PREVIEW: ICERAYS @ BRAHMAS (GAME #40)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

at

LONE STAR BRAHMAS

Friday, February 5 at 7:30 P.M.

Game #40 • NAHL Game #452 • Series: LSB leads 3-1-1
NYTEX Sports Centre • North Richland Hills, TX
Radio: SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM) • Video: FASTHockey.com

Mobile: TuneIn Radio Twitter: @goicerays

Coverage begins at 7:15 p.m. with Countdown To Faceoff

Today’s Game: The IceRays open the month of February on the road against the Lone Star Brahmas at the NYTEX Sports Centre.

Head-To-Head: The IceRays split their last meetings with the Brahmas while taking three of four points while holding a 2-2-1 record in the season series so far. They’ve earned two wins over the last three seasons in North Richland Hills, going 2-5-3 while holding a 10-8-3 all-time record in that same time span. Tonight’s game is the first of five-straight against the Brahmas over the next two weeks.

Last Night: The IceRays could not erase their deficit, falling 3-2 to the Amarillo Bulls on Sunday afternoon at the American Bank Center. Bulls defenseman Tyler Hall (15:06 1st) scored the game’s first goal from the blue line to open a 1-0 lead for Amarillo. Less than three minutes later, Bulls forward Mykyta Sheptytsky (PP, 17:49 1st) redirected a shot from in front of the goalie crease to double the lead, 2-0. Bulls forward Joey Molinaro (8:26 2nd) gained some help with a deflection off an IceRays defenseman to triple the lead, 3-0. The IceRays answered back with forward Mason Krueger (PP, 10:21 2nd) open in the slot to cut the lead down to 3-1. IceRays forward Stevie Bryant (4:11 3rd) brought the team back within one, 3-2, but a late push couldn’t complete the comeback. Anton Martinsson turned aside 33 of 35 shots in the win, and IceRays goalie Graham Hunt stopped 35 of 38 shots in the loss.

No Winter Blues: The IceRays concluded January with a 5-4-1 record through ten games, which follows their best month during December. In that time, the IceRays swept Topeka for the first time in franchise history while completing their season series with a 5-2-1 record, earned just their second franchise win on the road against the Brahmas, and split three weekends during the month. They also ended a five-game win streak that spanned into the new month. Over their last two months, the IceRays own a 11-5-1 record with 23 points. In their first three months, the IceRays went 6-12-3.

Makin’ Moves: The IceRays made two moves prior to Saturday’s NAHL trade deadline. Defenseman Simon Butala was traded to the Coulee Region Chill for a 2015-16 tender on Monday. The 17-year-old played 14 games with the IceRays, recording five assists with 22 penalty minutes and a -6 rating though sitting on the injured reserve list since December 5 (hand). The additional roster spot allowed for the IceRays to acquire forward Brady Crabtree from the Amarillo Bulls. Through 82 NAHL games over the last two seasons, the 20-year-old owns 15 goals and 12 assists for 27 points with 140 penalty minutes and a -16 rating. The IceRays have made just four trades thus far with one day remaining until the trade deadline.

Murky Waters: Injuries and suspensions continue to mare the IceRays heading through this weekend and into next week. Forward Jimmy O’Brien was moved to the injured reserve list in Simon Butala’s place, and forward Brad Power remains out this weekend with complications from his upper body injury. In addition, forward Drake Lindsay has been given a three-game suspension for kneeing incurred during Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Amarillo Bulls. The team now has only 12 healthy forwards with two of the team’s top-three point producers out of the lineup with five-straight games against the Lone Star Brahmas through next weekend. Lindsay will return to the lineup next Friday, however O’Brien and Power remain out indefinitely.

Permian Split: The Lone Star Brahmas split their two-game weekend set against the Odessa Jackalopes at the Ector County Coliseum with a 4-2 win on Friday and a 4-1 loss on Saturday. Forward Alex Berardinelli led the way with three points (2+1=3) in Friday’s win including the first and last goals of the evening and was joined by forward Peter Kessel (two assists) as the only two Brahmas with multi-point weekends. In total, 11 different players earned at least one point. Goalie Conor O’Brien saved 28 of 30 shots in Friday’s win, and Corbin Kaczperski stopped 11 of 15 shots in the loss.

Ray Stinger: The IceRays have not been able to control the fire that is Brahmas forward Alex Berardinelli. The team-leading point scorer leads all forwards in points against the IceRays with seven goals and one assist for eight points. Included in his track record is a hat-trick on November 21 and a shorthanded goal in their last meeting on January 16 while tallying points in all five games with two multi-goal games. In addition, he’s been hot as of recent for the Brahmas, grabbing points in nine of his last 11 games (13 points) as well as points in 14 of 17 games dating back to December 12. He sits tied for fourth in the NAHL in goals and leads the league in shorthanded goals (6), which doubles the second place player.

South Division Standings:
Wichita Falls Wildcats (32-8-3, 67 PTS)
Lone Star Brahmas (25-9-7, 57 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (26-16-1, 53 PTS)
Corpus Christi IceRays (17-18-4, 38 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (15-19-4, 34 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (9-27-4, 22 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays close out their two-game weekend set against the Lone Star Brahmas on Saturday, Feb. 6 at 7:30 p.m. from the NYTEX SportsCentre. Coverage begins at 7:15 p.m. on SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM) and FASTHockey.com.