WICHITA FALLS, TEXAS – The Corpus Christi IceRays (25-29-6) were eliminated from playoff contention in their final game of the 2015-16 regular season with a 5-2 loss to the Wichita Falls Wildcats (44-11-5) on Friday night at the Kay Yeager Coliseum. The IceRays also finish their season series with the Wildcats holding a 3-9-0 record.
Energized by a large crowd, the Wildcats wasted no time in gaining control of the game and putting the IceRays on their heels. Wildcats forward Austin Albrecht punched a shot into an open net after receiving a pass off the end boards at 4:23 to take an early 1-0 lead. Less than one minute later at 5:06, Wildcats defenseman Matt Hines took a chance from outside the right circle and knuckled the puck through traffic to double the lead, 2-0. After being outshot 5-1 in the opening six minutes, the IceRays came back to outpace the Wildcats 10-2 for the rest of the frame, but at 19:03 Wildcats forward Nick Bowman scored his first North American Hockey League (NAHL) goal to triple the lead, 3-0, heading into the first intermission.
The Wildcats took back control of offensive advantages in the second period with a lot of rough and chippy play from both sides. The lone tally in the middle frame came on special teams but with the opposite team on the man-advantage. At 4:01, Wildcats forward Trent Dillinger shuffled his way into the offensive end and wristed a shot from the low slot to quadruple the lead, 4-0.
The IceRays made the game interesting with a pair of goals in the third period and put pressure back on the Wildcats. At 3:56, IceRays forward Jimmy O’Brien found a loose puck with the opposing netminder scrambling and batted it off the netminder’s back side to get the first goal, 4-1. A few minutes later at 8:30, IceRays defenseman Cody Lichtenvoort one-timed a shot from the left circle while on a five-on-three power play to cut the deficit in half at 4-2. With the IceRays netminder pulled, Wildcats forward Jonathan Lazarus sealed the win with an empty net goal at 18:47 to take home the 5-2 win. Wildcats netminder Justin Kapelmaster (33-8-3) earned the win, halting 24 of 26 shots, while IceRays netminder Graham Hunt (10-15-4) picked up the loss, stopping 30 of 34 shots.
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