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PREVIEW: ICERAYS VS. ROADRUNNERS (GAME #36)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

vs.

TOPEKA ROADRUNNERS

Thursday, January 21 at 7:11 P.M.

Game #36 • NAHL Game #396 • Series: COR leads 4-1-1
American Bank Center • Corpus Christi, TX
Radio: SportsJuice.com • Video: FASTHockey.com 
• In-Arena: 87.7FM
Mobile: TuneIn Radio Twitter: @goicerays

Coverage begins at 6:55 p.m. with Countdown To Faceoff

Tonight’s Game: The IceRays close out their 2015-16 season series with the Topeka RoadRunners with their first two home games of 2016 at the American Bank Center.

Head-To-Head: The IceRays have already claimed at least a share of the season series for the first time in junior franchise history with a record-setting 4-1-1 record thanks to the team’s first road sweep in Topeka. The RoadRunners still hold the all-time season set, winning 22 of 28 meetings, however the IceRays have leveled the ice during the last two seasons with a 5-3-2 record.

Last Game: The IceRays fell in the dying seconds of overtime in a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to the Lone Star Brahmas on Saturday night at the NYTEX Sports Centre. Brahmas forward Alex Berardinelli (PP, 11:09 1st) scored his third of the weekend to jumpstart Lone Star with a 1-0 lead. The IceRays held off the home side into the third period, where IceRays forward Nathan Bryer (14:52 3rd) capitalized on a turnover behind the Brahmas net to tie the game, 1-1. Within the final second of overtime, Brahmas forward Hogan Davidson (4:59 OT) floated a shot from the slot to seal the 2-1 victory for the opposition. Corbin Kaczperski turned aside 23 of 24 shots in the win, and Graham Hunt stopped down 41 of 43 shots in the overtime loss.

Long Way Home: The IceRays finished their annual six-game January road trip with a 3-2-1 record against the South Division’s top-three teams while also gaining their lead for the fourth and final playoff spot. During their trip, the IceRays were outscored only 17-15 while sweeping Topeka for the first time in junior franchise history, earning the team’s first shutout on January 1 in Topeka and taking three of four points in a road set against Lone Star for the first time in junior franchise history. The cushion for fourth place is now five points thanks to the team’s recent success.

Back End Strength: The penalty kill unit has been a difference-maker over the team’s last three games to keep the IceRays in contention for wins and points. The IceRays have taken four major penalties (with one reduced post-game) over their last three games and allowed only one goal during that 20-minute period. The IceRays stopped 14 of 15 attempts in two games against the Brahmas last weekend and moved up while holding firm in the top-10 in the league in kill percentage.

Cage Master: Goaltender Graham Hunt continues to earn time in net with two more games played last weekend against the Brahmas, appearing now in nine of the team’s last 10 games. His play has been consistent during that stretch while helping the team to a 6-2-1 record and only having a hiccup on January 8 in Wichita Falls. In fact, he’s allowed four goals or more just twice since December 12 including on December 29 in a 5-4 overtime win over Odessa. Along with his strong record, Hunt owns a 2.31 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage since that home game against Amarillo in December.

Trouble Afoot: The IceRays will be without two of their top point-scorers against Topeka during this weekend. Forwards Mason Krueger and Brad Power lead all IceRays with six points each against the RoadRunners through six games with Krueger owning two goals and Power with one. Krueger will serve a two-game suspension for his match penalty on Saturday, and Power is ailing from an upper body injury. Fortunately, most of the team’s success has come throughout the lineup with over half of the active skaters earning at least one point with Brad LeLievre and Drake Lindsay leading the remaining players with four points (two goals, two assists).

Keep On Running: The Topeka RoadRunners finished a seven-game home stand with a three-game sweep of the Odessa Jackalopes from the Kansas Expocentre. Five players earned multi-goal weekends with four earning two-goal games through the set, including forward Andrew Hart (2+2=4) and defenseman Marshall Bowery (2+2=4), who both led the way in scoring. The other two were forwards Dominic Lutz (2+1=3) and Max Harper (2+1=3), and the four were part of nine different players with multi-point weekends. Goaltender Tyler Johnson saved 58 of 64 shots combined on Friday and Sunday, and Juho Niku stopped 25 of 26 on Saturday.

Not In Kansas Anymore: The RoadRunners have a long stretch before their season feels more comfortable, playing two-thirds of their remaining games on the road. Of their 21 remaining games, 14 will come away from the Kansas Expocentre including playing 10 of their next 12 games as the visiting side. The road has been kind to NAHL teams this season with half owning a positive record, however Topeka hasn’t played more than four games away from home consecutively all season. Their last road games came on December 18 and 19, splitting those two games in Springfield.

South Division Standings:
Wichita Falls Wildcats (29-6-3, 61 PTS)
Lone Star Brahmas (24-8-5, 53 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (24-14-1, 49 PTS)
Corpus Christi IceRays (15-16-4, 34 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (11-18-4, 26 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (8-25-3, 19 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays finish their season series with the Topeka RoadRunners on Friday, Jan. 21 at 7:11 p.m. at the American Bank Center. Tickets are available at www.Ticketmaster.com, the American Bank Center Box Office, and by calling 361-814-PUCK. Coverage begins at 6:55 p.m. on SportsJuice.com, FASTHockey.com, and 87.7FM in-arena.