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PREVIEW: ICERAYS VS. WILDCATS (GAME #25)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS VS. WICHITA FALLS WILDCATS

Sunday, December 4 • 3:05 P.M. • American Bank Center • Corpus Christi, TX
NAHL Game #235 • Game #25 • Home Game #13 • Series: WFS leads 3-0-1-0
Radio: SportsJuice.com • Video: Hockey TV • Twitter: @goicerays • In-Arena: 87.7FM

Coverage begins at 2:50 p.m. with Countdown To Faceoff

Today’s Game: The IceRays cap off the opening weekend of December against the Wichita Falls Wildcats this afternoon from the American Bank Center on Sunday Funday.

Head-To-Head: The Wildcats have taken control of the season series early on, winning three-straight games while only conceding a loss in overtime on the IceRays’ opening night on September 15. While the IceRays have a 15-15-1 record through now seven seasons at the American Bank Center in the franchise series, the Wildcats have taken a majority of the total games, forcing the IceRays to a 21-35-6 record.

Last Night: The IceRays saw the game slip away in the third period during their 4-2 loss to the Wildcats on Saturday night from the American Bank Center. IceRays forward David Thomson (PP, 6:52 1st) started the scoring with newcomer Griffin Loughran assisting to take a 1-0 lead before the Wildcats came back with two-unanswered from defenseman Jonathan Waring (16:43 1st) and forward C.J. Regula (17:08 1st) just 25 seconds apart to gain a 2-1 advantage. IceRays forward Cole Gammer (7:17 2nd) touched in a back door goal in the middle frame to tie the game, 2-2, but the Wildcats closed the deal with a goal from forward Ilya Skvortsov (5:02 3rd) to nudge ahead followed up late in the game from an insurance goal by forward Jonathan Bendorf (PP, 15:13 3rd) to earn the 4-2 win. Wildcats goaltender Jared Dempsey (8-1-0) halted 33 of 35 shots in the win, while IceRays netminder Tomáš Vomáčka (5-9-1) stopped 32 of 36 shots in the loss.

Weekend Struggles: The IceRays haven’t been able to string together success in Friday and Saturday night games so far this season through 19 games on either date. Last night’s loss brings the IceRays to a 3-5-1-1 record on Saturday as well as 6-11-1-1 combined with Friday games including the NAHL Showcase. Since opening their home schedule on October 15, the IceRays are 3-4-0-0 in home contests while finishing within two goals in five of those seven games. The team’s favorite days seem to be Wednesday and Thursday, where the team is 4-0-0-1 with their only loss coming on September 21 against Aberdeen (3-2 SOL). The IceRays have yet to play on Sunday this season.

Sunday Funday: For the first time in three seasons, the IceRays play a home game on a Sunday afternoon, marking just the 18th Sunday game in junior franchise history. The last Sunday afternoon home game came on Feb. 23, 2014 against the Amarillo Bulls (6-1 L), marking four-straight Sunday home games without a win dating back to their last occurrence on Jan. 15, 2012 hosting the Texas Tornado (4-1 W). The IceRays are winless in six-straight Sunday games with their last win on Dec. 2, 2012 in Amarillo (3-2 W). Overall, the IceRays are 6-10-1-0 in junior franchise history on Sunday while going 3-5-1-0 at the American Bank Center. The IceRays have never played the Wildcats on Sunday but have played Amarillo in half of Sunday games.

Thom and Thom Again: IceRays forward David Thomson has picked up the pace in the team’s scoring race heading toward the midway mark of the 2016-17 season, now picking up points in four-straight games (2+2=4). He also has had a knack for scoring against the Wildcats now in four games this season, recording points in three of four games, and all four of his goals have come on the power play. Thomson continues to lead the team in goals (11) and power play goals (7) while sitting tied for second in the NAHL in power play goals, trailing only Janesville’s Michael Maloney (11).

On The Prowl: In his first game since being officially announced as head coach, Josh Nelson helped lead his Wildcats to a win, becoming an increased trend as of late. The Wildcats have now won five-straight games as well as 10 of their last 11 games though seeing six of those 10 wins come in overtime. With a four-goal night yesterday, the Wildcats have four goals or more in six-straight and nine of their last 11 games while averaging 4.45 goals per game. In that time, Nelson is 6-1-0 and has led the Wildcats from a .500 record and last place in the South Division to second as well as keeping the gap from first place at nine points through their stretch run.

Rosas Have Thorns: Since acquiring forward Nick Rosa from the Sioux City Musketeers on November 7, the Wildcats have seen a string of success both in wins and with their center. Rosa’s three-point night is his second multi-point game this season, following a two-assist night on November 23 in Lone Star (5-4 W), as well as his second against the IceRays and ninth of his NAHL career dating back to last season. Rosa sits third in active scoring against the IceRays during the last two seasons, picking up points in now four-straight games (2+4=6) since Apr. 2, 2016 (4-2 L) and moving to 12 points (2+10) through 13 games against the IceRays. Rosa is just one of two Wildcats averaging over one point per game, joining forward Aleksi Poikola (24 points in 23 games) in that category with nine points through eight games.

South Division Standings:
Lone Star Brahmas (20-7-1-0, 41 PTS)
Wichita Falls Wildcats (15-6-2-0, 32 PTS)
Shreveport Mudbugs (15-7-0-1, 31 PTS)
Corpus Christi IceRays (10-10-1-2, 23 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (10-13-2-1, 23 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (7-12-7-0, 21 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (9-12-2-0, 20 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays return to the NYTEX Sports Center to take on the Lone Star Brahmas on Friday, Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m. in North Richland Hills, TX to open a two-game weekend. Coverage begins at 7:15 p.m. on SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM) & Hockey TV.