PREVIEW: ICERAYS VS. BULLS (GAME #24)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

vs.

AMARILLO BULLS

Friday, December 11 at 7:11 P.M.

Game #24 • NAHL Game #278 • Series: Tied 2-1-1
American Bank Center • Corpus Christi, TX
Radio: SportsJuice.com • Video: FASTHockey.com 
• In-Arena: 87.7FM
Mobile: TuneIn Radio Twitter: @goicerays

Coverage begins at 6:55 p.m. with Countdown To Faceoff

Tonight’s Game: The IceRays return home to the American Bank Center for the first time in December to host a two-game set against the Amarillo Bulls on Grades For Blades Night, presented by 7-Eleven.

Head-To-Head: This weekend begins back-to-back weekend sets against Amarillo trading venues. The IceRays and Bulls have split their four-games so far, each earning a 2-1-1 record and sweeping their two home games. The Bulls own the franchise series, putting the IceRays to a 17-36-1 record as well as a 9-16-1 home record. Over the last two seasons, the IceRays have gone 6-4-2 against Amarillo.

Last Night: The IceRays found their second-straight overtime winner to overtake the Odessa Jackalopes 5-4 on Friday night at the Ector County Coliseum. Jackalopes forward Brandon Tucker put the home side up first for the second-straight night, but the IceRays pushed back in the period with three unanswered goals thanks to forward Andy McGlynn, who sandwiched a power play tally by forward Brad Power to make it a 3-1 IceRays lead. Jackalopes defenseman Connor Stuart brought the game back within one, 3-2, just before the end of the first. Odessa tied the game thanks to forward Eric Carreras before IceRays forward Regen Cavanagh took back the lead, 4-3. Jackalopes forward Oliver Celec shot a bullet to tie the game and force overtime, however IceRays forward Toby Kircher sealed the 5-4 win and the sweep with a backhanded flip down low. Graham Hunt saved 31 of 35 shots in the win. Gunnar Rivers was the goalie of record, saving 25 of 27 shots in 51:17 minutes of relief, while Dean Shatzer stopped five of eight shots in 11:52 played to open the game.

How Sweep It Is: The IceRays swept the opposition for just the second time this season and the first since October 2-3 against Amarillo. They scored three or more goals in each of their two games for the first time this year and was also the second time the IceRays also won consecutive games since their home opening weekend. The wins break a seven-game road drought dating back to the NAHL Showcase on Sep. 26 (5-1 L @ Minot). In that span, the IceRays went 0-5-2 in road contests after starting the season 2-1-0. Now, the IceRays are 4-6-2 away from the American Bank Center.

Three-Headed Beast: IceRays forwards Regen Cavanagh, Mason Krueger and Andy McGlynn led a resurgent forward core in their sweep over the Jackalopes and powered ahead with points. That line combination earned nine of the 19 points (47.37%) created this weekend including eight of 12 points just on Friday night alone. Cavanagh led the way with four points (goal, three assists) and factored in to all four regulation goals scored on Saturday. Following a nine-game point drought, McGlynn picked up three points (goal, two assists) and at least one in each games including two goals in the first period on Friday. Krueger also earned three points (goal, two assists) with two assists on Friday night and now has four points in five games.

Turning Tides: After a long struggle, the power play is now starting to click at the same point the offense is. The IceRays have scored power play goals in two of their last three games, going 2-for-12 (16.67%) since November 21 and creating numerous chances. This comes following a six-game goal drought and a 19-game goalless streak. The IceRays also broke a goalless drought on Friday against Odessa, earning their first goal on the man-advantage since Jan. 31, 2015 (six games) and going 0-for-13 before Friday night.

Movin’ On Up: On Tuesday, it was announced that IceRays defenseman Simon Butala was recalled by the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (USHL) for four games prior to the holiday break. The 17-year-old makes his third trip to the USHL in two seasons, where he’s recorded over 50 penalty minutes in 13 games between the RoughRiders and Sioux City Musketeers. This season, the Downingtown, Penn., native owns five assists in 14 games with the IceRays. The IceRays are expected to play with seven defenseman in his absense without recalling an affiliate player.

Tough Road: The Amarillo Bulls played two teams in three games this week, dropping two contests to the Topeka RoadRunners (4-1 on Wednesday and 5-2 on Friday) at the Kansas ExpoCentre and taking down the Lone Star Brahmas 2-1 on Saturday at home from the Amarillo Civic Center. Bulls defenseman Jake Houston led the way with three assists including two in Thursday’s loss, while forward Michael Forman was the only Bull to also claim a multi-point week with an assist on Wednesday and a goal on Saturday. In total, eight Bulls put up points in a 1-2-0 week. Anton Martinsson went 1-1-0 while stopping 70 of 75 shots faced, and Jacob Weatherly earned a loss in his lone star while going 41 of 46 in two games against Topeka.

South Division Standings:
Wichita Falls Wildcats (21-3-2, 44 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (17-11-0, 34 PTS)
Lone Star Brahmas (15-4-4, 34 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (10-9-3, 23 PTS)

Corpus Christi IceRays (8-12-3, 19 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (6-19-3, 15 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays finish off their two-game set against the Amarillo Bulls on Friday, Dec. 11 at 7:11 p.m. from the American Bank Center on City/County Night. Tickets are available at www.Ticketmaster.com, the American Bank Center Box Office, or by calling 361-814-PUCK. Coverage begins at 6:55 p.m. on SportsJuice.com, FASTHockey.com, and 87.7FM in-arena.