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PREVIEW: ICERAYS VS. BULLS (GAME #38)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

vs.

AMARILLO BULLS

Saturday, January 30 at 7:45 P.M.

Game #38 • NAHL Game #431 • Series: Tied 4-3-1
American Bank Center • Corpus Christi, TX
Radio: SportsJuice.com • Video: FASTHockey.com 
• In-Arena: 87.7FM
Mobile: TuneIn Radio Twitter: @goicerays

Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Countdown To Faceoff

Tonight’s Game: The IceRays host their final two games against the Amarillo Bulls for the 2015-16 season series this weekend starting tonight at the American Bank Center. 

Head-To-Head: The IceRays have split their season set down the middle with a 4-3-1 record for both sides including a split in their last set on December 11-12 in Amarillo. At home, the IceRays have a 10-17-1 record against the Bulls but own a 19-38-3 franchise record including their 1-3-0 playoff record from 2013.

Last Game: The IceRays scored three-unanswered in the final two periods to claim a 3-1 win over the Topeka RoadRunners on Friday, Jan. 22 at the American Bank Center. After a near shorthanded goal in the first period to put the IceRays up was called back, RoadRunners forward Marcus Russell (19:12 1st) tapped in the game’s first goal just before the end of the same frame. IceRays forward Nathan Bryer (2:30 2nd) tied the game at 1-1 with a play down low in the Topeka end. The IceRays gained the 2-1 lead when forward Regen Cavanagh (15:00 3rd) redirected a shot from the left point coming toward the net. IceRays forward Drake Lindsay (EN, 19:01 3rd) sealed the win, 3-1, with the team’s second empty net goal. Dryden McKay stopped 20 of 21 shots in the win, and RoadRunners goalie Yuho Niku turned away 26 of 29 shots in the loss.

Top Off Topeka: The IceRays made history last weekend in their franchise series with the Topeka RoadRunners. After Friday’s win, the IceRays earned their first outright season series win in their six-year history, going 5-2-1 through eight games in their first eight-game set also in the franchise setup. Coming into this season, the IceRays only owned two wins through five years and 22 meetings, but this year the IceRays earned almost triple the amount of wins just in eight games. The IceRays now have three wins at home and four on the road against the RoadRunners and are 6-4-2 over the last two seasons.

Yin and Yang: Special teams, as a whole, remain on opposite sides of the success spectrum through their recent stretch, but the penalty kill continues to shine and lead defensively. The four-man unit has killed on now 18-straight attempts as well as 24 of 25 through their last four games including a perfect 10-for-10 effort last weekend against Topeka. The penalty kill is now ranked seventh in the NAHL, one of their highest spots this season, with a 84.78 percentage. The power play, on the other hand, has been shut out in six of their last seven games, going 2-for-33 (6.06%) in that span while going scoreless in their last 14 attempts through three games.

Top Of The Class: Three players were selected to represent the IceRays at the 2016 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament on February 15-16 at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan. Goaltender Graham Hunt is the second goaltender selected from the IceRays roster in the team’s six-year history, joining only Anthony Stolarz in that recognition, earning a 10-10-3 record with a 2.59 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage with one shutout. Forward Brad LeLievre earns his first trip after playing 186 NAHL games throughout his junior career, owning the third-most games played in team history with 11 points through 33 games this season. Forward Drake Lindsay earns the final spot in his first NAHL season and as one of the most consistent point producers, leading the team in assists (17) and sitting second in goals (8) and points (25).

Fighting Chance: The Amarillo Bulls fought to grab one point last weekend in two home games against the Odessa Jackalopes, dropping 5-0 on Friday night and being edged out 4-3 in a shootout on Saturday from the Amarillo Civic Center. Forward Tyler Gernhofer, who made his return to the Texas Panhandle after a brief collegiate stint, led the Bulls back with three goals in the third period of Saturday’s game to force the shootout with two coming on the power play. Forward Joey Molinaro also recorded two assists through the rush back in the third. Goaltender Anton Martinsson stopped 39 shots on each night, combining to record a 78-for-86 effort during the weekend.

Hard To Steer: The Bulls have struggled to put together wins since their last meeting with the IceRays on Dec. 18 & 19. Following the 3-1 win over Corpus Christi on Dec. 18, the Bulls have gone winless in their last seven games and broke a six-game pointless drought last Saturday in a 4-3 shootout loss against Odessa. They have been outscored 33-9 in their losing skid while playing six of those seven games at home and being held to two goals or less in all but their most recent game last week. In the midst of the slump, the Bulls have made eight transactions including the addition of forward Tyler Gernhofer from the University of Vermont (NCAA D-I) and defenseman Jake Houston from the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (USHL).

South Division Standings:
Wichita Falls Wildcats (32-6-3, 67 PTS)
Lone Star Brahmas (25-8-7, 57 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (25-16-1, 51 PTS)
Corpus Christi IceRays (16-17-4, 36 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (13-19-4, 30 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (8-26-4, 20 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays close out their home portion of the season series with the Amarillo Bulls on Sunday, Jan. 31 at 2:30 p.m. at the American Bank Center. Tickets are available at www.Ticketmaster.com, the American Bank Center Box Office, and by calling 361-814-PUCK. Coverage begins at 6:55 p.m. on SportsJuice.com, FASTHockey.com, and 87.7FM in-arena.