GAME PREVIEW – ICERAYS VS. KILLER BEES (GAME #47)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

vs.

RIO GRANDE VALLEY KILLER BEES

Saturday, February 21 at 7:05 P.M.

NAHL Game #574 • Home Game #24 • Season Series 3-4-1
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 finish up their weekend set against the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees from the American Bank Center. This weekend is Hockey Weekend Across America, presented by CCM, and Teacher Appreciation Weekend.

Head-To-Head: The IceRays have dropped their last three games against the Killer Bees and trail 3-4-1 in the season series. Rio Grande Valley can clinch their second-straight STVT Cup with two wins in their final four meetings. Overall, the IceRays are 8-10-2 in two seasons against the Killer Bees.

Last Night: The IceRays had trouble defensively during their 4-1 loss to the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees from the American Bank Center. Daniel Nilsson tallied first on the power play for the Killer Bees in the first period, and they scored again 59 seconds later thanks to Logan Wendling to take a 2-0 lead. Stathis Soumelidis notched the third-straight Killer Bees goal at 1:02 of the second period to take a 3-0 lead and spelled the end of the night for IceRays goalie Luke Pickar. Mason Krueger found an answer in the third period, but a late empty net goal by Anthony Croston sealed the 4-1 loss. Ben Johansson stopped 30 of 31 in the win, and Pickar turned away 11 of 14 shots in 21:02 minutes of the loss. Andrew Lindgren saved all 16 shots faced.

Few And Far Between: For the first time this season, the IceRays conceded consecutive losses from the American Bank Center. Their other two losses at home came on Oct. 18 vs. Topeka (5-2 L) and Oct. 31 vs. Wichita Falls (3-1 L). Overall, the IceRays are 70-60-12 in home games in junior franchise history and having already claimed a finishing home record this season, the IceRays now own two such seasons (2011-12: 17-10-3).

Swiss Cheese: IceRays netminders have not kept opposing teams to one goal or less once since the turn of the 2015 calendar year. In that 16 game span, the IceRays are averaging as many goals for as goals against per game (3.44). The last time the IceRays kept an opponent to one goal came on Dec. 27 against Rio Grande Valley (2-1 W), and the IceRays have only shut out one opponent this season: the Wenatchee Wild on Sep. 18 at the NAHL Showcase (2-0 W).

Up The Firepower: Despite their recent struggles, the IceRays have peppered shots offensively with 30 shots or more in seven of their last ten games. As a team, they are averaging 32.10 shots per game in that span and have converted on 38 of those chances (11.84%). With that being said, the IceRays have allowed 30 or more shots in six of their last ten games.

Bringing Up The Rear: Saturday nights have been interesting for the IceRays this season, just edging over .500 with a 8-7-1 record. When playing their second game in two nights, the IceRays drop to 8-9-1 with both back end losses coming on Friday nights. However, after beginning the season 1-5-0 in the second game in two nights, the IceRays have gone 7-4-1 in those games, winning four of their last six such games.

Missing No.: With 14 games remaining, the IceRays have had a full lineup available for just 14 out of 46 games (30.44%) this season, including nine in the first 15 games and five in the last 16 games. The IceRays have lost 53 man games due to 29 games injured, 19 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 tonight with the final game of Travis Howe’s four-game suspension. The IceRays have potential to continue to be without players with eight players in danger of suspensions due to accumulations of minor penalties or misconducts.

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 six games including five-straight from State Farm Arena, placing a 5-0-1 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 .500 for the first time this season.

Go, Jo, Go: Killer Bees goaltender Ben Johnasson has been a large part of the turnaround for Rio Grande Valley in their recent stretch. After struggling to string together wins, the Sweden native has won four-straight wins following last night’s game and kept opponents to two goals or less in each of those contests. In his winning streak, the 20-year-old owns a 1.07 goals-against average and a .952 save percentage. His counterpart, Nick Schmit, has lost four of his last six decisions, going 2-2-2 in seven games with a 2.60 goals-against average and a .903 save percentage.

South Division Standings:
1 – Topeka RoadRunners (34-10-4, 72 PTS)
2 – Lone Star Brahmas (30-11-7, 67 PTS)
3 – Wichita Falls Wildcats (31-13-1, 63 PTS)
4 – Corpus Christi IceRays (25-16-5, 55 PTS)
5 – Wenatchee Wild (21-20-7, 49 PTS)
6 – Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees (2--20-7, 47 PTS)
7 – Amarillo Bulls (19-24-4, 42 PTS)
8 – Odessa Jackalopes (9-32-6, 24 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays continue their quest for the South Texas Vo Tech Cup on Friday, February 27 at 7:30 p.m. against the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees from State Farm Arena. Coverage begins at 7:15 p.m. on SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM/96.1FM/103.3FM) and FASTHockey.com.