Preview: IceRays vs. Shreveport Mudbugs (SDS Game 3)

 


IceRays Robbed in Game Two

Last Saturday’s game yielded an incredibly deflating outcome for the IceRays. They had a far better start to the contest than they had the previous night, played a much stronger all-around game, and fought neck-and-neck against the top team in the division all night long only to be robbed of a goal with 1.7 seconds left.

In a net-mouth scramble, Larry Jungwirth appeared to have jammed the puck across the goal line in the closing seconds of regulation, which would have tied the game and forced overtime. However, upon a fairly brief conversation with his linesmen, the referee waived off the goal, claiming the net had come off its pegs just before the puck entered the net. The disallowed goal crushed the IceRays, who felt as though they had played well enough on Saturday night to have earned a road split, which would’ve shifted the series advantage into their favor. Instead, they face elimination on home ice tonight.


The Matchup

Tonight is the one-year anniversary of the IceRays’ sweep over Shreveport. It was the first time the Rays had won a playoff series as a junior franchise. The Mudbugs will be looking to turn the tables as an opportunity for symbolic retribution has presented itself.

On home ice, the IceRays were 3-2-1 against the Bugs during the regular season. In those six games, however, they were not able to defeat them by more than a single goal. Most of those matchups were extremely close, tightly contested tilts. Half of them were decided in extra time. Tonight will likely be no exception. For the first time all season, we’ll be seeing an IceRays group with its back against the wall, facing an opponent seeking vengeance against the team which eliminated them exactly one year ago. Both sides have a pure and strong motive to be at their absolute best.


Ten Players Facing the Brink

For ten players, tonight could be their final game of junior hockey. Brendan Miller, Larry Jungwirth, Grayson Gavin, Angus Scott, Jayson Dimizio, Garrett Hallford, Julian Makary, Conor Yawney, Matt Acciaioli, and Ryan Rosenberg will all be aging out once the postseason ends. Most of these players have been in the NAHL for years, and nearly all of them have felt the sting of being eliminated from playoff contention before. While the theme of unfinished business from last year is still driving many of them, keeping their junior hockey careers alive is a simpler motivation. It’s a unique, special time which very few young men who experience have the privilege of going out as champions. But these ten will be doing everything in their power to keep that outcome possible.


Game Four Information

If the IceRays win tonight, they will force a Game Four tomorrow night at the American Bank Center. Win or lose, that would be the final home game of the playoffs. Should the Rays advance to the Division Finals, they will not have access to the ABC due to Rodeo Corpus Christi and will have their “home” games at a neutral site. Tickets will go on sale for Game Four immediately following tonight’s game, should the Rays triumph. They can be purchased by calling the arena box office at (361) 826-4744, or via the IceRays’ website at goicerays.com under the Tickets tab. All remaining playoff games will be broadcast on HockeyTV and on SportsRadio Corpus Christi (1230 AM, 95.1 FM, 96.1 FM). Tonight and tomorrow’s game are presented by AutoNation.