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PREVIEW: ICERAYS VS. MUDBUGS (GAME #15)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS VS. SHREVEPORT MUDBUGS

Saturday, October 29 • 7:05 P.M. • American Bank Center • Corpus Christi, TX
NAHL Game #112 • Game #15 • Home Game #7 • Series: Tied 1-1-0-0
Radio: SportsJuice • Video: HockeyTV • Twitter: @goicerays

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

Tonight’s Game: The IceRays close out their three-game weekend set against the Shreveport Mudbugs from the American Bank Center on Pink In The Rink, presented by AutoNation, KRIS-TV, Radiology & Imaging, and South Texas Surgical Hospital.

Head-To-Head: Through two games, the IceRays and Mudbugs each have claimed a regulation win with the IceRays taking game one 3-0 and the Mudbugs 5-4 for game two. Between their professional and junior franchise series in the WPHL, CHL and now NAHL, the IceRays are 22-26-4 through 52 games as well as 6-6-1 at the American Bank Center since moving to the arena in the 2004-05 season.

Last Night: The IceRays comeback bid was squandered in a 5-4 loss to the Mudbugs on Friday night. IceRays forwards Josh Tripp (PP, 13:35 1st) and Brendan Miller (PP, 2:33 2nd) began what would become a special teams game with the opening two goals to jump ahead to a 2-0 lead. The Mudbugs answered back with four-unanswered goals in the second period starting with forwards Frankie Melton (PP, 8:40 2nd) and Erik Zohovs (PP, 13:08 2nd) on the man-advantage to tie the game, 2-2. Melton (15:32 2nd) scored the game’s first even strength goal to nudge ahead, 3-2, followed by defenseman Kristaps Jakobsons (PP, 17:02 2nd) following suit to double the lead heading into intermission. IceRays captain Mason Krueger (6:41 3rd; PP, 16:22 3rd) brought the home side back even, 4-4, with two-straight goals, but Melton (19:23 3rd) re-directed a shot in the final minute to complete the hat-trick and the 5-4 Mudbugs win. Mudbugs goaltender Dylan Lubbesmeyer (4-2-0) saved 22 of 26 shots in the win, while IceRays netminder Tomáš Vomáčka (4-6-1) halted 25 of 30 shots in the loss.

Somewhat Special: For the second time this season, special teams became the focal point of a tight game for the IceRays after going 3-for-6 on the power play. Both teams owned a combined 6-for-12 record on the power play and factored in for six of the game’s nine goals (66.67%). In games where special teams combine for five or more goals, the IceRays are 0-1-1 with the other occurrence coming on Oct. 8 in Topeka (7-6 OTL), when the IceRays went 5-for-10 on the power play while earning a 4-for-7 ratio on the penalty kill. It’s also the third time this season the IceRays have scored three or more goals on the man-advantage, including the above Topeka loss and the season opener on September 15 in Wichita Falls (4-3 OTW) as part of another 3-for-6 effort.

Comeback Kid: IceRays captain Mason Krueger helped lead the charge last night in the eventual loss with two goals in the third period for this first multi-goal game of the season. It’s the third time this year the team-leading point scorer has recorded a multi-point game with the other two on Sep. 22 against the Magicians (1+2=3) and Oct. 8 in Topeka (0+3=3). The two-goal night is just the second of his career and first since Dec. 11, 2014 in Amarillo (8-4 W). As his career has developed, Krueger has continued to make positive strides, now leading the team in points (13) through 14 games and is four points away from his first season’s total (17). He now stands 5th all-time in career goals (25) and 7th in points (57).

No Shooter McGavin: In the first quarter of the season, games with high scoring have not favored the IceRays including last night’s loss. Last night was the 5th time this season the IceRays have conceded four or more goals in a contest and have lost all four of those games by a combined 20-10 with two of those as one-goal games. Three of those four games also saw opponents outshooting the IceRays with the only exception on Sep. 24 against New Jersey (4-3 SOL), where the IceRays and Titans tied with 31 shots in the game.

Back End Busted: Tonight’s game is the third of three-straight games this week to close out October, and the IceRays are working to have better fortunes than they have in that final third game. Previously, the IceRays are 0-2-1-0 in the third game of a weekend set including the four-day NAHL Showcase with the last two (Sep. 23 vs. BRK, 2-1 L; Oct. 8 @ TOP, 7-6 OTL) coming at a one-goal differential. The IceRays also have yet to win the final game of any weekend so far this year, going 0-2-1-1 in four chances.

Melton’s Way: Mudbugs forward Frankie Melton continues to build on a career season with his three-goal performance last night to edge out a victory. The hat-trick is his second of the season, joining his first on Sep. 23 against Kenai River (5-2 W) at the NAHL Showcase, and he’s the only player in the NAHL with two hat-tricks this season. He has now four multi-goal games, five multi-point games, and points in 12 of 14 games to start the season. Already, he leads the team in goals (14) and points (20) and sits atop the NAHL in goals and tied for 2nd in points. He is one-point away from matching his career point total through 64 games coming into the 2016-17 season.

South Division Standings:
Lone Star Brahmas (12-2-1-0, 25 PTS)
Shreveport Mudbugs (9-4-0-1, 19 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (6-6-3-0, 15 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (7-8-0-0, 14 PTS)
Wichita Falls Wildcats (6-5-2-0, 14 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (6-10-0-1, 13 PTS)
Corpus Christi IceRays (5-6-1-2, 13 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays open November with the series opener against the Amarillo Bulls on Friday, Nov. 4 at 7:05 p.m. from the Amarillo Civic Center. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM) and HockeyTV.