PREVIEW: ICERAYS @ BULLS (GAME #11)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

at

AMARILLO BULLS

Friday, October 16 at 7:05 P.M.

Game #11 • NAHL Game #110 • Series: COR leads 2-0-0
Amarillo Civic Center • Amarillo, TX
Radio: SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM) • Mobile: TuneIn Radio

Video: FASTHockey.com • Twitter: @goicerays

Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. with Countdown To Faceoff

Tonight’s Game: The IceRays make their first trip of the season to the Texas Panhandle to play against the Amarillo Bulls from the Amarillo Civic Center.

Head-To-Head: The IceRays opened their home schedule with a sweep of the Bulls, taking an early 2-0-0 season series lead with one regulation and one shootout win. The IceRays are now 6-3-1 over their last two seasons against the Bulls and 17-35-2 all-time over the last six seasons. In Amarillo, the Icerays hold a 7-16-1 record.

Last Game: The IceRays were swept for the first time this season in a 7-1 loss to the Wichita Falls Wildcats on Friday night at the American Bank Center. Wildcats forwards Andre Pison (PP, 8:11 1st) and Aleksi Poikola (12:08 1st) helped the road side break the early stalemate and gain a 2-0 lead after the first period. The lead strengthened in the second period with goals from Poikola (SH, 5:15 2nd) and Austin Albrecht (16:25 2nd), and the Wildcats took a 4-0 lead heading into the third period. IceRays forward Ryan Cusin (1:52 3rd) answered early in the third period to mark the score 4-1, however the Wildcats finished with three more goals: forward Ben Lown (4:31 3rd), defenseman Jake Dalton (PP, 17:09 3rd), and forward Nikita Litviak (18:22 3rd). The scoreline finished at 7-1. Wildcats netminder Justin Kapelmaster saved 34 of 35 shots in the win, and IceRays goaltender Dryden McKay saved 18 of 25 shots in the loss.

Sour Ending: The IceRays finished their season-opening home stand even with a 2-2-0 record between their series against the Bulls and Wildcats. Last weekend was the first time since the 2013-14 season that the IceRays faced a sweep at the American Bank Center (Mar. 7-8 vs. KNR: 4-0 L & 3-1 L) and the first time being swept by the Wildcats at home since Dec. 13-14, 2012 (6-1 L & 3-1 L). In 2014-15, the IceRays swept opponents four times and split a weekend series seven times in their 11 total weekend series in the Coastal Bend, helping to earn a 21-7-0 record.

Wanted…Goals: Scoring continues to be a focal point early in the season, with the IceRays struggling to place points on the board. Heading into this weekend, the IceRays are tied for last in the league in goals scored (17) with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights and Minnesota Magicians as well as goals scored per game (1.70) with the Knights. Including total points scored by players, the IceRays are tied for 17th in the NAHL with the Magicians at 46 points, only leading Aberdeen (42), Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (40), and Coulee Region (39). Defensively, the IceRays are 16th in goals-against per game (2.90), just three hundreths above the league average in goals per game (2.87).

Old & New Blood: The IceRays acquired forward Tobias Kircher and a conditional draft pick from the Aston Rebels in exchange for forward Ryan Cusin on Saturday. Kircher earned three points (one goal, two assists) in seven games with the Rebels this season following four-straight seasons with junior championships with Jungadler Mannheim in the Deutsche Nachwuchs Liga (DNL) and an appearance at the 2013-14 U18 World Junior Championships with Team Germany. Cusin finishes his IceRays career ranked ninth on the career list in assists (34) and 10th in points (52) as well as the team’s all-time leader in shootout-deciding goals (3).

Herd or Heffers: The Amarillo Bulls continued their early season struggles with a road weekend sweep at the hands of the Lone Star Brahmas: a 7-2 loss on Friday and a 6-1 loss on Saturday. The Bulls found goals solely from defenseman Keenan Sabatini (Friday), forward Johan Lundgren (Friday), and defenseman Jake Houston (Saturday) with seven Bulls in total gaining points. Goaltenders Anton Martinsson and Jacob Weatherly could not stop the onslaught, with Martinsson saving 38 of 45 shots on Friday and Weatherly stopping 31 of 37 shots on Saturday. The Bulls were outscored 13-3 and outshot 82-39.

In The Well: Through their first ten games, the Bulls have the worst start in junior franchise history since their inaugural season in 2010-11. Last season, the Bulls began with a 2-6-2 record, just one point ahead of this season’s pace and own a combined 3-13-4 record over their last two seasons in the first ten games. This is the second-straight season the Bulls have not recorded seven wins through their first ten games. Last year, the Bulls finished with a 25-31-4 record and in seventh place in the South Division, missing the playoffs by six points. That performance is their worst in junior history.

South Division Standings:
Wichita Falls Wildcats (7-1-1, 15 PTS)
Lone Star Brahmas (6-1-2, 14 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (6-6-0, 12 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (5-3-0, 10 PTS)

Corpus Christi IceRays (4-6-0, 8 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (1-7-2, 4 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays round out their first series of the year at the Amarillo Civic Center on Saturday, October 17 at 7:05 p.m. against the Amarillo Bulls. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. with Countdown to Faceoff on SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM) & FASTHockey.com.