CORPUS CHRISTI, TX – Brad LeLievre scored two goals on the night and the IceRays scored three unanswered late in the third period including the tying goal with 38 seconds left to force overtime. However, in the shootout Fairbanks escaped and avoided disaster with a 5-4 shootout win over an electric crowd inside American Bank Center on Saturday night.
The IceRays knew that Fairbanks would come out to a hot start they just didn’t think it would take 1:29 to be at a two goal deficit. The first goal of the game came off a one-timer just 1:09 into the contest. Nick Hinz sent a pass from the left wing wall right to Lonnie Clary waiting at the top of the right wing circle who wired a shot by goaltender Ben Myers for a 1-0 lead favoring the Ice Dogs. The goal was the 7th of the year for Clary with Hinz picking up his 16th assist.
Just 20 seconds later, the lead was 2-0 for Fairbanks on a wrap-around goal. Viktor Liljegren found Tayler Munson with a pass and he moved the puck below the goal-line and wrapped it inside the right post of a diving Ben Myers for his 16th tally of the season at 1:29 of the first period with the lone assist going to Liljegren, his 18th helper on the year.
The play was more even after the IceRays settled down but the ‘Dogs added to their lead with 7:21 remaining in the first frame. Wyatt Ege fired a shot from the right point that Chandler Madry deflected by Myers to increase the lead for Fairbanks 3-0. The goal for Madry was his 7th of the year and 20th point overall with the lone assist credited to Wyatt Ege. After the first period, Fairbanks was only outshooting the IceRays 13-12.
To start the second period Corpus Christi got on the board early on to pull within two goals. Jake Durflinger brought the puck into the offensive zone over the blue line and tried to go around the defender who then stepped on the puck and went down to the ice. Brad LeLievre stepped up with the defenseman down on the ice and rifled the loose puck up stairs on Patrick Munson to make it 3-1 just 21 seconds into the frame. Durflinger had the lone assist.
Fairbanks regained that three goal lead that they held earlier in the game. A nice pass by Colton Wolter helped a rush for Brett Gervais who let a low wrister go on net. The puck found a way through Ben Myers for his 14th tally on the season assisted by Wolter, his 22nd on the year and the Ice Dogs moved out to a 4-1 lead. After 40min of action Fairbanks led in shots 28-24.
The comeback began at the with only 6:56 left in the game as Wes Michaud made a great move to the net letting a backhander go that beat Patrick Munson on his left side and went just inside the post to move Fairbanks back to a two goal lead. It was Michaud’s 9th on the year unassisted.
Kyle Froese continues to be an offensive threat for the IceRays as of late and it continued late in 3rd period with only 2:49 left on the clock. A big jam up in front of the Fairbanks net caused Froese to pinch in from the right point. Everyone tried to get a piece of the puck but Froese got the final touch as it slid by Munson to make it 4-3 late in regulation with Durflinger and Jason Lem collecting assists.
The crowd was electrified with 38 seconds left in regulation as Fairbanks could not get the puck out of the defensive zone. It was held in by Connor Kelly and he found Brad LeLievre waiting at the top of the left wing circle. LeLievre fired it by Munson for his second goal of the night to tie the game at four goals apiece and eventually forced overtime. Nico Sturm added the other assist.
In the shootout the IceRays were unable to score and Fairbanks picked up goals in the first and third round to get the extra point and the 5-4 shootout win.
Ben Myers denied 44 shots in the loss.
The IceRays are back home for a Thursday/Friday series as they welcome in the Topeka RoadRunners for the only time this season. Puck drops at 7:05PM, coverage begins at 6:50PM with the IceRays Pregame Show on sportsjuice.com, ustream.com, and fasthockey.com.
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)