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PREVIEW: ICERAYS VS. BRAHMAS (GAME #54)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS VS. LONE STAR BRAHMAS

Thursday, March 23 • 7:05 P.M. • American Bank Center • Corpus Christi, TX
NAHL Game #600 • Game #54 • Home Game #27 • Series: LSB 5-3-0-0
Radio: SportsJuice.com • Video: Hockey TV
Twitter: @goicerays • In-Arena: 87.7FM

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

Tonight’s Game: The IceRays come into the final three weeks of the season with their last home meeting against the South Division Champions, the Lone Star Brahmas, at the American Bank Center.

Head-To-Head: With just three games remaining in the season series, the IceRays have a chance to claim the head-to-head set against the Brahmas though trailing 3-4-1-0 through eight contests thus far. The IceRays claimed two of their last three meetings but split the home sets so far with a 2-1-1-0 record. All-time, the IceRays are 15-16-5 against the Brahmas as well as 11-5-2 at the American Bank Center.

Last Game: The IceRays pressed back to force overtime but came up shot in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Odessa Jackalopes (21-25-5-1) on Saturday night from the Ector County Coliseum. Jackalopes forward Ludwig Stenlund (6:39 1st) pushed the home side to an early 1-0 lead during a 2-on-1 rush from the left circle followed by defenseman Rowan Savidant (10:42 1st) from the blue line to double the lead, 2-0. The IceRays started their push back on their lone power play attempt thanks to forward Brad Power (PP, 15:42 1st) to cut the lead in half, 2-1. Power (2:46 2nd) tied the game at 2-2 with a one-time shot in front of the net, and that sent the game into overtime. In the extra frame, Jackalopes forward Zach Zech (4:08 OT) tallied the game-winner in the 3-2 home win. Jackalopes goaltender Jonny Hogue (14-13-3) stopped 26 of 28 shots in the win, while IceRays netminder Tomáš Vomáčka (17-11-5) halted 38 of 41 shots in the loss

Magic Number: After last weekend’s results against Odessa, the IceRays still need one more point to clinch a playoff spot heading into their final seven games. The Jackalopes currently own the first two tiebreakers: most potential wins and the head-to-head series, so the IceRays must avoid a tie at the end of the year. However, with their three points last week, the IceRays need a win of any kind or an Odessa loss of any kind to make the postseason.

Perfection: For the first time in junior franchise history, the IceRays were perfect on the power play in a two-game weekend set with a 2-for-2 performance on the road. Over the last week, the IceRays have turned around their misfortunes on the power play by scoring goals in three-straight games following their five-game skid on the man-advantage. The IceRays power play improved by nearly a full percent in three games from 18.32% to 19.28% and now sits in the top-10 among NAHL teams.

Race To Three: As playoffs loom and teams bunker down for that style of play, scoring has decreased over the last few weeks and will continue to stay low. The IceRays have played in one-goal games for six-straight games and nine of their last 10 games, and the winning team has scored no more than three goals in seven of those 10 contests. Since the team’s strong offensive output in the front half of February, the IceRays are averaging 2.70 goals per game with one game scoring more than three goals: March 4 against Wichita Falls (7-2 W). Conversely, opponents have mustered 2.50 goals per game and have scored four goals just twice in that span.

Broomsticks: The Lone Star Brahmas secured the South Division crown last week in their sweep of the Wichita Falls Wildcats, winning 3-2 in overtime on Friday and 4-1 on Saturday at the NYTEX Sports Centre. Brahmas forward Carson Kelley (2+1=3) was the hero over the weekend, earning the game-winner on Friday and leading the way in points. He was joined by forwards Peter Kessel (1+1=2) and Troy York (1+1=2) as well as defensemen Jake Zelinski (2 assists) and John Zimmerman (2 assists) in multi-point weekends. Goaltender Max Prawdzik stopped 16 of 18 shots in Friday’s win, and Alec Calvaruso turned away 19 of 20 shots in Saturday’s win.

Tippy Top: The Brahmas have consistently been one of the league’s top teams not only in standings but also in many situational statistics including leads. The Brahmas have never lost in 29 attempts when holding a lead heading into the third period, and they’ve also earned points in all 20 situations when leading after one period. Their lone loss came in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Odessa Jackalopes on March 10, when the Brahmas led 2-1 through the first period and then came back in the third period to force overtime. The key is getting on the scoreboard first, and the Brahmas have suffered just four losses in that situation, going 30-3-1-0 in their last 34 attempts.

South Division Standings:
y-Lone Star Brahmas (42-13-2-0, 86 PTS)

x-Shreveport Mudbugs (32-16-2-3, 69 PTS)
Wichita Falls Wildcats (29-18-4-2, 64 PTS)
Corpus Christi IceRays (28-17-4-4, 64 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (21-25-5-1, 48 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (17-26-8-2, 44 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (18-30-4-1, 41 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays finish the home portion of their season series against the Lone Star Brahmas on Friday, Mar. 24 at 7:05 p.m. from the American Bank Center on Frosty Friday. Tickets are available at the arena box office or Ticketmaster.com. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on SportsJuice.com, Hockey TV, and 87.7FM in-arena.