PREVIEW: ICERAYS @ WILDCATS (GAME #48)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS @ WICHITA FALLS WILDCATS

Thursday, March 9 • 7:05 P.M. • Kay Yeager Coliseum • Wichita Falls, TX
NAHL Game #545 • Game #48 • Home Game #23 • Series: WFS leads 5-2-0-0
Radio: SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM)
Video: Hockey TV • Twitter: @goicerays

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

Tonight’s Game: The IceRays continue their five-game stretch against the Wichita Falls Wildcats and open their final trip to the Kay Yeager Coliseum this season for a three-and-three set.

Head-To-Head: The IceRays broke a five-game losing skid against the Wildcats dating back to their other win on September 15, however the Wildcats still have an opportunity to claim at least a share of the season series with a win in their last five meetings. The IceRays are 2-4-1-0 this season against the Wildcats but hold a 22-35-7 record all-time as well as a 6-20-5 record at the Kay Yeager Coliseum.

Last Game: The IceRays scored a season-high seven goals en route to a 7-2 victory over the Wichita Falls Wildcats on Saturday night from the American Bank Center. IceRays defenseman Cody Fleckenstein (2:10 1st) started the scoring with a floater from the right point to take a 1-0 lead. IceRays forward Garrett Hallford (4:36 2nd) converted on a 2-on-1 rush to double the lead, 2-0, before Wildcats forwards Jeff Skinner (7:30 2nd) and Ryan Burnett (9:20 2nd) rallied to knot the game at 2-2. Just over one minute later, IceRays forward Nathan Bryer (10:32 2nd) tucked in a rebound chance to take the 3-2 edge into the third period. From there, IceRays forwards David Baskerville (7:32 3rd), Jayson DiMizio (10:11 3rd), David Thomson (14:22 3rd) and Bryer (18:53 3rd) poured on the finishing blows in the 7-2 win. IceRays netminder Tomáš Vomáčka (15-11-3) halted 28 of 30 shots in the win, while Wildcats goaltender Jared Dempsey (13-6-1) stopped 27 of 34 shots in the loss.

Magic Number: Thanks to their three of four points to close the home stand, the IceRays’ magic number is now in single digits at eight. With the three-game week, the IceRays, along with Shreveport and Wichita Falls, have the potential to clinch a playoff spot this week. If the IceRays win all three games against the Wildcats and get help from one Odessa loss, or if the IceRays win two of three games with the Jackalopes losing both against Lone Star, the IceRays will clinch a playoff spot. Only two of the remaining top-four teams can clinch this weekend. A team’s magic number is reduced when that team earns standings points, or when the team with the highest possible total points outside the playoffs fails to earn standings points.

Home Cooking: The IceRays closed their eight-game home stand with a strong showing, earning points in all eight games with a 6-0-2-0 record. With that stretch, the IceRays have not only boosted above .500 at home and 11 games above .500 on the season but also extend their point run to a season-best 11 games beginning on January 28. On top of that, the IceRays have earned points in 19 of their last 21 games since December 10 and wins in 16 of those contests.

Lucky Number: The seven goals scored by the IceRays on Saturday night is a season-best for this season, eclipsing the previous high of six goals set four different times this season, most recently on February 16. Their last seven-goal output came on Jan. 30, 2015 against Odessa in a 7-3 victory, and in that season the IceRays scored seven or more goals three times. The IceRays have scored seven or more goals now 16 times in junior franchise history with the first being the highest total on record: Mar. 20, 2011 in Amarillo (10-3 W).

Miller Time: IceRays forward Brendan Miller had a career game on Saturday night, slotting four assists in the team’s 7-2 win. That’s the highest single-game total of his career and just his third multi-point game of his NAHL career. It’s also the third time in three weeks that an IceRays player earned a four-point game, joining forwards Brad Power (1+4=5) and Mason Krueger (1+3=4) on February 16 against Topeka. Miller is now three points away from tying his career-high point total.

Going Streaking: Despite their long-term strength throughout the season, the Wildcats have become more a streak-based team in terms of game results that have seemed to even out their schedule. Their loss on Saturday ended a four-game win streak, which came after a five-game win streak starting at the outset of February. Since November 19, the Wildcats have recorded the same result (win or loss) at minimum two consecutive times before flipping to the opposing result, meaning that a streak-breaking win has never been immediately followed by a loss, or vice versa. The Wildcats are 17-10-1-2 since November 19 and have had three of their four win streaks last at least three games.

South Division Standings:
Lone Star Brahmas (39-13-1-0, 79 PTS)
Shreveport Mudbugs (28-15-2-2, 60 PTS)
Wichita Falls Wildcats (27-16-3-2, 59 PTS)

Corpus Christi IceRays (26-15-3-3, 58 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (18-24-5-1, 42 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (16-24-7-1, 40 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (16-29-4-1, 37 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays continue their five-game stretch against the Wichita Falls Wildcats on Friday, Mar. 10 at 7:05 p.m. from the Kay Yeager Coliseum. Coverage begins at 6:45 p.m. on SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM) and Hockey TV.