Preview: IceRays @ Shreveport Mudbugs (Game 55)

 

Rays Set the Stage for Dramatic Weekend
Once again, the IceRays had a dominant Saturday night performance. In the last eight series, the Rays have lost seven of eight game one’s, but have won seven of eight game two’s. On Saturday, they put their high-end talent on display multiple times to skate to a 4-1 victory over the Amarillo Bulls, pushing them to one last final stand.

An IceRays win combined with a Bulls regulation defeat will secure a playoff berth for Corpus Christi. The Rays are in control of their own destiny at this point, but receiving some help from their Lone Star rivals does not seem to be too tall an order. The Brahmas have won eight games in a row and are undefeated throughout March. They will be hosting the Bulls at NYTEX Sports Centre this weekend, a team they’re 6-2-2 against this season. If Lone Star does what they are expected to do in their series and the Rays continue their trend of splitting weekends, the deed will be done.


The Matchup

The IceRays are 4-4-2 against the Shreveport Mudbugs this season and have split all four series with them (with Shreveport having taken both individual mid-week tilts). Outside of Lone Star, the IceRays are the only team that can say they’ve beaten the Mudbugs four times this season.

Though it may not seem like it, Shreveport does have plenty to play for this weekend. By winning one game against the IceRays, the Mudbugs will clinch first place in the South Division and secure home ice advantage throughout the first two rounds of the postseason. It’s still early enough to where these games for the Bugs are not entirely meaningless, and apathy will likely not have set in for them. With this said, the IceRays have to treat this weekend’s games with import as they could very well be a prelude to the first round of the playoffs.


Conor Yawney Driving Attack from the Back End

Second-year defenseman Conor Yawney has been dominant for the IceRays throughout March. Regarded as a defense-first blue-liner, having led the team in blocked shots virtually all season, he has fine-tuned his offensive game substantially in the IceRays’ push to secure a playoff spot. Yawney has tallied six assists in his last five games, stringing together his longest point streak as an IceRay, and has been a +5 rating throughout that span. He’s generated his best scoring chances of the season over the last few weeks, and has even begun screening opposing goaltenders.


It’s Miller Time
Brendan Miller was just named the NAHL South Division First Star of the Week after an utterly ruthless weekend against the Amarillo Bulls. He scored two shorthanded goals within 21 seconds on Friday night, added the primary assist on Larry Jungwirth’s power play goal, and had a goal and assist the following night, as well. He’s now on a four-game point streak and has been the IceRays’ leading scorer throughout March. Miller has missed out on two games against Shreveport this season due to suspensions, but he’s still tied for second on the team in scoring against the Mudbugs with six points in eight games (2 G, 4 A). He also has 52 more penalty minutes against Shreveport than any other player on the IceRays roster. Look for him to play an integral part in this weekend’s story.