PREVIEW: ICERAYS VS. WILDCATS (GAME #9)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

vs.

WICHITA FALLS WILDCATS

Thursday, October 8 at 7:05 P.M.

Game #9 • NAHL Game #84 • Series: 0-0-0
American Bank Center • Corpus Christi, TX
Audio: SportsJuice.com • Mobile: TuneIn Radio • In-Arena: 87.7FM

Video: FASTHockey.com • Twitter: @goicerays

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

Tonight’s Game: The IceRays begin a two-game weekend series against the Wichita Falls Wildcats from the American Bank Center.

Head-To-Head: The IceRays and Wildcats begin the first of a 12-game season series and their only home series against Wichita Falls until Mar. 11. Last season, the IceRays recorded a 3-5-0 record against the Wildcats including a 2-2-0 split in games from the American Bank Center. Historically, the IceRays own a 17-23-6 record over the past five seasons and have split their 24 home games down the middle: 12-11-1.

Last Game: The IceRays rounded out their home opening weekend with a 2-1 shootout win over the Amarillo Bulls at the American Bank Center. Bulls forward Joey Molinaro (14:32 1st) registered the lone goal for the Bulls on a redirection coming from defenseman Phil Fromberger. After a charge early in the third period, IceRays forward Jimmy O’Brien (PP, 15:31 3rd) jammed home his first of the year to tie the game, 1-1. After a scoreless overtime, IceRays forward Ryan Cusin scored in the third round of the shootout to seal the victory. IceRays goaltender Dryden McKay saved 28 of 29 shots in the win, and Anton Martinsson stopped 37 of 38 shots in the shootout loss.

Home, Sweet Home: Since John Becanic became the head coach of the IceRays in 2013-14, the team has been perfect on home opening weekends at the American Bank Center. The IceRays are 3-0 in home openers and including a single-game and weekend to open the 2014-15 home schedule are 7-0-0 with three sweeps over the last three seasons. Historically, the IceRays are 10-4-0 in single-game plus weekend openers and 2-0 in single-game opening sets.

Shootout Special: The IceRays capitalized on their first attempt in the new best-of-three shootout format adopted by the NAHL this season. Thus far, the NAHL has seen five shootouts and eight games end in the new three-on-three overtime period compared to eight shootouts and five games in overtime at this point in the 2014-15 season. Dating back to last season, the IceRays have won four-straight shootouts and are 2-0 in games ending after regulation. Forward Ryan Cusin owns the game-winners in each of their last three shootouts.

Snapping Streaks: Jimmy O’Brien’s power play goal on Saturday night broke a string of 18-straight chances without scoring with the man-advantage. Though the sample size remains small, the IceRays have not floated over a 15.00% conversion rate since scoring their first power play goal on Sep. 20 against Topeka and never sat higher than 12th in the NAHL in power play. The team has scored one power play goal in four of the team’s first eight games and sits 20th in the league (10.81%).

Climbing The Ladder: IceRays forward Ryan Cusin has broken into the IceRays history books with his play to start the season. With his shootout winner, Cusin becomes the IceRays all-time leader in shootout-deciding goal with his third of his career. He has decided the last three shootouts the IceRays have taken part in. He trails Michael Bendedict (5), Cody Milligan (4), and Beau Walker (4) for all-time shootout goals, going 3-for-7 (42.86%). In addition, he sits 9th all-time in career assists (34) and 10th in points (51) thanks to his goal and three assists to begin the season.

Untamable: The Wichita Falls Wildcats opened their 2015-16 home schedule with a 5-3 win over the Odessa Jackalopes from the Kay Yeager Coliseum. Forward Garrett VanWyhe (6:40 1st) opened the home season with the team’s first goal before the Jackalopes overtook the Wildcats, 2-1, by the early stages of the second period. Wildcats forwards Aleksi Poikola (11:58 2nd) and Max Reisinger (PP, 16:21 2nd) helped to gain back momentum for the Wildcats and take a 3-2 lead. Following an early Odessa equalizer, Reisinger (9:55 3rd) and forward Nick Rosa (15:33 3rd) pushed the Wildcats to their eventual 5-3 victory. Wildcats goaltender Justin Kapelmaster saved 16 of 19 shots in the win, and Jackalopes netminder Dean Shatzer stopped 31 of 36 shots in the loss.

Mid-Season Stride: After struggling to connect during the pre-season and their first game of the season, the Wildcats have turned up the heat and have been one of the most dominant teams in the NAHL. Since their 4-3 loss to Topeka to start the season, the Wildcats have earned points in six-straight games while winning five of those games. Up front, the trio of Ben Lown, Adam Goodsir, and Max Reisinger have blazed the trail, scoring one-third of the team’s points for the season. Saturday was the first game this year that Goodsir and Lown did not register a point, going six-straight games to start the year with five-combined multi-point games.

South Division Standings:
Topeka RoadRunners (6-4-0, 12 PTS)
Wichita Falls Wildcats (5-1-1, 11 PTS)
Lone Star Brahmas (4-1-2, 10 PTS)

Corpus Christi IceRays (4-4-0, 8 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (3-3-0, 6 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (1-5-2, 4 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays round out their two-game weekend series against the Wichita Falls Wildcats on Friday, Oct. 9 at 7:05 p.m. from the American Bank Center. Tickets are available at the American Bank Center Box Office, www.Ticketmaster.com, or any Ticketmaster location. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. with Countdown to Faceoff on SportsJuice.com and FASTHockey.com.