CORPUS CHRISTI ICERAYS
NAHL Game #8 • Road Game #2 • Season Series 0-0-1
Landon Arena, Kansas Expocentre • Topeka, KS
Radio: SportsRadio Corpus Christi 1230AM • Audio: TuneIn Radio App (KSIX)
Video: FASTHockey.com • Twitter: @goicerays
Coverage begins at 12:50 p.m. with Countdown to Faceoff
Today’s Game: This afternoon, the IceRays close out their only trip to Topeka for the 2014-15 season against South Division foes Topeka RoadRunners. The game was originally scheduled for Saturday, September 13 at 7:05 p.m., but due to the memorial service for Topeka Police Corporal Jason Harwood at the arena, the game was moved to this afternoon.
Last Night: The IceRays lost their 2014-15 season opener, 4-3 (3-2 in shootout) to the RoadRunners. Topeka started the scoring in the first period with a shot off a faceoff draw by Daniel Ravsky at 6:33 to give the RoadRunners a 1-0 lead. The IceRays answered back at 8:51 when Travis Howe nestled a shot from the point top shelf to tie the game, 1-1. In the second period, Sam Rennaker was awarded the lone tally at 17:01 after he found a loose puck on the left side of the net and gave the RoadRunners the lead, 2-1. After Jasen Fernsler made it a two-goal lead, 3-1, at 1:59 of the third period, the IceRays came back within one, 3-2, on a Tanner Lomsnes shot from the point at 3:06. With 17.3 seconds remaining in regulation, Wes Michaud tied the game, 3-3, on a shot that went off the corssbar and right post before going over the goal line and forcing overtime. After a goal-free overtime period, the two teams went to a shootout. Anthony Cortese and Tanner Lomsnes would give the IceRays a 2-0 lead after 2.5 rounds, but after forcing sudden death in the fifth round, Daniel Brickley of the RoadRunners put away the game-winner in the seventh round to give his team the 4-3 win. Andrew Lindgren recorded the loss, saving 24 of 27 shots, while Drew Vogler earned the win after stopping 29 of 32 shots.
RoadRunner Kill: The IceRays were held winless in their four appearances against the RoadRunners last season, going 0-3-1. In their combined four meetings, the IceRays were outscored 17-7 and shutout twice (both 4-0). All time, the IceRays own a 1-16-2 record against Topeka. Their lone win came on Feb. 1, 2013 in a 3-2 shootout win, in which Charles Baldwin’s first round goal decided the competition (2-0). Since then, the IceRays are 0-4-2.
Past Woes: Last season, the IceRays finished the 2013-14 campaign with a 19-31-10 record, placing sixth out of seven in the South Division with 48 points in Head Coach John Becanic’s first season with the team. For the veteran junior coach, it was his second losing season of his ten-year head coaching career. For the organization, it was their third in their four-year existence in the North American Hockey League.
Turning The Page: This season, the IceRays brought back only six players from their 2013-14 roster. Forward Westin Michaud leads the returning players with a team-high 13 goals and nine assists for 22 points. Also included in the returners are forwards Brad LeLievire (10 goals, 10 assists), Connor Kelly (five goals, 10 assists), and Joe Chitwood (three goals, three assists), and defensemen Jason Lem (two goals, six assists) and Trevor Heuser (one goal, four games).
Size Does Matter: One of the biggest drawbacks from the 2013-14 season was the size and physicality of the roster. The team had nine players at six-foot or higher with four of the nine over six feet tall. This season, 13 of their 23 players stand at least six feet tall with 10 players above six feet. Six of the eight defensemen are at least six feet tall.
Experience, Experience, Experience: Only one player (Keenan Spillum) comes into Corpus Christi without any junior hockey experience, making this one of the oldest rosters for the IceRays to-date. Most of the IceRays this season are either 18 or 19 years old, with five players at 20 years old (Anthony Cortese, Travis Howe, Nic LaBurn, Markus Kojo, and Connor Kelly) and two players at 17 years old (Spillum and Luke Pickar).
2013-14 RoadRunners: Topeka finished the 2013-14 season on a strong note, earning a 39-15-6 record with 84 points, placing them second in the South Division only behind the Amarillo Bulls by two points. The RoadRunners swept the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees 3-0 in the South Division Semi-Final and defeated the Bulls 3-2 in the Division Final before falling in the Robertson Cup Final 2-1 to the league runner-up Austin Bruins.
Topeka True: 12 players return to the RoadRunners roster for the 2014-15 season, including two of their top-six scorers and one goaltender. Forward Jasen Fernsler finished third on the team in goals (12), assists (23) and points (35), and Ryan Polin recorded the fifth-most points on the squad (25). Netminder Drew Vogler served as the number two goalie last season but still served up a 10-9-2 record with a 2.30 goals against average and .904 save percentage.
South Division Standings
1 – Odessa Jackalopes (1-0-0, 2 Pts)
2 – Topeka RoadRunners (1-0-0, 2 Pts)
3 – ICERAYS (0-0-1, 1 Pts)
4 – Wichita Falls Wildcats (0-1-0, 0 Pts)
5 – Amarillo Bulls
6 – Lone Star Brahmas
7 – Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees
8 – Wenatchee Wild
Next Game: The IceRays take the ice on Wednesday, September 17 at 1:30 p.m. against the Kenai River Brown Bears at the North American Hockey League Showcase. Coverage begins at 1:15 p.m. with Countdown to Faceoff only on FASTHockey.com.