PREVIEW: ICERAYS @ MUDBUGS (PLAYOFF GAME #2)

SOUTH DIVISION SEMIFINALS – GAME 2

#3 CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS @ #2 SHREVEPORT MUDBUGS

Saturday, April 15 • 7:11 P.M. • Hirsch Memorial Coliseum • Shreveport, LA
Series: COR leads 1-0
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 Corpus Christi IceRays and Shreveport Mudbugs finish the weekend with Game 2 of the South Division Semifinals from George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum. The two sides will play a best-of-five series to determine who moves on to the South Division Finals.

Head-To-Head: The IceRays jumped out to a 1-0 series lead with the victory last night, continuing the success against the Mudbugs from the regular season. The IceRays went 9-2-0-1 in the regular season including going 4-1-0-1 in road meetings, outscoring the Mudbugs only 40-37 with a 5-2-0-1 record in one-goal games. The IceRays own a 30-27-6 regular season record against the Mudbugs through the professional and junior franchises, but this is the first postseason meeting in franchise history.

Last Night: The IceRays shut down the Shreveport Mudbugs in a goaltending battle, winning 2-0 on Friday night from George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum. Despite being outshot 12-5 in the first period, IceRays forward Griffin Loughran (9:21 1st) opened the scoring during a 2-on-1, bouncing a pass off a defenseman and into the net for a 1-0 lead. Both sides had three opportunities to cash in on power plays including a 5-on-3 advantage for the Mudbugs, but neither side could convert. Each goaltender made dazzling saves throughout the night, and it wasn’t until late in the game when IceRays forward Brad Power (EN, 18:23 3rd) sealed the 2-0 victory with an empty net goal. IceRays goaltender Tomáš Vomáčka halted all 21 shots faced for the win, while Mudbugs netminder Dylan Lubbesmeyer stopped 16 of 17 shots in the loss.

Blank Page: For the first time in junior franchise history, the IceRays recorded a shutout victory in postseason action to open the 2017 Robertson Cup Playoffs. The IceRays earned three shutouts during the regular season, most recently a 2-0 victory against Topeka during which Tomáš Vomáčka saved 19 shots. Over the franchise’s nine postseason appearances, this is the third ever shutout victory, coming in line with the series-clinching 4-0 win over the El Paso Buzzards during the 1st Round of the 2000 WPHL Playoffs as well as a 3-0 victory over the Laredo Bucks in the 2nd Round of the 2007 CHL Playoffs. Conversely, the IceRays have been shutout in the playoffs just twice, falling 3-0 to the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees in the 1st Round of the 2009 CHL Playoffs during the series-clinching game and dropping 2-0 in another series-clinching game during the 1st Round of the 2010 CHL Playoff against the Texas Brahmas.

Strong Start: For the second time in three attempts, the IceRays earned a win during the first game of the opening playoff series, joining a 2-1 victory over the Amarillo Bulls on Apr. 5, 2013 in the 2013 South Division Semifinals. In fact, the IceRays have technically earned points in all three opening games during their NAHL careers with the 3-2 overtime loss to the Wenatchee Wild during the 2015 South Division Quarterfinals on Apr. 3, 2015 despite still picking up the loss. The IceRays have won six of their 11 total opening series games for the franchise, going 6-2-3 in those situations. However, the IceRays have yet to win the second game of the series in the junior franchise and only twice in 11 total attempts.

Trending Downward: The Mudbugs have not had the best finish to the 2016-17 season and continued that downward slip last night. The team has now lost five-straight games since opening April, going 0-4-1 in that time while being kept to just two goals or less in all five of those games while allowing 3.20 goals per game. During the regular season, the Mudbugs’ worst losing skid was also five games, spanning from January 16 to February 4 against all three other playoff teams combined. The Mudbugs only had three losing streaks during the season, all of which were either four or five games and came at very separate points of the schedule.

Low Scoring: Offensive output hasn’t always been at the forefront of the IceRays during the postseason, though much of their positive results so far have come with fewer shots. Last night’s 18 shots were the lowest for a playoff game in seven total attempts in the postseason, falling behind the team’s 21 shots during their only other win: a 2-1 victory on Apr. 5, 2013 over the Amarillo Bulls. Overall, the team averages now 26.43 shots per game with only two games above 30 shots while conceding 39.57 shots per game on the other side despite allowing their lowest postseason shot total last night and the only game with less the 30 shots allowed. For scoring, the IceRays have only maxed out at three goals three times during the 2013 South Division Semifinals while hitting exactly two goals during their other four games.

Way Of The Power: IceRays forward Brad Power converted for the first time in his postseason career, continuing momentum built from the regular season in production. The St. John’s, N.F. native now carries a three-game point streak stemming from the final weekend of the year, recording six points (2 goals, 4 assists) in that span and is the only player with an active point streak. After starting the year with scoring in spurts, Power finished the season with no more than four games without a goal starting on December 10. Last night’s empty net goal was his fourth this year, leading the IceRays in that category.

Latvian Influence: Mudbugs forward Erik Zohovs has been a large difference maker throughout his first season in the NAHL both with his size and skill. The UMass-Lowell commit finished the season with 39 points through 32 games, owning a 1.22 point-per-game clip. Had he not missed over two months due to injury would have more than likely finished with around 72 points, which is above the league-leading scorer Chase Thudium (Odessa), who clocked in at 70 points through 59 games. The only player in the league above Zohovs in points per game was Jackalopes forward Ludwig Stenlund (1.38).

Power Goes The Mudbugs: The heartbeat of the Mudbugs scoring comes from their power play opportunities, and when the team thrives, the power play is at the head of that charge. In 24 of the Mudbugs’ 35 wins this season, they converted on at least one power play opportunities, meaning 68.57% of their wins had a tally in them. On the other side, the Mudbugs have only scored on the power play in 11 of their 25 losses (44.00%). When looking at the team’s losing streaks, the Mudbugs have scored on the man-advantage in just five of the combined 14 losses they had in those skids, converting at a 6-for-42 (14.29%) rate.

South Division Semifinals (Best-of-Five):
#1 Lone Star Brahmas vs. #4 Wichita Falls Wildcats
Game 1: Wildcats @ Brahmas – LSB wins 3-0
Game 2: Wildcats @ Brahmas – Saturday, Apr. 15
Game 3: Brahmas @ Wildcats – Friday, Apr. 21
**Game 4: Brahmas @ Wildcats – Saturday, Apr. 22
**Game 5: Wildcats @ Brahmas – Monday, Apr. 24
**if necessary

#2 Shreveport Mudbugs vs. #3 Corpus Christi IceRays
Game 1: IceRays @ Mudbugs – COR wins 2-0
Game 2: IceRays @ Mudbugs – Saturday, Apr. 15
Game 3: Mudbugs @ IceRays – Wednesday, Apr. 19
**Game 4: Mudbugs @ IceRays – Thursday, Apr. 20
**Game 5: IceRays @ Mudbugs – Tuesday, Apr. 25
**if necessary

Next Game: Game 3 of the South Division Semifinals between the IceRays and Mudbugs heads back to the American Bank Center  on Wednesday, Apr. 19 at 7:05 p.m. Tickets are available at the arena box office or Ticketmaster.com. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM) & Hockey TV.