PREVIEW: ICERAYS VS. WILDCATS (GAME #60)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS VS. WICHITA FALLS WILDCATS

Saturday, April 8 • 7:05 P.M. • American Bank Center • Corpus Christi, TX
NAHL Game #668 • Game #60 • Home Game #30 • Series: WFS leads 7-3-0-1
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 against the Wichita Falls Wildcats at the American Bank Center.

Head-To-Head: The IceRays continued their point run against the Wildcats with last night’s win, now earning points in five of their last six meetings with a 4-5-1-1 record head-to-head. While the IceRays can’t completely level the series, they can earn a .500 record with a win tonight and improve on their overall franchise series, which stands at 24-27-8 against the Wildcats as well as 17-16-2 at the American Bank Center.

Last Night: The IceRays secured third place with their 5-4 regulation win over the Wildcats on Friday night at the American Bank Center. Wildcats forward Ricky Carballo (PP, 3:34 2nd) opened a swift bout of scoring lasting 2:20 minutes between both sides, including goals from: IceRays forward Griffin Loughran (5:03 2nd) on a backhanded shot top-shelf, Wildcats forward Nick Rosa (PP, 5:37 2nd) on a wrist shot from the left circle, and IceRays forward Josh Tripp (5:54 2nd) on a scrum in front of the net to finally level the score, 2-2. Wildcats forward Matt Hanewall (16:36 2nd) edged the road side ahead 3-2 before the start of the third, when the IceRays took claim of the game. Center Mason Krueger (PP, 2:46 3rd) tied the game with a deflection in the slot, and center David Thomson (14:01 3rd) put the IceRays up 4-3 on a rebound. Wildcats defenseman Jonathan Waring (17:12 3rd) pushed the road side level again, 4-4, but with third place on the line the Wildcats pulled their goalie late, allowing Krueger (EN, 19:43 3rd) to seal the 5-4 win with an empty net goal. IceRays netminder Tomáš Vomáčka halted 36 of 40 shots in the win, while Wildcats goaltender Jared Dempsey stopping 26 of 30 shots in the loss.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Last night’s win secured history for the IceRays in their push for the postseason. With two points, the IceRays now own third place and a first round meeting with the Shreveport Mudbugs as well as make their best standings finish in junior franchise history with one game remaining. Over the franchise’s 19-year history, the IceRays have finished third or better now eight times, however the seven as members of professional hockey were with only four teams per division.

Win, Win, Win: The IceRays also tied history with the win last night, earning a share of the junior franchise record for wins in a season (31). The mark is tied with the 2014-15 season, a year in which Head Coach Brad Flynn was also on the bench as an assistant coach. There have been seven 30-win seasons in franchise history, and a win tonight will place this year’s team fifth for single-season wins. In addition, the IceRays now share the second-best win percentage in franchise history (.602) with the 2006-07 CHL season, and a win breaks that tie.

Where’s The Love: This season’s IceRays team has been one of the more productive units throughout the junior franchise individually and spread around the roster. This is the third time in seven seasons with at least three players with a 40+ point seasons and at least two players with 50+ point seasons, sharing that marker with the two other playoff seasons (2012-13 & 2014-15). A few points tonight by Josh Tripp (38) and Larry Jungwirth (37) could move that 40+ point number to five, which would be a first. The 2014-15 season had four players with 40+ points.

Slide Action: The Wichita Falls Wildcats continue to slip heading into the postseason, now falling in nine-straight games since March 11 with seven of those coming in regulation, which doesn’t help going into their postseason meeting with the Lone Star Brahmas. The Wildcats won their first meeting against the Brahmas on November 23 but lost the eight-straight remaining games, owning now a 1-6-1-1 record through nine games. It will be the first playoff meeting between the Wildcats and Brahmas starting next week.

Dipping Dempsey: Wildcats goaltender Jared Dempsey continues to run into trouble closing out the 2016-17 season including last night’s loss. Dempsey has now lost nine-straight games since March 11 as well as 12 of his last 14 contests with only two coming in a shootout. That encompasses 12 of his 15 total losses this season all coming since the start of 2017. In that nine-game streak, Dempsey has conceded four or more goals in three-straight as well as six of nine games including two seven-goal games despite getting goal support of four or more in four of those nine losses. His goals-against average has slipped to 3.21 from 2.84 in that time, and his save percentage slid from .920 to .912.

South Division Standings:
y-Lone Star Brahmas (44-14-2-0, 90 PTS)
x-Shreveport Mudbugs (35-17-3-3, 76 PTS)
x-Corpus Christi IceRays (31-19-4-5, 71 PTS)
x-Wichita Falls Wildcats (29-23-5-2, 65 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (25-25-6-3, 59 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (22-27-8-2, 54 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (19-33-4-1, 43 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays open the 2017 South Division Semifinals against the Shreveport Mudbugs on Friday, Apr. 14 at 7:11 p.m. from George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum for a best-of-five playoff series. Coverage begins at 6:55 p.m. on SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM) & Hockey TV.