PREVIEW: ICERAYS @ WILDCATS (GAME #16)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

at

WICHITA FALLS WILDCATS

Saturday, October 31 at 7:05 P.M.

Game #16 • NAHL Game #161 • Series: WFS leads 3-0-0
Kay Yeager Coliseum • Wichita Falls, TX
Radio: SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM) • Mobile: TuneIn Radio (KSIX)

Video: FASTHockey.com • Twitter: @goicerays

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

Tonight’s Game: The IceRays look to avoid their second sweep at the hands of the Wichita Falls Wildcats from the Kay Yeager Coliseum in the final of the two-game series.

Head-To-Head: The IceRays have dropped the first three games of the season series including the first last night on the road. Overall, the IceRays own a 17-26-6 record against the Wildcats including a 5-13-5 record from the Kay Yeager Coliseum over the past six seasons.

Last Game: The IceRays were dropped by the Wildcats, 3-1, on Friday night at the Kay Yeager Coliseum. Wildcats forward Ryan Burnett (5:01 1st) found the first goal with a snipe from the left circle to take a 1-0 lead. The Wildcats doubled the lead, 2-0, on their first of only two power play chances when forward Nikita Litviak (PP, 14:44 2nd) was found for a back-door goal. Less than a minute later, forward Austin Beaulieu (15:23 2nd) tripled the Wildcats lead, 3-0, on a redirection in front of the net. The IceRays found an answer late in the game with a rebound goal from forward Regen Cavanagh (18:55 3rd) to avoid the shutout, however they could not pull off the comeback, falling 3-1. Julian Sime saved 15 of 16 shots in the win, and Dryden McKay stopped 18 of 21 shots in the loss.

First Quarter: The IceRays finished the first quarter of the 2015-16 season last night with a 5-8-2 record and 12 points. Compared to past seasons, the IceRays are right around where they’ve landed in past seasons. Over the last six years, the team has earned an average of 14.17 points through their first 15 games with their best season coming in 2011-12 (9-6-0, 18 points). Only twice has the franchise earned more than five wins in the first quarter (2011-12 & 2014-15). However, they do share the least amount of points earned in the early stretch (2013-14: 4-7-4, 12 points).

Defensive Offense: Last night was the fewest combined shots in an IceRays game, combining 37 shots in the loss, which breaks the former season-low of 42 shots on Sep. 18 against Topeka (3-1 W) and Sep. 23 versus Johnstown (2-1 L). The first three games of the series has been relatively low-shooting compared to the other two series the IceRays have played this season. The IceRays and Wildcats are averaging 49.67 shots per game combined, which is lower than the average with Topeka (54.25 shots per game) and Amarillo (66.50 shots per game). Despite these numbers, the IceRays have allowed more goals to the Wildcats (14) than both Topeka (8) and Amarillo (10) in one less game.

Continuing Story: The Story of the first quarter of the season has been the struggles offensively for the IceRays. Last night was the third game finishing with a 3-1 result (last two as losses) and the ninth game the IceRays have been held to just one goal. In total, 11 of the first 15 games have seen the IceRays score two goals or less, resulting in a 1-8-2 record in such games. On the other side, the IceRays have held opponents to three goals or less in 11 of 15 games. However, they are 1-2-0 when allowing three goals in a game.

Does It End: With their win last night, the Wichita Falls Wildcats have now stretched their point streak to 13-straight games, the longest of its kind in the NAHL. Their win also moves them to the top of the NAHL with the best win percentage (.857) and most points in the fewest amount of games (24). The home white uniforms have been squeaky clean so far, helping the Wildcats to a 6-0-0 record and a 4-0-0 record at the Kay Yeager Coliseum.

Mastery In Net: The Wildcats have a strong goaltending tandem in Justin Kapelmaster and Julian Sime. Sime’s start last night was his second since the NAHL Showcase and his first bid at a shutout that was disrupted in the final two minutes of the game (1:05 left). Kapelmaster earned his first loss of the season last Saturday against the Lone Star Brahmas in a 2-1 overtime loss. However, he has yet to allow a regulation loss. He ranks second in the NAHL in wins (8), goals-against average (1.55), and save percentage (.937). He is one spot behind former Wildcats forward Chase Munroe (MNW) in the latter two categories.

Halloween Special: These two teams have met on Halloween once: last season in the American Bank Center, where the Wildcats took down the IceRays 3-1 to earn a weekend split. That was the only game the IceRays have played on Halloween in their franchise history. The Wildcats are entering their seventh Halloween game dating back to their first season in 2004-05 (3-2 W @ Central Texas Marshals). Wichita Falls is 3-3-0 in six games on Oct. 31 but broke a three-game losing streak on Halloween in last year’s win over Corpus Christi. This is the first time the Wildcats are hosting a Halloween game.

South Division Standings:
Wichita Falls Wildcats (11-1-2, 24 PTS)
Lone Star Brahmas (8-1-3, 19 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (9-8-0, 18 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (7-5-1, 15 PTS)

Corpus Christi IceRays (5-8-2, 12 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (4-10-2, 10 PTS)

Next Game: Following a weekend off, the IceRays pick up play in their first meeting of the year against the Odessa Jackalopes on Friday, Nov. 13 at 7:05 p.m. from the Ector County Coliseum. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM) & FASTHockey.com.