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PREVIEW: ICERAYS @ WILDCATS (GAME #50)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS @ WICHITA FALLS WILDCATS

Saturday, March 11 • 7:05 P.M. • Kay Yeager Coliseum • Wichita Falls, TX
NAHL Game #562 • Game #50 • Home Game #24 • Series: WFS leads 7-2-0-0
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 finish their five-game stretch against the Wichita Falls Wildcats and play the final road game of the season series from the Kay Yeager Coliseum.

Head-To-Head: The Wildcats picked up the season series with last night’s win, owning wins in seven of nine meetings with just three to go. However, the IceRays did pick up points in four of nine meetings, recording a 2-5-1-1 record thus far. The IceRays are 22-36-8 against the Wildcats in the franchise series but continue to struggle at the Kay Yeager Coliseum with a 6-21-6 record over the last seven seasons.

Last Night: The IceRays made a late charge but couldn’t complete the comeback in a 4-3 regulation loss to the Wildcats from the Kay Yeager Coliseum. IceRays forward Matt Novo (6:36 1st) scored the game’s first goal on an open goal before the Wildcats scored four-straight tallies. Wildcats forward Matt Hanewall (9:30 1st) started the run with a re-direction in front of the net followed by a blueline shot from defenseman Ryan Orgel (19:08 1st) and a jam play from forward Nick Rosa (6:57 2nd) to take a 3-1 lead. IceRays forward Griffin Loughran (12:21 2nd) failed on a penalty shot attempt, and soon after Wildcats forward Ilya Skvortsov (13:43 2nd) found the back of the net to take a 4-1 lead. IceRays forward Brendan Miller (SH, 17:44 2nd) started the charge back with a shorthanded goal followed by a one-time tapper from forward Josh Tripp (3:48 3rd) to draw within one, 4-3. The IceRays couldn’t finish the run, falling by the same scoreline. Wildcats goaltender Evan Moyse stopped 31 of 34 shots in the win. IceRays netminder Camden Burggrabe halted 23 of 27 shots in 33:43 minutes during the loss, and Tomáš Vomáčka turned away all seven shots in 25:43 minutes of relief.

Magic Number: With last night’s loss and Odessa’s win in overtime, the magic number to clinch a playoff spot still remains at seven heading into tonight’s game. The IceRays’ next chance to clinch a playoff spot would be during next week’s three-in-four schedule, however the Mudbugs and Wildcats each have a shot to clinch a playoff spot with a win and an Odessa regulation loss. 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.

End Of Run: The loss also ends the franchise-record 12 game point streak the IceRays developed since their last loss on January 27 in Odessa. During that time, the IceRays owned a 9-0-2-1 record and jumped from three games above .500 to 11 games over .500 thanks to a franchise-record seven-game win streak from January 28 to February 17. The run stands as the second-best point streak in the NAHL this season, which also helped the team break away from the Odessa Jackalopes, increasing their lead for fourth place from just four points to 17 points at its peak. The IceRays are still 16-3-2-2 over their last 23 games with points in 20 of 23 contests since December 10.

Trio Time: The IceRays are rounding out their fourth three-in-three set as well as fifth stretch with at least three-consecutive games, which includes the NAHL Showcase. The IceRays opened the season with a 0-2-1-0 record in Wichita Falls but soon rebounded from there, improving to 6-5-1-2 in games during a three-game stretch. This week’s results have somewhat continued the trend during specific games this season. The IceRays earned points in all five opening games with a 3-0-0-2 record, but in game two the team is now 2-3-0-0 after last night’s loss. The bad news is, so far, the IceRays are 1-2-1-0 in the third of three-straight games, winning on October 29 against Shreveport at home.

Killing Them Softly: The IceRays penalty kill continues to be a strong core of the defensive side of the ice, especially during their closing games toward a potential playoff berth. With another perfect result last night, the IceRays have an eight-game perfect kill streak and have stopped 33-straight attempts dating back to February 11 against Odessa. The team’s previous longest game streak was just four games during December, but in the recent run the team’s kill percentage has raised over three percentage points from 77.91% to 81.18%, which also raises their ranking from 19th to 12th in the NAHL.

Making A Home: The Wildcats have found a way as of late to bring back their own home ice advantage they had seemingly lost in the middle portion of the season. After starting the year with a 10-3-2-0 record at the Kay Yeager Coliseum, the Wildcats went on a 0-6-0-0 stretch in the first month and one half of 2017 before correcting their wrongs over their last four home games since February 24, winning now four-straight to improve from one game over .500 (10-9-3-2) to five games over .500 (14-9-3-2), where they stand heading into tonight’s game.

South Division Standings:
Lone Star Brahmas (39-13-2-0, 80 PTS)
Shreveport Mudbugs (30-15-2-2, 64 PTS)
Wichita Falls Wildcats (29-16-3-2, 63 PTS)

Corpus Christi IceRays (26-16-3-4, 59 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (19-24-5-1, 44 PTS)
Amarillo Bulls (16-26-7-1, 40 PTS)
Topeka RoadRunners (16-29-4-1, 37 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays head home for a one-game stint against the Shreveport Mudbugs on Wednesday, Mar. 15 at 7:05 p.m. from the American Bank Center on Grades For Blades Night. Tickets are available at the arena box office or online at Ticketmaster.com. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on SportsJuice.com, Hockey TV, and 87.7FM in-arena.