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!
(2) – Johnson Snipes Shot From Goal Line
Round 1: 61% of the vote
The first of two contenders for IceRays forward Carter Johnson came late in the season during the team's final trip to the Ector County Coliseum. The IceRays were already showing their dominance against the Odessa Jackalopes on March 4 as part of the first of two road games, leading the home side 2-1 midway through the first period and heavily outshooting them. Two shifts before, teammate Brad LeLievre blocked a shot in the IceRays zone and came up limping but continued to play through it two shifts later. On one leg, he raced into the offensive zone and fed Johnson by the Odessa goal line. As he walked the line, he flipped a shot over the short-side shoulder of Jackalopes goaltender Jon Falkne and into the back of the net by the opposite post, catching everyone (including Flakne) by surprise. The chance gave the IceRays a 3-1 lead in the eventual 6-2 win, which lasted as the best win of the season by goal differential and goals scored.
(7) – LeLievre's Shorthanded Blue Line Slap Shot
Round 1: 53% of the vote
Just before the holidays, the IceRays were in the midst of trying to turn around the season as well as an attempt to sweep the Amarillo Bulls at home for the second time this season. The back end of the two-game weekend pit the IceRays down 2-0 heading into the third period, and the team came right back with an individual play by one of its leaders. Co-captain Brad LeLievre intercepted a pass right at the red line off a neutral zone faceoff draw and took a chance. That chance was a slap shot from the blue line toward the Bulls netminder, who wasn't expecting the hard shot. It sailed into the top corner of the net and surprised everyone, even LeLievre. The goal cut the lead in half, 2-1, and also gave LeLievre his only shorthanded goal of the season. The IceRays would eventually fall by the same scoreline, but the goal proves the old motto: "You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take."
What top-eight seed will be the lone one in the Semi-Finals: Johnson's impossible angle, or LeLievre's chance shorthanded goal? YOUR choice decides the outcome. Voting closes at 11:59 p.m. CDT tonight.