PREVIEW: ICERAYS VS. JACKALOPES (GAME #56)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

vs.

ODESSA JACKALOPES

Saturday, March 26 at 7:11 P.M.

Game #56 • NAHL Game #617 • Series: COR leads 6-3-2
American Bank Center • Corpus Christi, TX
Radio: SportsJuice.com • Video: FASTHockey.com 
• In-Arena: 87.7FM
Mobile: TuneIn Radio Twitter: @goicerays

Coverage begins at 6:55 p.m. with Countdown To Faceoff

Tonight’s Game: The IceRays finish their season series with the Odessa Jackalopes at the American Bank Center on Faith & Family Night, presented by TLC Complete Care & Ingleside Dentistry.

Head-To-Head: The IceRays have now lost three-straight to the Jackalopes at home after only losing three times in the previous four seasons at the American Bank Center. The IceRays still own the season series with a 6-3-2 record and can still win the season series outright with a win or overtime point. Their record at the American Bank Center is now 19-5-1, and both team share the fourth spot in the South Division. The IceRays have never been swept twice in a season by Odessa.

Last Night: Two early goals halted the IceRays in a 3-1 loss to the Jackalopes on Friday night at the American Bank Center. Jackalopes forward Noah Poindexter (5:14 1st) poked home a loose puck for his first NAHL goal and put the road side up 1-0. Jackalopes forward Jon Russell (15:28 1st) came in on an earned breakaway and stretched across the crease to wrap around the netminder to double the lead, 2-0. The IceRays answered back in the third period when forward Brendan Miller (PP, 7:22 3rd) jammed home a puck caught in the crease to cut the lead in half, 2-1, but the Jackalopes solidified the win with an empty net goal from forward Derek Brown (EN, 19:07 3rd) to finish at 3-1. Jackalopes goaltender Jon Flakne stopped 34 of 35 shots in the win, and IceRays netminder Dryden McKay turned aside 41 of 43 shots in the loss.

Playoff Picture: With five games to go and one game remaining between the IceRays and Jackalopes, the two teams are tied for fourth place with Odessa holding the tie-breaker (most wins) at this point. In order for the IceRays to make the postseason, they’ll need to earn one more point than the Jackalopes do the rest of the way, whether that comes by virtue of wins or overtime decisions. The Jackalopes just need to keep pace in the final five games since they hold the tie-breaker. If Odessa were to lose twice in either overtime or a shootout and tie the IceRays in points, Corpus Christi would advance with the second tie-breaker (head-to-head) barring tonight’s results. The IceRays also own the third (head-to-head goal differential, +5) and fourth (season goal differential, -27) tie-breakers.

Shut Down: The IceRays have struggled mightily to create offense in their push for the postseason, especially in their recent stretch. The team has been held to two goals or less in each of their last five games since March 5 after only having that happen two times in the eight games leading up starting on February 11 to March 4. While the team has played two of the top-three in the NAHL in that span, the IceRays are being outscored 12-8 and have had just four points from their top-four point producers: Carter Johnson (zero points), Drake Lindsay (two assists), Regen Cavanagh (one assist), and Brad Power (one goal).

Home, Not So Sweet: Games at the American Bank Center haven’t been kind to the IceRays over the last two months and even dating to the start of the second half of the 2015-16 schedule. The IceRays have lost six of their last eight games since the start of February at home while also going 4-6-2 since the turn of the 2016 calendar year. They faired better in the front half of the season, earning a 7-5-1 record prior to the New Year. The IceRays can still finish with a positive record at home this season but must win one of their final three games. The IceRays are currently 11-11-3 at the American Bank Center though 11-13-3 in all games as the home team.

Top Flight: One of the best lines in the NAHL continues to produce well for the Jackalopes stemming through their struggles with suspensions. Forwards Hampus Sjodahl, Derek Brown and Gray Marr remain in the upper echelon of forward lines among the league, combining for 24 of the team’s last 55 points (43.64%) over their last five games including combining in the empty net goal last night. All three sit in the top-15 among NAHL scorers, combining for 62 goals and 108 assists for 170 points. The only better line in the NAHL is in Fairbanks with NAHL MVP candidate Todd Burgess (90 points) and forwards Ryner Gorowsky (78 points) and Logan Coomes (63 points) resting in the top-four among NAHL scorers. The Odessa top line owns 34.69 percent of the team’s total point production among active and inactive players (490 points).

South Division Standings:
x-Wichita Falls Wildcats (41-10-4, 86 PTS)
x-Lone Star Brahmas (36-11-8, 80 PTS)
x-Topeka RoadRunners (32-22-1, 65 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (24-27-4, 52 PTS)
Corpus Christi IceRays (23-26-6, 52 PTS)
z-Amarillo Bulls (11-40-4, 26 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays begin their final home weekend on Friday, April 1 at 7:11 p.m. and begin a two-game set and four-game stretch against the Wichita Falls Wildcats at the American Bank Center. Tickets are available at www.Ticketmaster.com and the American Bank Center Box Office. Coverage begins at 6:55 p.m. on SportsJuice.com, FASTHockey.com, and 87.7FM in-arena.