Saturday, 09.16.2017 / 9:51 pm CT
Hoping to sweep the Topeka RoadRunners on the road to kick off their season, the IceRays fell short and were soundly defeated 6-1 on Saturday night.
The home side turned the tables on the visiting IceRays to start the evening and controlled the tempo in the first period. Only 2:17 into the game, defenseman Cam Kuhl flipped the puck from the blue line which bounced past a screened Chad Veltri, the rookie IceRays goaltender.
Nearly halfway through the first period, Corpus Christi responded with a goal from one of their own defensemen, Kaelan Taylor. Another rookie, Taylor tallied his first goal as an IceRay with the long-range shot.
Despite tying the game, the visitors found themselves in a deep hole rather early. Topeka scored four unanswered goals to close out the opening 20 minutes, including two from veteran center Nick Granowicz.
After falling behind by three, IceRays head coach Brad Flynn elected to replace Veltri with veteran goaltender Camden Burggrabe, who had pitched a stellar Friday night performance.
Solid goaltending permeated the second period, which made things difficult for the IceRays to get themselves back into the game. They failed to chip away at their substantial deficit, despite earning several chances on the power play.
Friday night’s buzzer beater by Brendan Miller was answered by a last-second goal from Dylan Rauh, who extended Topeka’s lead to 6-1 heading into the second intermission.
The closing 20 minutes were played fairly evenly, but the deficit was simply too large for the IceRays to overcome. Facing a stingy net-minder for a second straight night made the prospect of a comeback even more daunting. Both Veltri (who had returned to action) and Topeka’s Sam Metcalf had a flawless third period.
Metcalf was credited with the victory, making a very impressive debut by stopping 27 of the IceRays’ 28 shots. Veltri’s play gradually improved as the night progressed, but he was charged with the loss after making 38 of a possible 43 saves. The IceRays begin their annual showcase on Wednesday, September 20th at 2:30 pm at the Schwann Super Rink in Blaine, Minnesota. They will begin by taking on the Central Division’s Bismarck Bobcats. For more information on the NAHL Showcase, click here.