PREVIEW: ICERAYS @ MUDBUGS (GAME #57)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS @ SHREVEPORT MUDBUGS

Saturday, April 1 • 7:11 P.M. • Hirsch Memorial Coliseum • Shreveport, LA
NAHL Game #645 • Game #57 • Road Game #29 • Series: COR leads 8-2-0-1
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 close the book on their season series with the Shreveport Mudbugs from George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum.

Head-To-Head: The Mudbugs snapped a six-game losing skid in the head-to-head matchup with the IceRays, earning their first win since December 16 (3-2 SOW) at home. The IceRays and Mudbugs have just one game remaining in their season series tonight, and the IceRays have already claimed a 8-2-0-1 record. All-time, the IceRays own a 29-27-6 since the start of the professional franchise series in the WPHL.

Last Night: The IceRays went back and forth but slipped in the third period during a 5-4 loss to the Mudbugs on Friday night from George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum. IceRays forward Nathan Bryer (PP, 8:13 1st) started the scoring with a pass that deflected off a Mudbugs defenseman to take the 1-0 lead before Mudbugs defenseman Brandon Gysbers (15:40 1st) answered back to level the score, 1-1. Forwards Jay Feiwell (3:05 2nd) and Erik Zohovs (7:26 2nd) continued the momentum for the home side, taking a 3-1 lead before IceRays forward Josh Tripp (11:40 2nd; 13:49 2nd) answered back with two of his own to knot the game, 3-3. The Mudbugs took back the lead thanks to goals from defenseman Jackson Hartje (1:06 3rd) and forward Cameron Cook (14:39 3rd), and despite a goal from IceRays forward Brad Power (16:10 3rd) and a late push, the IceRays fell 5-4 to the Mudbugs. Mudbugs goaltender Dylan Lubbesmeyer stopped 24 of 28 shots in the win, while IceRays netminder Tomáš Vomáčka halted 34 of 39 shots in the loss.

Looking For Two: The IceRays are still on the hunt for home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, however the road to get there just got increasingly difficult. With the loss last night, the Mudbugs need just one point in their final four games or an IceRays loss of any kind to clinch first round home ice. That also means the IceRays would need to win their final four games and have Shreveport lose their final four in regulation to sneak by them. The more likely scenario would be sealing up third place, and the IceRays would need eight points earned by them or lost by the Wildcats to earn a meeting with Shreveport. However, the Wildcats remain two points back with four games remaining this season, which includes two games to close the year against each other.

Grinding Through: The difficult run to the postseason continues for the IceRays, and last night’s game marked their 11th meeting with a playoff team during their last 13 games since February 24. In that span, the IceRays have gone 5-2-2-2 against those opponents with four of their five wins coming in regulation. That means the IceRays have won four of six in regulation against playoff teams, and while at this portion of the season points and overtime results are looked at, extra period formats will act like those of regulation periods, so those regulation points could play a bigger role come April 14.

Not Trippin’: Last night, IceRays forward Josh Tripp earned his first multi-goal game of the season to help lead the IceRays back in the second period when trailing by two. Overall, the night was his seventh multi-point game of the year, which sits second behind both Mason Krueger (10) and Brad Power (10) in that category. More recently, Tripp has four points over his last two games as well as points in six of his last eight, earning three goals and five assists for eight points in that span. Currently, Tripp sits fourth on the team in scoring and third in assists (12+23=35).

Fatherland & Freedom: After a slight dip in production coming off an upper body injury, Mudbugs center Erik Zohovs has picked up where he left off in scoring over his recent stretch. His two-point night yesterday increases his point streak to four games, amassing six points (2+4=6) in that span following a spell of two points through seven games. He owns 38 points through 29 games played, which places him still in the top-5 on the team in scoring. His 1.31 points per game is second in the NAHL behind Odessa forward Ludwig Stenlund, and if he had played all 56 Mudbugs games he would own about 73 points, which places him six points above current league-leader George Mika (67 points).

South Division Standings:
y-Lone Star Brahmas (43-14-2-0, 88 PTS)
x-Shreveport Mudbugs (35-16-2-3, 75 PTS)
x-Corpus Christi IceRays (29-18-4-5, 67 PTS)
x-Wichita Falls Wildcats (29-21-5-2, 65 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (24-25-6-2, 56 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (20-27-8-2, 50 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (18-32-4-1, 41 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays finish their three-game weekend as well as the season series with the Lone Star Brahmas on Sunday, Apr. 2 at 4:00 p.m. from the NYTEX Sports Centre in North Richland Hills, Texas. Coverage begins at 3:45 p.m. on SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM) and Hockey TV.