AMARILLO, TX – The Corpus Christi IceRays killed off 10 Amarillo power plays, including four, five-on-three man advantages, and fended off the Bulls in a shootout, 4-3, at the Cal Farley Coliseum on Saturday night. With the win Corpus Christi snaps a seven-game winless streak and improves their record to 18-28-3 (39 points). It was the only win in the month of February for Corpus Christi. Amarillo’s four-game winning streak comes to an end with their record falling to 30-11-5 (65 points) in the shootout loss. Corpus Christi is now a perfect 6-0 in games decided by a shootout.
Michael Benedict and Beau Walker recorded their second straight two-point nights respectively as they both have four-game point streaks. Pheonix Copley bailed the IceRays out on several occasions, making 45 saves during regulation and overtime play. He denied all four shootout chances.
For the second time in four meetings in Amarillo, there was a fight off the opening faceoff as Jason Souva squared off with Bulls captain Derek Hills, officially at the 0:02 mark of the first period, in a battle of heavyweights. In a penalty laden opening twenty minutes, it was Corpus Christi who received the first power-play opportunity. With Cody Freeman in the box for slashing, Colton Saucerman’s shot from the point on the attacking zone faceoff was deflected past Nikifor Szczerba by Josh Obregon (10) for the power-play tally at the 3:26 mark. It was the second first power-play goal in as many nights for Obregon. Then, the IceRays began their parade in and out of the penalty box which landed Amarillo with two separate and extended five-on-three man advantages. However, Corpus Christi stood tall and received some stellar goaltending from Copley to kill off five straight Amarillo power plays. Brandon Marshall and Sean Keane picked up fighting majors, 5:53 into the period, after Marshall was penalized for slashing. Despite killing off five Amarillo power plays, Corpus Christi could not maintain their slim one-goal advantage as Freeman (23) picked Souva’s pocket at the IceRays’ blue line and beat Copley clean at the 16:05 mark to tie the game, 1-1. Amarillo outshot Corpus Christi, 16-14.
The second period featured a penalty shot, quick momentum changes, multiple hit posts, and another five-on-three power play for Amarillo. First, in the opening minute of the period, Matt Johnson was hauled down from behind by Saucerman which gave the Bulls a penalty shot. Copley denied Johnson on the ensuing penalty shot, his fifth penalty save this season on six chances. Amarillo would strike first though in the period as Zack Smoot (19) tallied to put the Bulls ahead, 2-1, at the 2:28 mark of the period. As has been the trend in this season series, the momentum quickly changed when Benedict (22) banged home a Beau Walker shot to tie the game 2-2, just 16 seconds after Smoot’s goal. Fifty seconds later, Joe Smereck (13) nudged Corpus Christi ahead 3-2 when he knocked a Kyle Hughes rebounded shot behind Szczerba. Szczerba was then pulled immediately after the goal and replaced by Gregg Gruehl. Amarillo responded with a tying goal of their own, 6:25 into the period, when Mitch Rogge (9) snapped a shot from the right-wing past Copley to tie the game at 3-3. The Bulls held the shot advantage, 16-14.
Neither team was able to tally in the third period as Corpus Christi was outshot 13-7.
Amarillo carried a power play with them into the overtime session, and received two more power plays, including their fourth five-on-three man advantage, but could not convert and the teams headed to a shootout. The Bulls carried most of the play and outshot the IceRays 48-29 through the overtime session. Amarillo was 0-10 on the power play while the IceRays went 1-5.
In the shootout, Benedict and Cody Milligan, who ran his record to 4-4 in shootout conversions, scored for the IceRays while Copley denied all four Amarillo attempts and the IceRays won the shootout 2-0. Final score was 4-3.
RYAN HOLT’S THREE STARS OF THE GAME:
- Pheonix Copley (45 saves, 4/4 in shootout)
- Michael Benedict (1-1-2, Shootout GWG)
- Zack Smoot (1-0-1)
The IceRays begin a four-game homestand on Sunday, March 6th at 3:05 PM when they host the Amarillo Bulls at the American Bank Center. Fans can catch the pre-game show on the flagship home of the IceRays, News/Talk 1440 KEYS, www.1440KEYS.com, with the voice of the IceRays, Ryan Holt, beginning at 2:50 PM. The game will be available online through the league’s pay-per-view website, www.fasthockey.com. For more information call the Rays’ front office at 361.814.PUCK (7825) or crash the net at www.goicerays.com.
“THE NEW ICERAYS…TOMORROW’S STARS”