Referee: ROBERT LUkkason linesmen: Justin bell, terrance saunders
TONIGHT’S GAME … The Corpus Christi IceRays host the Texas Tornado at the American Bank Center for the first of two games this week at 7:05 PM. This is home game number 26 for the ‘Rays, who have gone 10-14-1 on home ice this season. Corpus Christi would need to win their last four contests of the regular season at the ABC to ensure a .500 record at home. Texas is playing road game number 27 as they are 14-9-3 away from Frisco.
THE SERIES…This is the 10th meeting of the season between Corpus Christi and Texas. The teams have met four times previously at the American Bank Center this season. Overall, Corpus Christi is 1-7-1 against the Tornado and 0-3-1 at the “Bank.” Texas has yet to lose to the IceRays in regulation as they are 8-0-1 against their rivals to the South this season. The lone Corpus Christi victory came on November 28th when Michael Benedict scored in overtime to knock off the Tornado, 3-2.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…It was a tough start to the month of March for the IceRays as Amarillo swept the ‘Rays in two games on Sunday and Monday. In both games, Corpus Christi scored the first goal of the game on the power play, but could not hold onto the lead on either occasion. Mason Murovich (MER-row-vitch) played the better part of five periods, including getting his first Corpus Christi start on Monday in the 4-1 loss. Texas went 1-1-1 last week with a regulation loss at home to Amarillo, a win in New Mexico, and an overtime loss to the Mustangs. The Tornado are 1-3-1 in their last five outings.
PLAYOFF IMPLICATIONS… The playoff aspirations of the IceRays are teetering on the brink with just seven games remaining in the regular season. The team sits nine (9) points behind Wichita Falls, who have a game in hand on Corpus Christi. Any combination of Wichita Falls wins and Corpus Christi losses equaling five (5) points would send the ‘Cats to the playoffs. Wichita Falls plays at home for one game against Topeka on Friday night before meeting the Tornado in Frisco at noontime on Saturday. The IceRays went 5-6-1 against Wichita Falls this season.
MARSHALL HITS 200…Brandon Marshall’s coincidental matching penalty with the Bulls’ Derek Hills on Monday night meant the Howell, MI native became the second player in the NAHL this season to hit 200 PIMs. Dakota Klecha leads the league with 242.
MUROVICH INTRODUCES HIMSELF…Netminder Mason Murovich had been resigned to backup duty for nearly two months, before making his first start for Corpus Christi on Monday, March 7th in the 4-1 loss to Amarillo. He had not made a start since November 6th when he was a member of the Port Huron Fighting Falcons. The last time the Pittsburgh, PA native had played an entire game was on October 30th against Traverse City. He has replaced a starting netminder nine (9) times including twice with Corpus Christi.
HOME IS NO HELP…The IceRays’ five-game winless streak at the American Bank Center is their longest such streak of the season.
FOUR, NO MORE? …Corpus Christi has not tallied four goals in regulation since a 4-1 victory in New Mexico on January 26th, a 12-game stretch. The team averages 2.65 goals scored per game which is 22nd in the NAHL.
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 3-24-2 on the season, including a 0-19-1 mark when they allow five or more tallies.
ICERAYS KILLERS… Texas’ Jackson Leef (15), Nathan Sliwinski (14), JD Howard (11), Jack Prince (9), and Marc Biggs (7, in 6 games), are all averaging over a point per game for the Tornado against Corpus Christi. New Tornado players Justin Jones (2 in 2 games), Tom Rizzardo (2 in 2 games), Seth Johnson (2 in 2 games) and Jimmy Murray (1 in 1 one game) have all averaged a point per game in limited action (one series) against the IceRays. Joseph Mottiqua and Mico Solarzarno have combined for 86 PIMS in the series. In net, Jimmy Kruger is 5-0-0 with a shutout, a 1.29 GAA, and a .943 save percentage.
SECOND IN ATTENDANCE… Corpus Christi (3,030) only trails Wenatchee (3,286) in average attendance. They are the only two NAHL teams over 3,000 average fans per game.
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 Corpus Christi’s games will be aired live on News/Talk 1440 AM KEYS available online at 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.