(Photo: Henrietta Wildsmith, Shreveport Times)
SHREVEPORT, La. – The Corpus Christi IceRays (29-18-4-5) fell behind in the third period and could not finish the fight back, falling 5-4 to the Shreveport Mudbugs (35-16-2-3) on Friday night from George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum.
The IceRays pressured the Mudbugs from the opening puck drop and continued through the first half of the opening period. With their pressure, the IceRays were rewarded with a power play goal at 8:13 when IceRays forward Nathan Bryer looked to cross a pass from the right side corner, and his pass hit off a defenseman and through the netminder to take a 1-0 lead. The Mudbugs regained their legs after the media timeout and found the tying goal before the end of the period. At 15:40, Mudbugs defenseman Brandon Gysbers took a wrist shot from the right circle that fought through traffic to tie the game, 1-1.
The second period was the reverse momentum from the opening frame with the home side Mudbugs continuing their offensive push. Gysbers earned his second of the night with a shot from the right point at 3:05 to help take the lead, then Mudbugs forward Erik Zohovs crashed the net to tap in a loose rebound on a rush at 7:26 to double the lead, 3-1. The IceRays answered back to both goals in the back half of the period on one stick. IceRays forward Josh Tripp helped a puck through traffic in front of the net at 11:40 to draw the IceRays within one, 3-2. Tripp followed that with a 1-on-1 rush that he slotted by the blocker of the Mudbugs goaltender at 13:49 to tie the game at 3-3.
The Mudbugs broke through in the back half of the third period to gain the two deciding goals they needed. At 11:06, Mudbugs defenseman Jackson Hartje took an innocent shot from the blue line that floated underneath the crossbar to edge ahead, 4-3. Then, Mudbugs forward Cameron Cook forced a semi-breakaway at 14:39 and lofted a backhanded shot into the net to double the lead, 5-3. IceRays forward Brad Power snuck a shot from between the circles through the netminder at 16:10 to draw within one again at 5-4, but even with the netminder pulled the IceRays couldn’t finish the comeback in a 5-4 loss.
Mudbugs goaltender Dylan Lubbesmeyer (18-6-3) earned the win, halting 39 of 43 shots, while IceRays netminder Tomáš Vomáčka (18-12-6) picked up the loss, turning aside 24 of 29 shots. The IceRays finish their season series with the Shreveport Mudbugs on Saturday, Apr. 1 at 7:11 p.m. from George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum. Coverage begins at 6:55 p.m. on SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM) and Hockey TV.
The IceRays host their final home weekend of the 2016-17 regular season on Friday, Apr. 7 at 7:05 p.m. to open a two-game weekend against the Wichita Falls Wildcats from the American Bank Center. The IceRays are heading to the postseason for the third time, and 2017 Robertson Cup Playoffs tickets will be announced in the coming weeks. For tickets to the final home weekend, call the IceRays Front Office at 361-814-PUCK. In addition, stay connected with the IceRays on Facebook (/CorpusChristiIceRays), Twitter (@goicerays), YouTube (IceRays TV), Instagram (CorpusChristiIceRays), Snapchat (@goicerays), and Periscope (@goicerays).