PREVIEW: ICERAYS VS. JACKALOPES (GAME #40)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS VS. ODESSA JACKALOPES

Friday, February 10 • 7:05 P.M. • American Bank Center • Corpus Christi, TX
NAHL Game #454 • Game #40 • Road Game #23 • Series: ODA leads 3-1-0-0
Radio: SportsJuice.com • Video: Hockey TV
Twitter: @goicerays • Video: 87.7FM

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

Tonight’s Game: The IceRays egin a four-week home stand stretching into March this weekend with a two-game set against the Odessa Jackalopes starting on Friday night from the American Bank Center.

Head-To-Head: The IceRays earned their first win over the Jackalopes on January 28 and now own a 1-3-0-0 record in the season series. All four games this season have been decided by one goal including both in their split weekend at the end of January. The IceRays own a 36-20-4 record and are 19-8-1 at the American Bank Center including two losses in October.

Last Night: The IceRays finished their road trip on a strong note with a 5-3 win over the Shreveport Mudbugs (22-14-1-2) on Saturday night from George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum. Mudbugs defenseman Croix Evingson (PP, 17:54 1st) opened the scoring late in the opening period to take a 1-0 lead before three-unanswered by the IceRays turned the game around. Defenseman Logan Gestro (4:14 2nd) started the run with a two-on-one break, forward Brad Power (5:13 2nd) gave the IceRays the lead on a semi-breakaway, and forward Nathan Bryer (17:14 2nd) tapped in a one-time shot to take a 3-1 lead. Mudbugs forward Jay Feiwell (0:45 3rd) answered back and brought the home side within one, but IceRays defenseman Cody Fleckenstein (11:20 3rd) and center David Thomson (EN, 16:58 3rd) pushed the IceRays ahead to a 5-2 lead. Mudbugs forward Jordan Fader (19:32 3rd) finished the scoring, but the IceRays took the 5-3 win. IceRays goaltender Camden Burggrabe (7-4-1) halted 36 of 39 shots in the win, while Mudbugs netminder Dylan Lubbesmeyer (11-5-3) stopped 25 of 29 shots in the loss.

Road Tripping: The IceRays made the best of their time away from the American Bank Center, earning a 5-1-0-0 record during their three-week road trip starting in mid-January. The IceRays’ sole loss came on January 27 in Odessa (3-2 L), but the team outscored their opposition 24-14 and kept all three opponents to three goals or less in each game. In the process, the IceRays also improved their positioning in the South Division, moving from 12 points behind third place to just three points in a six-game span. The IceRays have their best record of the season and have won eight of their last ten games, which ranks tied for second in the NAHL for that span.

High Praise: IceRays head coach Brad Flynn earned his 21st career win as IceRays head coach on Saturday but 20th under his first full season with the organization. The 39 games it took the team to reach the 20-win mark during an official tenure as head coach is the second fastest in the seven-year history of the junior franchise and fastest for a first-year head coach. The pace just trails that of the 2014-15 season (38 games), which Flynn served as assistant coach, and just edges the first-year pace of Justin Quenneville (40 games). Flynn and Quenneville are the only two junior coaches to reach 20 wins in their first seasons.

Steel Curtain: The IceRays are reaching historic numbers in goals against with just 21 games remaining in the season. Their fifth overall ranking in goals against per game (2.67) is one of the lowest in junior franchise history, and only three teams in the league have lower total goals against: Aston (76), Johnstown (91) and Lone Star (95). The team is currently on-pace to allow only 160 goals, which would be the lowest mark in seven seasons and break the record set last year (170 goals against). The IceRays are on a 13-game streak of keeping opponents to three goals or less, conceding an average of 2.15 goals per game, which sits well below their season average.

Highly Offensive: The Odessa Jackalopes had a highly-offensive week at the Ector County Coliseum with the Amarillo Bulls Topeka RoadRunners, winning 5-3 on Tuesday over the Bulls, falling 8-5 on Friday night and winning 6-1 on Saturday night against the RoadRunners. The forward line of Chase Thudium (3+5=8), Bastien Maia (2+6=8) and Ludvig Stenlund (3+3=6) combined for 13 of 15 points on Friday and 23 of the team’s 42 points on the weekend with Maia and Thudium each recording five-point nights on Friday (1+4=5). Defenseman Zac Hermann (2+2=4) was the only other player to record points on Friday, and five others tallied multi-point games on Saturday. Goaltender Jonny Hogue saved 17 of 19 shots in 24:08 minutes on Tuesday while Jon Flakne halted the final 10 of 11 shots in the win in relief. Flakne then stopped 13 of 18 shots in 45:13 minutes on Friday, while Hogue turned away seven of 10 attempts in relief plus an additional 27 of 28 shots in Saturday’s win.

South Division Standings:
Lone Star Brahmas (35-8-1-0, 71 PTS)
Wichita Falls Wildcats (23-13-3-1, 50 PTS)
Shreveport Mudbugs (22-14-1-2, 47 PTS)
Corpus Christi IceRays (20-15-1-3, 44 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (16-20-4-0, 36 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (13-20-7-1, 34 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (14-26-3-1, 32 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays conclude their two-game set against the Odessa Jackalopes on Saturday, Feb. 11 at 7:05 p.m. at the American Bank Center for Hockey & Heels. Tickets are available at the American Bank Center Box Office and Ticketmaster.com. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on SportsJuice.com, Hockey TV and 87.7FM in-arena.