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PREVIEW: ICERAYS @ WILDCATS (GAME #60)

CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS

@

WICHITA FALLS WILDCATS

Friday, April 8 at 7:05 P.M.

Game #60 • NAHL Game #650 • Series: WFS leads 8-3-0
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 close the 2015-16 regular season against the Wichita Falls Wildcats from the Kay Yeager Coliseum.

Head-To-Head: The IceRays dropped their first game in four meetings with the Wildcats but their fifth-straight loss at the Kay Yeager Coliseum this season, falling to a 3-8-0 record with one game remaining. Their road games in the franchise series continue to be a burden, falling to 5-17-5 through six seasons and but getting a win in four of their previous five years with the lone exception in the 2012-13 season. The IceRays are 20-31-6 all-time against the Wildcats.

Last Game: The IceRays were overpowered in their 4-1 loss to the Wichita Falls Wildcats on Thursday night at the Kay Yeager Coliseum. Wildcats forward Adam Goodsir (PP 8:44 1st) opened the scoring in the opening period while the IceRays were outshot 16-2. The Wildcats would score three more in the second period coming from forwards Andre Pison (3:00 2nd) with an individual effort, Aleksi Poikola (PP, 14:23 2nd) into an open net, and Nick Rosa (16:45 2nd) in a play from the slot to move to a 4-0 lead. IceRays forward Mason Krueger (19:53 3rd) wiped out the shutout bid late in the game, but the IceRays fell 4-1. Julian Sime stopped 21 of 22 shots in the win, while Dryden McKay halted 35 of 39 shots in the loss.

Playoff Push: The playoff race can possibly come down to just one game tonight. Thanks to last night’s loss, the IceRays need to win or get at least one point tonight in order to have a chance at making the playoffs. Odessa now only needs one win during their next two games to clinch the final playoff spot regardless of the results in Wichita Falls. If the IceRays lose in regulation, the Jackalopes will automatically clinch the playoffs without needing to win due to holding the tie-breaker (most wins). If the IceRays do succeed in getting points, they’ll have to hope the Amarillo Bulls shut down the Jackalopes in back-to-back road games to just edge into the postseason.

Strong Masonry: IceRays forward Mason Krueger scored the lone goal last night and continued his scoring streak to four-straight games, joining teammate Nathan Bryer as the only two to complete that feat out of players from this year’s team. In fact, the streak also ties a junior franchise record for most consecutive games with goals, joining Michael Dery (Dec. 17–31, 2011), Kyle Froese (Jan. 23, 2013–Feb. 1, 2013), Eric Purcell (Sep. 21, 2013–Oct. 4, 2013) and Bryer (Oct. 30, 2014–Nov. 8, 2014) as the only five players to earn the recognition with Dery and Purcell scoring five goals in those four games. Krueger moves into a share of third place in goals (12) and remains in the top-six in scoring on this year’s team. He is also one goal away from tying Joe Smereck (‘10-’11) for 10th in junior franchise history for most career goals (21).

Not Mississauga Out: Wildcats netminder Julian Sime cashed in on his first start since February 26 by stopping 21 of 22 shots en route to his second-straight win. It’s his third-straight win in as many starts against the IceRays and has only conceded three goals in four appearances. While he’s only averaging 18.33 shots per game in those starts, last night was also the second time he saw a shutout bid drop within the final two minutes against Corpus Christi. His lone shutout was against the IceRays on October 30 in a 3-0 win, and he’s won four of his last five games dating back to January 15. He’s only seen action in seven of the team’s last 24 games, but in that time he owns a 4-1-0 record with a 2.64 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage.

Who To Choose: The Wildcats have two options of opponents heading into the Robertson Cup Playoffs in the IceRays and Jackalopes. Prior to last night’s win, the Wildcats boasted a 7-2-1 record against both the IceRays and Jackalopes, and both teams have some momentum each winning three of their last four games. The Wildcats are undefeated against both teams at the Kay Yeager Coliseum, but scoring and road success could come into play when seeing who the team might prefer to play. The Wildcats have conceded three or more goals in three of their four home games with Odessa while only allowing six in five games against the IceRays, and while both teams have split their respective home series with the Wildcats while claiming their last three games, the Jackalopes have been able to better keep pace with the Wildcats when they turn to their “run-and-gun” mentality. In a head-to-head series, the Wildcats’ advantage may be better against Corpus Christi than Odessa considering their history this season.

South Division Standings:
y-Wichita Falls Wildcats (43-11-5, 91 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 (25-28-6, 56 PTS)
z-Amarillo Bulls (12-42-4, 28 PTS)

Next Game: The IceRays playoff hopes will be determined with the results of tonight's game and the weekend series between the Odessa Jackalopes and Amarillo Bulls. Follow tonight's game and keep up-to-date on the IceRays website and social media for developing information.