, each scoring two goals and one assist over their last four games while team-leading goal scorers Cody Gylling and Charlie Combs have been held without a goal. In addition, netminders Anton Martinsson and Jacob Weatherly have split time in games in two of their last four contests.

South Division Standings:
1 – Lone Star Brahmas (38-12-8, 84 PTS)
2 – Wichita Falls Wildcats (39-14-5, 83 PTS)
3 – Topeka RoadRunners (38-13-6, 82 PTS)
4 – Corpus Christi IceRays (30-23-5, 65 PTS)
5 – Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees (24-24-10, 58 PTS)
6 – Wenatchee Wild (25-25-7, 57 PTS)
7 – Amarillo Bulls (24-30-4, 52 PTS)
8 – Odessa Jackalopes (14-37-7, 35 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays close the 2014-15 regular season on Saturday, March 28 at 8:05 p.m. against the Amarillo Bulls from the American Bank Center on Pack The House For Charity, presented by Kiewit and the Port of Corpus Christi. Coverage begins at 7:50 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.