Preview: IceRays @ Lone Star Brahmas (Game 35)


Midweek Barn Burner Ends in Shootout Defeat

Tuesday night’s hectic game in Shreveport was the highest-scoring affair the IceRays have been involved in all season, with eleven goals being registered by the time the contest had concluded. On three separate occasions, the Rays rallied back to tie the score.

They trailed 2-0 late in the first, and made it 2-2 early in the second. They trailed 4-2 halfway through regulation, and made it 4-4 late in the second. They trailed 5-4 early in the third, and made it 5-5 to force overtime. Unjustly, after all that battling, after thrice storming back against the second-best defensive team in the NAHL, they could not finish them off in the shootout. In the fourth round, Roberts Baranovskis shoveled a backhand shot over Jacob Acton’s left pad to seal the game and hand the Rays a second straight shootout loss.


The Matchup

This weekend marks the Rays’ final trip to North Richland Hills this season, where they are 2-2-0 on the campaign. Their last trip out on December 8th and 9th was the first time they had swept the Brahmas at NYTEX Sports Centre in franchise history, taking them down 2-1 in overtime in the first game and besting them 3-1 the following night.

The IceRays have taken points in five consecutive games, all of which have been against the top two teams in the division. On the contrary, Lone Star has been middling of late. This weekend will be the end of their ten-game home stand, throughout which they are just 3-3-2. They are, however, extremely well-rested. The Brahmas haven’t played a game since shutting out Shreveport on December 15th, while the Rays have had five games since that date. Of course, this may seem like a surefire advantage for Lone Star, but the IceRays are on a roll in a way the Brahmas couldn’t possibly be on, having not played a game in three weeks. Both sides will be looking to use the situation to their advantage this evening.


Koreshkov, Veltri Return

Pavel Koreshkov and Chad Veltri will both make their returns to action for the first time since before Christmas. Koreshkov had a strong showing the last time he played in Lone Star, scoring the lone regulation goal for the Rays on a brilliantly poised play in front of the net to tie the game and ultimately force overtime, where Blake Coffey would score the game-winning goal.

Veltri is back after missing some time with the flu, and is the likely starter after missing the last three tilts. He was spectacular the last time he faced the Brahmas, allowing just one goal in each game (December 8th & 9th) and accumulating a .966 save percentage over that weekend. He stopped 57 of the 59 total shots he faced and was a huge reason the IceRays came away with the sweep.


Brahmas, Bulls Make Blockbuster Trade

Lone Star sent veteran forward Austin O’Rourke and feisty winger Jared Domin to the Amarillo Bulls earlier this week, in exchange for the sharpshooting Jon Russell and second-year playmaker Steven Ipri. The Brahmas have allowed the fewest goals in the NAHL this season, but they’ve also scored the fewest with just 71 (2.37 gpg). Russell ranks second in the entire NAHL in goals this season with 19, and this move seems like a clear attempt to bolster their struggling offense. The IceRays will be the first team to square up against this renovated Brahmas squad.