GAME PREVIEW – ICERAYS VS. WILDCATS (GAME #55)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

vs.

WICHITA FALLS WILDCATS

Saturday, March 14 at 7:05 P.M.

NAHL Game #658 • Home Game #28 • Season Series 3-4-0
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 complete their season series with the Wichita Falls Wildcats from the American Bank Center on Faith & Family Night, presented by TLC Complete Care. The night will conclude with a concert by contemporary Christian musician Chris August.

Head-To-Head: The IceRays have a chance to split the season series in terms of wins and losses tonight, trailing 3-4-0 this season.. The Wildcats have claimed the series in terms of points with the first overtime loss between both sides. In five seasons, the IceRays are 17-21-6 against the Wildcats.

Last Night: The IceRays were forced into overtime for the second-straight game and came out on top with a 5-4 win over the Wildcats. IceRays forward Landon Quinney became the youngest player this season to score his first NAHL goal, which also put the IceRays ahead early in the second period. After the Wildcats took the lead on Nick Farmer’s equalizer and Matt Koch’s shorthanded goal, the IceRays found an answer on the power play from Maksim Dzhioshvili. The Wildcats pushed ahead, 3-2, before the second intermission thanks to Austin Azzinnaro. The IceRays vaulted in the third on a power play goal from Wes Michaud and Dzhioshvili’s second of the game. Colin Staub tied the game for the Wildcats with 1:11 left in the third. Mason Krueger sealed the win just 39 seconds into overtime. Andrew Lindgren stopped 23 of 27 shots in the win, and Austin Shaw saved 41 of 46 in the loss.

Becanic’s Boys: With a win last night, the IceRays set a new junior franchise record in wins at 29, breaking the old mark set during the 2012-13 season by Justin Quenneville’s team that finished the year 28-26-6. The squad also has claimed the best win and point percentage for any season. Becanic’s team will be just the second team to finish their respective season over .500 in both wins and point percentage.

On The Cusp: Forward Wes Michaud can break three single-season records with points tonight. Currently, he tied with Rudy Sulmonte for the single-season franchise lead in goals (27) and one behind in assists (41) and points (68) thanks to his one-goal, two-assist game last night. Sulmonte set those three marks during the 2012-13 season. In addition, he is tied with Beau Walker for second in career goals (40) and remains five goals back of Eric Purcell’s career goals mark set between 2011 and 2014 (45).

Extra, Extra: For the second time this season, the IceRays recorded back-to-back overtime wins with their victory last night. The only other back-to-back OT wins came on Dec. 12 vs. AMA (3-2 W) and Dec. 27 vs. RGV (2-1). After dropping their first overtime decision on Oct. 10 against the Lone Star Brahmas, the IceRays have now won eight-straight games ending in overtime to improve to 8-1 on the lead. Not only have the IceRays been hot in those decisions but also in shootouts, winning three-straight after dropping their first four of the season. Since Oct. 10, the IceRays are a combined 11-2 in games that en beyond the third period horn. The IceRays have never lost a game in overtime or a shootout at home this season.

Turn The Page: Special teams has stepped up as of late for the IceRays on both sides of the ice. The power play has rebounded by going 3-for-8 (37.50%) since being stifled last weekend against Lone Star and grabbing their second 2-for-4 performance of the month (Mar. 3 vs. RGV, 7-3 L). On the other side, the IceRays are 10-for-10 this week and are now 18-for-20 (90.00%) over their last four games.

Closing The Book: The Wichita Falls Wildcats closed out their final game of the 2014-15 regular season with a 5-4 loss to the Amarillo Bulls on Wednesday night from the Kay Yeager Coliseum. Wildcats defenseman Shane Kuzmeski notched the game’s first goal early in the first period before Amarillo forwards Charlie Combs (PP) and Luke Novak scored two goals in 3:24 to give the Bulls a 2-1 lead. Wildcats forward Tommy Apap tied the game, 2-2, with 12 seconds left in the first period. Each grabbed a goal on the power play with Jesper Synnelius for Amarillo and Apap again for the Wildcats. The Bulls pushed ahead with goals from forwards A.J. Duggan and Combs to spread the game by two, 5-3. Wildcats forward Colin Staub notched an early goal to cut the lead down though their surge was brought up short. Jacob Weatherly saved 27-of-31 shots in the win, while David Zevnik stopped 19-of-24 in the loss.

The Long And Winding Road: The Wildcats finish their home schedule with a 23-6-1 record (.783) and embark on an eight-game road trip to close out the 2014-15 regular season. The Wildcats are one of two teams to finish their home schedule (Michigan: 13-14-3 record, .483). Over their final eight games, the Wildcats play four teams with the potential to make the playoffs, including the continuation of a game against the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees that was suspended on Dec. 13 due to unsafe ice conditions with 6:03 left in the second period and the Wildcats leading 3-0. Their last two games could determine who claims one of two first-round byes when they play the Lone Star Brahmas.

South Division Standings:
1 – Lone Star Brahmas (36-11-8, 80 PTS)
2 – Topeka RoadRunners (36-12-6, 78 PTS)
3 – Wichita Falls Wildcats (36-14-3, 75 PTS)
4 – Corpus Christi IceRays (29-20-5, 63 PTS)

5 – Wenatchee Wild (23-24-7, 53 PTS)
6 – Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees (22-23-9, 53 PTS)
7 – Amarillo Bulls (24-26-4, 52 PTS)
8 – Odessa Jackalopes (11-35-7, 29 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays embark on their final road trip of the 2014-15 regular season on Thursday, March 19 to begin a three-game set against the Odessa Jackalopes at 7:05 p.m. from the Ector County Coliseum. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM) and FASTHockey.com