Rays Triumph over Jackalopes, Tighten Gap in Division Race

Friday, 03.30.18 / 10:00 pm CT
Photo: Chip Pitcairn

 

Kicking off a four-game home stand to close out the regular season, the IceRays broke the score open late in the second period and skated to a 6-4 triumph over the Odessa Jackalopes, drawing to within three points in the race for third place in the South Division.

Odessa has been a team which has given the IceRays trouble this season, particularly in the first period. They tested Chad Veltri early and often, sending 12 shots his way in the opening stanza. However, it was the Rays who struck first.

Rookie defenseman Kaelan Taylor swiveled through the neutral zone and gained the opposing blue line with speed on a 4-on-4. He ripped a hard snap shot from above the left circle, powering the puck past Alex Camarre and into the net to give Corpus Christi a 1-0 lead at 10:56.

At 13:34, Dakota Concannon was given a minor penalty for a retaliatory slash he delivered on Dylan Johnson. The Rays had killed off 35 straight penalties, but could not keep the Jacks off the scoresheet. Blake Bride dropped the puck off at the left circle for Viktor Johansson, who fired a one-timer past Veltri’s glove to tie the game 1-1 at 14:20.

A wild second period was in store at the American Bank Center. It started when Rylee St. Onge made a crafty breakout pass from the half boards in his own zone, sending Grayson Gavin and Angus Scott on an odd-man rush. Gavin delayed and fed a perfect cross-crease pass to Scott, who tapped home his seventh goal of the season.

Again, the Jackalopes responded fairly quickly. Bride caught Veltri by surprise and buried a rolling shot through his five-hole to re-tie the game 2-2. The score remained tied for some time, but the Rays would eventually seize control of the game.

James Crossman was given a five-minute major for boarding Scott halfway through the middle stanza. Dylan Johnson would later be given an equipment violation, giving the Rays a nearly full 5-on-3 power play.

With only five seconds remaining on it, Garrett Hallford sent a pass across the slot for Jayson Dimizio, who fired a one-timer past Camarre for his 12th goal of the season. Just 40 seconds later, tendered defenseman Brian Kramer, making his IceRays debut, made a strong defensive play at his own blue line and sprung his team on an odd-man rush into the attacking zone. Dimizio’s shot was fought off by Camarre’s arm, but Hallford slammed the rebound shot past him to give the Rays their first insurance lead of the game and end Camarre’s night. He would be replaced by Brett Epp.

Epp came out to challenge Larry Jungwirth on a nullified icing call, but Jungwirth beat him to the puck. It found its way to Adam Kadlec, who fed Brendan Miller a crisp pass in the right circle. The captain fired home his 22nd goal of the season.

Early in the third period, Matt Novo and Matt Hutton got into a scrap in the Jackalopes zone. Novo brought Hutton down in the tussle, and both players would sit the rest of the game out in their respective locker rooms.

In the third period, Matt Brown and James Crossman added goals to chip away at the IceRays’ lead, but Gavin finished off a St. Onge scoring chance to further extend the advantage. The Rays would hold on for a 6-4 victory.

Veltri turned aside 24 of the 28 shots he faced, earning his 21st victory of the season. Camarre was charged with his ninth regulation defeat, stopping 12 of 16 shot attempts. Epp denied 9 of 11 in relief. The IceRays will play their final head-to-head matchup against the Jackalopes tomorrow at the American Bank Center. Puck drop is set for 7:05 pm CT. Tomorrow is KIII Night, and fans can receive a Buy One Get One deal by using the code KIII at the box office. The game will be broadcast on HockeyTV and on YouTube.