TOPEKA, Kan. – In one of the more crazy contests in North American Hockey League history, Saturday’s NAHL Game of the Week between the Corpus Christi IceRays and Topeka Pilots saw five ties, four combined goaltender changes, three power play goals, two fights and an overtime finish. Michael Muschitiello tied the game with 1:02 remaining, and Conor Zilisch scored 3:16 into overtime, as the Pilots rallied for an 8-7 win inside Landon Arena at Kansas Expocentre.
The IceRays (25-24-2-0, 52 pts.) picked up three of a possible four points on the weekend trip to capital of Kansas, and have now split five consecutive weekend sets dating back to the start of February. Following the weekend series, the IceRays’ lead over the Pilots (19-25-2-5, 45 pts.) for fourth place in the South Division sits at seven points.
Blake Bennett (1+3), Jake Stella (2+1), Santeri Hartikainen (2+0), Austin Koss (1+1) and Mitch Walinski (0+2) each registered multi-point outings for the IceRays.
Corpus Christi scored on two of its first three shots of the game, receiving goals from Stella (1:28) and Hartikainen (2:52) in the first three minutes. Topeka responded with a goal from Quinn Green (4:42), and a pair from Hugh Quinn (6:53, 9:19) to take a 3-2 lead less than ten minutes into the game.
Austin Koss recorded his first goal as an IceRay at 10:59. Muschitiello regained the lead for Topeka at 13:44, then Max Finner added a power play tally at 14:51 to put the Pilots up by a pair. Hartikainen responded on the power play at 17:59, notching his team-leading 22nd goal of the season, as the IceRays trailed 5-4 after a wild first period which also saw fights involving Anthony Yurkins and Brian Kramer.
In the second period, Stella (1:53) and Bennett (9:46) each picked up their 20th goals of the season, but Christian Thomas responded for Topeka at 18:24 as the game went into the second intermission with a 6-6 tie.
Kyle Moore scored with 4:54 left in regulation to put the IceRays up 7-6, but Muschitiello had the response with 1:02 left to force overtime.
The Pilots outshot the IceRays by a 5-1 margin in overtime, and Zilisch found a rebound 3:16 into overtime to win the game for the home team.
Four regular season home games remain for the IceRays, including next weekend against the Lone Star Brahmas. Friday, March 15 is Fortnite Night presented by Grande Communications, featuring an Xbox One giveaway. Saturday, March 16 is CASA Night presented by Whataburger and KIII-TV, raising money for CASA of the Coastal Bend. Single game tickets, group tickets and suites for the remainder of the 2018-19 IceRays season are on sale now. 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).