CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The Odessa Jackalopes (18-25-1-1, 38 pts.) defeated the Corpus Christi IceRays (23-23-1-0, 47 pts.) 6-2 Saturday night at American Bank Center, picking up their first victory against the IceRays in the eighth-and-final meeting of the season between the South Division rivals. Joseph Winklemann had a five-point night (3+2) for Odessa, including his first career NAHL hat trick. Goaltender Kade Phipps made 49 saves.
The IceRays find themselves back at the .500 mark as they enter their fourth-and-final bye week of the 2018-19 season. The Jackalopes, who scored two empty-net goals in the third period, built a 3-0 lead through the first two periods.
Winklemann opened the scoring 11:03 into the first period, trickling in a shot from the top of the crease past Samuel Vyletelka, who was making his home debut in net for the IceRays. John Serafin scored his second goal of the week at 4:57 of the second period, scoring right off a faceoff, then Jan Blasko deflected in a shot at 10:41 to give the visitors a three-goal lead.
Corpus Christi’s Mitch Walinski picked up his third goal of the weekend at the 12:23 mark of the third period, scoring on the IceRays’ 46th shot of the night to deny Phipps’ shutout bid. The goal was scored 5-on-4, as each team had a player in the penalty box, plus the IceRays had pulled relief netminder Brian George in favor of an extra attacker.
Brendan Coughlin (14:10) and Winkelmann (14:30) scored empty-net goals 20 seconds apart to put the Jackalopes up 5-1. Nikita Krivokrasov scored for the IceRays at 18:21, then Winklemann completed the hat trick on an odd-man rush with 26.9 seconds remaining.
Following Friday’s action, the IceRays have a four-point lead over Topeka for the fourth-and-final playoff spot in the South Division, and sit five points back of third-place Lone Star with one game in hand.
The IceRays return to action Feb. 28 and March 1 at home against the Shreveport Mudbugs. Thursday, Feb. 28 is a 10:00 AM CT school-day game and Friday, March 1 is a 7:05 PM CT faceoff.
Six IceRays players—Santeri Hartikainen, Tyler Love, Kyle Moore, Jake Stella, Samuel Vyletelka and Gordon Whalen—will participate in the 2019 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament this Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 18-19, at the New England Sports Village in Attleboro, Mass. Hartikainen and Vyletelka will play for NAHL Selects Blue, while the other four will be on the South Division team. IceRays Head Coach/GM Ryan Cruthers will serve as Assistant Coach for the South Division, and IceRays Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations Rob Sanderson will call all six Top Prospects Games for the NAHL live on HockeyTV. For more information, including team rosters and a full schedule of games, visit nahl.com/tpt.
Visit goicerays.com or call 361-814-PUCK (7825) for tickets or more information. Stay connected with the IceRays on Facebook (/CorpusChristiIceRays), Twitter (@goicerays) and Instagram (CorpusChristiIceRays).