PREVIEW: ICERAYS VS. BULLS (GAME #7)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

vs.

AMARILLO BULLS

Friday, October 2 at 7:05 P.M.

Game #7 • NAHL Game #67 • Series: 0-0
American Bank Center • Corpus Christi, TX
Audio: SportsJuice.com • Mobile: TuneIn Radio • In-Arena: 87.7FM

Video: FASTHockey.com • Twitter: @goicerays

Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. with Countdown To Faceoff

Today’s Game: The IceRays open their 2015-16 home schedule against the Amarillo Bulls from the American Bank Center. Last season, the IceRays owned a 21-7-0 record in true home games.

Head-To-Head: The IceRays and Bulls will play 12 games against each other for the first time since 2011-12 and the third time in the past six seasons. Last season, the IceRays split their eight regular season games with a 4-3-1 record against the Bulls while going 3-1-0 on home ice. In six years of competition against the Bulls, the IceRays have earned a 15-35-2 record.

Last Game: The IceRays let through three goals in the third period in a 3-1 slide to the Springfield Jr. Blues on Friday morning on Day 3 of the NAHL Showcase. IceRays forward Brad LeLievre (11:53 2nd) notched his first goal of the season to put the home side up 1-0 heading into the third period, but play unraveled for the IceRays. Jr. Blues forward Trevor Stone (5:13 3rd) got the Springfield scoring started and tied the game, 1-1, followed by a power play goal from defenseman Anthony Scarsella (PP, 6:42 3rd) to push ahead, 2-1. On a late power play, forward Brady Tomlak (PP, 16:40 3rd) scored the insurance goal to put away the IceRays, 3-1. Tommy Nappier saved 14 of 15 shots in the win, and Graham Hunt stopped 30 of 33 shots in the loss.

Rough Road: For just the second time in six seasons, the IceRays slipped to a losing record at the NAHL Showcase, finishing with a 1-3-0 campaign to round out their 12-day road trip. Their only other losing output came in 2013-14 with a 1-3-0 record at the showcase. In three seasons under Head Coach John Becanic, the IceRays have gone 4-6-2 at the NAHL Showcase and 11-10-3 over their six-year history at the event. The event completes their most grueling opening to a season, playing seven games (including one pre-season match) in 12-days, spanning over 2,500 miles and 30 hours worth of travel.

Brick House: Despite the team’s struggles offensively and their slipping record, the IceRays back end of the ice has been one of the stronger forces in the NAHL following the opening showcase. The team sits midway through the league in shots against per game (28.33) but rank ninth in goals-against per game (2.50) including their 5-1 loss on Saturday. It’s also worth nothing that the IceRays own the league’s 9th-best save percentage (.912) and one of nine teams above .910 on the season. Only one other South Division opponent has a better save percentage: Lone Star (.931, 2nd). Aberdeen ranks first in save percentage (.952).

Top Numbers: While strengths and on-ice play remains spread throughout the team, scoring among IceRays skaters still rests among the team’s top unit to begin the year. Forwards Ryan Cusin (goal, three assists), Drake Lindsay (four assists) and Carter Johnson (three goals), who all played the first five games on the same line, combine for 11 points through six games, encompassing 44.00% (almost half) of the team’s total point total (25). Only one other skater has three points or more: Andrew McGlynn (two goals, one assist).

Oh Captains, My Captains: The IceRays named forwards Nathan Bryer and Brad LeLievre as co-captains for the 2015-16 season on Tuesday, marking the first time in IceRays franchise history that two players have shared the top leadership role. Also named on Tuesday were four rotating alternate captains, another first in franchise history. Defenseman Trevor Heuser and forward Mason Krueger will wear the “A” at home, and defenseman Tucker Bender and forward Carter Johnson will garner the “A” on the road.

Bull Hockey: The Amarillo Bulls struggled this week at the NAHL Showcase, walking away with a 0-3-1 record and dropping to 1-4-1 to begin their season. Only five players earned multi-point weeks with forwards George Mike (two goals, one assist), Johan Lundgren and Joey Molinaro (one goal, two assists) leading the way with three points each. Michael Forman and Jacob Nitsche (goal, assist) each earned two points, and only Molinaro earned a multi-point game. Returning netminders Anton Martinsson and Jacob Weatherly each played two games with Martinsson going 0-1-1 with six goals-against and .912 save percentage and Weatherly dropping 0-2-0 with eight goals-against and a .895 save percentage.

Steering Clear: The Bulls bring back both netminders from the 2014-15 season hoping to provide stability in net. Both Anton Martinsson and Jacob Weatherly return for their second seasons with Amarillo. Martinsson completed last season with a 16-13-1 record, 3.10 goals-against average, and a .910 save percentage, while Weatherly finished last season with a 9-17-3 record, a 3.94 goals-against average, and a .886 save percentage. Both netminders played five games against the IceRays last season, combining for 28 goals allowed (5.60 goals per game). In total, eight players return from last season’s roster and one former IceRays defenseman (Brendan Murphy).

South Division Standings:
Wichita Falls Wildcats (4-1-1, 9 PTS)
Lone Star Brahmas (4-0-1, 9 PTS)

Topeka RoadRunners (4-4-0, 8 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (3-2-0, 6 PTS)
Corpus Christi IceRays (2-4-0, 4 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (1-4-1, 3 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays finish off their weekend series against the Amarillo Bulls on Saturday, October 3 at 7:05 p.m. from the American Bank Center on Childhood Cancer Awareness Night. Tickets are available at the American Bank Center Box Office, www.Ticketmaster.com, or any Ticketmaster location. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. with Countdown to Faceoff on SportsJuice.com and FASTHockey.com.