Preview: IceRays @ Odessa Jackalopes (Game 23)

Nov 24, 2017

Photo: Chip Pitcairn

Rays Extend Point Streak

After an exhilarating victory last Friday, the IceRays appeared to be en route to sweeping the Lone Star Brahmas as they held a 3-1 lead late in the third period. However, the visitors silenced the house by scoring twice to force overtime, fending off an IceRays 4-on-3, taking them to a shootout, and sneaking away with a 4-3 win.

Though the IceRays had their longest winning streak of the season slip away last Saturday night, they extended their point streak to six games with a shootout loss and launched themselves into fourth place in the South Division. Having done so, the Rays have passed the Odessa Jackalopes, the team against whom they’ll be facing this evening.

The Matchup

Tonight will mark the IceRays’ first trip to the Ector County Coliseum this season, a building they were 1-2-1 in during the 2016-17 campaign. Thirteen players have yet to ever play a game at the Jack Shack, while six have still not played against Odessa before.

The last time these rivals squared off was on the IceRays’ home-opening weekend back on September 29th and 30th. The Jacks scored a late goal to tie Friday night’s game, forcing overtime where they spoiled the IceRays’ home-opening party. The following night, they managed to hold off the Rays in the third period, who came just a goal shy of tying things late in regulation.

It was a bitter pair of games for Corpus Christi, who had been seeking to open their home season strong following a bumpy showcase. Hence, Odessa remains the only team in the South Division the Rays have yet to defeat. With the fourth-place spot on the line for both sides tonight, there is no reason not to expect a hard-fought tilt.

Acciaioli Leading the Defensive Corps

Matt Acciaioli took his game to another level last weekend. One way or another, he was centrally involved in every single goal the IceRays scored in the series. In most cases, he was the player responsible for generating the play by setting the forwards up in good attacking positions. In one case, he himself scored the goal by snapping a 55-foot laser past Mitchell Gibson on a power play.

Acciaioli was the biggest reason the Rays’ man-advantage came to life last weekend, and he was also instrumental in the team’s strong play at even strength. His quick decision-making and precise passing led to five goals, and his defensive awareness kept at least one or two out of his own net, as well. He proved how valuable he was last weekend as an all-purpose defenseman, and he’s got as hot a stick as anyone on the team sans Larry Jungwirth. Expect the veteran blue-liner to play a major role this weekend.

On The Road Again

A four-game home stand is now in the books, and the IceRays took advantage of it. They secured seven of a possible eight points and didn’t allow for any easy conquest. In fact, the Rays have not lost a game on home ice this season that was decided by more than a single non-empty-net goal. They’ve shown to be a tough team to beat on home ice, but the most home-dense part of their schedule doesn’t come until February. Until then, they will have to endure fairly frequent trips away from the American Bank Center.

Over the ten-game road stretch, the IceRays salvaged a .500 record and capped off the extensive sequence by sweeping the RoadRunners in Topeka. It will be interesting to gauge how well the Rays perform on the road for the rest of the season, now that they won’t be mired in a seemingly endless venture away from home.