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PREVIEW: ICERAYS @ JACKALOPES (GAME #52)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS @ ODESSA JACKALOPES

Friday, March 17 • 7:05 P.M. • Ector County Coliseum • Odessa, TX
NAHL Game #576 • Game #52 • Road Game #26 • Series: Tied 3-3-0-0
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 final trip to the Ector County Coliseum to begin a pivotal two-game set against the Odessa Jackalopes.

Head-To-Head: The IceRays and Jackalopes have gone back and forth this season with the Jacks winning the first three meetings followed by three-straight wins by the IceRays, and all six games have finished in regulation with two to go. The IceRays broke the one-goal streak started by the first four games with their last two wins and now own a 38-20-4 record since the 2011-12 season along with a 17-12-3 record at the Ector County Coliseum.

Last Game: The IceRays came from behind for the second-straight game to record a 3-2 shootout win over the Shreveport Mudbugs on Wednesday night from the Ector County Coliseum. Mudbugs forward Jack Jaunich (14:30 1st) started the scoring with a rebound chance to take a 1-0 lead followed by a snipe from the left circle by Mudbugs forward Frankie Melton (PP, 19:14 1st) to double the lead, 2-0, before the first intermission. The IceRays slowly came back into the contest starting with a goal from forward Brad Power (PP, 6:24 2nd) to cut the lead in half at 2-1. In the final minute with the netminder pulled, IceRays defenseman Cody Fleckenstein (EA, 19:31 3rd) scored the game-tying goal to send the contest into overtime at 2-2. After a scoreless extra frame, Power (1st Round) scored the lone goal of the shootout to take the 3-2 win and both points. IceRays netminder Tomáš Vomáčka (17-11-4) halted 28 of 30 shots in the win, while Mudbugs goaltender John Roberts (15-10-2) stopped 38 of 40 shots in the shootout loss.

Magic Number: Thanks to their win, the IceRays are now just one point away from clinching a playoff spot and can earn that position with a win this weekend against Odessa. A win will not only clinch the playoffs for the IceRays but also simultaneously put the Wildcats in the playoffs while eliminating the Jackalopes. For the Jackalopes to get into the postseason, they would need to win all 10 remaining games and see the IceRays drop all nine of their games in regulation. If the IceRays clinch this weekend, it would be the earliest clinch in franchise history.

Comeback Kids: For the second-straight night, the IceRays turned around a third period deficit to claim a win, which sets them in an impressive category in the junior franchise’s history. It’s the first time in seven years that the IceRays have earned wins in two-straight games after trailing through two periods. The IceRays are now 2-12-1-2 when trailing after two periods and now are 2-4-2-1 in a one-goal game when trailing after two periods. In addition, the team is also 2-1-0-1 in their last four games, which were all one-goal games in comeback attempts.

Wild Wild West: The IceRays earned just their second shootout victory of the season and turns around a spell of poor luck in that scenario this season. The shootout win is their first post-regulation win since their last shootout win on January 12 against Amarillo, halting a three-game skid when contests finish after the third period. More recently, the IceRays have played after regulation in four of their last eight games since February 24, and since that date all eight opponents are in current playoff positions. The IceRays are now 2-4 in shootouts this season and 4-7 in all post-regulation games this season. The team is also 18-24 in shootouts as well as 39-42 in 81 total post-regulation games in the last seven seasons.

Down The Middle: The Odessa Jackalopes split their weekend with the Lone Star Brahmas with a 4-3 overtime win on Friday and a 3-1 loss on Saturday at the NYTEX Sports Centre. The Jackalopes were led by team-leading point scorer Chase Thudium, who recorded four points (1+3=4) on the weekend with three in Friday’s win, followed by forward Ludwig Stenlund’s two-goal effort including the game-winner on Friday. Defenseman Christian Hausinger also earned a multi-point weekend. Goaltender Jonny Hogue played both games for the Jackalopes, halting 50 of 56 shots on the weekend.

Hogue Show: The Jackalopes started the season with a goaltending by committee approach but recently have relied heavily on Jonny Hogue in net. The Albertan goaltender has started in nine of the team’s 12 games since the start of February compared to Jon Flakne, who has only started three. Hogue has allowed three goals or more in four-straight starts but has been the more reliable goaltender over the course of the season statistically, having double the number of games with two or fewer goals allowed (12) compared to Flakne as well as 22 of 32 (68.75%) appearances with three goals or less, whereas Flakne stands at 12 of 23 (56.52%). With both goaltenders in their final seaons, the trend of Hogue over Flakne may continue with the Jackalopes still fighting for their playoff lives.

South Division Standings:
Lone Star Brahmas (40-13-2-0, 82 PTS)
Shreveport Mudbugs (30-16-2-3, 65 PTS)
Wichita Falls Wildcats (29-17-3-2, 63 PTS)
Corpus Christi IceRays (28-16-3-4, 63 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (19-25-5-1, 44 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (17-26-7-1, 42 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (16-29-4-1, 37 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays finish their season series against the Odessa Jackalopes on Saturday, Mar. 18 at 7:05 p.m. from the Ector County Coliseum. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM) & Hockey TV.