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!
(4) – Johnson Scores Hat-Trick On Brahmas
For the second time this week, IceRays center Carter Johnson makes an appearance in the top-four rankings for Best of the Bend but with good reason. One of the most difficult feats for a skater is a hat-trick, and Johnson's is a testament to that for being the only one of the season and just the ninth in junior franchise history. However, he made three strong plays to earn the trifecta on February 11 against the Lone Star Brahmas at home. He scored one in each period starting with one second left in the opening frame right off a faceoff draw in the offensive zone. He earned his second after picking up a pass from Brendan Miller, fighting through two defenders, and juking around the waiting netminder. The third (and final) started with a block and a swat fo the puck out of mid-air by Johnson before a second block freed the puck for a chip from the IceRays blue line. The puck slid into the empty net, sealing the hat-trick and the 3-0 win. Yes, all three goals in the game were Johnson's.
(13) – Krueger's Needle-Thread & Backhand Flip
The final underdog of the opening week happened just after the start of the calendar year and in the final game of the four-game, five-day stretch crossing into the New Year as well as the second half of the season. After the IceRays earned their first shutout of the year on New Year's Day, they were tightened up in a 1-1 game in the third period. IceRays winger Andy McGlynn found center Mason Krueger with a bit of speed in the neutral zone racing into the Topeka defensive end. Krueger found a seam through both defenders and shot through the gap to cut through to the net despite being contested. With enough room, Krueger stayed to the left of the net and, with his backhand, flipped the puck top shelf over the waiting Topeka netminder to put the IceRays up 2-1 with under seven minutes to go. The goal was one of a few highlights in the week, but more importantly it sealed the first ever sweep of the Topeka RoadRunners in junior franchise history, capping off their road schedule of the season set at 3-1-0, their best ever.
Can Mason Krueger's neddle-threading game-winner in Topeka knock off the only hat-trick of the season? YOU choose in the final matchup of the 2016 Best of the Bend this week. Voting closes at 11:59 p.m. CDT tonight.