CORPUS CHRISTI, TX – The Corpus Christi IceRays relinquished five, one-goal leads, tied the contest late in the third period, but could not overcome the Texas Tornado as the Tornado won a wild 7-6 game in an eight-round shootout at the American Bank Center on Friday night. With the win, Texas sweeps the IceRays and improves to 32-15-7 (71 points) on the season. The IceRays’ overtime loss drops their record to 18-31-4 (40 points). Corpus Christi is now 0-20-2 in games where they allow five goals or greater.
The IceRays gain a point on Wichita Falls with the Wildcats’ loss to Topeka. Corpus Christi did not win a shootout for the first time this season after winning the previous six opportunities. Colton Saucerman and Beau Walker each tallied in the shootout while Cody Milligan was denied for the first time this season on his fifth chance.
The teams traded the first ten goals of the game with five goals coming in each of the first two periods. In the first period, Milligan (5) tallied his first goal since October 15th at the 1:36 mark of the first period to put the IceRays ahead, 1-0. Nathan Sliwinski (14) scored his first goal of the night, 5:26 into the period, when his snap shot went past Mason Murovich. Corpus Christi jumped back on top, 2-1, when Petr Stloukal dropped a pass off to Jordan Miller (5) who beat Jake Stafford, at the 7:52 mark. Texas equalized, 2-2, 10:32 into the period as Brett Hebel (3) potted his first of the night on a quick shot from the top of the circle. Seth Blair (2) would nudge Corpus Christi back in front, 3-2, at the 17:34 mark, on a tremendous stuff shot effort from below the end line. It was his second goal in as many games. Corpus Christi outshot Texas 11-3 through the opening twenty minutes.
Five more goals and two goalie changes highlighted the second period as the teams would finish the stanza tied at 5-5. Jimmy Murray (3) first tied the game again for Texas at 3-3 on the power play off a feed from Walker Hyland, 2:07 into the frame. Just 54 seconds later, the IceRays took the lead for the fourth time on the night at the 3:01 mark when Joe Smereck (14) roofed a tough-angle shot under the crossbar to put Corpus Christi back in front, 4-3. It would not last though as Hebel (4) scored his second of the night, 7:21 into the period, when his shot caromed off Murovich’s glove and Mychal Monteith’s back before going into the net to tie the game at 4-4. Murovich was pulled after the goal in favor of Pheonix Copley. Beau Walker (19) staked the IceRays to a 5-4 lead when his shot snuck past Stafford at the 11:43 mark. Stafford was removed for Jimmy Kruger following the goal. Corpus Christi would not get to the locker rooms with the lead though as Jackson Leef (22) banged home a rebound with 53 seconds remaining in the period to tie the game at 5-5. The IceRays outshot the Tornado, 16-13.
Things settled down in the third period with just two goals scored in the final frame of regulation. Texas claimed their first lead of the game, 6-5, 3:45 into the third period, when Sliwinski’s shot from the blue line was deflected over Copley by IceRays forward Terry Portra unintentionally. Corpus Christi elevated their play trailing for the first time in the game and with 15:31 gone in the period, Saucerman (6) tallied a power-play goal, sniping one through bodies from the top of the left-wing circle to tie the game at 6-6. It remained that way as the teams headed to overtime. Corpus Christi outshot Texas 9-8 in the period.
In a scoreless overtime, Texas controlled play and outshot Corpus Christi 8-3.
Corpus Christi was pushed to the brink in the shootout after Texas’ Marc Biggs and J.D. Howard scored in two of the first four rounds. The IceRays needed to tally on their final two attempts and they accomplished that task. Saucerman led the way in the fourth round with a hard wrist shot and Walker followed with a fifth-round tying goal. After two scoreless rounds of sudden death shootout hockey, Ralfs Freibergs tallied in the eighth round forcing the IceRays again to their final shooter. However, they could not convert this time as Josh Obregon was denied. Texas won the shootout, 3-2, and the game, 7-6.
Jimmy Kruger got the win in relief while Pheonix Copley got the loss as he came in for Murovich.
THREE STARS OF THE GAME:
- Ralfs Freibergs (0-2-2, shootout goal)
- Beau Walker (1-2-3, shootout goal)
- Brett Hebel (2-0-2)
The IceRays hit the road for the final time of the season for a three-in-three weekend beginning on Friday, March 18th at 7:30 PM against Texas. Fans can catch the pre-game show on the flagship home of the IceRays, News/Talk 1440 KEYS, www.1440KEYS.com, with the voice of the IceRays, Ryan Holt, beginning at 7:15 PM. The game will be available online through the league’s pay-per-view website, www.fasthockey.com. For more information call the Rays’ front office at 361.814.PUCK (7825) or crash the net at www.goicerays.com.
“THE NEW ICERAYS…TOMORROW’S STARS”