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PREVIEW: ICERAYS @ BRAHMAS (PLAYOFF GAME #4)

SOUTH DIVISION FINALS – GAME 1

#3 CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS @ #1 LONE STAR BRAHMAS

Friday, April 28 • 7:30 P.M. • NYTEX Sports Centre • North Richland Hills, TX
Series: 0-0
Radio: SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM)
Video: Hockey TV • Twitter: @goicerays

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

Tonight’s Game: The Corpus Christi IceRays enter the South Division Finals for the first time in junior franchise history and take on the Lone Star Brahmas beginning tonight from the NYTEX Sports Centre. The two sides will play a best-of-five series to determine who represents the South Division at the Robertson Cup Semifinals.

Head-To-Head: The IceRays fell to the Brahmas in seven of their 11 meetings during the regular season, earning a 4-5-1-1 while seeing a five-game point streak end on their season finale. The IceRays were also 1-4-0-0 at the NYTEX Sports Centre, earning their lone win on December 10 in a 6-1 victory. Overall, the IceRays are 16-17-6 against the Brahmas over the last four years and 4-12-3 at the NYTEX Sports Centre. This is their first meeting in the postseason in junior franchise history. The two teams met in the 2010 CHL Playoffs with the Brahmas winning the series 2-0 with a 5-4 overtime win and 2-0 win.

Last Meeting: The IceRays finished their road schedule with a 3-2 loss to the Lone Star Brahmas on Sunday, Apr. 2 from the NYTEX Sports Centre. The Brahmas scored two quick goals in the first period separated by less than one minute thanks to forwards Austin Kamer (8:11 1st) and Troy York (9:03 1st) to jump out to a 2-0 lead. The IceRays answered in the second period on a tap-in by forward Griffin Loughran (13:35) to cut the lead to 2-1. The next two goals both came on the power play, one from Brahmas forward Pete Kessel (PP, 15:28 2nd) and another from IceRays center Mason Krueger (PP, 17:17 2nd) to move the score to 3-2. Despite a push back, the IceRays slipped to the Brahmas by that scoreline. Brahmas goaltender Max Prawdzik stopped 21 of 23 shots in the win, while IceRays netminder Tomáš Vomáčka halted 28 of 31 shots in the loss.

Brave New World: This is the third time in franchise history the IceRays head into a 2nd Round series over the last 19 years, but in their two previous attempts did not fair well. After a 2-1 series win over the El Paso Buzzards during the 2000 WPHL Playoffs, the IceRays fell at the hands of the New Mexico Scorpions (who were runners-up to Shreveport) 3-1 despite taking the series lead with a 7-6 overtime win in Game 1. The Corpus Christi Rayz also made the 2nd round in the 2007 CHL Playoffs after the league’s “mulligan rule” allowed them to advance despite a 4-3 series loss to the Arizona Sundogs. In that second series, the Rayz fell 4-1 in the series to the Laredo Bucks (who were also runners-up). The IceRays are 2-5-2 in the 2nd Round of the postseason.

More For The Books: The IceRays crossed multiple records with their win last Wednesday night, starting with the first series win in junior franchise history in three attempts and the second in the 19-year franchise history, joining the 2000 WPHL team in their 2-1 series win over the El Paso Buzzards. In addition, the win was their first at the American Bank Center during the postseason in five attempts as well as the first overtime win in junior franchise history. Plus, the win was the first series sweep in franchise history after being swept twice in franchise history: 2010 CHL Playoffs (2-0 vs. Texas Brahmas) and 2015 NAHL Playoffs (2-0 vs. Wenatchee Wild).

Continuing Tradition: The Lone Star Brahmas are in their third-straight playoffs and second trip to the South Division Finals in three seasons, last making their appearance in 2015 against the Topeka RoadRunners and winning the series 3-1. That was the first year of making the postseason as a junior franchise, recording a 7-3-0 record en route to the Robertson Cup Semifinals after earning their first division crown. Last season, the Brahmas finished second in the South Division and fell in the South Division Semifinals 3-1 to the RoadRunners. Combined with the Texas Tornado in the 2009-10 season, the franchise is 20-11-9 in the postseason with one Robertson Cup Championship in 2012 as the Tornado and five overall including Robertson Cup titles in 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2012. In the last three years, the Brahmas are 11-4-1 in the playoffs.

Success, Thy Name Is Brahma: The Brahmas franchise has not only had success as a junior program but also a professional team. After making the playoffs three times in nine years from 1997-98 through 2005-06, the Fort Worth Brahmas changed branding to the Texas Brahmas along with their head coach, Dan Wildfong. From the 2007-08 season onward, Wildfong’s Brahmas teams have made the postseason nine out of 10 years and making the second round in seven of those nine appearances including a President’s Cup Championship in 2009. Under his tenure, the Brahmas have amassed a 47-26-1 record (.642) including a 36-22-5 record as members of the CHL. In 19 non-consecutive years of the Brahmas franchise, the organization has made the playoffs 12 times and own a 62-36-4 record (.627) in 102 playoff games through the WPHL, CHL and NAHL.

Etched In Stone: Despite the small sample size, IceRays forward Mason Krueger is continuing his etching into the IceRays history books in the postseason thanks to his two-point night on April 19 against Shreveport. He’s the fifth player this season to earn a multi-point game in the playoffs and 11th in junior franchise history. Including his assist on Apr. 3, 2015, the Bettendorf, Iowa native now shares the most points in junior postseason history (4) alongside Emil Romig (2013) and Beau Walker (2013). One assist will move him into a share of most assists along with Walker (4). Krueger shares the team lead with three points (goal, 2 assists) this postseason.

Kelley Kan: Brahmas forward Carson Kelley has emerged as one of the Brahmas’ biggest offensive threats on the ice despite his smaller stature. Dating back to the 2016 Robertson Cup Playoffs, the Protola Valley, Calif. native is on a four-game point streak, amassing three goals and two assists for five points in that span. The streak ties the longest in junior franchise history, sharing the mark with Sebastian Vidmar’s two four-game streaks in the 2015 Robertson Cup Playoffs from Apr. 10, 2015 to Apr. 24, 2015 (2+3=5) and from May 1, 2015 to May 9, 2015 (1+3=4). Kelley led the Brahmas in points at season’s end, recording 16 goals and 34 assists for 50 points through 57 games and currently sits tied for third in career playoff points (7) and second in playoff goals (5).

South Division Semifinals (Best-of-Five):
#1 Lone Star Brahmas vs. #4 Wichita Falls Wildcats
Game 1: Wildcats @ Brahmas – LSB wins 3-0
Game 2: Wildcats @ Brahmas – LSB wins 7-3
Game 3: Brahmas @ Wildcats – LSB wins 4-3 (OT)

#2 Shreveport Mudbugs vs. #3 Corpus Christi IceRays
Game 1: IceRays @ Mudbugs – COR wins 2-0
Game 2: IceRays @ Mudbugs – COR wins 5-3
Game 3: Mudbugs @ IceRays – COR wins 2-1 (OT)

South Division Finals (Best-of-Five):
#1 Lone Star Brahmas vs. #3 Corpus Christi IceRays
Game 1: IceRays @ Brahmas – 7:30 p.m.

Game 2: IceRays @ Brahmas –7:30 p.m.
Game 3: Brahmas @ IceRays –7:15 p.m.
**Game 4: Brahmas @ IceRays –7:15 p.m.
**Game 5: IceRays @ Brahmas –7:30 p.m.
**if necessary

Next Game: The IceRays will continue the South Division Finals against the Brahmas with Game 2 on Saturday, Apr. 29 at 7:30 p.m. from the NYTEX Sports Centre. Coverage begins at 7:15 p.m. on SportsRadio Corpus Christi and Hockey TV.