CORPUS CHRISTI, TX – This year the Corpus Christi IceRays have played a total of 174 periods, 3,480 minutes, or simply 58 games. However, the next three periods, or 60 minutes, could determine the fate of the IceRays in Frisco, Texas against the Robertson Cup hosts, Texas Tornado.
“This is a big weekend,” said IceRays goaltender Anthony Stolarz. “It’s our season. We battled hard all year and we have two games to leave it all on the ice and prove we belong in the playoffs.”
There have been the “what if” games such as the last second loss to Topeka in OT, or losing to Amarillo with 4.4 seconds left in the third period, and even Odessa scoring with seven seconds left in regulation. None of that matters anymore as Corpus Christi needs a pair of wins on the road, which they have done only once this year, along with some help from either the Wichita Falls Wildcats or Topeka Roadrunners.
Head coach Justin Quenneville has been involved in his fair share of playoff runs, but for the IceRays he sees this as more than an opportunity to get some playoff experience. “I believe that this weekend is not only exciting for fans, but from an organization stand point, a great opportunity to extend another season into playoffs,” Quenneville stated. “Since I have been here, I have been fortunate to be in several playoffs and the fans and city really rally around the team which makes for an exciting environment. For players, this is a huge opportunity to expand individual exposure to NCAA schools and programs looking to sign players. For the majority of our players, this will be their first experience playing in a playoff, so there is a lot to be learned through this experience.”
Corpus Christi ideally needs two wins this weekend along with two Odessa losses, or even an overtime/shootout loss mixed in to make the playoffs. If Odessa wins tonight in Wichita Falls, and the IceRays fall to Texas, there is no chance for a playoff spot for Corpus Christi. If Odessa and Corpus Christi finishes in a tie, the Jackalopes would advance since they won more game over the IceRays.
The IceRays will face the Texas Tornado on the road who are also fighting for a spot in the South Division. The Tornado and Topeka Roadrunners are battling for second place in the division. However, Quenneville feels the IceRays are ready. “At this point in the season, there is no such thing as being over prepared. We utilize our practices to its full potential to dissect their team as much as possible and study video to eliminate any mistakes and build off all the positives. This time of the year will come down to who wants it more, and we have to be the hungrier team all over the ice right now, because there is no tomorrow if we don’t. We are familiar with the Tornado and have been successful against them over the course of the season. However, no 2 games against them are more important than this weekends.”
Experience is essential when being involved in a tight playoff race such as the one Corpus Christi currently is in. Even though some players have not been through something like this yet, the coaching staff has. “Having been through this experience has taught me a lot over the course of my career,” Quenneville added. “However, being the moment is what it is all about. Knowing that every game down the stretch can make or break you enhances the intensity entering every game. The team that can collectively come together faster and sacrifice the most will be the team to advance, and having that sense of confidence in your team will help push them. This is where you find out what players are made of and if they have the heart to play this game for a career.”
The IceRays are in Frisco, Texas tonight and tomorrow night to take on the Texas Tornado. Puck drops at 7:30PM, coverage begins at 6:15PM with the IceRays Pregame Show on ESPN Radio 1440AM.
Stay current with the latest team news by visiting www.goicerays.com. In addition stay connected with the IceRays on Facebook (/corpuschristiicerays), Twitter (@goicerays), and the team’s Youtube channel ICERAYS TV (@goicerays)
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