THREE IN THREE PREVIEW: TOPEKA

TONIGHT’S GAME…The Corpus Christi IceRays play their first game of 2011 and their first since December 18, 2010, a span of 18 days.  It is the first game at the American Bank Center since the team defeated Wichita Falls, 5-4 (SO), on December 11, 2010. 

THE SERIES… Tonight’s game is the first meeting between the two organizations this season.  The RoadRunners are the only team the IceRays have not faced off against in the South.  It is the beginning of a three-in-three series.  The teams will meet a total of six times during the regular season.  Another three-in-three set of games will be played in Topeka, February 3-5, 2011. 

TIE A BOW ON 2010…The IceRays finished up 2010 with a three-game road trip that saw the team go 1-2-0.  After taking the first game from Wichita Falls, the IceRays dropped the second game when Mac Olson scored the game-winner in the final minute.  In the third game, Texas scored a shorthanded goal in the final two minutes to break a 3-3 tie and closed out the IceRays to end 2010 for the Rays.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…Topeka played on both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.  On New Year’s Eve, the lost to Amarillo at home by a score of 3-2, before returning the favor a night later, defeating the Bulls in a shootout, 3-2.  Four different ‘Runners scored on the weekend.

COMINGS AND GOINGS…Forwards Alex Koopmeiners and Jack Thompson who each played one game for team on the most recent road trip were returned to their NAPHL teams.  Seth Blair, who had played two games earlier in the season, is back with the squad.  He will be allowed to play four games before he needs to be added to the 23-man roster.

DOG DAYS OF DECEMBER…The IceRays went 2-5-0 in the month of December.

TIGHT GAMES HAVE BEEN GOOD… Despite losing back-to-back, one-goal games at the end of the 2010 calendar year, the IceRays have 10 victories in games decided by one goal which leads the NAHL.  Overall, the team is 10-5-2 in those games.  More than half (17) of the team’s games have been one-goal contests.

BEAU KNOWS HIS ABC’S…Beau Walker has played his best at home this season.  In 14 games at home, Beau has seven goals and 14 assists for 21 points.  On the season, Walker has scored nine goals and added 24 assists for 33 points to lead the team.

BENEDICT SHOOTS IT OUT…Michael Benedict is tied for first in the NAHL with four shootout goals.  As a team, Corpus Christi’s 61.9 % (13-21) in shootouts is tops in the NAHL.

TOP-10 PK…The IceRays are T-8th in the NAHL with a 85.4% penalty-killing percentage.  Topeka is 2nd in the league with an 88.3% percentage.

BEEP BEEP…The Topeka RoadRunners make their first ever trip to Corpus Christi this week, sitting third in the South Division.  Michael Hill is second in the NAHL in scoring (23-20=43) in just 27 games played.  Goaltender Rasmus Tirronen is 13-6-0 with a 2.50 goals-against average and a .898 save percentage.  Topeka will be the host of the 2011 Robertson Cup Tournament to be held in May.

TOP PROSPECTS…Corpus Christi sent three players to Boston in December for the 2010 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament held in Walpole, MA.  Forwards Beau Walker and Michael Benedict joined defenseman Kyle Hughes as Team Rafalski went 2-1-0 in the three games.  Walker had two goals and an assist (+4) while Benedict collected an assist.

MEET THE CAPTAIN… Defenseman BEN HUGHES (JACKSONVILLE, FL) was named the first captain in the history of the NAHL Corpus Christi IceRays following the NAHL Showcase in Blaine, MN at the beginning of the season.  Hughes came to the IceRays from the Wenatchee Wild (NAHL) and also spent time with the Chicago Steel (USHL), Boston Jr. Bruins (EJHL) and Shattuck St. Mary’s.  KYLE HUGHES (ROUND ROCK, TX) and SAM CHERASO (BRUNSWICK, OH) will serve as alternate captains for the team.

MEET THE COACH… Born in New Westminster, British Columbia, head coach Brent Hughes enjoyed a 12-year professional career.  In 357 NHL 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 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.