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PREVIEW: ICERAYS @ JACKALOPES (GAME #36)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS @ ODESSA JACKALOPES

Friday, January 27 • 7:05 P.M. • Ector County Coliseum • Odessa, TX
NAHL Game #407 • Game #36 • Road Game #19 • Series: ODA leads 2-0-0-0
Radio: SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM)
Video: Hockey TV • 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 Ector County Coliseum and continue their three-week road trip against the Odessa Jackalopes.

Head-To-Head: The IceRays and Jackalopes have met just twice this year in their eight-game series, and the Jacks took both games 2-1 on October 14 & 15 at the American Bank Center. The IceRays have taken hold of the franchise series since 2011-12 with a 35-19-4 record and are 16-11-3 at the Ector County Coliseum.

Last Game: The IceRays finished their season series with the Amarillo Bulls on a strong note, taking down the home side 6-1 on Saturday night from the Amarillo Civic Center. IceRays forward Cole Gammer (2:21 1st) helped set the tone with an early re-direction goal to take a 1-0 lead followed by the eventual game-winner by forward Mason Krueger (PP, 11:38 1st) on a rebound to take a 2-0 lead. IceRays defenseman Cody Fleckenstein (4:38 2nd) and Trevor Wilhelm (12:22 2nd) capitalized in the middle portion including the first of Wilhelm’s career to quadruple the lead, 4-0. IceRays forward Matt Novo (9:19 3rd) also scored his first NAHL goal, and forward Larry Jungwirth (PP, 12:53 3rd) helped spread the lead to 6-0 before Bulls forward George Mika (PP, 14:41 3rd) broke the shutout late in the game. IceRays netminder Tomáš Vomáčka (12-10-2) earned the win, stopping 43 of 44 shots. Bulls goaltender Nikita Babintsev (11-15-3) halted 15 of 19 shots through 32:22 minutes in the loss, and goalie Brandon Bussi turned down 19 of 21 shots in 27:38 minutes of relief.

Bull Dozers: For the first time in junior franchise history, the IceRays earned a sweep of the road series against the Amarillo Bulls last weekend. The IceRays won all four games played at the Amarillo Civic Center by a combined 17-5 and never won by less than two goals. The team also won the season series with a 6-2-0-0 record, their best showing against the Bulls in junior franchise history. The team’s previous best road record against Amarillo was in 2012-13 (3-3-0 record) and the best overall record was in 2015-16 (6-3-2 record) in terms of wins but in 2014-15 (4-3-1 record) as the only other season with a winning record.

Setting The Bar: IceRays goaltender Tomáš Vomáčka set a new franchise record with the win on Saturday night, recording the most consecutive wins by a goaltender. His six-game win streak snaps a record set by Anthony Stolarz (’11-’12) between Oct. 8, 2011 and Nov. 4, 2011 and upheld by Graham Hunt (’15-’16) from Dec. 19, 2015 to Jan. 2, 2016. During his six-game span, the 17-year-old owns a 1.82 goals-against average and a .946 save percentage.

Onward & Upward: The IceRays continue their upward trend through January following last weekend’s results. The IceRays now have wins in seven of their last nine games and points in eight of nine since December 10 with their lone loss on January 13 against Amarillo. The offense also continues to pick up play, scoring three or more goals in all seven wins as well as scoring four or more goals five different times in nine games (55.56%) compared to eight times in 26 games (30.77%). In addition, the IceRays own their best record of the season, sitting at three games over .500 and breaking their tie for highest games over an even record set three times this season.

Jacked Up: The Odessa Jackalopes ran into tough luck last weekend, slipping late in 5-4 and 6-3 losses on Friday and Saturday to the Topeka RoadRunners from the Kansas Expocentre. Jackalopes forwards Zach Zech and Ludwig Stenlund led the way with five-point weekends (2+3=5) and were just two of seven players to record points. Of those seven, six earned multi-point weekends. Netminder Jonny Hogue stopped 30 of 35 shots in Friday’s loss, and Jon Flakne halted 31 of 36 shots on Saturday.

Slippery Slope: After the Jackalopes started the season 7-4-0-0 through their lone meeting with the IceRays, they’ve fallen on a difficult run to keep in the South Division race. They’ve gone 6-14-4-0 since their strong start while scoring more than three goals only four times over their last 24 games. In addition, they’ve been averaging 2.54 goals per game while conceding 3.71 goals per contest and have played just over half of those games at the Ector County Coliseum. The Jackalopes are back loaded for home games for the rest of the season, hosting their next five games as well as 15 of their last 25 contests.

South Division Standings:
Lone Star Brahmas (31-8-1-0, 63 PTS)
Shreveport Mudbugs (22-11-1-1, 46 PTS)
Wichita Falls Wildcats (21-11-3-1, 46 PTS)
Corpus Christi IceRays (17-14-1-3, 38 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (13-19-7-1, 34 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (13-18-4-0, 30 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (13-24-2-1, 29 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays finish their weekend series against the Jackalopes on Saturday, Jan. 28 at 7:05 p.m. from the Ector County Coliseum. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM) and Hockey TV.