Entering Friday night following a rough series against Shreveport, the IceRays welcomed the Wichita Warriors to the American Bank Center. In the last two matchups between the two sides in Wichita Falls, the IceRays brought home two points in each game winning 5-4 in either overtime or in a shootout. A similar situation was in store at American Bank Center on Friday night.
In the first period, the IceRays were sent to the penalty kill just over three minutes into the game. The first shift of the kill consisted of a couple of clearances for the IceRays, but the second shift is when the real action started. Colby Seitz made a move on a lengthy Dylan Contreras pass to get around the Warriors defender. Seitz, in all alone, backhanded it past Millberg, Wichita Falls’ starting goaltender.
Typically when a team is shorthanded, the attack stays in their defensive end, but this was not the case after the Seitz goal as the Rays tallied another shorthanded. This time, it was Michael Casey burying home a rebound of his own to give the Rays a 2-0 lead just 4:50 into Friday’s game. The Casey goal was scored 35 seconds after the Seitz goal.
Five minutes after the pair of shorthanded goals, Michael Casey forechecked the puck hard and earned possession in the offensive end. He sent it across the ice to Nathan Butler who buried his 17th of the season to give Corpus Christi a 3-0 lead. Butler’s goal led to Wichita Falls pulling their goaltender after allowing three goals on just four shots on goal.
Wichita Falls struck on their power play opportunity to bring themselves back to within two prior to the first intermission. The IceRays only had the four shots during the first period being outshot by ten in the game’s first period.
In the second, the shot advantage stayed on the Warriors side as they outshot the Rays 32-14 after two periods of play. Although, as it was learned on Friday night, shots on goal is not the stat that matters at the end of the night.
On the Rays fifth shot of the game, Emerson Miller was able to find the back of the net through traffic to pick up his first with Corpus Christi to once again extend the Rays lead to three. Four goals on five shots on goal had the Rays shooting at an accuracy of 80% through 21 minutes of gameplay.
Wichita Falls trailed 4-1 for the majority of period number two until their power play was able to score for the second time on Friday with under five to go in the period. With exactly a minute left in the second, the Warriors brought the score back within one on an even strength goal right off of a face off. The IceRays two separate leads of three had evaporated to just one at the second intermission.
In the third, Wichita Falls struck quickly to even the game at four aside, which just made sense with how this season series has gone. Although chances were had on both sides in the remainder of the third, nothing found the back of the net. Once again, a winner would have to be determined in overtime between these two teams.
The five-minute three-on-three overtime showed excitement on both ends of the ice with chances for both teams, but ultimately nothing found the back of the net. For the second time of the season, the Rays were headed to a shootout. The first was also against Wichita Falls in early December when the Rays won 5-4 thanks to a 1-0 shootout performance.
Wichita Falls scored on their first attempt in the shootout getting one past Damon Beaver. Misses on both ends of the ice followed with Michael Casey stepping up to the puck at center ice. He was able to make his way down and find it past the Warriors goaltender to even things at 1-1 in the shootout. That is where it stood for rounds three, four, and five as three from each team proved unsuccessful.
In the sixth round of the shootout, the Warriors found the back of the net forcing the IceRays hand. The Rays put out Trey Zagrzebski. If Zagrzebski missed, Wichita Falls gets the extra point. If he scored, the shootout moved to round seven. Sure enough, Zagrzebski was able to sneak it past Wichita Falls goaltender to send it to round seven.
A stop in net for Beaver brought a walk-off opportunity to the stick of Dom Foglia in the seventh round. Foglia gathered speed as he brought the puck into the zone, and when he got in close, he was able to get it past the outreached glove and into the back of the net to win it for the Rays.
The Rays earned the extra point and now sit five points out of fourth place in the division. The win also moves the Rays to 5-0-2 in games that head into overtime, which includes a 2-0-0 record in shootouts. The Rays move to 4-1-0 against Wichita Falls this season with the last three coming at a score of 5-4 in either overtime or a shootout, all in the Rays favor.
Corpus Christi is looking to break out the brooms Saturday night at home with puck drop scheduled for 7:05 pm. Tickets are still available online on Ticketmaster or at the American Bank Center box office.