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PREVIEW: ICERAYS VS. MUDBUGS (GAME #31)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS VS. SHREVEPORT MUDBUGS

Thursday, December 29 • 7:05 P.M. • American Bank Center • Corpus Christi, TX
NAHL Game #309 • Game #31 • Home Game #15 • Series: COR leads 4-1-0-1
Radio: SportsJuice.com • Video: Hockey TV • Twitter: @goicerays • In-Arena: 87.7FM

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

Tonight’s Game: The IceRays close out the 2016 calendar year as well as their four-game stretch against the Shreveport Mudbugs from the American Bank Center.

Head-To-Head: The IceRays continue to pick up points against the Mudbugs now with five of six games with points and a 4-1-0-1 record through six games. The IceRays have also claimed three of four games at the American Bank Center while earning points in four-straight meetings dating back to October 29. All-time, the IceRays are now 25-26-6 in 55 games against the Mudbugs including the professional seasons in the WPHL and CHL.

Last Night: The IceRays scored late and held on to claim a 3-2 win over the Mudbugs on Wednesday night from the American Bank Center. On the team’s first power play, IceRays forward Brad Power (PP, 17:07 1st) tapped in a shot between the goalie’s legs to edge ahead 1-0. The Mudbugs answered back in the second period with two quick goals from center Kieran Durgan (4:26 2nd) on a counter rush and forward Giovanni Carabelli (4:59 2nd) on a re-direction to take a 2-1 lead. IceRays forward Garrett Hallford (6:57 2nd) answered back just a few minutes later against his former team to send the game into the third tied at 2-2. In the final frame, IceRays forward Brendan Miller (9:16 3rd) picked up a loose puck for an open to chance, and the team held on late in the game to earn the 3-2 victory. IceRays netminder Tomáš Vomáčka halted 33 of 35 shots in the win, while Mudbugs goaltender Dylan Lubbesmeyer stopped 25 of 28 shots in the loss.

Home After Holidays: After last night’s win, the IceRays have now won four-straight games falling between Christmas and New Year’s Day over the last three seasons. The team’s last loss following the holiday break came on Dec. 27, 2013 in a 2-1 home loss against the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees and were 2-5-0 before their recent run. Overall, the IceRays are 6-5-0 dating back to the 2011-12 season in mid-holiday games. The franchise did not play between Christmas and New Year’s Day in the 2010-11 season.

Midway Mark: The IceRays finished the first half of the 2016-17 season last night on a high note, claiming their second-straight win and now seven of a possible eight points over their last four games against two of the top three teams in the South Division. While the IceRays sit at .500 through 30 games, they’re averaging exactly one point per game and sit in playoff position. It’s also just the third time the IceRays have held a .500 record or better at the midway mark of the season, joining the 2014-15 season (16-10-4 record) and the 2012-13 season (12-12-6 record). Those years are also the only seasons the IceRays made the playoffs as a junior franchise.

Sneaky Production: IceRays forward Josh Tripp has quietly been a large factor against the Mudbugs this season and a big part of the team’s production in the head-to-head matchup. Through six games, the Swan River, Man., native has two goals and six assists for eight points, leading the IceRays in points while being the only player to earn points in all six games in the season series. His recent production has helped him to a four-game point streak, recording five assists in that span and tying a season-high assist streak set by Brad Power from October 27 through November 5. This is also the third point streak Tripp has earned this year, the most of any IceRays player.

Close, So Close: The Mudbugs and IceRays have played in four one-goal games through their six-game set thus far, and the two sides have split those decisions down the middle. However, the Mudbugs have been on the losing end of a majority of their one-goal games this season, owning a 5-7-0-1 record in those contests but trending upward despite last night’s result. After dropping their first four games, the Mudbugs are 5-3-0-1 in one-goal games since claiming their first on October 28 against the IceRays.

Missing Up Top: The injury to Mudbugs forward Erik Zohovs has affected the Mudbugs in more way than one since his departure from the lineup in late November. During their recent run against the IceRays, the remaining top-five scorers below Zohovs have combined for just three points over their last three games led by Kieran Durgan (goal, assist) and Gueorgui Feduolov (assist). Zohovs not only is the team’s leading point scorer but also the leading scorer against the IceRays, sitting atop the team with four points (2+2=4) through just three games. Zohovs has missed the team’s last six games.

South Division Standings:
Lone Star Brahmas (23-8-1-0, 47 PTS)
Wichita Falls Wildcats (18-7-3-1, 40 PTS)
Shreveport Mudbugs (16-9-0-1, 33 PTS)
Corpus Christi IceRays (13-13-1-3, 28 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (10-13-7-0, 27 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (11-16-2-1, 25 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (10-12-4-0, 24 PTS)

Next Game: Following a weekend off, the IceRays are back in action on Thursday, Jan. 12 at 7:05 p.m. to open a two-game set and four-game stretch against the Amarillo Bulls from the American Bank Center.. Tickets are available at www.Ticketmaster.com and the ABC Box Office. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on SportsJuice.com, Hockey TV, and 87.FM in-arena.