Friday, 11.10.17 / 9:40 pm CT
Photo: Chip Pitcairn
With the support of the crowd behind them for the first time in six weeks, the IceRays punished the RoadRunners in all three zones and skated to a 5-2 victory on Friday night.
Just seconds into the game, the IceRays’ homecoming celebration was almost silenced. Will Schlagenhauf found himself on a breakaway almost immediately after the puck dropped. Chad Veltri had to kick out his right pad to make a big early right pad save.
The IceRays did a superb job drawing penalties to start, going to four power plays in the first period alone. They converted on their second opportunity. Conor Yawney sliced through the Topeka defense and set up Larry Jungwirth for an open shot in the left circle. The Rays’ leading scorer buried his fourth goal in his last three games, beating Emil Gransøe short-side.
Just over four minutes later, Jayson Dimizio was given a game misconduct for removing an opponent’s helmet. Topeka responded with a power play goal of their own on their first man-advantage of the night. Nick Schultze took a shot from between the circles, which was blocked and deflected to Nick Granowicz. The Runners’ top scorer found the back of the net and leveled the score.
Corpus Christi had another solid second period, outshooting Topeka 13-8 and adding a pair of goals. Just 2:38 into the middle frame, Jungwirth fed Rylee St. Onge a crisp touch pass from circle-to-circle. St. Onge fired a one-timer past Gransøe while falling to regain the IceRays’ lead.
Later in the period, on a 4-on-4, Garrett Hallford rushed down the slot on a clean breakaway. His shot was denied by Gransøe, but Jungwirth followed it up with his second goal of the game to give the Rays a 3-1 advantage.
Jungwirth capped off his first career hat trick 5:16 into the closing period. He found himself on an uncontested breakaway and tucked it into the top corner of the net to beat Gransøe and extend the Rays’ lead to 4-1.
Topeka had an answer, as Cam Kuhl sniped a shot through heavy traffic to cut Corpus Christi’s lead to two.
With Gransøe pulled for a sixth attacker late in the contest, Matus Havrila redeemed himself after a missed chance from the first period and scored his first goal as an IceRay from about 170 feet on the empty net. His goal iced the game and secured a 5-2 victory for the Rays.
Veltri was finally beaten more than once in a game, but he still managed to make 26 of a possible 28 saves for his sixth victory of the season. Gransøe denied 34 of 38, and was charged with the regulation defeat. The IceRays will close out the series tomorrow night at the American Bank Center on Stars & Stripes Night. Admission is free for all active & former military members, as well as first responders with the showing of a military/first responder ID at the box office.