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PREVIEW: ICERAYS @ JACKALOPES (GAME #53)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS @ ODESSA JACKALOPES

Saturday, March 18 • 7:05 P.M. • Ector County Coliseum • Odessa, TX
NAHL Game #588 • Game #53 • Road Game #27 • Series: ODA leads 4-3-0-0
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 finish their season series with the Odessa Jackalopes at the Ector County Coliseum with a chance to clinch a playoff spot.

Head-To-Head: The Jackalopes ended a three-game skid against the IceRays with last night’s win, taking a one-game advantage in the eight-game set ahead of the finale tonight. The Jackalopes have won all four of their meetings with the IceRays by just one goal. That brings the IceRays record to 3-4-0-0 against Odessa this season with a 38-21-4 record over the last seven years, including a 17-13-3 record at the Ector County Coliseum.

Last Night: The IceRays could not hold on to their lead in a 3-2 loss to the Odessa Jackalopes on Friday night from the Ector County Coliseum. IceRays forward Cole Gammer (0:40 1st) tallied the game’s first goal on the first shift of the night to take a 1-0 lead. On the team’s first power play, IceRays forward Brendan Miller (PP, 2:59 2nd) jammed home a loose puck in front of the net to double the lead, 2-0. The Jackalopes started their charge back with a one-time shot from forward Connor Stuart (10:07 2nd) on a two-on-one rush to cut the lead in half, 2-1. Two breakaways led to Odessa’s completed comeback, first by forward Chris Donaldson (5:23 3rd) then from forward Levi Wunder (6:37 3rd) to earn their first lead of the night, 3-2, and the eventual win. Jackalopes goaltender Jonny Hogue (13-13-2) stopped 34 of 36 shots in the win, while IceRays netminder Camden Burggrabe (9-6-2) halted 32 of 35 shots in the loss.

Magic Number: The loss last night keeps the IceRays magic number at one point with another chance to clinch a playoff spot against their direct opponents for the postseason. A win will not only clinch. 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 9 remaining games and see the IceRays drop all eight of their games in regulation. If the IceRays clinch tonight, it would be the earliest clinch in franchise history.

Tripped Trifecta: For the first time this season, the IceRays suffered a regulation loss when leading after two periods during last night’s events. The IceRays have dropped only three of their 20 attempts in this situation, joining their 3-2 shootout loss to Aberdeen on September 21 and a 4-3 overtime loss to Wichita Falls at home. Two of those three games were separated by one goal  heading into the final frame. Overall, the IceRays are still strongest in the third period, outscoring opponents 55-43 at the largest period margin for the IceRays and the only one in double-digits.

Tight Goings: The IceRays continue to compete in playoff atmospheres as the month continues into the back half. Last night was the fourth-straight game with a one-goal differential, and the IceRays have now played in one-goal games during seven of their last eight games since the start of their “playoff stretch” on February 24 against Lone Star. In those one-goal games, the IceRays are 2-2-2-1 against the top five teams in the South Division, all of whom are competing for playoff spots and positioning for the postseason.

Fight Back: On the other side, the Jackalopes picked up their first comeback win of the season when trailing after two periods of play. The Jacks did force overtime in one previous instance on December 8 against Wichita Falls, trailing 2-1 heading into the third period but falling 4-3 in the final minute of overtime and making it two times at least earning a point in the situation. With the win, the Jackalopes are 1-18-1-0 when trailing an opponent after the second period.

How Swede It Is: Jackalopes forward Ludwig Stenlund continues to be a difference-maker and a large contributor to Odessa in the back half of the season. The Swedish center tacked on another assist, extending his current point streak to five games, recording five goals and an assist for six points in addition to points in six of his last seven games. At 23 points this season in only 20 games, Stenlund would be on pace to own about 59 points through 51 games if he played the full season, placing him tied for the league lead in scoring with Amarillo forward George Mika as well as in second in goals (31) behind Shreveport forward Frankie Melton (32). Currently, Stenlund is averaging 1.15 points per game, which is second among active players with at least 20 games played behind Shreveport forward Erik Zohovs (1.28).

South Division Standings:
y-Lone Star Brahmas (41-13-2-0, 84 PTS)
x-Shreveport Mudbugs (31-16-2-3, 67 PTS)
Wichita Falls Wildcats (29-17-4-2, 65 PTS)
Corpus Christi IceRays (28-17-3-4, 63 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (20-25-5-1, 46 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (17-26-7-2, 43 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (17-30-4-1, 39 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays head back home to begin a two-game set against the Lone Star Brahmas on Thursday, Mar. 23 at 7:05 p.m. from the American Bank Center on buy-one, get-one free night. Tickets are available at the arena box office or Ticketmaster.com. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on SportsJuice.com, Hockey TV, and 87.7FM in-arena.