Saturday, 12.02.17 / 10:13 pm CT
Photo: Chip Pitcairn
In a thrilling up-and-down contest, the IceRays ousted the Shreveport Mudbugs by a 3-2 final in the shootout on Saturday night.
A slow start was in order for both sides, as two stanchions came loose in the first seven minutes, making for a significant delay at the onset of the contest.
The IceRays and the Mudbugs have been the two most disciplined teams in the division this season, and the first period was emblematic. Just one penalty was called on either side, and the calls were made just seconds apart from one another. The majority of both power plays were spent on a 4-on-4, and both sides fell silent throughout.
However, at 17:30, Larry Jungwirth broke the stalemate. Aleksi Peltonen coasted into the Shreveport zone on the right side. Blake Coffey was the tail gunner on the attack, and Peltonen crossed a pass through Coffey and a pair of Mudbugs defensemen. He put the puck right into Jungwirth’s wheelhouse, and the IceRays’ top goal-scorer fired a one-timer past James Durham to score his NAHL-leading 16th goal of the season.
Shreveport had a response in the second period, outshooting the Rays 20-9. They eventually converted. At 28:32, a Cole Quisenberry spotted the puck behind Chad Veltri following a goalmouth scramble. He tapped it past the goal line to tie the game 1-1.
Both goaltenders had been superb throughout the first 40 minutes. Veltri had made an impressive 24 of a possible 25 saves, while Durham had denied 17 of 18.
It appeared as though the game would be destined for overtime, until Coffey hammered a slap shot past Durham for his third goal of the season. He gave the IceRays a 2-1 advantage with just 2:07 remaining, forcing the Mudbugs to replace Durham with a sixth attacker and call their timeout.
The stoppage paid off. Shreveport went to a very late 6-on-4 power play, and Brendan Gysbers was fed the puck at the top of the left circle. The pass was right in his wheelhouse, and the defenseman unleashed a laser over Veltri’s glove to tie the game with just 35 seconds remaining.
Both teams failed to end the game in the ensuing overtime segment, though Coffey had a glorious opportunity to be a hero twice in the same night. He was tripped on a breakaway, going to a penalty shot with a chance to win the game. He fired the puck off the inside of the crossbar, which ultimately resulted in a shootout.
Peltonen scored through the five-hole in back-to-back shootouts stretching back to the IceRays’ last home game on November 18th against Lone Star. Veltri stood tall for Corpus Christi, keeping the Bugs off the board in all three rounds. The Rays skated to a 3-2 victory on home ice.
Veltri was phenomenal again, stopping 43 of 45 Shreveport shots and going perfect in the shootout. He earned his 8th win of the season with his performance. Durham was also solid, denying 33 of the IceRays’ 35 shot attempts but being charged with his first overtime defeat of the season. The IceRays and Mudbugs will close out the series tomorrow afternoon. Puck drop is scheduled for 3:05 pm CT at the American Bank Center.