PREVIEW: ICERAYS VS. MUDBUGS (GAME #13)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS VS. SHREVEPORT MUDBUGS

Thursday, October 27 • 10:00 A.M. • American Bank Center • Corpus Christi, TX
Game #13 • Home Game #5 • Series: 1st Meeting
Radio: SportsJuice • Video: HockeyTV • Twitter: @goicerays

Coverage begins at 9:45 a.m. with Countdown To Faceoff

Today’s Game: The IceRays open another three-game, three-day weekend set while welcoming back the Shreveport Mudbugs at the MD Anderson Kids Day Game, presented by Smile Life Orthodontics, Promptu Immediate Care, and Schlitterbahn.

Head-To-Head: The IceRays and Mudbugs meet for the first time in junior franchise history for regular season play. The two teams met in Shreveport for two preseason games, and the Mudbugs took both 4-3 and 4-2, respectively. In their professional series, the IceRays held a 21-25-4 record through 50 games of WPHL and CHL play. However, since moving to the American Bank Center, the IceRays are 5-5-1 on home ice including grabbing wins in five of those six seasons.

Last Game: The IceRays played another tight game with the Odessa Jackalopes but fell 2-1 on Saturday, Oct. 15 at the American Bank Center. Jackalopes defenseman Jake Levin (4:45 1st) picked up the game’s first goal early in the contest from the right point to take a 1-0 lead. The IceRays found the equalizer once again in the second period, this time from defenseman Matt Acciaioli (SH, 9:19 2nd) for the team’s first shorthanded goal of the season to knot things up, 1-1. A third period goal from Jackalopes defenseman Nick Wilson (14:29 3rd) was the difference as Odessa took the 2-1 win. Jonny Hogue (5-2-0) turned away 28 of 29 shots in the win, and Tomáš Vomáčka (4-5-1) stopped 36 of 38 shots in the loss.

Shut Down: For the third and fourth times this season through 12 games, the IceRays have been held to one goal in a contest. Each of their last three results in this scenario were 2-1 regulation losses with the exception coming on September 17 in Wichita Falls (6-1 L). Three of those four games also saw the IceRays held to under 30 shots and cough up an average of 32.75 shots per game through all four contests. This comes following seven-straight games of 30+ shots and a franchise-high 61 shots on Saturday, Oct. 8 in Topeka (7-6 OTL).

Short & Stout: IceRays defenseman Matt Acciaioli‘s shorthanded goal is the first for the IceRays this season and first in the defenseman’s NAHL career. The IceRays become the sixth team in the South Division and 18th across the NAHL to notch a shorthanded tally with only Aberdeen, Brookings, Fairbanks, Kenai River, Shreveport, and Springfield forced away from a goal while on the penalty kill. The IceRays now have 42 shorthanded goals in seven seasons, averaging 6.83 heading into this season and five in each of the last two years.

Bye Bye Bye: The IceRays had another weekend off last week before picking up their five-game home stand today against the Mudbugs. It was the second weekend off for the IceRays in October, and between off-weekends the IceRays own a 2-2-1-0 record with points in three of five games. The off-week is their last before the holiday break in December.

It’s A Magic Number: Of the first five game weekends spanning two months, the IceRays are entering their fourth minimum three-in-three game set and second coming off a bye-week. In two sole three-in-three sets, the IceRays are 3-2-1 with a win on opening night in Wichita Falls (4-3 OT) and two wins in Topeka (4-3 W, 4-1 W). Including the inital three games of the NAHL Showcase, the IceRays are 4-3-2 in three-game sets.

Bug Biting: The Shreveport Mudbugs swept their three-game Pink In The Rink weekend at home with a 4-2 and 6-1 win against the Odessa Jackalopes on Friday and Sasturday, respectively, and a 4-1 win over the Topeka RoadRunners on Sunday. 13 different players recorded points with eight earning at least three points. Three different players recorded four points to lead the Mudbugs: Frankie Melton (3+1=4), Kieran Durgan (2+2=4) and Croix Evingson (1+3=4). Five more earned three points including Erik Zohovs, who scored three goals on the weekend. Dylan Lubbesmeyer earned two wins while turning away 40 of 43 shots, and John Roberts stopped a season-high 51 of 52 shots in Saturday’s win over Odessa.

Redemption Year: Mudbugs forward Frankie Melton makes his return to the American Bank Center after finishing the 2014-15 season with the IceRays and is off to his best career NAHL start. So far through 12 games, the St. Louis, Mizz., native leads the Mudbugs in goals (12) and points (17) while sitting tied for 4th in the NAHL in points and leading the league in goals. He already has one hat-trick (Sep. 23 vs. KNR, 5-2 W) as well as points in 11 of his first 12 games. Over his previous two seasons, Melton recorded seven goals and six assists for 13 points through 40 games including eight points (4 goals, 4 assists) with the IceRays in 24 games.

South Division Standings:
Lone Star Brahmas (10-2-1-0, 21 PTS)
Shreveport Mudbugs (8-3-0-1, 17 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (7-6-0-0, 14 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (6-6-2-0, 14 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (6-10-0-1, 11 PTS)
Wichita Falls Wildcats (5-5-2-0, 12 PTS)
Corpus Christi IceRays (4-5-1-2, 10 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays and Mudbugs face-off again on Friday, Oct. 28 at 7:05 p.m. from the American Bank Center for the second of three-straight games. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.com, the American Bank Center Box Office, or the IceRays Front Office. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on SportsJuice.com, HockeyTV, and 87.7FM in-arena.