GAME PREVIEW – ICERAYS VS. KILLER BEES (GAME #46)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

vs.

RIO GRANDE VALLEY KILLER BEES

Friday, February 20 at 7:05 P.M.

NAHL Game #561 • Home Game #23 • Season Series 3-3-1
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 begin five-straight games against the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees with a two-game set at home from the American Bank Center. This weekend is Hockey Weekend Across America, presented by CCM, and Teacher Appreciation Weekend.

Head-To-Head: This stretch is the final five meetings of the season between the southern Texas rivals, and the Killer Bees lead the South Texas Vo Tech Cup 4-2-1 and can clinch their second-straight series with wins in three of their last five games. Overall, the IceRays are 8-9-2 in two seasons against the Killer Bees.

Last Meeting: The IceRays came from behind to force a shootout but could not come away with the win, falling 3-2 (4-3 shootout) to the Killer Bees on Jan. 2 from State Farm Arena. Killer Bees forwards Trevor Abbot and Dallas Gerads propelled the home side ahead 2-0 with a power play goal and even strength goal in the first period. IceRays forward Griff Jeszka cut the lead in half, 2-1, toward the end of the first period, and forward Mason Krueger tied the game just after the midway mark of the second period. After IceRays forward Frankie Melton forced sudden death in the shootout, Killer Bees defenseman Daniel Nilsson scored in the seventh round to win. Nick Schmit stopped 15 of 17 in the win, and Andrew Lindgren stopped 26 of 28 in the loss.

Last Game: The IceRays couldn’t fight through the penalties on Saturday night, falling 5-2 to the Amarillo Bulls from the Amarillo Civic Center. There were 23 combined power plays and 130 penalty minutes over the course of the game. IceRays forward Wes Michaud helped the road side jump ahead with an early power play goal. After that goal, the Bulls scored five-straight goals through the third period before IceRays forward Matt Colford finally found an answer on the power play though the damage was done, 5-2. Andrew Lindgren picked up the loss, stopping 25 of 30 shots, while Bulls goaltender Anton Martinsson saved 38 of 40 shots in the win.

The Final Countdown: Saturday’s game closed out the third quarter of the IceRays season, finishing with a 9-5-1 record and 19 points. Their record is one point short of their quarterly-high set during the second section of the season (10-5-0, 20 points). During their difficult stretch, the IceRays turned around their road troubles by earning a 6-4-1 record and 13 points away from the American Bank Center, claiming their first road win and shootout win on Jan. 17 against Wenatchee in a 4-3 victory as well as their first road sweep during their three-game set against the Odessa Jackalopes from Jan. 29 through Jan. 31.

Running Wild: The IceRays and Bulls combined for 230 penalty minutes on 56 infractions during the entire weekend series, the highest weekend total for both categories this season. In two games, the two teams were given 40 minor penalties, four major penalties, and 13 misconducts including a game ejection and four game misconducts. This season, the highest penalty minutes in a single game combined still stands from Dec. 3 against the Killer Bees (4-2 W), and the most by the IceRays alone occurred on Oct. 24 against the Bulls (5-4 SOL).

Missing No.: At the three-quarter mark, the IceRays have had a full lineup available for just 14 out of 45 games (31.11%) this season, including nine in the first 15 games and five in the last 15 games. The IceRays have lost 52 man games due to 29 games injured, 18 games suspended, three games for international duty, and two games sick with 15 of the 32 players (46.88%) missing at least one game. The IceRays will remain without a full lineup heading into this weekend with the final two games of Travis Howe’s four-game suspension.

Feel The Sting: The Killer Bees saw three-straight games ending in overtime or later against the Lone Star Brahmas, winning two of three meetings from State Farm Arena. The Killer Bees won 3-2 in a shootout last Thursday and Friday while falling 2-1 in overtime on Saturday. Forward Dallas Gerads picked up goals in the first two games of the weekend, one of four players to gain multi-point weekends including forward Anthony Croston (goal & assist), Jack Weiss (two assists), and Gavin Cummings (two assists). Forward Stathis Soumelidis scored the game-winner in Thursday’s shootout, Croston netted the seventh-rounder on Friday, and Cam Bleck and Parker Wood tallied each in Friday’s shootout.

Southern Comfort: The Killer Bees have caught fire at just the right time, holding on to sixth place in the South Division thanks to a recent up-tick in points. The Killer Bees have earned points in each of their last five games at home from State Farm Arena, placing a 4-0-1 record while only finishing one game in regulation (Feb. 6, W 4-1 vs. AMA). With their success as of late, the Killer Bees have vaulted into sixth place and propelled to the fifth-best home record in the division with a chance to break .500 with a continued hot streak.

South Division Standings:
1 – Topeka RoadRunners (33-10-4, 70 PTS)
2 – Lone Star Brahmas (30-10-7, 67 PTS)
3 – Wichita Falls Wildcats (31-12-1, 63 PTS)
4 – Corpus Christi IceRays (25-15-5, 55 PTS)
5 – Wenatchee Wild (20-20-7, 47 PTS)
6 – Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees (19-20-7, 45 PTS)
7 – Amarillo Bulls (18-24-4, 40 PTS)
8 – Odessa Jackalopes (9-31-6, 24 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays close out the weekend on Saturday, February 21 at 7:05 p.m. against the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees from the American Bank Center on Teacher Apprecation Night. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on SportsJuice.com, FASTHockey.com, and 87.7 FM in-arena.