CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – The Corpus Christi IceRays (29-21-5) played a close contest but were edged from a win by the Wichita Falls Wildcats (27-14-3) on Saturday night from the American Bank Center. Thanks to a 5-2 win by the Wenatchee Wild against the Amarillo Bulls, the IceRays have clinched their second appearance in the Robertson Cup Playoffs in franchise history.
Scoring was stifled until late in the first period after IceRays forward Wes Michaud was called for tripping. At 16:18, Wildcats forward Colin Staub found a pass at the left post, and after a few flips toward the net the puck slid through and gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead. The IceRays answered the call less than one minute later at 16:45 when defenseman Logan Gestro passed to the left corner for forward Joe Chitwood, who spun through the slot and slid the puck in to tie up, 1-1, heading into the first intermission.
The Wildcats jumped out of the intermission break early to regain the lead. Just 45 seconds into the frame, Staub tallied his second of the night on a jab just to the side of the net to put the Wildcats up 2-1. Late in the period, Staub was a few inches shy of netting the hat-trick with a critical goal-line stop by IceRays defenseman Pierre Crinon to keep the game separated by one.
The expanded lead would come for the Wildcats in the third period at 4:32 with forward Kevin Charyszyn tapping in a loose puck from teammate Nick Farmer to put the Wildcats up 3-1. Life breathed back into the arena at 10:03 when IceRays forward Nathan Bryer streaked into the offensive end and sniped a shot into the top-left corner to draw the IceRays within one, 3-2. The IceRays pulled netminder Andrew Lindgren late in the game but could not find an equalizer.
Wildcats goaltender Austin Shaw (24-7-2) earned the win, saving 19 of 21 shots. Lindgren (22-13-3) picked up the loss, turning aside 33 of 36 shots. The IceRays embark on their final road trip of the 2014-15 regular season on Thursday, March 19 as they travel to the Ector County Coliseum and play the Odessa Jackalopes at 7:05 p.m. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM) and FASTHockey.com.
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