SERIES PREVIEW: ICERAYS LOCK HORNS WITH AMARILLO

 

Referee: Brent Coulombe

     Linesmen:  James Sanders

       Aaron Chockla

TODAY’S GAME … The Corpus Christi IceRays kick off the final month of the regular season with an afternoon tilt against the Amarillo Bulls at the American Bank Center beginning at 3:05 PM.  It is the beginning of a two-game set and the third consecutive game against the Bulls.  Including today’s game, the ‘Rays play their next four games at the ABC.  It is home game number 24 and the 22nd at the Bank this season for the IceRays.  Corpus Christi is 10-12-1 in home games.

THE SERIES…Tonight’s game marks the ninth time the two expansion NAHL franchises have met this season.  Amarillo holds the series edge, with a 6-1-1 record against Corpus Christi.  The teams will meet a total of three more times this season after tonight’s game with one game in Corpus Christi and three remaining in Amarillo. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT… Corpus Christi hit the road for two games in the Texas panhandle last weekend and earned a split with the Bulls winning 7-3 on Friday night and the IceRays responding the following night in a 4-3 shootout victory.  Pheonix Copley was terrific for Corpus Christi, stopping 45 of 48 shots on Saturday, including a perfect 4-4 mark in the shootout and denying a penalty shot chance in the second period.  Michael Benedict and Beau Walker each had four-point weekends.

PLAYOFF PICTURE… The IceRays are nine (9) points behind the Wichita Falls Wildcats for the fourth and final playoff spot in the South Division.  Corpus Christi has a game in hand on Wichita Falls. There are no remaining meetings between Corpus Christi and Wichita Falls. Corpus Christi was 5-6-1 against the Wildcats this season.

CAN’T BEAT COPS ONE V. ONE…Copley has been at his best when the pressure has been on him in one v. one situations.  He has stopped five of six penalty shot chances (80%) this season.  However, the North Pole, AK native has been the top goaltender in the NAHL when it comes to shootouts.  He has denied 12 of 13 (92.3%) shootout opportunities this season.

3 OR FEWER…The IceRays are 15-6-1 this season when they allow fewer than three goals to their opponents.  When the team allows four or more they are 3-22-2 on the season, including an 0-18-1 mark when they allow five or more tallies.

SHOOTOUTS? NO SWEAT…Corpus Christi is a perfect 6-0 in games decided by a shootout.  In 25 shot attempts, their 15 conversions (60.0%) are the highest in the NAHL.  The team has allowed just 4 goals on 26 chances (74.6%) is tied for first around the league.

TOP LINE, TOPS ON THE WEEKEND…The IceRays’ top line of Josh Obregon-Michael Benedict-Beau Walker stepped up their games against Amarillo last weekend to the tune of 11 points in two games.  Obregon scored the first goal of both games and added an assist, Walker tallied a goal and had three assists, and Benedict scored twice with two assists.

THE KILL…It was an incredible display of special teams play for the IceRays last Saturday in Amarillo.  The team killed off 10 Amarillo man-up opportunities including four five-on-three chances.  The 10 power plays were the most killed off by the IceRays without yielding a goal this season.

MILLIGAN SAVES THE BEST FOR LAST…17-year old Cody Milligan enjoys when games head to a shootout for Corpus Christi.  He is a perfect 4-4 in shootout chances this season.  His perfect shootout percentage is tops in the NAHL.  However, his teammate Michael Benedict leads the league with five shootout goals (six attempts).

STREAKING…Beau Walker and Michael Benedict, the team’s leading point-getters, are heating up at the right time.  Both are on four-game individual point streaks.  The longest streak of consecutive games with a point this season belongs to Walker who had a point in six straight games stretching from September to October.

CAPTAIN OUT…Captain Ben Hughes is out for the remainder of the season with an injury.

“BULL”IES… Amarillo rolls into Corpus Christi fresh off a win in Frisco against the Texas Tornado on Thursday. Despite locking up a playoff spot in February, the Bulls are battling hard with the Tornado for home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.  

MEET THE COACH… Born in New Westminster, British Columbia, head coach Brent Hughes enjoyed a 12-year professional career.  In 357 NHL games with Boston, Winnipeg, Buffalo and the New York Islanders, Hughes scored 41 goals and tallied 39 assists for 80 points.  He amassed 831 penalty minutes.

LISTEN TO THE RAYS… All of the IceRays’ games will be aired live on News/Talk 1440 AM KEYS available online www.1440keys.com with the voice of the Rays, Ryan Holt.  In addition all games will be available through the league’s video website, www.fasthockey.com