Preview: IceRays vs. Lone Star Brahmas (Game 59)

 


Rays Split Odessa Series to Confirm Seeding

Last weekend, the IceRays went from matching their second-highest offensive output of the 2017-18 season on Friday night to being shut out the following game.

It’s easy to review hours of film and pick apart mistake after mistake, but sometimes credit simply has to be given to the opponent. There was no denying that Odessa’s goaltender Brett Epp had a spectacular bounce-back performance after being off his game Friday night. He stopped all 36 shots the IceRays sent his way and earned his second shutout of the season.

It was an odd situation the Rays were in. If they had won the game in regulation, they would’ve drawn to within a point of the Jackalopes and made a push for third place in the South Division. However, doing so would’ve matched them against one of the hottest teams in the NAHL at the moment in the first round of the playoffs. Instead, they will only be facing that team weekend.


The Matchup

Both the IceRays and the Lone Star Brahmas were riding out a solid winning streak up until last weekend. The Rays had won four straight, including a road sweep over the first-place Mudbugs. Lone Star had collected ten consecutive victories until they were beaten in overtime in Shreveport. Still, the Brahmas are on a 12-game point streak which the IceRays can potentially snap this weekend.

On the season, the Rays have fared respectably against Lone Star, recording a 5-4-1 head-to-head record against them. They’ve pitched a goal differential of 26-to-33, and have beaten them in four of their last six matchups.


Love to Make IceRays Debut

Tendered defenseman Tyler Love will be making his IceRays debut tonight. He is projected to partner up with Ryan Rosenberg. Last weekend, Love’s Pittsburgh Penguins U18 defensive partner and fellow tender Brian Kramer made his first appearance in an IceRays uniform. Kramer made a rock-solid impact on the defensive side of the puck, using his balance and skating ability to greatly help the IceRays in their transition game. Love was the only defenseman on the U18 Penguins who outscored Kramer this season, putting up 20 points (6 G, 14 A) in 35 games played. He’s been an all-purpose player in his final season of midget hockey, playing in all key situations for the Penguins. He will be looking to make a strong impression in his first game of junior hockey tonight, and make an early case for himself prior to the off-season.


Tragge to Make First IceRays Start

IceRays emergency back-up goaltender Will Tragge will make his first NAHL start this evening. Tragge has been an understudy to Chad Veltri since he arrived here in mid-March. The 17-year-old has been one of the top high school goaltenders in Michigan this season, having played 23 games for Livonia Stevenson High and pitching an impressive 1.80 goals against average and a .926 save percentage. He will be given quite a challenge tonight, squaring off against a very hot team. But, he will have the support of what’s expected to be a raucous home crowd. Last season, the IceRays had a crowd of 4,934 on the Friday night game of their Pack the House Weekend.