PREVIEW: ICERAYS VS. ROADRUNNERS (GAME #13)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

vs.

TOPEKA ROADRUNNERS

Thursday, October 22 at 7:05 P.M.

Game #13 • NAHL Game #125 • Series: Tied 1-1-0
American Bank Center • Corpus Christi, TX
Radio: SportsJuice.com • Mobile: TuneIn Radio • In-Arena: 87.7FM

Video: FASTHockey.com • Twitter: @goicerays

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

Tonight’s Game: The IceRays welcome the Topeka RoadRunners to the American Bank Center for the first time in the 2015-16 season for a two-game, three-day weekend set.

Head-To-Head: The IceRays and RoadRunners split their initial encounter to kick off the 2015-16 campaign with the IceRays taking the first game, 3-1, and dropping the second, 2-1. The IceRays now hold a 3-18-3 record against the RoadRunners and are 1-8-2 at home. Last season, the IceRays went 1-2-1 against Topeka while splitting the home weekend and earning their first home win against the RoadRunners.

Last Game: The IceRays overpowered the Amarillo Bulls but ultimately fell 2-1 in overtime on Saturday night at the Amarillo Civic Center. Bulls forward Joey Molinaro (PP, 11:27 1st) lined up the home side early on the team’s lone power play chance to take a 1-0 lead. Late in the second period, IceRays forward Brad LeLievre (17:33 2nd) found some help from forwards Carter Johnson and Brad Power to open him up with a back-door goal and tie the game, 1-1. In overtime, IceRays forward Tobias Kircher attempted the team’s first penalty shot of the year but was stopped. Bulls forward Johan Lundgren (1:53 OT) sealed the 2-1 win with a second-chance play. Bulls netminder Anton Martinsson stopped 41 of 42 shots in the win, and IceRays goaltender Dryden McKay saved 27 of 29 shots in the loss.

Skid Row: The loss on Saturday is the fourth-straight for the IceRays and the first overtime loss of the season. The loss also breaks an eight-game overtime win streak dating exactly one year (Oct. 17, 2014) against Topeka (4-3 W). The IceRays also had not lost a game beyond regulation since Jan. 2, 2015 against Rio Grande Valley (3-2 L), marking the end of a nine-game winning streak in that category. Overall, the IceRays are 16-14 in overtime games as a franchise and 9-2 over the last two seasons.

Conversion Crunching: The IceRays continue to struggle offensively to produce goals and were held to just one goal for the seventh time this season. However, their output wasn’t for the lack of chances. The IceRays tallied their third game with 40+ shots this season, combining for 83 shots over the weekend and only scoring three goals (3.61%). Over their last five games, the IceRays have totaled 35 or more shots four times (three against Amarillo), averaging 35.80 shots per game and only scoring seven goals (3.91%). They’ve only reached three goals three times this season but are perfect in those games. The team is now last in the NAHL in goals per game (1.67).

Free Chances: IceRays forward Tobias Kircher nearly won the game on Saturday in overtime by virtue of a penalty shot but was shut down within the first minute of the extra frame. That was the fourth attempt in junior franchise history at a penalty shot as well as the second in overtime, but the IceRays are 2-for-4 in conversions. Their last penalty shot came on Nov. 22, 2014 in a 4-3 win over Odessa (Wes Michaud). The IceRays have never scored a penalty shot in a road game. As a team, the IceRays have seen six penalty shots against them, stopping only 2-of-6 with their most recent coming on Mar. 6, 2015 against the Lone Star Brahmas (A.J. Vanderbeck scored on Andrew Lindgren).

Evening Up: The Topeka RoadRunners split their two-game weekend set against the Springfield Jr. Blues at home from the Kansas ExpoCentre, shutting out the Jr. Blues 5-0 on Friday and falling 4-1 on Saturday. Forward Matt Jennings took the helm over the weekend, earning three points (two goals, assist) and the only player to grab a multi-game scoring weekend. Forward Cam Strong earned two goals in Friday’s victory including one on the power play, and two players earned two assists to round out the multi-point weekend: defenseman Tyler Hayes and forward Dominic Lutz. Goaltender Tyler Johnson played both games in net, saving 57 of 61 shots in 120:00 minutes in net.

Mr. Mendoza: The RoadRunners have run right down the middle of the NAHL as they hit the quarter-season mark this evening. They’ve split 3-3-0 in their last six games and rank right around mid-table in scoring (13th), goals-against (11th), shots per game (11th), power play percentage (14th), and penalty kill percentage (15th). However, the team has lost three of their last four games and have already completed one-third of their home schedule for the season.

Players To Watch: Co-captain Brad LeLievre has emerged as the spark for the IceRays as evident on Saturday. While recording his second goal of the seaosn, his physical presence and commitment to team play inspires others, which will be key to righting the ship. RoadRunners forward Matt Jennings has helped to push Topeka in their recent stretch despite their losing efforts, recording five points over his last four games. He now shares the team lead in goals (5) and points (9). As long as he keeps producing, the RoadRunners can rally around him and assist his hot stroke.

South Division Standings:
Wichita Falls Wildcats (9-1-1, 19 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (7-7-0, 14 PTS)
Lone Star Brahmas (6-1-2, 14 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (5-5-0, 10 PTS)

Corpus Christi IceRays (4-7-1, 9 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (3-7-2, 8 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays host the 8th annual Pink In The Rink game on Saturday, October 24 at 7:05 p.m. at the American Bank Center and finish their weekend set against the Topeka RoadRunners. Tickets are available at www.Ticketmaster.com, the American Bank Center Box Office, or by calling 361-814-PUCK.