PREVIEW: ICERAYS VS. BRAHMAS (GAME #44)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS VS. LONE STAR BRAHMAS

Friday, February 24 • 7:05 P.M. • American Bank Center • Corpus Christi, TX
NAHL Game #505 • Game #44 • Home Game #22 • Series: LSB leads 4-2-0-0
Radio: SportsJuice.com • Video: Hockey TV
Twitter: @goicerays • Video: 87.7FM

Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. with Countdown To Faceoff

Tonight’s Game: The IceRays enter the second half of their four-week home stand with a two-game set against the Lone Star Brahmas at the American Bank Center.

Head-To-Head: The IceRays won their last meeting with the Brahmas in North Richland Hills, moving the season set to a 2-4-0-0 record while keeping the goal differential at just one goal (13-12) in favor of the Brahmas. In four seasons, the IceRays are now 14-16-4 against the Brahmas while owning a 10-5-1 record at the American Bank Center, which includes a split weekend in mid-November.

Last Game: The IceRays earned a record seventh-straight win and their third shutout of the year in a 2-0 blanking of the Topeka RoadRunners (15-28-4-1) on Friday night at the American Bank Center. Scoring started late in the first period when IceRays forward Brad Power (19:25 1st) tipped a shot in front of the net to take a 1-0 lead. The second and third periods remained close and tight in the low-shooting and scoring games despite 13 combined power plays. With the RoadRunners netminder pulled, IceRays forward Brendan Miller (EN, 19:04 3rd) stashed in the lone insurance goal to help claim the 2-0 win. IceRays goaltender Tomáš Vomáčka (14-11-2) earned his first shutout in a 19-save performance, while RoadRunners netminder Ben Churchfield (1-7-1) halted 20 of 21 shots in the loss.

#Historic: The IceRays made history on Friday night, recording their seventh-straight victory to set a new junior franchise record. The streak surpasses the previous mark set from Oct. 8, 2011 to Nov. 4, 2011, during which the team earned five home wins and three against the New Mexico Mustangs. This streak has seen the IceRays outscore their opposition 28-12 with three wins at home and three on the road with five wins against competition for playoff positioning. The IceRays have also posted four or more goals in five of their last seven games and have improved from ten points behind second place to just one.

On The Rise: The recent run by the IceRays has helped scoring numbers tremendously in the landscape of the NAHL. Thanks to their recent run of points in 15 of their last 17 games, the IceRays have moved to a +19 goal differential, which ranks ninth in the NAHL and third in the South Division behind Lone Star (+51) and Shreveport (+29). They started their 17-game run with a -12 goal differential after December 9 and have since outscored their opponents by a 31-goal margin (64-33) while also maintaining at least a +5 goal differential in each regulation period while only going +3 in the first and trailing in the other two.

Tip Your Cap: Two IceRays players gained recognition in the last seven days for their recent performances. Forward Brad Power was named NAHL South Division Star of the Week for his six-point (1+5=6) performance against Topeka last week and now has eight points over his three-game point streak. Center David Thomson was named to Team South for next week’s NAHL Top Prospect Tournament in Plymouth, Mich. and is coming off his own seven-game point streak. Both players have been team leaders throughout the season in their own ways. Power sits second on the team in all major scoring categories with two points from 40, and Thomson leads the team with 17 goals while one point away from reaching the 30-point threshold.

X Marks The Spot: The Lone Star Brahmas clinched a spot in the 2017 Robertson Cup Playoffs in their split weekend with the Odessa Jackalopes at home, falling 2-1 on Friday and winning 2-1 in overtime on Saturday. Only six players earned points last week but one did record a multi-point weekend: forward Carson Kelley, who earned a goal and assist in Saturday’s win. Forward Peter Kessel and defenseman Blake Evennou also tallied goals with Evennou’s coming in overtime. Goaltender Alec Calvaruso played both games in net, stopping 30 of 33 shots through the weekend of action.

The Plague Fades: While the Brahmas clinched a playoff spot last Saturday, they’ve been held back in production from a few key injuries over the last few weeks. Four of the team’s top-8 scorers have all lost ice time in the recent run,: Drake Glover (40 PTS, 2nd), Hunter Stanley (35 PTS, 5th), Troy York (34 PTS, 6th) and Simon Loof (22 PTS, 8th), who all missed a combined 17 games. During that stretch, the Brahmas have seen their goal output trend at 3.00 per game, which is slightly lower than their season average (3.25) while their goals against average has stayed about the same (2.22 compared to their 2.19 season total. Loof (9 games) is not expected to play this weekend in anticipation of the Top Prospects Tournament, but Glover, Stanley and York could all return at some point this weekend and provide a boost offensively. The Brahmas own a 6-3-0 record over their last nine games and just broke a mini three-game skid on Saturday.

South Division Standings:
Lone Star Brahmas (36-11-1-0, 73 PTS)

Shreveport Mudbugs (25-15-1-2, 53 PTS)
Wichita Falls Wildcats (24-15-4-1, 53 PTS)
Corpus Christi IceRays (24-15-1-3, 52 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (17-22-5-0, 39 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (15-20-7-1, 38 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (15-28-4-1, 35 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays close February with Heart Night, benefitting the American Heart Association, on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 7:05 p.m. against the Brahmas from the American Bank Center. Tickets are available at the American Bank Center Box Office and Ticketmaster.com. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on SportsJuice.com, Hockey TV and 87.7FM in-arena.