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PREVIEW: ICERAYS @ WILDCATS (GAME #59)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

@

WICHITA FALLS WILDCATS

Thursday, April 7 at 7:05 P.M.

Game #59 • NAHL Game #646 • Series: WFS leads 7-3-0
Kay Yeager Coliseum • Wichita Falls, TX
Radio: SportsRadio Corpus Christi (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 start their final weekend of the season and their last road set against the Wichita Falls Wildcats at the Kay Yeager Coliseum.

Head-To-Head: The IceRays earned their first sweep of the Wildcats this season last weekend, improving to three-straight wins against Wichita Falls and a 3-7-0 record on the season. Their road history hasn’t been kind, owning a 5-16-5 record since the opening junior season and 0-4-0 in four road games this season while being outscored 18-5. The IceRays are now 20-30-6 all-time against the Wildcats.

Last Game: The IceRays utilized special teams including two shorthanded goals to take down the Wichita Falls Wildcats with a 4-2 win on Saturday night at the American Bank Center. IceRays forward Brendan Miller (SH, 9:31 1st) capitalized on his first shorthanded goal of the year to open the scoring in the game after being set up by IceRays forward Brady Crabtree (SH, 3:49 2nd), who then scored the second shorthanded goal of the evening to double the home side’s lead, 2-0. IceRays forward Mason Krueger (PP, 6:15 2nd) found a fortunate bounce a few minutes later to triple the lead, 3-0, before the road side answered. Wildcats forward Nick Rosa (15:10 2nd) broke the shutout to draw within two, 3-1, and Wildcats forward Austin Albrecht (PP, 9:21 3rd) put the road team within striking distance at 3-2 before IceRays forward Stevie Bryant (9:40 3rd) redirected a shot just seconds later to take the game to a 4-2 lead, where the score would finish. IceRays netminder Dryden McKay earned the win, turning aside 36 of 38 shots. Wildcats goaltender Justin Kapelmaster was saddled with the loss, halting 13 of 16 shots in 26:15 minutes, and backup Julian Sime stopped eight of nine shots in 31:43 minutes of relief.

Playoff Push: The playoff race heads into the final weekend of the 2015-16 regular season, and both the IceRays and Odessa Jackalopes are even in points. The Jackalopes own the tie-breaker (most wins) if the season were to end with the two teams tied in points after this weekend, so the IceRays need to earn one more point than Odessa this weekend. At worst, the IceRays can go 0-1-1 this weekend if the Jackalopes are swept in regulation, but Odessa cannot sweep if the IceRays want a chance at the postseason. If the Jackalopes are swept in overtime or shootout games and the IceRays split their two games, the teams will end the season with identical records, and Corpus Christi would advance based on the third tie-breaker (head-to-head goal differential). The Jackalopes are 7-2-1 this season against their opponents, the Amarillo Bulls, as well as 3-0-1 at home.

What’s Up Shawty: The IceRays scored two shorthanded goals for the first time this season in Saturday’s win, becoming the first time since Mar. 30, 2013 the IceRays have scored to goals on the penalty kill as well as two-straight shorthanded goals (Joe Ginley, 6:45 2nd; Charles Baldwin, 7:11 2nd). It’s just the fifth time in junior franchise history the IceRays have scored multiple shorthanded goals and fourth two-goal game in that regard. The most shorthanded goals in a game came on Nov. 9, 2012 in a 4-2 road win against the Texas Tornado (Rudy Sulmonte, 6:33 1st; Charles Baldwin, 7:09 1st; Michael Economos, 19:565 3rd). The IceRays have five shorthanded goals this season along with 41 shorthanded goals over the past six seasons. The most in a season: 2012-13 with 15 shorthanded goals.

Kapelmastered: Saturday’s game was just the second time this season that Wildcats goaltender Justin Kapelmaster was pulled from his start for his backup Julian Sime. The only other occurrence of this came on Dec. 17, 2015 at home against the Lone Star Brahmas, lasting just 4:51 minutes and saving four of seven shots in an eventual 8-2 loss in the first of three-straight losses that week. The two-game sweep ended a four-game winning streak for the Ferris State commit as well as a 9-1-0 span of his last ten starts. Over his last seven games, Kapelmaster has not held opponents to fewer than two goals but also has not given up more than three. His last four-plus goal game was January 18 against Lone Star (17 games).

Home Cooking: The Wildcats have made the Kay Yeager Coliseum the most dominant building in the NAHL. With two games remaining, the Wildcats own a 24-3-1 in home games along with the best win percentage (.857) and point percentage (.875) in the league, leading over the Fairbanks Ice Dogs (.816) and Lone Star Brahmas (.785). Those three teams are the only squads with fewer than ten total losses at home and three of five with fewer than 10 regulation losses. The Wildcats have won 14-straight at the Kay Yeager Coliseum with their last loss coming December 17-19 against the Lone Star Brahmas. Their only other loss at home: November 14 against Topeka. They have also outscored their opponents 112-69 when playing at home.

South Division Standings:
y-Wichita Falls Wildcats (42-11-5, 89 PTS)
x-Lone Star Brahmas (38-11-9, 85 PTS)
x-Topeka RoadRunners (33-23-2, 68 PTS)
Odessa Jackalopes (26-28-4, 56 PTS)
Corpus Christi IceRays (25-27-6, 56 PTS)
z-Amarillo Bulls (12-42-4, 28 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays finish the 2015-16 regular season on Friday, April 8 at 7:05 p.m. against the Wichita Falls Wildcats at the Kay Yeager Coliseum. Coverage begins at 6:45 p.m. on SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM) and FASTHockey.com.