PREVIEW: ICERAYS VS. MUDBUGS (GAME #51)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS VS. SHREVEPORT MUDBUGS

Wednesday, March 15 • 7:05 P.M. • American Bank Center • Corpus Christi, TX
NAHL Game #571 • Game #51 • Home Game #26 • Series: COR leads 7-1-1-0
Radio: SportsJuice.com • Video: Hockey TV
In-Arena: 87.7FM • Twitter: @goicerays

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

Tonight’s Game: The IceRays begin a three-in-four week starting at home against the Shreveport Mudbugs from the American Bank Center

Head-To-Head: The IceRays have taken care of the season series against the Mudbugs in their first junior meetings, owning a 7-1-1 record with just three games remaining including the final home game of the season set. The IceRays have won five-straight meetings and earned points in seven of their last eight dating back to October 29. They are 4-1-0-0 at home this season against the Mudbugs and overall 28-26-6 since the start of the professional franchise series in the WPHL.

Last Game: The IceRays earned their first comeback victory this season with a 2-1 win over the Wichita Falls Wildcats (29-17-3-2) on Saturday night from the Kay Yeager Coliseum. Wildcats forward Matt Hanewall (3:09 1st) re-directed a shot from outside the crease to give the home side the early 1-0 lead. Scoring ceased until the third period following a swift first frame and a penalty-ridden second period, and IceRays forward Mason Krueger (4:59 3rd) placed in a rebound to tie the game, 1-1. Less than two minutes later, IceRays forward David Baskerville (6:34 3rd) jammed home a chance at the left post to take a 2-1 lead, and the road side would hold on for the comeback win. IceRays netminder Tomáš Vomáčka (16-11-4) halted 36 of 37 shots in the win, while Wildcats goaltender Jared Dempsey (13-7-1) stopped 35 of 37 shots in the loss.

Magic Number: The IceRays have the opportunity to clinch a playoff spot this week thanks to Saturday’s results. The IceRays’ magic number now stands at three with a four-point swing on Saturday in Wichita Falls. A win on Wednesday night reduces the number to just one, but even with a loss Wednesday the IceRays need just one win this weekend against Odessa to seal the top-four in the South Division for the 2017 Robertson Cup Playoffs. For the Jackalopes to get in, they would need to win at minimum nine of their last 10 games and could allow one IceRays win, but their lone loss cannot come against the IceRays.

Coming Back: Saturday’s game was just the first third period comeback victory this season, but the IceRays have been knocking on the door for quite a while. Just last week alone, the IceRays made a run in the third period at the Wildcats but earned different results at just a one-goal differential, and over the season eight of their 24 one-goal contests (33.33%) have been when trailing after two periods, now posting a 1-4-2-1 record with points in half of those games. The IceRays are now 1-12-1-2 when trailing after two periods.

Mr. Utility Belt: IceRays forward David Baskerville has become a consistent point producer over the last few weeks, which continued in the three-game week. The Buffalo, N.Y. native is on a six-game point streak, recording two goals and four assists for six points during that span, which stands just one game shy of the season-high set by both Brad Power and Larry Jungwirth. Both of his game-winning goals came in one-goal games during the final game of a three-in-three set. He now owns seven goals and 18 assists for 25 points through 49 games while leading the team in blocked shots.

Bugging Out: The Shreveport Mudbugs earned wins in two of three games in their final weekend with the Amarillo Bulls with a 4-42 win on Thursday, a 2-0 win on Friday night and a 2-1 loss on Saturday night at the Amarillo Civic Center. Four Mudbugs earned multi-point weekends in the low-scoring set with two multi-goal weekends from forward Cameron Cook (two goals) and defenseman Croix Evingson. Forwards Georgui Feduolov (two assists) and Steven Mather (goal, assist) added two-point weekends. Goaltender John Roberts recorded his second shutout of the season in a 37-save effort on Friday night, while Dylan Lubbesmeyer halted 61 of 66 shots between Thursday’s win and Saturday’s loss.

Up And Up: While the IceRays were on a winning trend, the Mudbugs are also coming off their own positive run. Saturday’s loss in Amarillo breaks a five-game win streak and six-game point streak since February 24, and now over their last 11 games the team is 8-2-1-0 since their last meeting with the IceRays. While they’ve been putting up points, they’ve been consistent with goal production, averaging exactly 3.00 goals per game while scoring four in six of those contests. This will be just the second meeting this season that the Mudbugs are not on a winning streak when starting a series of any length against the IceRays.

South Division Standings:
Lone Star Brahmas (40-13-2-0, 82 PTS)
Shreveport Mudbugs (30-16-2-2, 64 PTS)
Wichita Falls Wildcats (29-17-3-2, 63 PTS)
Corpus Christi IceRays (27-16-3-4, 61 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (19-25-5-1, 44 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (17-26-7-1, 42 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (16-29-4-1, 37 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays are right back on the road to kick off a decisive two-game set against the Odessa Jackalopes on Friday, Mar. 17 at 7:05 p.m. from the Ector County Coliseum. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM) & Hockey TV.