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Preview: IceRays @ Amarillo Bulls (Game 10)

Starting Strong

Heading into a ten-game stretch of road games can look like such a daunting challenge that it can be difficult to focus on the smaller obstacles. “One day at a time” has been the clear message, and the IceRays certainly received the memo last night.

Lighting the lamp in the first 4:10 was the start they were seeking, and scoring four unanswered third period goals was the finish they were seeking. The additions of Pavel Koreshkov, Rylee St. Onge and Michal Steinocher clearly paid off, as each of them brought an entirely new element to the lineup throughout the night.

Snapping a seven-game winless skid was highest on the priority list. With that now in the books, the Rays will have to turn their attention to facing a vengeful Amarillo squad tonight. Hear Garrett Hallford describe how the Rays will handle the challenge:

The Matchup

Being swept on home ice is a pit which all NAHL teams try to avoid at all costs. The Lone Star Brahmas steamrolled the Bulls at the ACC last Friday night 6-1, and Amarillo responded by locking a 3-0 victory the following day. Needless to say, winning tonight’s game will be an even greater challenge for the IceRays.

On the contrary, the Rays’ frustrations will have greatly subsided after last night. Oftentimes during a winless skid or a goal-scoring drought, players try to do too much and squeeze their sticks too tight, only making things worse. Having an offensive explosion as the Rays did yesterday is the best remedy for that ailment, and fans can expect their scoring prowess to return to a more familiar rate.

Disciplinary Action

The Bulls had eight power plays yesterday. Half of the IceRays who dressed were penalized at some point, and accumulated for 22 total penalty minutes. While the penalty kill had a strong start to the night, it could not keep Amarillo off the score sheet indefinitely.

Ultimately, Amarillo scored all three of their goals while on the man-advantage. It was an unexpected occurrence, as the IceRays have done a far better job staying out of the penalty box than the Bulls this season. Regardless, last night’s outing has all but solidified one of the keys to victory tonight: staying disciplined. Assistant Coach Ryan Anderson discusses the importance of that factor below:

Coffey Break

The IceRays’ primary offensive defenseman will be given a rest tonight after absorbing more than his fair share of heavy hits yesterday. A big minute-muncher, Blake Coffey’s absence will give Jovan Zimmerman the green light to step in against his former team. Moreover, veteran defensemen like Conor Yawney, Matt Acciaioli and Trevor Wilhelm will be expected to play an even larger role. Here is Yawney’s outlook heading into tonight: