PREVIEW: ICERAYS VS. BULLS (GAME #39)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

vs.

AMARILLO BULLS

Sunday, January 31 at 2:30 P.M.

Game #39 • NAHL Game #421 • Series: COR leads 5-3-1
American Bank Center • Corpus Christi, TX
Radio: SportsJuice.com • Video: FASTHockey.com 
• In-Arena: 87.7FM
Mobile: TuneIn Radio Twitter: @goicerays

Coverage begins at 2:15 p.m. with Countdown To Faceoff

Today's Game: The IceRays close their weekend set against the Amarillo Bulls at the American Bank Center with the first Sunday matinee of the 2015-16 season.

Head-To-Head: The IceRays now have the one-game edge on the Bulls, holding a 5-3-1 record thanks to their win last night at home and can take at least a share of the season series with a win this afternoon. At home, the IceRays have a 11-17-1 record against the Bulls but own a 20-38-3 franchise record including their 1-3-0 playoff record from 2013.

Last Night: The IceRays held off the Amarillo Bulls to claim a 3-2 win on Saturday night at the American Bank Center. Bulls forward George Mike (PP, 5:22 1st) redirected a shot from the blue line to give the road team a 1-0 lead. IceRays forward Brad LeLievre (PP, 11:09 1st) answered back with a one-timer down low by the crease to tie the game, 1-1. The IceRays gained the lead thanks to a shot from forward Drake Lindsay (PP, 19:09 2nd) to go up 2-1. IceRays forward Adam Canepa (14:07 3rd) took an awkward angled shot that slipped through into the net to double the lead, 3-1. Bulls defenseman Jake Houston (PP, EA, 18:43 3rd) brought the road side within one, 3-2, while holding a 6-on-4 advantage, but after that the IceRays kept the Bulls at bay. Dryden McKay stopped 20 of 22 in the win, and Anton Martinsson saved 26 of 29 shots in the loss.

Coming Alive: The IceRays power play broke through their struggles during last night’s game, tacking on two goals for just their fourth multi-goal game of the season and ending a three-game goalless drought. Three of the four multi-goal games have now come against the Bulls (Dec. 11, Dec. 19, Jan. 30), combining 8-for-22 (36.36%) just in those three games. The success last night also helps a recent skid, and now the IceRays have power play goals in two of their last eight games, improving to 4-for-40 (10.00%) in that span.

Continued Success: The hottest hand in the IceRays lineup continues to be forward Drake Lindsay as evidenced in last night’s game. His power play goal extends his goal streak to three games for now the second time within the last nine games. Since the start of January, he’s been the most productive player in the lineup, recording six goals and four assists for ten points through his last 11 games, sitting ahead of forward Carter Johnson (2+5=7) in the team point lead for January by two points. He leads the team in assists and sits second in goals and points for the season.

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 (9) and points (26).

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 eight games while only getting one point last Saturday in a 4-3 shootout loss against Odessa. They have been outscored 36-11 in their losing skid while playing six of those eight games at home and being held to two goals or less in all but their shootout loss. All throughout their struggles, Anton Martinsson continues to be the glue that keeps the Bulls in games. Despite his team’s struggles, he’s saved a high percentage of shots while playing the most minutes and seeing the most shots in the entire NAHL. He’s been strong against the IceRays this year, owning a 4-4-1 record with a 2.16 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage.

South Division Standings:
Wichita Falls Wildcats (32-7-3, 67 PTS)
Lone Star Brahmas (25-9-7, 57 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (26-16-1, 53 PTS)
Corpus Christi IceRays (17-17-4, 38 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (14-19-4, 32 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (8-27-4, 20 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays head back on the road to begin a two-game weekend set and a five-game stretch against the Lone Star Brahmas at 7:30 p.m. from the NYTEX SportsCentre. Coverage begins at 7:15 p.m. on SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM) and FASTHockey.com.