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
Quarterfinals: 51% 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.
(11) Kircher Goes The Distance For OT Win
Round 1: 61% of the vote
Quarterfinals: 66% of the vote
It seems that center Toby Kircher has a flair for the dramatic, picking up three overtime game-winning goals this season across two teams, but this came on a play created on his own while on the road in Odessa during December. With the three-on-three format, Kircher had time to collect the puck at his own blue line and range around the zone to create the next attack and think about his decisions. After two wide circles, he led the charge right at the Jackalopes defense and advanced to their blue line. Much like Cavanagh would do in February, he slipped through two stick checks and found an open lane to the right of the Odessa goaltender and flipped a backhanded shot over the near-side shoulder to reach top shelf and seal the victory for the IceRays. For the second-straight day, the bottom seed is a thread through stick lifts.
Which play will make the Best of the Bend Finals: Johnson's odd angle, or Kircher's backhanded overtime winner? Cast YOUR vote for the 2016 Best of the Bend to decide. Voting ends at 11:59 p.m. CDT.