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PREVIEW: ICERAYS VS. WILDCATS (GAME #59)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS VS. WICHITA FALLS WILDCATS

Friday, April 7 • 7:05 P.M. • American Bank Center • Corpus Christi, TX
NAHL Game #657 • Game #59 • Home Game #29 • Series: WFS leads 7-2-0-1
Radio: SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM)
Video: Hockey TV • Twitter: @goicerays

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

Tonight’s Game: The Corpus Christi IceRays finish the 2016-17 season at home with a two-game series with the Wichita Falls Wildcats at the American Bank Center.

Head-To-Head: The IceRays have dropped their season series with the Wildcats with two games remaining, owning a 3-5-1-1 record heading into the home weekend but have earned points in four of their last five meetings. The IceRays are 23-37-8 against the Wildcats in the franchise series along with a 16-16-2 record at the American Bank Center.

Last Night: The IceRays finished their road schedule with a 3-2 loss to the Lone Star Brahmas on Sunday evening from the NYTEX Sports Centre. The Brahmas scored two quick goals in the first period separated by less than one minute thanks to forwards Austin Kamer (8:11 1st) and Troy York (9:03 1st) to jump out to a 2-0 lead. The IceRays answered in the second period on a tap-in by forward Griffin Loughran (13:35) to cut the lead to 2-1. The next two goals both came on the power play, one from Brahmas forward Pete Kessel (PP, 15:28 2nd) and another from IceRays center Mason Krueger (PP, 17:17 2nd) to move the score to 3-2. Despite a push back, the IceRays slipped to the Brahmas by that scoreline. Brahmas goaltender Max Prawdzik (19-3-1) stopped 21 of 23 shots in the win, while IceRays netminder Tomáš Vomáčka (18-13-6) halted 28 of 31 shots in the loss.

Going For One Even with the loss on Sunday, the IceRays are still nearly in possession of third place with two games remaining. The IceRays need just one point in their final two games against the Wildcats to seal their best standings finish in junior franchise history as well as a first round meeting with Shreveport. The Wildcats need to win both games in regulation this week to slot into third place over the IceRays.

End Of The Road: The IceRays finished the 2016-17 road schedule last weekend and earned their best situational record in four years. The team completed the road portion with a 14-10-6, which is just one point behind the team’s best junior road record (15-10-5) set in the 2012-13 season. It’s also just the second time the IceRays have finished with a positive road record in the last seven seasons. Coincidentally, both years are seasons making the South Division Semifinals.

Cap’n, My Cap’n: IceRays captain Mason Krueger joined a small handful of players to eclipse the 50-point mark in the junior franchise. He’s the first since the 2014-15 season to reach 50 points in a single-season, tying defenseman Anthony Cortese (’14-’15) for sixth in junior franchise history for single-season points. Ahead of them are forwards Wes Michaud (’14-’15) with 73 points, Rudy Sulmonte (’12-’13) with 68 points, Beau Walker (’10-’11) with 62 points, Tanner Lomsnes (’14-’15) with 57 points, and Emil Romig (’12-’13) with 54 points. Krueger is also second all-time in assists and third in goals and points, recording 41 goals and 53 assists for 94 points through 171 career NAHL games.

Cat Spank: The Wichita Falls Wildcats earned one of six points in their three-game set against the Odessa Jackalopes, falling 6-5 on Thursday, 3-4 in overtime on Friday and 8-6 on Saturday at the Ector County Coliseum. Defenseman Ryan Orgel (3+2=5) led the team in scoring and in goals including a pair in Friday’s loss, and forward Nick Rosa (2+2=4) helped the cause with two multi-point games on the weekend. 16 different players recorded points, and 11 of those were at least multi-point contributors. Goaltender Jared Dempsey saved 94 of 107 shots through all three games, and Evan Moyse stopped 25 of 30 shots in parts of two games.

Losing Grip: The Wildcats have been on a massive slide coming into their final weekend of the season, dropping their last eight games with only two coming in overtime starting with their last meeting against the IceRays on March 11. In that time, they’ve been outscored by opponents 36-23 and averaging 4.50 goals against per game compared to scoring only 2.88 goals per contest. The skid is their longest of the season, nearly doubling their five-game losing streak from Feb. 3-17 (0-4-0-1 record), and it’s the second-worst span of games this season behind a 2-8-0-1 record starting on January 6 and finishing at the end of the five-game skid in February. The Wildcats have already completed their home schedule and are 0-2-1-0 on their five-game road swing.

South Division Standings:
y-Lone Star Brahmas (44-14-2-0, 90 PTS)
x-Shreveport Mudbugs (35-17-2-3, 75 PTS)
x-Corpus Christi IceRays (30-19-4-5, 69 PTS)
x-Wichita Falls Wildcats (29-22-5-2, 65 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (25-25-6-2, 58 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (21-27-8-2, 52 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (18-33-4-1, 41 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays close the 2016-17 regular season on Saturday, Apr. 8 at 7:05 p.m. against the Wichita Falls Wildcats from the American Bank Center on Pack The House Night. Tickets are available at the American Bank Center Box Office or Ticketmaster.com. For groups or suites, call the IceRays at 361-814-PUCK. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on SportsJuice.com, Hockey TV and 87.7FM in-arena.