Preview: IceRays vs. Amarillo Bulls (Game 53)


Rays Push Bulls to Brink of Elimination

Recovering last Saturday night and playing yet another dominant game two lifted the IceRays to a 4-1 win and a nine-point lead over Amarillo in the playoff race, though that gap was slightly lessened by a Bulls overtime loss in Odessa the following day. The Rays again demonstrated their ability to make mid-weekend adjustments and take control the second night, as it marked the sixth game two they’ve won in their last seven opportunities.

The Jayson Dimizio-Garrett Hallford-Julian Makary line dominated on Saturday, with at least one contributor to all three of the IceRays’ non-empty-net goals. They are projected to remain intact as the Rays will seek to start this weekend off on a higher note.


The Matchup

The IceRays’ dominance in game two’s has been matched by their struggles in game one’s. Over the last seven weekends in which they’ve played, they’ve gone 1-6-0 on the first game of series tilts. Eventually, they will have to flip the script if they want to make a strong postseason run. Tonight presents a unique opportunity for that scenario.

With Amarillo securing just three of an available six points last weekend, they are now on the verge of being eliminated from playoff contention. As it happens, the very team they’re hoping to catch in the race is the team that has the power to eliminate them. Should the Rays manage to win both games this weekend in regulation, they will eliminate the Bulls from the 2018 playoffs and secure a spot for themselves in one fell swoop.


Brad Flynn Suspended

IceRays Head Coach Brad Flynn has been suspended for two games for the altercation that transpired at the end of Saturday night’s tilt. Twice this season, Assistant Coach Ryan Anderson has filled in mid-game after Flynn left the bench. The first went to a shootout against the Shreveport Mudbugs back on December 2nd, and the second was last Saturday. On both occasions, Anderson managed to hold things together and secure the two points. However, tonight will be the first time he starts the game as the head bench boss. The first-year assistant coach will have his work cut out for him this weekend, without a doubt. But the majority of coaching takes place behind the scenes, not on the bench during games. As long as the team’s been given due preparation throughout the week, execution is what it will ultimately come down to.


Will Tragge Suits Up as Emergency Backup

IceRays goaltender Jacob Acton has been sidelined with concussion-like symptoms and will be out of commission this weekend. Brad Flynn has called up IceRays tender Will Tragge from Livonia Stevenson High School to serve as the emergency backup goaltender to Chad Veltri while Acton recovers. Tragge has had a dominant senior year, posting a 1.80 Goals Against Average and a .926 Save Percentage in 23 games played. He has been one of the strongest high school net-minders in Michigan this season. However, he is only eligible to play this weekend if there is an injury to Veltri.