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PREVIEW: ICERAYS @ WILDCATS (GAME #1)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS WICHITA FALLS WILDCATS

Thursday, September 15 at 7:05 P.M. • Kay Yeager Coliseum • Wichita Falls, TX
Game #1 • Series: 0-0-0 • Video: FASTHockey.com • Twitter: @goicerays

Coverage begins at 6:45 p.m. with Countdown To Faceoff

Tonight’s Game: The IceRays open the 2016-17 regular season with a three-game weekend against the defending South Division Champions, the Wichita Falls Wildcats, at the Kay Yeager Coliseum.

Head-To-Head: Last season, the IceRays struggled against the Wildcats, going 3-9-0 against the division champions including 0-6-0 at the Kay Yeager Coliseum while being outscored 46-20 during those 12 games. The IceRays were also held to two or fewer goals in 10 of their 12 meetings while conceding three or more goals in nine of 12 matchups. The IceRays are 20-32-6 all-time against the Wildcats and 5-18-5 at the Kay Yeager Coliseum. Their last road win in Wichita Falls came on Jan. 23, 2015 (5-4 W).

Preseason: The IceRays finished the 2016 Preseason with a 1-2-0-0 record following a 7-2 win over the Lone Star Brahmas on Friday night at the NYTEX Sports Centre and a 4-3 loss and 4-2 loss on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, against the Shreveport Mudbugs at Hirsch Memorial Coliseum. 13 of the 23 skaters earned points over the weekend with three gaining points in all three games, including forward Mason Krueger (1+4=5) who led the team in points and assists, forward David Thomson (3+0=3) who led the team in goals, and forward Cole Gammer (0+3=3). Eight different players earned a multi-point weekend including, forward Brendan Miller (2+1=3) who nearly scored a hat-trick on Saturday against Shreveport. All three preseason goaltenders earned starts with netminder Camden Burggrabe the only goaltender to earn a preseason win.

First Time For Everything: The IceRays open a season in Wichita Falls for the first time in junior franchise history after three-straight seasons starting the weekend prior to the NAHL Showcase in Topeka against the RoadRunners. Over the last six seasons, the IceRays have gone 3-2-0-1 in their first game including a 3-1 win last season against Topeka. In the last three seasons, the team has earned a 1-4-0-1 on opening weekend. The IceRays have never played a three-game series prior to the NAHL Showcase.

Preseason Power: Despite occurring in exhibition games, the IceRays power play unit worked well in three games last weekend, going 4-for-11 (36.36%) against Lone Star and Shreveport while scoring in each game on the man-advantage and going 2-for-4 on Sunday afternoon. Three of the four goals came in the second period, and IceRays forward David Thomson scored half of those goals. Speaking of Thomson, he also scored in each game last weekend, leading the team in preseason goals with three.

Late Additions: The IceRays added three players on Tuesday morning prior to the 2016-17 season opener with two from the USHL. Defensemen Cody Fleckenstein (Omaha) and Logan Gestro (Sioux City) arrive from their respective USHL training camp after each spending one season at the Tier I level. Fleckenstein, 19, recorded two goals and two assists for four points with 23 penalty minutes and a +2 rating in 26 games, while Gestro, 20, earned one goal and five assists for six points with 99 penalty minutes. Gestro recorded four goals and 21 assists for 25 points with 49 penalty minutes and a -2 rating in 54 games with the IceRays in 2014-15. The IceRays also added forward Alex Peck from the Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL), who recorded 10 goals and nine assists for 19 points with 38 penalty minutes through 56 games last season.

Opening Drop: The Wichita Falls Wildcats opened the 2016-17 regular season at the Kay Yeager Coliseum, falling 3-2 in overtime to the Amarillo Bulls on Friday night. After falling behind 1-0 in the first period, forward Blake Ripley gained help from Seamus Donohue and Roman Kinal to tie the game early in the third period before conceding a go-ahead goal less than a minute later. Defenseman Ryan Orgel tied the game in the second half of the third period to send the game into overtime, but the Bulls scored on a penalty shot in the extra period to keep the Wildcats to just one point. Goaltender Evan Moyse halted 26 of 29 shots in the loss.

Streak Busted: The Wildcats lost their first game of the season at home on Friday night, marking the end of a 16-game home winning streak at the Kay Yeager Coliseum dating back to Jan. 2, 2016. Since their last prior loss on Dec. 19, 2015 against the Lone Star Brahmas, the Wildcats outscored their opponents 65-30 and spanned 251 total calendar days (97 in-season days). The Wildcats owned the best home record in the NAHL last season, going 26-3-1 and only losing to the Topeka RoadRunners (Nov. 14, 5-2 L), and Lone Star Brahmas (Dec. 17-19: 8-2 L, 3-2 OTL, 6-4 L).

South Division Standings:
Odessa Jackalopes (1-0-0-0, 2 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (1-1-0-0, 2 PTS)
Wichita Falls Wildcats (0-0-1-0, 1 PTS)
Corpus Christi IceRays (0-0-0-0, 0 PTS)

Lone Star Brahmas (0-0-0-0, 0 PTS)
Shreveport Mudbugs (0-0-0-0, 0 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (0-0-0-0, 0 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays play the midway game of their three-game set against the Wildcats on Friday, Sep. 16 at 7:05 p.m. Coverage begins at 6:45 p.m. on FASTHockey.com.