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!
(9) Acciaioli Nets First NAHL Goal
Round 1: 69% of the vote
Quarterfinals: 54% 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.
(13) – Krueger's Needle-Thread & Backhand Flip
Round 1: 58% of the vote
Quarterfinals: 55% of the vote
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.
Which play will make the Best of the Bend Finals: Acciaioli's snipe, or Krueger's splitting flipper? Cast YOUR vote for the 2016 Best of the Bend to decide. Voting ends at 11:59 p.m. CDT.