PREVIEW: ICERAYS @ KNIGHTS (GAME #4)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

at

WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON KNIGHTS

Thursday, September 24 at 1:15 P.M.

Game #4 • NAHL Showcase Game #2 • NAHL Game #34
Schwan Super Rink • Blaine, Minn.
Video: FASTHockey.com • Twitter: @goicerays

Coverage begins at 1:10 p.m. with Countdown To Faceoff

Today’s Game: The IceRays embark on Day 2 of the 2015 NAHL Showcase against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights from Schwan Super Rink 2.

Showcase Records: Following yesterday’s loss, the IceRays are now 0-1-0 at the 2015 NAHL Showcase and 10-8-3 through 21 games over the past six years. Last season, the IceRays earned a 2-1-1 record and improved their overall record under head coach John Becanic to 3-3-2.

Brand New Start: This is the first meeting between the IceRays and Knights in their franchise histories. The Knights’ franchise was purchased from the former Dawson Creek Rage, which has been dormant since the 2011-12 season. The IceRays earned a 2-0-0 record against the Rage in two appearances at the NAHL Showcase, winning 4-3 in a shootout on Sep. 18, 2010 to close out their first showcase appearance and 5-4 on Sep. 14, 2011.

Last Game: The IceRays surged late in the third period but couldn’t complete the comeback, falling 2-1 to the Johnstown Tomahawks yesterday afternoon. While play was four-on-four, Johnstown forward Luke Lynch (17:23 2nd) nudged the Tomahawks ahead 1-0 in a very even contest up to that point in the second period. Early in the third, Tomahawks forward Kelly O’Brien (2:20 3rd) doubled the lead, 2-0, before the IceRays picked up offensively. Late in the game, IceRays forward Carter Johnson (PP, 18:48 3rd) notched his first of the season on a five-on-three power play to draw within one, 2-1. However, the IceRays couldn’t convert on chances and faltered in the contest. Jacob Gwillim stopped 25 of 26 shots in the win, and Graham Hunt saved 14 of 16 shots in the loss.

Spinning Wheels: The IceRays offense has sputtered coming out of the gates, only tallying five goals through their first three games. While they ended their under 20-shot total yesterday, it’s their lowest goal total at this point since the 2011-12 season when they recorded five goals in their first game but were shut out in their next two starts. Their fourth game that season: a 7-2 win over Minot to rebound from their early struggles. That squad also won their first game before dropping their next two contests.

Second Is The Worst: Through their first three games, the most difficult period has been the second period.  The IceRays allowed their first four goals against in the middle frame and only broke that streak yesterday with a third period goal by Johnstown. They’ve also been outscored 4-1 in that period. The IceRays have had their most success in the first and third periods, scoring two goals in each portion.

Cold Welcome: The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights were blown out by the Austin Bruins 8-0 yesterday evening to open their first NAHL Showcase game. Bruins forward Jade Miller (7:42 1st; 17:46 1st; 4:03 3rd) earned a hat-trick while putting the Bruins up 2-0 in the first period. Forward Paul O’Connor (17:05 2nd; 2:30 3rd) picked up two goals with one coming in the second period following Evan Cholak (17:05 2nd) tripling the Bruins’ lead. William Riedell (2:01 3rd) and John Pesek (4:58 3rd) also tallied in the final frame. Bruins goaltender Austin Smith earned the shutout in a 13-for-13 effort. Knights netminder Anthony Yamnitsky picked up the loss, stopping 22 of 30 shots in 45:21 minutes, and Grant Valentine stopped the six shots he faced in 14:39 minutes.

Dark Knights: The Knights haven’t seen the best start to their inaugural NAHL season, falling in both games by a combined 15-3 score. While they have only played two games, the worst start for a new franchise in recent history came in 2010-11 when the Port Huron Fighting Falcons began the season 0-15-0 before earning their first win while being outscored 103-34.

Shades of Opponents Past: Only one member of the Knights has had experience against the IceRays prior to this season: forward Matt Beranek, who played two seasons with the Odessa Jackalopes from 2013-15. In 96 games with the Jacks, Beranek earned five goals and 12 assists for 17 points with 210 penalty minutes and a -32 rating. In 17 games against the IceRays, the forward earned four assists (all last season) with 21 penalty minutes (all in 2013-14) and a +1 rating.

About The Show: The NAHL Showcase is a four-day tournament hosted by the league that provides an opportunity for players to show their skills to college and professional hockey scouts at game speed as well as for coaches to evaluate their teams prior to the Oct. 1 roster deadline. All four games played count as part of the 60-game schedule, and rosters will be cut from 25 to 23 players following the weekend.

South Division Standings:
Lone Star Brahmas (2-0-0, 4 PTS)
Wichita Falls Wildcats (2-1-0, 4 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (2-3-0, 4 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (1-2-0, 2 PTS)
Corpus Christi IceRays (1-1-0, 2 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (0-2-0, 0 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays continue their 2015 NAHL Showcase schedule on Friday, September 25 at 10:15 a.m. against the Springfield Jr. Blues. Coverage of the NAHL Showcase is provided exclusively on www.FASTHockey.com.