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Preview: IceRays @ Lone Star Brahmas (Game 28)

Prototype Performance
Last night’s contest can be described as a prototypical game against Lone Star. It was low-scoring, tight-checking, the goaltenders were strong on both sides, and the result came down to a perfectly placed shot. Mistakes were very few and far between, especially on the IceRays’ part. The only goal the Brahmas scored was because the Rays blocked a shot, and were punished by an unfortunate bounce.

Pavel Koreshkov made an excellent, patient play in front of the net to respond to the Lone Star tally early in the third period, and Blake Coffey finished the game off in extra time with a bar-down snipe over Mitchell Gibson. Chad Veltri passed Gibson in save percentage on the season, and is now fourth in the entire NAHL with a .933 SV%.

The Matchup
The IceRays kicked off their longest road trip for the rest of the season with a textbook victory against their most hated rivals, handing Lone Star a 2-2-2 record through their ten-game home stand. They can make history tonight and sweep them at NYTEX Sports Centre for the first time as a junior franchise. The last team to do it was Shreveport back on February 11th of 2017.

Five of the IceRays’ last eight games have gone to extra time. Aside from the 5-1 defeat to Shreveport last Sunday, the Rays have been highly competitive in every game they’ve played in recent memory. As for Lone Star, they are now more than halfway through their ten-game home stand and have only taken two wins, which is undoubtedly disappointing for them. They are heavily depleted by injuries and players in the World Junior Championships, and will be fighting the IceRays until their last breath to salvage a win from the series. We should be in store for another hard-fought tilt.

Koreshkov Fills New Role with Aplomb
The biggest question mark heading into yesterday’s affair was “who is going to replace Aleksi Peltonen?” The Wisconsin commit had played in every game for the IceRays since coming on board, and quickly rose to becoming the team’s number one center. He was the centerpiece of the hottest line in the NAHL through November, setting up Larry Jungwirth and Rylee St. Onge left and right, collecting a goal and eight assists in his last ten games with the Rays before heading up to Omaha.

The IceRays’ youngest player, Pavel Koreshkov, proved equal to the challenge last night. He seamlessly stepped in and gelled with his two new linemates, and scored the game-tying goal early in the third period to force an overtime. Koreshkov brings different strengths to the table than Peltonen did, but both are extremely skilled and know how to generate plays. The new trio will be worth keeping a close eye on.

Miller Returns
The IceRays’ Captain Brendan Miller will return to the lineup tonight after serving his one-game suspension yesterday. He has played very well against Lone Star this season, having scored in each of his two previous games at NYTEX Sports Centre. Getting him back in the fold will only help Corpus Christi, as he will be looking to lead them to their first-ever road sweep over the Brahmas.