Bulls Live to Fight another Day
Last night was another game with heavy playoff implications for the IceRays, who controlled certain aspects of the game but fell short in others. During the second period, they doubled the Amarillo Bulls 14-7 in shots on goal and outscored them 3-0. They dominated on special teams, scoring twice on the penalty kill and once on the power play. However, they were heavily outscored at even strength and ultimately lost 6-3 following two empty net goals.
Amarillo’s victory secured them immunity from being eliminated this weekend, as they can still afford to lose tonight’s game without being mathematically knocked out. However, should they manage to sweep the Rays, they will draw to within a meager four points of them in the South Division playoff race and potentially tie them for fourth place the following weekend. Tonight, the IceRays will look to pitch another strong game two performance and keep the Bulls at a relatively safe distance in the battle for fourth place.
Tonight will probably be the IceRays’ most important game for the rest of the regular season. First of all, winning will push the Bulls to the brink of elimination, while losing will allow them within four to five points of the fourth seed. Secondly, should this game go to Amarillo, they will have the advantage in the head-to-head season record, which means they will be given a benefit of the tiebreaker should the regular season end with these teams tied with the same amount of points in the standings.
However, before the head-to-head record is considered, the team with the most amount of wins during the regular season is awarded the tie-breaker. Right now, the Rays have an edge on the Bulls in that department by four (23-19). Should that also result in a tie, total goal differential in head-to-head matchups will be the third tie-breaker, followed by total goal differential during the regular season, followed by a coin flip as a last resort. The IceRays’ goal tonight will be to make all of these scenarios look like a Bulls’ pipe dream. The Rays have won five of their last six Saturday night tilts.
Larry Jungwirth Reaches Milestone
IceRays leading scorer Larry Jungwirth scored his 24th goal of the season last night, tying him for third on the all-time junior franchise single season goal-scoring list. Michael Benedict (’10-’11), Tanner Lomsnes (’14-’15) and Brad Power (’16-’17) have all reached the 24 plateau, with only Rudy Sulmonte (’12-’13) at 27 and Wes Michaud (’14-’15) at 30 ahead of him. Jungwirth has scored in each of his last two games and has flourished alongside Brendan Miller and Adam Kadlec. He buried his 24th just eight seconds into the IceRays’ second power play last night.
Brendan Miller Sets Franchise Record
Last night, Brendan Miller set the junior franchise record for the shortest elapsed time between shorthanded goals by the same player. At 22:43, Conor Yawney cleared the puck from his own zone in behind the Amarillo net, and Miller battled for possession and stuffed it past Trevor Micucci’s pads. Twenty-one seconds later, the IceRays Captain rushed down the ice on a shorthanded breakaway and buried the puck high short-side to tie the score early in the second period. He not only set a franchise record, but also tied for the league lead with Brookings’ Josh Boyer with five shorthanded goals on the season. Miller now has 36 points (18 G, 18 A, +6) on the campaign.