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PREVIEW: ICERAYS @ MUDBUGS (GAME #38)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS @ SHREVEPORT MUDBUGS

Friday, February 3 • 7:11 P.M. • George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum • Shreveport, LA
NAHL Game #438 • Game #38 • Road Game #21 • Series: COR leads 5-1-0-1
Radio: SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM)
Video: Hockey TV • Twitter: @goicerays

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

Tonight’s Game: The IceRays finish their final leg of the three-week road trip against the Shreveport Mudbugs from George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum.

Head-To-Head: The IceRays have won three-straight games against the Mudbugs and own points in five-straight meetings, moving to a 5-1-0-1 record in their first junior franchise series. The IceRays can clinch a share of the season series with a win this weekend. All-time, the IceRays are now 26-26-6 in 56 games against the Mudbugs including WPHL and CHL franchise meetings.

Last Game: The IceRays pressed ahead with a four-unanswered stretch through the middle of the game to help earn a 4-3 win over the Odessa Jackalopes on Saturday night from the Ector County Coliseum. Jackalopes forward Peyton Frantti (PP, 12:45 1st) opened the scoring to gain a 1-0 lead before the IceRays answered back with four-straight goals starting with center Mason Krueger (14:59 1st; PP, 5:26 2nd) scoring two to gain a 2-1 lead. IceRays forward Josh Tripp (10:04 2nd) doubled the lead, 3-1, with a shot from the high slot, and the eventual game-winner was knocked in by defenseman Cody Fleckenstein (15:21 2nd) to move to 4-1. Jackalopes forwards Ryan MacKellar (4:49 3rd) and Zach Zech (18:45 3rd) brought the home side within one late in the game, but the IceRays held on for the 4-3 victory. IceRays goaltender Camden Burggrabe (5-4-1) halted 32 of 35 shots in the win. Jackalopes netminder Jonny Hogue (8-10-1) stopped 18 of 22 shots in 40:00 minutes for the loss, and Jon Flakne turned down all 10 shots in the third period.

Road Update: The IceRays continue to produce points in the second half of the season, now winning three of their first four games of the three-week road trip. The team owns points in nine of their last 11 games and wins in eight of those while keeping opponents to three goals or less now in 11-straight games dating back to December 10. The recent run has also helped them to the second-best record in the South Division over the last 10 games.

Fresh Start: The IceRays continued to produce points in January, recording a 4-2-0-0 record through their six-game schedule for their best month of the season. The eight points earned is tied for the second-most points in a month with the fewest games played but has the best point percentage (.667) in five months this season. The performance ranks third in seven seasons for January, trailing only the 2012-13 and 2014-15 seasons, both of which had a 7-3-1 record (.681) through 11 games. Flynn has been on staff for two of the best three January months (2014-15 & 2016-17).

Closing In: The South Division landscape has changed for the better through January thanks to the performance of the IceRays in six games. Prior to their first game on January 12, the IceRays held just a one point lead over Amarillo for fourth place and trailed Shreveport by seven points. While the IceRays still trail by seven, they’ve spread their lead by five points still with three games in-hand over the Bulls. On top of that, their lead over Odessa has moved from two points to eight points, and neither team have a game advantage over the other.

Bugged Up: The Shreveport Mudbugs closed the month of January in a battle for second place with a 5-1 regulation loss and 4-3 shootout loss to the Wichita Falls Wildcats on Friday and Saturday night from George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum. Mudbugs defenseman Andrew Lane (1+1=2) and forward Frankie Melton (2 goals) were the only two players to earn multi-point weekends and Lane the only contributor on both nights. Melton scored two of the three goals on Saturday night. Six other players also tacked on one point. Goaltender Dylan Lubbesmeyer stopped 45 of 49 shots on the weekend, coming in relief in Friday’s loss and playing all 65 minutes in Saturday’s shootout loss, and John Roberts turned down 26 of 30 shots in 41:07 minutes on Friday.

Besting ‘Bugs: Despite ending January on a three-game losing streak, the Mudbugs remain one of the hottest teams in the NAHL thanks to their monthly performance. They earned wins in six-straight games to kick off the month as well as earned points in eight of nine contests while outscoring their opposition 32-21 and improving from six games above .500 to 10 games. In addition, their special teams have been the focal point of the month. The Mudbugs power play scored goals in all nine games in January, ranking first in the NAHL with a 14-for-41 (34.15%) conversion rate. However, the penalty kill has also conceded goals in seven-straight outings, going 25-for-33 (75.76%) in their recent run.

South Division Standings:
Lone Star Brahmas (33-8-1-0, 67 PTS)
Wichita Falls Wildcats (23-11-3-1, 50 PTS)
Shreveport Mudbugs (22-11-1-2, 47 PTS)
Corpus Christi IceRays (18-15-1-3, 40 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (15-19-4-0, 34 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (13-20-7-1, 34 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (13-25-3-1, 30 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays complete their six-game road trip on Saturday, Feb. 4 at 7:11 p.m. against the Shreveport Mudbugs from George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum. Coverage begins at 6:55 p.m. on SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM) and Hockey TV.