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PREVIEW: ICERAYS VS. BULLS (GAME #32)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS VS. AMARILLO BULLS

Thursday, January 12 • 7:05 P.M. • American Bank Center • Corpus Christi, TX
NAHL Game #356 • Game #32 • Home Game #16 • Series: COR leads 3-1-0-0
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 return from their final off-weekend to begin a four-game stretch against the Amarillo Bulls and the 2017 calendar year.

Head-To-Head: The IceRays took on the Bulls four times in November and begin their final four games in the season series, owning a 3-1-0 record while splitting their home set at the American Bank Center on November 25-26. The IceRays are 12-19-1 at the American Bank Center over the last seven seasons while owning a 24-41-3 record in the junior franchise series.

Last Game: The IceRays pushed ahead in the third period to earn a 3-1 win over the Shreveport Mudbugs on Dec. 29, 2017 at the American Bank Center. Late in the first period, an odd bouncing goal by IceRays defenseman Cody Fleckenstein (15:21 1st) from the left point gave the home side a 1-0 lead before Mudbugs forward Geuorgui Feduolov (18:12 1st) knotted the game at 1-1 after finding a loose puck. After an even second period, IceRays forward Garrett Hallford (1:19 3rd) was fed on a 2-on-1 rush for a wide open shot to take a 2-1 lead. IceRays forward Brendan Miller (EN, 19:39 3rd) sealed the 3-1 victory late in the game with the empty net goal. IceRays goaltender Tomáš Vomáčka (9-10-2) turned aside 28 of 29 shots in the win, while Mudbugs netminder John Roberts (7-6-2) stopped 26 of 28 shots in the loss.

Strong Finish: The IceRays closed the 2016 calendar year on a hot streak, claiming wins in four of their last five games, including three-straight wins, as well as points in each of their last five games. Over that span, the team has closed the gap to third place from eight points to just one point while outscoring their opponents 19-8. In fact, opponents have been kept to two goals or fewer in four of five games with the only time outside this window coming in their 3-2 shootout loss.

No Layover: The IceRays are coming off their fourth and final off-weekend for the rest of the season and have faired well in post-break games. The team has won the opening game following a free weekend in all three attempts this season, outscoring opponents 10-5 including one of two shutout wins this season. In total, the IceRays are 6-1-1-0 following a weekend away from the rink.

Getting Junger: The IceRays acquired forward Larry Jungwirth from the Coulee Region Chill on Tuesday in exchange for forwards Andy McGlynn and Christian Stevens. Jungwirth owns 23 points through 29 games this season, coming in a share for the team’s leading point-scorer. In two NAHL seasons, the Bloomington, MN native owns 18 goals and 39 assists for 57 points with 116 penalty minutes through 779 games.

Milling Around: IceRays forward Brendan Miller carries a three-game scoring streak heading into January after picking a goal in each of his last three contests against Shreveport including the game-winner on December 28. This is the first three-game point streak for Miller this season and second of his NAHL career following a three-point stretch from Feb. 26, 2016 to Mar. 5, 2016 in a home-and-home set against Odessa. He is on pace to set career-highs in all three scoring categories.

Bulling Around: The Amarillo Bulls began 2017 at the Amarillo Civic Center but fell in two of out three games including a 3-2 loss to the Odessa Jackalopes on Saturday and 3-1 to the Shreveport Mudbugs on Sunday after starting the week with a 5-2 win over the Jackalopes. Bulls forward Luke Edgerton (2+4=6) led the way with contributions in all five goals on Friday and the team’s first six goals of the weekend followed by linemate Steven Ipri (2+3=5) with three assists on Friday and two goals on Saturday. Four other players grabbed two-point weekends including league-leading point-scorer George Mika (1+1=2). Goaltender Nikita Babintsev played all three games, going 1-2-0 with 99 saves on 107 shots (.925%).

Shifting Perspective: The Bulls have made numerous changes to their roster since their last meeting with the IceRays at the end of November and benefitted from those alterations. Included in those changes are the departures of Kosta Likourezos and Hayden Broomhead, who sat second and third, respectively, in points, backup goaltender Kyle Madore, and more recent acquisition Connor Inger. On the flip side, they’ve added depth and had players step up to the scoring role like Luke Edgerton, who has eight points over his last four games and 11 points in six contests, who owns seven points in four games and 10 points over his last six games. In that time, the Bulls have earned a 5-6-1-0 record.

South Division Standings:
Lone Star Brahmas (26-8-1-0, 53 PTS)
Wichita Falls Wildcats (21-9-3-1, 46 PTS)
Shreveport Mudbugs (19-11-0-1, 39 PTS)
Corpus Christi IceRays (14-13-1-3, 32 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (12-17-7-0, 31 PTS)

Odessa Jackalopes (13-14-4-0, 30 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (11-21-2-1, 25 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays finish their lone home weekend of the month on Friday, Jan. 13 at 7:05 p.m. from the American Bank Center against the Amarillo Bulls. Tickets are available at www.Ticketmaster.com and the ABC Box Office. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on SportsJuice.com, Hockey TV, and 87.FM in-arena.