PREVIEW: ICERAYS VS. WILDCATS (GAME #46)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS VS. WICHITA FALLS WILDCATS

Friday, March 3 • 7:05 P.M. • American Bank Center • Corpus Christi, TX
NAHL Game #526 • Game #46 • Home Game #24 • Series: WFS leads 4-0-1-0
Radio: SportsJuice.com • Video: Hockey TV
Twitter: @goicerays • Video: 87.7FM

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

Tonight’s Game: The IceRays start the final full month of the 2016-17 season and open a five-game stretch against the Wichita Falls Wildcats from the American Bank Center.

Head-To-Head: The Wildcats have owned the season series up to this point, earning points in all five games and taking four-straight in regulation after the IceRays’ 4-3 overtime win to begin the season. The Wildcats have also scored four goals or more in each of their last four meetings and at least three goals in all five. The IceRays are now 21-35-6 against the Wildcats in the franchise series as well as 15-16-1 on home ice.

Last Game: The IceRays edged out the Lone Star Brahmas with a tight 2-1 win on Saturday night at the American Bank Center. The IceRays started the scoring with a one-time shot by forward Cole Gammer (PP, 7:34 1st) from forward Brad Power to take an early 1-0 lead. The Brahmas found an answer in the second period to tie the game, 1-1, when forward Julian Biondo (12:40 2nd) tapped in a tally before IceRays forward Griffin Loughran (PP, 15:08 2nd) earned his own answer on the man-advantage to take back the lead at 2-1. A late bench minor in the third period halted the comeback attempt by the Brahmas, skating the IceRays to the win. IceRays goaltender Camden Burggrabe saved 31 of 32 shots in the win, while Brahmas netminder Max Prawdzik halted 20 of 22 shots in the loss.

Fantastic February: The IceRays earned their best record in a single full month in junior franchise history during February, forcing their way to a 7-0-1-0 record with six of those eight games coming at home. The recent run extends their point streak to nine games beginning on January 28 in Odessa, and it’s the longest point streak in the franchise’s history. On top of that, the IceRays have closed the gap to third place to just one point and second place to two points. The team now has points in 17 of their last 19 games, earning a 15-2-1-1 record since December 10.

Three Down, One Left: In addition to finishing the month, the IceRays also closed the third quarter of the season with a strong showing. Since December 29, the IceRays have earned a 12-2-1-0 record with 25 points, which stands as one of the best stretches in the NAHL while also nearly doubling their points total from the first two quarters of the season combined (13-13-1-3, 30 points). The team also set the longest win streak in junior franchise history at seven games spanning from January 28 to February 17. During that time, five IceRays players earned at least ten points, led by captain Mason Krueger (17) and followed by Brad Power (15), Griffin Loughran (12), Larry Jungwirth (11) and David Thomson (10).

Powered Up: The IceRays power play is running on a peculiar pattern on the power play but seeing more production at the same time. Over their last six games, the IceRays have scored two power play goals in three contests while doing so nearly every other game, converting at a 6-for-32 (18.75%) clip. While the stretch falls under their season average, the IceRays have now recorded a multi-goal game in eight contests this season with four of those coming since the start of the 2017 calendar year.

Born To Be Wild: The Wichita Falls Wildcats finished February with a strong showing during a 3-0 win and 4-2 win over the Amarillo Bulls from the Kay Yeager Coliseum last weekend. Six players earned multi-point weekends including forwards Ricky Carballo (2+1=3) and Steven Tillie (0+3=3), who led the way for the home side. Forward Ryan Burnett (2+0=2) was one of two players to earn multi-goal weekends, and a total of 13 different players earned points during the proceedings. Goaltender George McBey earned a 23-save shutout on Friday night in just his fifth NAHL game, and netminder Jared Dempsey halted 26 of 28 shots in Saturday’s victory.

Turning Around: After heading through a rough stretch through their third quarter of the season, the Wildcats are beginning to rebound at the right time. Starting on January 6, the Wildcats went through a down turn, going 2-8-0-1 through February 17 before making a turn upwards with a mini three-game streak over their last two weeks. 10 of the team’s last 14 games have come against teams in the top-three of the South Division, and in those contests the team is 3-7-0-0 with the other four games against the Amarillo Bulls. However, in the recent turn, the Wildcats have solved their defensive woes, only allowing three goals through three games after coughing up an average of 4.09 goals per game in that 11-game downturn.

South Division Standings:
Lone Star Brahmas (37-12-1-0, 75 PTS)
Wichita Falls Wildcats (26-15-4-1, 57 PTS)

Shreveport Mudbugs (26-15-2-2, 56 PTS)
Corpus Christi IceRays (25-15-2-3, 55 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (18-23-5-0, 41 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (15-22-7-1, 38 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (15-28-4-1, 35 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays close their eight-game home stand on Saturday, Mar. 4 at 7:05 p.m. against the Wichita Falls Wildcats from the American Bank Center. Tickets are available at the American Bank Center Box Office and Ticketmaster.com. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on SportsJuice.com, Hockey TV and 87.7FM in-arena.