PREVIEW: ICERAYS @ WILDCATS (GAME #32)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

at

WICHITA FALLS WILDCATS

Friday, January 8 at 7:05 P.M.

Game #32 • NAHL Game #356 • Series: WFS leads 4-0-0
Kay Yeager Coliseum • Wichita Falls, TX
Radio: KSIX 1230AM • Video: FASTHockey.com

Mobile: TuneIn Radio Twitter: @goicerays

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

Tonight’s Game: The IceRays continue their six-game road trip and their second weekend at the Kay Yeager Coliseum to begin a two-game set against the Wichita Falls Wildcats.

Head-To-Head: The IceRays haven’t had the best luck against the Wildcats this season, dropping all four contests thus far with two at each team’s home. This is the first game between the IceRays and Wildcats since Oct. 31 in Wichita Falls. The IceRays own a 17-27-6 franchise record and 5-14-5 record at the Kay Yeager Coliseum.

Last Game: The IceRays came from behind to earn their first sweep of the Topeka RoadRunners with a 2-1 win on Saturday night at the Kansas Expocentre. RoadRunners forward Quinn Preston (7:24 1st) capitalized on a down-low play to give the RoadRunners the 1-0 lead and first goal of the weekend. Despite the low-shooting game heading into the third period, the IceRays struck twice in the final frame. IceRays forward Drake Lindsay (7:22 3rd) found an open puck on the right side of the crease to tie the game, 1-1. IceRays forward Mason Krueger (13:53 3rd) then split the defense and lofted a backhanded shot to take the 2-1 lead and hold off the RoadRunners in the final minutes. Graham Hunt (9-8-2) saved 24 of 25 shots in the win, and Tyler Johnson (13-8-0) stopped 17 of 19 shots in the loss.

What A Sweep: The IceRays claimed wins in all four games last week, earning a four-game sweep for the first time in junior franchise history in their first attempt outside of the NAHL Showcase as well as their fifth-straight win. In their five-game win streak, the IceRays have outscored their opposition 20-8 while winning three of those five games away from the American Bank Center. In the process, the IceRays also earned their first sweep of the Topeka RoadRunners in junior franchise history and extend their season-best win total against Topeka to four games, overtaking their previous high of just one in two different seasons. With the recent run, the IceRays are also back to .500 for the first time since Sep. 20, which was the second game of the season.

Golden Goalie: IceRays netminder Graham Hunt has had a week to remember and been stalwart in his recent stretch. With Dryden McKay up at the USHL for the past few weeks, the 20-year-old has been tasked with taking the reigns in net. He has played in the team’s last seven games and all five last week, going 5-0-0 with a 1.58 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage during the current win streak while also improving to over a .500 record for the first time this season and earning his first NAHL shutout. He’s also improved his goals-against average from 2.78 to 2.46 (which is now 15th in the NAHL) and his save percentage from .912 to .919 (14th in the NAHL). His four-win week earned him the NAHL South Division Star of the Week, the first IceRays goaltender to earn the award.

Man of the Month: IceRays forward Regen Cavanagh was named NAHL Forward of the Month for December on Tuesday afternoon. He is one of two IceRays players to average at least a point-per-game, recording four goals and seven assists for 11 points in the month while leading the team in assists & points and also sharing first on the team in goals just in December. He earned a four-point night on December 4 against Odessa, a three-point night on December 19 against Amarillo, and just finished a four-game point streak of two goals and five assists for seven points. Since his return to the lineup on October 22, Cavanagh has earned six goals and eight assists for 14 points over his 18-game season with six penalty minutes and a -4 rating including his assist to start January on last Friday. He’s one of two players to earn monthly honors, joining defenseman Anthony Cortese (‘14-’15) as the only two honored.

Continued Success: The Wichita Falls Wildcats returned from the holiday break with a sweep of the Amarillo Bulls in a home-and-home series, winning 4-2 on New Year’s Eve in Amarillo and 2-1 on Saturday at home. Only two players earned multi-point weekends: forward Aleksi Poikola (two assists) on Thursday’s game and forward Austin Albrecht (two assists) in each contest. In total, 15 different players recorded points during the weekend set and all six goals came off different sticks. Goaltender Justin Kapelmaster earned wins in both games, saving 25 of 27 shots on New Year’s Eve and 26 of 27 shots on Saturday night.

Austin Alright: The Wildcats have had numerous contributors throughout the season, but forward Austin Albrecht has been at the pinnacle of his game this season. The second-year man has almost doubled his production from last season in far fewer games and sits fourth in the NAHL in points as one of four players with 40 points or more and the only one not on the Fairbanks IceDogs. Albrecht has points in 27 of 31 games played with ten multi-point games and is currently on a four-game point streak, recording two goals and three assists for five points.

South Division Standings:
Wichita Falls Wildcats (25-5-3, 53 PTS)
 Lone Star Brahmas (20-7-5, 45 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (21-14-1, 43
 PTS)
Corpus Christi IceRays (14-14-3, 31 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (11-13-4, 26 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (8-23-3, 19 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays play their fourth-straight road game on Saturday, Jan. 9 at 7:05 p.m. to close out their weekend set against the Wichita Falls Wildcats from the Kay Yeager Coliseum. Coverage begins at 6:45 p.m. on SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM) and FASTHockey.