Thursday, 09.21.17 / 12:23 pm CT
Seeking to even their record at the showcase, the IceRays were bested by the Fairbanks Ice Dogs by a 4-2 final on Thursday morning.
The game began promptly at 10:15 AM, which had a noticeable effect on skaters from both sides. Players at the junior level are so accustomed to a certain routine, morning games can often prove troublesome.
Corpus Christi struggled to exit their own zone during the first five minutes of play as the Ice Dogs kept them pinned down. Eventually, their persistence paid off.
Fairbanks defenseman Jake Willets snuck a shot past Cam Burggrabe to open the scoring. Brad Flynn managed to settle things down with a timeout, getting his team to refocus.
In response, the IceRays generated a handful of scoring opportunities but could not solve Logan Neaton in the first 20 minutes.
Shortly into the second period, Fairbanks veteran Hunter Wendt brought the puck down the left wing on a 3-on-1 and powered a wrist shot through Burggrabe’s equipment.
Only 2:07 later, the IceRays answered. Garrett Hallford set up John Moncovich with a cross-crease pass on the rush, and the rookie forward finished the play nicely. With their newfound momentum, the IceRays pressured Fairbanks relentlessly in an effort to tie the game.
For the second straight day it seemed the bounces were not in the IceRays’ favor. They outshot the opposition 9-6 in the middle period, but could not tie the score. Fairbanks defenseman Trenton Woods released a long screen shot which crept past Burggrabe to give the Ice Dogs a 3-1 lead.
Early in the closing period, the IceRays finally were awarded their first power play of the game. It only took 15 seconds on the man-advantage before veteran forward Josh Tripp smacked the puck past Neaton, drawing his team within a goal.
It seemed as though Corpus Christi would finally be able to close their deficit, but Wendt found himself wide open on a breakaway at 52:41 and scored his second goal of the game. Wendt’s tally was the final dagger, and the Ice Dogs held on to win 4-2.
Burggrabe was charged with his first defeat of the season, stopping 22 of 26 Fairbanks shots. Neaton earned the victory, halting 21 of 23. The IceRays are now halfway through their showcase, and will square off against the Philadelphia Rebels on Friday at 1 pm CT on Rink 2.