Friday, 04.13.18 / 10:13 pm CT
Looking for a second consecutive Game One victory in the South Division Semi-Finals, the IceRays fell victim to a dominant Shreveport start and were defeated 4-2 on Friday night.
Shreveport controlled the play through the first few shifts, keeping the IceRays in their own zone for minutes at a time. Eventually, they converted their momentum into a goal.
Cole Quisenberry found the puck below the right circle, and fired it past Veltri’s blocker to open the scoring. Veltri responded with a pair of enormous saves to keep his team within a goal. Dakota Concannon had an opportunity to tie the game on a breakaway, but Jaxon Castor flung out his blocker hand to make the save.
In the middle of a much more evenly-played second period, the IceRays were presented with a chance to tie game after Matt Acciaioli was interfered with by Jay Feiwell. The Rays went to their first power play of the postseason.
Just 49 seconds into the man-advantage, the IceRays were stripped of possession in the high slot in their own zone. Cam Cook, with plenty of time, weaved skated down the slot on a clear-cut shorthanded breakaway. He fired the puck past Veltri’s blocker to double the Mudbugs’ lead.
The third period yielded the most offense for both sides. Just fourteen seconds into it, Jacob Holmers fired a wrist shot which was kicked aside by Veltri, but Gueorgui Feduolov pounced on the rebound and shoveled the puck through his five-hole.
Though the IceRays were taken aback by Shreveport’s electric start to the period, they eventually chipped away at the deficit. At 48:34, the puck bounced oddly off the end boards and right to Julian Makary, with Castor behind the net. Makary sent a pass over to Garrett Hallford, who ripped the puck into a wide open goal to put the Rays on the board.
Ryan Burnett had already had two primary assists in the game, and at 54:10, he re-extended Shreveport’s lead. After a Dominick Procopio point shot was blocked down in the slot, Burnett located the puck and fired it past Veltri’s blocker to give the Mudbugs a 4-1 lead.
With just over three minutes remaining, Brad Flynn pulled Veltri for an extra attacker with his team on a 4-on-4. In a net-mouth scramble, a Mudbug covered the puck with his hand in the crease, resulting in an automatic penalty shot for the IceRays. Brendan Miller would be denied by Castor’s blocker. Adam Kadlec fed Rylee St. Onge in the left circle seconds later, and the IceRays’ leading scorer during the regular season buried his first playoff goal to create a more respectable score line.
Veltri denied 41 of 45 shots in his first playoff defeat as an IceRay, while Castor stopped 22 of 24 in his first playoff victory as a Mudbug. The IceRays will play Game Two at George’s Pond tomorrow night before heading back to Corpus Christi to host Game Three next Thursday at the American Bank Center. Puck drop is set for 7:11 pm CT from Shreveport. The game will be broadcast in HD on HockeyTV and on SportsRadio Corpus Christi (1230 AM, 95.1 FM, 96.1 FM).