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PREVIEW: ICERAYS @ MUDBUGS (GAME #29)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS @ SHREVEPORT MUDBUGS

Saturday, December 17 • 7:11 P.M. • Hirsch Coliseum • Shreveport, LA
NAHL Game #299 • Game #29 • Road Game #16 • Series: COR leads 2-1-0-1
Radio: KSIX 1230AM • Video: Hockey TV • Twitter: @goicerays • In-Arena: 87.7FM

Coverage begins at 6:55 p.m. with Countdown To Faceoff

Tonight’s Game: The IceRays finish their four-game road trip and play their final game before the holiday break against the Shreveport Mudbugs from George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum.

Head-To-Head: The IceRays and Mudbugs have each grabbed two wins after last night’s result, however the IceRays hold the point advantage with a 2-1-0-1 record in four meetings. This is the seventh meeting this season including two preseason contests won by the Mudbugs on their home ice. The IceRays are 23-26-5 in 53 all-time games including the WPHL and CHL franchise series.

Last Night: The IceRays and Mudbugs battled in a close contest, but a seven-round shootout helped the Mudbugs claim the 3-2 shootout win over the IceRays. Just off the end of a power play, Mudbugs forward Jordan Fader (10:20 1st) deflected a shot by the IceRays netminder to take an early 1-0 lead before IceRays forward Nathan Bryer (PP, 14:14 1st) answered back with a one-time shot outside the right circle to knot the game. The Mudbugs gained back the lead, 2-1, when defenseman Brendon Gysbers (4:39 2nd) took a one-time shot off a faceoff draw after a prolonged official timeout. An answer would come in the third period from forward Jayson DiMizio (12:02 3rd) after a takeaway offensively to tie the game, 2-2, and force overtime. In the overtime, Mudbugs forward Jay Feiwell was turned away on a penalty shot at 3:24 to help force a shootout. No player scored until the seventh round when Mudbugs forward Cameron Cook (7th Round) sealed the win. Mudbugs goaltender Dylan Lubbesmeyer (8-3-0) stopped 29 of 31 shots in the win, while IceRays netminder Tomáš Vomáčka (6-10-2) halted 26 of 28 shots in the shootout loss.

Just Missed It: Though earning one point, the IceRays fell in a shootout for the third time this season in the latest contest of the season. All three shootouts this season have gone the opposition’s way including on September 21 against Aberdeen (3-2 SOL) and September 24 against New Jersey (4-3 SOL), both at the NAHL Showcase. The franchise’s last shootout win was on October 3, 2015 against the Amarillo Bulls at home, but since then the team has lost five-straight games in shootouts. The last road shootout win came on Jan. 17, 2015 in Wenatchee (4-3 SOW). All-time, the IceRays are 17-23 in shootouts over the last seven seasons and have only two winning shootout records: 2010-11 (6-1 record) and 2011-12 (4-2 record).

Keeping It Close: The IceRays and Mudbugs concluded another meeting with a one-goal difference for the third time in four meetings this season. After a 3-0 shutout win by the IceRays on October 27, each contest has been separated by one goal with the last two results ending in 3-2 scorelines. The IceRays have lost their last two games that ended with a one-goal difference, while the Mudbugs have won their last two games overall by a 3-2 scoreline. The last one-goal win the IceRays had was October 29 against Shreveport (3-2 W). The IceRays are 4-5-1-3 in this situation, and the Mudbugs are now 5-6-0-1.

Breaking Bad: IceRays special teams have struggled to remain consistent in the second quarter of the season, but last night’s game helped break two trends just before the holidays. The power play snapped a three-game scoreless drought though the team only has goals in two of their last seven games (2-22, 9.09%). On the penalty kill, the IceRays broke a six-game streak of conceding power play goals by opposition with their last perfect game on November 19 against Lone Star. The team has only stopped opponents completely seven times out of 27 games with opportunities (25.93% of games).

Home, Sweet Home: George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum has truly given home ice advantage to the Mudbugs in their first junior season. In true home games, the Mudbugs are 9-1-0-1 in just 11 games and have won their last eight games since dropping back-to-back contests on September 30 and October 7 against Lone Star (5-4 SOL) and Odessa (4-3 L), respectively. Opponents have yet to score more than two goals in Shreveport during their eight-game run and has only happened during their two losses, while on the other side the Mudbugs average four goals per game and have only scored fewer than four goals twice: October 7 against Odessa and last night against the IceRays.

Sitting Pretty: After a multitude of off-weekends in the first half of the season, the Mudbugs have only played 24 games, the fewest among NAHL teams. Despite that, Shreveport is still in the top-half of the NAHL in points, sitting 11th with between four and seven games in-hand over the other 10 teams above them. The Mudbugs are also fourth in the NAHL in goals-per-game (3.63) and, at the average rate they’re on, they’ll hit 109 goals at the midway portion of the season, which would rank tied for third in the NAHL at this point of the season, only trailing the Janesville Jets (119) and New Jersey Titans (117) and sharing third with the Aston Rebels (109).

South Division Standings:
Lone Star Brahmas (22-8-1-0, 45 PTS)
Wichita Falls Wildcats (18-6-3-0, 39 PTS)
Shreveport Mudbugs (16-7-0-1, 33 PTS)
Corpus Christi IceRays (11-13-1-3, 26 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (11-15-2-1, 25 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (9-13-7-0, 25 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (10-12-4-0, 24 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays return home to the American Bank Center following Christmas on Wednesday, Dec. 28 at 7:05 p.m. to continue their season series with the Shreveport Mudbugs. Tickets are available at www.Ticketmaster.com and the ABC Box Office. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on SportsJuice.com, Hockey TV, and 87.FM in-arena.