PREVIEW: ICERAYS @ JACKALOPES (GAME #49)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

@

ODESSA JACKALOPES

Friday, March 4 at 7:05 P.M.

Game #49 • NAHL Game #535 • Series: Tied 4-2-2
Ector County Coliseum • Odessa, TX
Radio: SportsRadio Corpus Christi (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 continue their four-game stretch with the Odessa Jackalopes and make their last trip to the Ector County Coliseum

Head-To-Head: The Jackalopes swept for the IceRays at home for the first time in junior franchise history and in the process are now even in the season series, going 4-2-2 with four games remaining. The losses were the first in nine games against the Jackalopes at home, and as the series moves to Odessa the IceRays record turns to 14-11-3 at the Ector County Coliseum, where the IceRays have won two-straight.

Last Game: The IceRays charged back in the second and third periods but slipped 4-3 to the Odessa Jackalopes on Saturday night at the American Bank Center. Jackalopes forward Brennan Miller (6:29 1st) struck first with a tap-in on the game’s opening goal followed by teammate Gray Marr (10:42 1st) off a turnover in the IceRays zone to double the lead, 2-0, heading into the second period. In that frame, Jackalopes defenseman Cooper Zech (PP, 11:05 2nd) fought a shot through traffic to triple the lead, 3-0. The IceRays answered back with two in the second period coming from forward Carter Johnson (PP, 13:20 2nd) at an odd angle to the right side and defenseman Cody Lichtenvoort (15:38 2nd) on a rebound to draw within one, 3-2. IceRays forward Jimmy O’Brien (2:55 3rd) tied the game, 3-3, to mark the largest comeback this season. However, Miller (17:23 3rd) jammed home the game-winner to seal the sweep and win, 4-3. Jackalopes goaltender Dean Shatzer earned the win, saving 45 of 48 shots, while IceRays netminder Graham Hunt turned aside 35 of 39 shots in the loss.

February Blues: The IceRays closed out the month of February on a sour note, falling to 2-5-2 through nine games and falling below fourth place in the South Division standings for the first time since December 19 (21 games), which was the start of a five-game win streak. The team has dropped eight of their last ten games and has earned a 5-9-3 record since that five-game win streak. The month is the second-lowest in terms of win percentage (.222) and point percentage (.333), now only above the totals for November (1-3-1, .200 win pct., .300 point pct.).

Shots! Shots! Shots!: Saturday’s game set a new season-high for shots in one game for the IceRays (48), overtaking the mark made on December 11 against Amarillo (2-1 W) and sitting only six shots under the junior franchise all-time mark set in the inaugural junior game on Sep. 16, 2010 against the Chicago Hitmen (5-4 W). The IceRays have recorded 40+ shots in eight of the team’s 48 games this season, recording three goals or less in six of eight games and totaling 20 goals (2.50 goals per game) while taking on Amarillo in five of those contests and Odessa in two. In those situations, the team averages a 5.80% shot conversion rate, which falls well below their season percentage (8.10%), though they rank 16th in the NAHL in converting this season and fifth in the South Division.

Graham Illusion: IceRays goaltender Graham Hunt dropped his seventh-straight game in Saturday’s loss to Odessa as his poor luck continues. Since his last win on January 15, the 20-year-old has gone 0-5-2 while conceding three goals or more in each of his last six games though facing 30 of more shots in four of his last seven games. He also has a 3.45 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage. The drought ties him for the longest in junior franchise history with that of Pheonix Copley (Jan. 29, 2011 – Feb. 25, 2011).

Missing No: Both the IceRays and Jackalopes will be missing key people throughout the weekend due to various reasons. One player for either side will sit out at least one game due to suspensions and one on the IceRays remains out due to injury. IceRays forward Drake Lindsay will serve a one-game suspension for a game misconduct picked up at the end of Saturday’s game for slashing, and Jackalopes forward Connor Wood will miss this weekend on a two-game suspension due to a kneeing penalty in last Friday’s game. IceRays forward Brady Crabtree (lower body) remains out and is doubtful for Saturday’s game. Crabtree has two points through eight games with the IceRays since joining the lineup last month, Lindsay leads the IceRays in assists (22) and rests second in points (32), and Wood leads the NAHL in penalty minutes (222), sits second in major penalties (6) and tied for third in minor penalties while tabulating 58 minutes in eight games with the Jackalopes including 42 last weekend.

Going Streaking: Both teams hold at least one player on a lengthy point scoring streak. Jackalopes forward Derek Brown is on a league-best 14-game point streak (5+15=20) dating back to January 17 and has points in 19 of his last 20 games. Jackalopes forward Hampus Sjodahl is also on a 8-game point streak (7+5=12), which ranks fourth in the NAHL among active streaks, and is one of five players with 50+ points in the league. IceRays forward Regen Cavanagh has tabulated a six-game point streak (4+4=8) and is three games away from tying the junior franchise record set last season (Anthony Cortese, 9 games).

South Division Standings:
x-Wichita Falls Wildcats (37-9-4, 78 PTS)
x-Lone Star Brahmas (31-11-7, 71 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (28-20-1, 57 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (21-21-4, 46 PTS)
Corpus Christi IceRays (19-23-6, 44 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (11-34-4, 26 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays close out their weekend set with the Odessa Jackalopes on Saturday, Mar. 5 at 7:05 p.m. from the Ector County Coliseum. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM) & FASTHockey.com.