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PREVIEW: ICERAYS VS. BRAHMAS (GAME #55)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS VS. LONE STAR BRAHMAS

Friday, March 24 • 7:05 P.M. • American Bank Center • Corpus Christi, TX
NAHL Game #606 • Game #55 • Home Game #28 • Series: LSB 6-3-0-0
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 finish their home portion of the season series with the Lone Star Brahmas at the American Bank Center

Head-To-Head: The IceRays earned a point, however the win seals the season series for the Brahmas with just two games remaining, putting the IceRays back to a 3-4-1-1 record through nine meetings. It’s also the second-straight set where the IceRays earn a point in post-regulation play. All-time, the IceRays are 15-16-6 against the Brahmas as well as 11-5-3 at the American Bank Center.

Last Night: The IceRays earned a point but fell in the sixth round of a shootout during their 4-3 loss to the Brahmas on Thursday night at the American Bank Center. IceRays forward Cole Filler (11:41 1st) slipped through a defensive change to open the scoring before Brahmas forward David Marabella (17:39 1st) tied the game at 1-1 with a rifled shot from the right circle. The two sides traded goals again in the second period starting with IceRays forward Nathan Bryer (6:43 2nd) early in the frame followed by Brahmas forward Hunter Stanley (PP, 19:21 2nd) on the lone man-advantage conversion. Another trading of goals in the third period started with Brahmas forward Andy Willis (2:59 3rd) and finished by IceRays forward Cole Gammer (6:33 3rd) to send a 3-3 tie into overtime. After a scoreless frame and five empty rounds of a shootout, Stanley (6th) scored the lone goal to earn the 4-3 shootout win. Brahmas goaltender Alec Calvaruso halted 19 of 22 shots in the win, while IceRays netminder Tomáš Vomáčka turned away 29 of 32 shots in the shootout loss.

Playoff Bound: With a point earned last night, the IceRays have officially clinched a spot in the 2017 Robertson Cup Playoffs. This will be the team’s third playoff appearance in their seven-year junior history as well as second in three years. Since the franchise began in 1998, the IceRays have made the playoffs nine times in 19 seasons with three playoff appearances in each league (WPHL, CHL, NAHL). The IceRays have won three playoff series but have yet to do so in the junior franchise, owning a 1-4-1 record including a two-game sweep by the Wenatchee Wild in the 2014-15 season.

Extra Helpings As playoffs approach, the IceRays have made it a habit of not only playing in close games but sending games to post-regulation. Last night’s game was the second-straight post-regulation contest and the sixth during their last 11 games since February 24 at home. The IceRays are now 1-5 in that span of extra play with three of those five losses coming in overtime. On the season, the IceRays are 4-9 in games ending after regulation including now 2-5 in shootouts.

Missing Pieces: The IceRays saw four players return to the lineup after missing various time due to injury. Defensemen Trevor Heuser and Tucker White both entered back into the lineup after missing a maximum of three weeks to play with each other on the blue line. Center Cole Filler, who missed just two games, came back and scored during his return, combining with forward Larry Jungwirth, who missed five weeks but assisted in his return. It’s the first time the IceRays have had their full lineup healthy since February 11 (13 games) and first that the entire team has been available since November 11 (36 games), meaning no players were injured, suspended, sick or on international duty.

Fong’s Peak: Last night’s win helped the Brahmas pave more records in an already historic season. The Brahmas not only claimed their earliest division championship this season but also clinched their best franchise record with the win. They already broke their junior-high set in the 2014-15 season (40 wins) but also surpassed their win mark set as a CHL franchise in the 2008-09 season (42 wins), their lone championship year. For the last three years, the Brahmas have earned at least 87 points and are just one point from earning their most junior franchise points as well as two points away from tying the franchise’s best point mark (90 points) also set in 2008-09 during a 64-game season.

Trending Up: The Brahmas continue to find ways to be successful, earning their fourth-straight win and sixth-straight game with at least one point. The point streak is their third-longest of the season, sitting behind two large win streaks, including an eight-game win streak from October 14 through October 29 as well as their franchise-best 14-game win streak from December 16 to February 4. In addition, the Brahmas post-regulation work has been successful, earning a 12-2 record in that situation, which stands as a league-best but also a perfect 4-0 in shootouts.

South Division Standings:
y-Lone Star Brahmas (43-13-2-0, 88 PTS)

x-Shreveport Mudbugs (32-16-2-3, 69 PTS)
x-Corpus Christi IceRays (28-17-4-5, 65 PTS)
Wichita Falls Wildcats (29-18-4-2, 64 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (22-25-5-1, 50 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (17-27-8-2, 44 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (18-30-4-1, 41 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays head on their final road trip of the season beginning on Friday, Mar. 31 at 7:11 p.m. to begin a two-game set against the Shreveport Mudbugs as well as a three-game weekend. Coverage begins at 6:55 p.m. on SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM) and Hockey TV.