PREVIEW: ICERAYS @ BULLS (GAME #26)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

at

AMARILLO BULLS

Friday, December 18 at 7:05 P.M.

Game #26 • NAHL Game #306 • Series: Tied 3-2-1
Amarillo Civic Center • Amarillo, TX
Radio: KSIX 1230AM • Video: FASTHockey.com

Mobile: TuneIn Radio Twitter: @goicerays

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

Tonight’s Game: The IceRays head back on the road and finish their back-to-back weekend series with the Amarillo Bulls from the Amarillo Civic Center. 

Head-To-Head: With the split last weekend, the IceRays and Bulls are once again even with a 3-2-1 series record at the mid-way mark of the season set. This is the third time over the past six seasons that the IceRays and Bulls have played back-to-back weekends, and the two teams have split the weekend sets three of four times. The Bulls own the franchise series, putting the IceRays to a 18-37-1 record as well as a 7-17-2 road record. Over the last two seasons, the IceRays have gone 6-5-2 against Amarillo.

Last Game: The IceRays fought back in the third period but couldn’t overcome early goals, falling 2-1 to the Amarillo Bulls on Saturday night at the American Bank Center. Bulls forward George Mika (4:49 1st) opened the scoring with an extra chance from consecutive rebounds to put Amarillo up 1-0. Michael Forman (9:48 1st) doubled the lead, 2-0, with a stuffer to the right of the IceRays netminder. IceRays forward Brad LeLievre (SH, 6:26 3rd) scored his first short-handed goal of the year with a slap shot from the blue line to draw the scoreline to where it rested, 2-1. Anton Martinsson stopped 31 of 32 shots in the win, and IceRays netminder Graham Hunt turned aside 25 of 27 shots in the loss.

All Good Things: The mini win streak for the IceRays came to an end on Saturday in their loss to the Bulls. During their three-game streak, the IceRays earned three-straight one-goal results and scored 10 goals (3.33 goals per game) against their opposition while putting up 111 shots (37 shots per game). Despite the setback, the IceRays have won three of their last five games as well as four of their last seven, improving to only two points back of a playoff spot.

Lack Of Hands: IceRays forward Brad LeLievre scored his first short-handed goal of the season on Saturday night, marking the second time an IceRays player has scored on the penalty kill. It’s also the second time in as many home weekends that the IceRays have converted when down a player. The disadvantage goal is the second of LeLievre’s NAHL career with the first coming on Mar. 20, 2015 in Odessa as part of a 5-3 road win. That goal was also his final of the 2014-15 season with three games remaining.

The Boys In Blue: IceRays goaltender Dryden McKay was recalled by the Green Bay Gamblers for six games on Wednesday for his first stint in the USHL. In 13 games, McKay owns a 5-6-1 record with a 3.02 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage. Over his two NAHL seasons, he has a 20-24-3 record with a 2.84 GAA and a .913 SV% through 50 games. The IceRays recalled affiliate goaltender Sean Dickson from the Cleveland Barons U18 (T1EHL), where he earned a 3-7-1 record, 3.17 GAA and a .890 SV% in 11 games. Graham Hunt is expected to take the load in net in McKay’s absence until Jan. 8th.

Low Rider: The IceRays continue to play in close, low-scoring contests as evidenced last weekend against Amarillo. Specifically against the Bulls, both sides have only scored three or more goals twice (Oct. 2 vs. AMA, 3-2 W; Oct. 16 @ AMA, 5-2 L) and have seen one-goal differentials in five of their six games (four of those five games ended in 2-1 results). The IceRays have played 14 one-goal games, going 8-3-3 in those sets, and the Bulls are 4-7-3 in 14 one-goal games. Additionally, the IceRays have scored three goals or less in 22 of 25 games and have seen three goals or less against in 17 of 25 games.

Amarillo Sky: The Amarillo Bulls return home for just the second time since Nov. 22 having played five of their last seven games on the road while taking two of their last three games. The Bulls earned only their second road win of the season on Saturday night with the only other coming on Oct. 24 in Odessa (3-2 SOW). They own a 2-15-2 record away from the Amarillo Civic Center while going  5-7-1 in the Texas Panhandle. The Bulls will play 13 of their next 16 games at home, where they’ve lost by three goals or more only once (Oct. 31, 3-0 L vs. LSB) and won by three or more three times (Sep. 12, 6-3 W vs. ODA; Oct. 16, 5-2 W vs. COR; Nov. 6, 4-1 W vs. WFS).

Moling It Over: Bulls forward Joey Molinaro continues to be the most productive and impactful forward on the roster following their weekend split against the IceRays. His assist on Saturday broke a six-game point drought and continues his team-best 10-goal, 14-assist, 24-point output. Most of his production has come at the Amarillo Civic Center, recording 13 points (five goals, 8 assists) out of his 24 in those games as well as leading the Bulls in points against the IceRays with six (three goals, three assists).

South Division Standings:
Wichita Falls Wildcats (23-4-2, 48 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (19-11-0, 38 PTS)
Lone Star Brahmas (16-6-4, 36 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (10-11-3, 23 PTS)

Corpus Christi IceRays (9-13-3, 21 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (7-20-3, 17 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays play their final game before the holiday break against the Amarillo Bulls on Saturday, December 19 at 7:05 p.m. from the Amarillo Civic Center. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM) and FASTHockey.com.