PREVIEW: ICERAYS @ MINOTAUROS (GAME #6)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

@

MINOT MINOTAUROS

Saturday, September 26 at 12:15 P.M.

Game #6 • NAHL Showcase Game #4 • NAHL Game #57
Schwan Super Rink • Blaine, Minn.
Video: FASTHockey.com • Twitter: @goicerays

Coverage begins at 12:10 p.m. with Countdown To Faceoff

Today’s Game: The IceRays close out their 2015 NAHL Showcase schedule against the Minot Minotauros from Schwan Super Rink 4.

Showcase Records: After yesterday’s loss, the IceRays are now 1-2-0 at the 2015 NAHL Showcase and 11-9-3 through 23 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 4-5-2. The IceRays are attempting to avoid their second losing record at the Showcase in six years.

Head-To-Head: This is the third meeting between the IceRays and Minotauros in the NAHL Showcase. The two teams met for the first time in 2011 with the IceRays pulling out a 7-2 victory on the final day, and their next meeting in 2013 was a close finish with the IceRays once again walking away with a win, this time 5-4.

Last Game: The IceRays let through three goals in the third period in a 3-1 slide to the Springfield Jr. Blues on Friday morning on Day 3 of the NAHL Showcase. IceRays forward Brad LeLievre (11:53 2nd) notched his first goal of the season to put the home side up 1-0 heading into the third period, but play unraveled for the IceRays. Jr. Blues forward Trevor Stone (5:13 3rd) got the Springfield scoring started and tied the game, 1-1, followed by a power play goal from defenseman Anthony Scarsella (PP, 6:42 3rd) to push ahead, 2-1. On a late power play, forward Brady Tomlak (PP, 16:40 3rd) scored the insurance goal to put away the IceRays, 3-1. Tommy Nappier saved 14 of 15 shots in the win, and Graham Hunt stopped 30 of 33 shots in the loss.

Tilted Scales: In their opening five games, the IceRays have seen many more tests on the defensive end than the offensive end. Despite only being outscored 10-9, the team has been outshot 140-115 and allowed over 30 shots in three of their last four games. Only twice thus far have the IceRays recorded over 20 shots and one time over 30 shots. Their 115 shots is the lowest total in that span since becoming a junior franchise, snubbing last year’s 129 shots through five games.

Back End Strong: Despite the pressure on the defensive side, IceRays goaltending has kept the team in every game this far in the season and has been a stabilizing force. Both Graham Hunt and Dryden McKay rank in the top-25 in goals-against and save percentage through five games. Hunt sits 14th in goals-against average and 15th in save percentage, while McKay ranks 10th in goals-against average and 9th in save percentage. After today, each will have played three games each to start the year.

Power Chances: Opportunities have come in bushels for the IceRays with the man-advantage, garnering six chances in each of their last three games while only able to convert two of those 18 attempts (11.11%). However, despite their lower conversion rate, over half of the team’s goal total has come in situations other than five-on-five, scoring three on the power play (1 5v4; 2 5v3), one with the extra attacker on the ice, and one in the new three-on-three overtime format.

Charging Ahead: The Minot Minotauros surged ahead with five goals over their last two periods to run away with a 6-3 win over the Amarillo Bulls on Friday afternoon. After trailing late in the first period, Minot forward James LaDouce (PP, 18:39 1st) tied the game heading into the first intermission. Another Amarillo goal buffeted the Minotauros, they came surging back with three goals in the second period by Johnny Walker (PP, 8:23 2nd), Jack Murphy (9:59 2nd), and Austin Martinsen (PP, 19:56 2nd) to take a 4-1 lead. After another lead-off Bulls goal, Grayson Gavin (16:49 3rd) and Jack Murphy (EN, 19:25 3rd) sealed the win, 6-3. Lucas Murray saved 15 of 18 shots in the win, while Jacob Weatherly stopped 33 of 38 shots in the loss. Five of the nine goals scored came on the power play.

Bounding Back: After dropping their first three games of the season against Brookings and Wichita Falls, the Minotauros have rebounded nicely in the middle days of the NAHL Showcase, grabbing two wins and outscoring opponents 9-5. Over their last two games, Minot has also outshot their opponents 78-35, and stretching to their opening five games have outshot their opponents in four of five games. Following a 51-point performance last season, veteran forward Christian Mohs leads all Minotauros with five points (2+3) and defenseman James LaDouce leads Minot in goals (3).

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:
Wichita Falls Wildcats (4-1-0, 8 PTS)
Lone Star Brahmas (3-0-1, 7 PTS)

Topeka RoadRunners (3-4-0, 6 PTS)
Corpus Christi IceRays (2-3-0, 4 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (2-2-0, 4 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (1-4-0, 2 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays open the 2015-16 home schedule on Friday, October 2 at 7:05 p.m. when they take on the Amarillo Bulls from the American Bank Center. Tickets are available at the American Bank Center Box Office, www.Ticketmaster.com, or any Ticketmaster location. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. with Countdown to Faceoff on SportsJuice.com and FASTHockey.com.