PREVIEW: ICERAYS VS. MAGICIANS (GAME #5)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS VS. MINESOTA MAGICIANS

Thursday, September 22 at 10:15 A.M. • Schwan Super Rink #4 • Blaine, MN
Game #5 • NAHL Showcase Game #2 • Video: FASTHockey.com • Twitter: @goicerays

Coverage begins at 10:10 a.m. with Countdown To Faceoff

Today’s Game: The IceRays continue their NAHL Showcase on Day 2 against the Minnesota Magicians from Schwan Super Rink 4.

NAHL Showcase: The IceRays gained a point on Day 1 despite the loss, moving to 0-0-1 on the weekend. The IceRays have now appeared in 25 NAHL Showcase games over the last six seasons, recording a 11-10-4 record. Last season, the IceRays earned a 1-3-0 record including a comeback overtime victory against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights. The IceRays have never played any of their four opponents prior to this week.

Last Game: The IceRays faltered in the third period and fell 3-2 in a shootout to the Aberdeen Wings on Wednesday afternoon at Schwan Super Rink 1. IceRays defenseman Matt Acciaioli (10:54 1st) opened the scoring with a shot from the right circle to take a 1-0 lead followed by IceRays forward David Thomson (16:39 1st) lofting a rebound on his own shot from outside the crease to double the lead, 2-0. The Wings started back in the second thanks to forward Shawn Knowlton (12:52 2nd) to cut the lead in half, 2-1. A five-on-three power play with a five-minute major penalty against the IceRays allowed Wings forward Kevin Fitzgerald (PP, 11:22 3rd) to tie the game, 2-2, and force overtime. Fitzgerald scored the lone goal in the shootout during the first round to seal the 3-2 win for the Wings. Arrtu Kulmala (1-1-0) halted 35 of 37 shots in the win, while Tomáš Vomáčka (1-2-1) stopped 32 of 34 shots in the shootout loss.

(Not So) Over Easy: The IceRays dropped their first game of the 2016 NAHL Showcase in a shootout, marking the fifth-straight season the IceRays were forced to see an overtime period in the tournament and the first shootout since Sep. 20, 2014 against Keystone (4-3 L). In total, there have been seven games tied after regulation at the NAHL Showcase, and the IceRays have gone 3-4 in those contests including 1-4 in a shootout. The last overtime win came last season on Sep. 24, 2015 against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (3-2 W), and the only shootout win was on Sep. 18. 2010 against Dawson Creek (4-3 W). The IceRays have now lost three of their last four in overtime or shootout in Blaine.

Hot Thomale: IceRays forward David Thomson has started his first NAHL season with a strong showing, picking up four goals over his first four games. Wednesday’s goal was his first on even-strength and continues his tear through NAHL defenses. He owns the most goals through four games in IceRays junior franchise history and leads the NAHL in power play goals (3) while leading the team in points (5). Last season, Thomson recorded 22 goals with the Burlington Cougars (22) and set a career-high the previous season (23).

Heating Up: The IceRays posted their highest shot total of the season so far through four games, nearly clipping the 40-shot mark. The IceRays have tallied 30+ shots in two of their first four games and outshot their opponent for the first time. Last year, the IceRays turned in 30+ shots in 23 games (38.33%) while topping 40 shots nine different times, most recently on Mar. 26, 2016 against the Odessa Jackalopes (3-2 L).

Minnesota Favor: The Minnesota Magicians opened the 2016 NAHL Showcase with a 4-3 win over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights on Wednesday afternoon. Magicians forward Caleb Hite (7:04 1st) opened the scoring early before Knights forward Curtis Carlson (8:14 1st) evened the scoring, 1-1, just over one minute later. The Knights pulled ahead in the second with their second and third unanswered goals from forwards Matt Kidney (1:21 2nd) and Vince Marino (12:43 2nd) to take a 3-1 head heading into the third period. The Magicians fought back in the third with goals from forwards Nikita Kozyrev (PP, 1:37 3rd), Cameron Buhl (5:32 3rd) and Will Hammer (13:29 3rd) to come back and win 4-3. David Fessenden (1-0-0) halted all 11 shots in 27:17 minutes during the win with Daniil Gerasimov stopping 13 of 16 shots in 32:43 minutes. Grant Valentine (0-3-0) turned aside 39 of 43 shots in the loss.

Magic Meyer: The Minnesota Magicians are also working with a new head coach this season that’s familiar with the NAHL: Scott Meyer, who returns for his second full season and third total year. Meyer took over as Interim Head Coach in November 2015 and led the Magicians to a 24-28-8 record, missing the playoffs by one win after sharing fourth place in the Central Division with the Brookings Blizzard but dropping by virtue of tie-breakers. The Magicians have yet to have a winning season in three years but made the playoffs in 2014-15. The franchise was formerly the New Mexico Mustangs, members of the South Division for two seasons from 2010-12.

South Division Standings:
Wichita Falls Wildcats (2-1-2-0, 6 PTS)
Lone Star Brahmas (2-0-0-0, 4 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (2-2-0-0, 4 PTS)
Corpus Christi IceRays (1-2-0-1, 3 PTS)
Shreveport Mudbugs (1-0-0-0, 2 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (1-1-0-0, 2 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (1-3-0-0, 2 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays continue the 2016 NAHL Showcase on Friday, Sep. 23 at 1:00 p.m. against the Brookings Blizzard from Schwan Super Rink 2. Coverage begins all week long just before the opening faceoff exclusively in high definition on FASTHockey.com.