CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The Corpus Christi IceRays closed the 2018-19 NAHL regular season with a 4-1 win against the Topeka Pilots in front of 4,874 fans Saturday night at American Bank Center. Anthony Firriolo (1+2) and Blake Bennett (0+3) each registered three-point outings while goaltender Brian George made an NAHL career-high 45 saves.
Bennett became just the fourth player in Corpus Christi junior franchise history to hit the 60-point mark (22+38) in a single season. The IceRays finished above the .500 mark (29-28-2-1, 61 pts.) and will face the top-seeded Amarillo Bulls in a first-round series of the 2019 Robertson Cup Playoffs starting Friday at Amarillo. A full schedule for the best-of-five series will be announced in the coming days, but Corpus Christi’s first home game will be Game 3 on Thursday, April 18.
The IceRays opened the scoring for a sixth-consecutive game when Jake Stella tipped in a point shot from Firriolo on the power play at 8:11. Defenseman Tyler Love then jammed in a shot from the side of the crease to make it 2-0 less than two minutes later.
Despite being outshot 19-7 in the second period, Corpus Christi doubled its lead to 4-0. Kyle Moore buried a backhand shot on a breakaway at 8:04, then Firriolo scored a top-shelf goal over the glove at 17:07.
Brendan Schultz scored Topeka’s only goal of the weekend at 8:15 of the third period on a shorthanded breakaway, ending George’s shutout bid after 36 saves, which equaled the amount of saves made by Samuel Vyletelka in Friday’s shutout of the Pilots.
The IceRays went 6-for-6 on the penalty kill. Corpus Christi finished the regular season on a three-game winning streak, the second longest of the team’s season, and notched a weekend sweep for the first time since Jan. 11-12. The IceRays went 14-12-1-1 in 28 home games at American Bank Center. Center Jake Stella played in all 60 regular season games.
Ticket information for the first round of the playoffs will be released in the coming days. Stay connected with the IceRays on Facebook (/CorpusChristiIceRays), Twitter (@goicerays) and Instagram (CorpusChristiIceRays). Visit goicerays.com or call 361-814-PUCK (7825) for tickets or more information. All playoff games, home and away, can be heard live on Sportsradio Corpus Christi (1230 AM – 95.1 FM – 96.1 FM) and mixlr.com/icerays, as well as viewed on HockeyTV (iPPV).