ODESSA, TEXAS – The Corpus Christi IceRays (30-22-5) rebounded from their previous game with an impressive performance by netminder Luke Pickar in a 5-3 win over the Odessa Jackalopes (13-37-7) on Friday night from the Ector County Coliseum. The IceRays claim home-ice advantage in the first round of the Robertson Cup Playoffs with three games remaining in the 2014-15 season.
The Jackalopes struck first at 3:41 of the first period when defenseman Andrew McLean launched a shot from the left point through traffic and into the net to give Odessa a 1-0 lead. The IceRays fell down on the penalty kill but found a way to answer back despite being down a player. Forward Nathan Bryer slid a pass into the Odessa slot to find forward Brad LeLievre for a poke above the netminder to even the score, 1-1. The IceRays took their first lead of the weekend at 13:37 when defenseman Pierre Crinon’s shot from the blue redirected off the stick of forward Wes Michaud to put the IceRays up 2-1. Late in the first period at 19:34, forward Ryan Cusin slid into the high slot and snapped a strike that doubled the lead, 3-1.
Odessa did not sit back in the second period and found two answers in the frame. At 10:02, forward Eric Carreras helped his way into the IceRays zone and found a pass back into the middle that found its way into the net to draw within one, 3-2. The IceRays created a number of strong chances after that answering goal, but as the numbers moved forward, the Jackalopes slipped by the defense for a three-on-one rush. Forward Razmuz Waxin-Engback connected at 14:05 off a broken play in front of the IceRays net to even the score, 3-3.
The third period started with sparks as forward Frankie Melton dropped the gloves for the first time this season just 36 seconds into the frame. The IceRays pushed ahead, 4-3, at 3:56 with a shot from defenseman Taylor Karel at the right point that snuck its way through traffic and into the net. The Jackalopes pulled their goaltender late in the contest, and Michaud was able to add the empty net insurance goal at 19:44 of the final period to power away with a 5-3 win.
IceRays goaltender Luke Pickar (8-7-2) played one of his best games of the season, stopping 35 of 38 shots, while Odessa netminder Tanner Creel (6-16-3) picked up the loss, saving 24 of 28 shots. The IceRays play their final road game of the 2014-15 regular season on Saturday, March 21 against the Odessa Jackalopes at 7:05 p.m. from the Ector County Coliseum. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on SportsRadio Corpus Christi (KSIX 1230AM) and FASTHockey.com.
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