Preview: IceRays @ Amarillo Bulls (Game 15)

Photo: Chip Pitcairn

Clean Sheet
Up until last weekend, the IceRays had managed to earn at least a point out of every series they had played in 2017. The last time the Rays were swept cleanly came at the hands of the now-extinct Wichita Falls Wildcats back on December 4th, 2016 at the American Bank Center.

Regardless of the fact they played against the defending champions in the midst of their longest road stretch in franchise history, the IceRays have built a reputation as a proud team that is hard to play against. They are still searching to rebuild that status for this season, but clean sweeps don’t happen to this team very often. Facing an Amarillo squad against which the Rays have had early success could provide a timely chance for redemption.


The Matchup

With the tragic passing of Rocky Russo’s father, Ronald, assistant coaches David Nies and Austin Sutter will be taking over coaching responsibilities for Amarillo this weekend. While the Bulls may be missing their bench boss, they are well-rested following a bye-week and will have a strong rallying cry driving them all weekend long.

When the IceRays last visited the Amarillo Civic Center three weeks ago, Brad Flynn described the team’s departure as “making out of there like bandits.” In the second game, the Bulls outshot the Rays 50-32 and were given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the final 77 seconds of regulation. Ultimately, the penalty led to a 5-on-5 overtime situation, which led to Trevor Wilhelm’s game-winning-goal.

Amarillo is likely still disgruntled over the way the last game played out, and will not make things easy for Corpus Christi this weekend.


Light at the End of the Tunnel

It is fair to say that after completing more than half of their ten-game road stretch, the IceRays can finally start to see the light at the end of this five-week long tunnel. Not only are they on their longest road stretch in junior franchise history, it is also the longest road stretch of any continental team in the NAHL this season (excluding the showcase).

Combined with the fact that their closest opponents are over 400 miles away, it is easy to sympathize with the Rays when a game or two doesn’t go their way. However, they won’t be looking for any excuses or sympathy over the next two weeks as they close out the stretch against the two last-place teams from last season. Seeing the light at the end is promising, but it can also present the danger of ignoring the last bit of rocky terrain lying ahead.


IceRays to Make YouTube Debut

Tonight will mark the first time the IceRays air a game live on YouTube.com. It will be an audio-only stream and will be used throughout the season for home games as an alternative option to HockeyTV. Links will be provided on goicerays.com/broadcast as well as on IceRays social media. Game 3 of the World Series will air on 1230 AM SportsRadio Corpus Christi tonight, as the Houston Astros host the Los Angeles Dodgers at Minute Maid Park. After this weekend, the IceRays will return to the radio airwaves for road games as usual.