The IceRays are re-introducing the play of the year competition to recap the golden moments from the most recent season in a single elimination style tournament. The field has been narrowed down to the 16-best goals, moves, and saves from the 2015-16 season and seeded based on organizational rank. Now, YOU must decide which will be crowned the 2016 IceRays Best of the Bend!
(1) – Kircher Scores OT Goal As Time Expires
Round 1: 87% of the vote
IceRays forward Toby Kircher scored one of the most memorable moments during the 2015-16 season in the final trip to the NYTEX Sports Centre in North Richland Hills, Texas on March 19. In the midst of the playoff push, the IceRays forced overtime in their final meeting with the Lone Star Brahmas in an attempt to avoid another road sweep at the hands of the Brahmas. With 10 seconds remaining, forward Stevie Bryant carried the puck through center ice and was caught in a jam with two Brahmas defensemen with five seconds left. The puck squirted free, and Kircher picked it up and walked to the middle of the circles. His wrist shot snuck through the legs of netminder Corbin Kaczperski, hit the back of the net with .02 seconds remaining on the clock, and time expired just after the red light went on. The goal forced the third win in three seasons at the NYTEX Sports Centre for the IceRays by a 2-1 tally and marked the latest goal in junior franchise history.
(9) Acciaioli Nets First NAHL Goal
Round 1: 69% of the vote
Many players on this year's IceRays squad scored their first NAHL goals, but none was as impressive as the snipe made by defenseman Matt Acciaioli. He joined the team in mid-October and was in and out of the lineup the entire season, but his first (and only) goal looked a lot like another play in our competition. On December 29, the IceRays began their four-game, five-day stretch against the Odessa Jackalopes, and they found themselves tied in the middle of the first period, 1-1. Not even one minute after the first, the IceRays got their second. Acciaioli received a pass at the left point and with room to work moved along the left wall into the circle. An unintentional two-man screen allowed the 18-year-old to set up a shot from the left side. He waited until he reached just above the goal line extended to flip a shot at the top of the net. It slipped underneath the short side of the Odessa goaltender and into the back corner of the net just inside of the crossbar. The goal was also his first point as an IceRay out of the six he would claim in 25 games.
Can Acciaioli's momentum from the Opening Round carry him to an upset win, or will Kircher's buzzer-beater continue its reign atop this season's plays? Cast YOUR vote for the 2016 Best of the Bend to decide. Voting ends at 11:59 p.m. CDT.