Rays Encounter Punishing Opposition
The IceRays knew they would be in for an entirely new challenge facing the Shreveport Mudbugs yesterday. They had played against plenty of strong opposition, but they hadn’t yet played a team who had dominated the start of the season. Last night, the Mudbugs gave the Rays a taste of how hard they will have to compete if they are going to split the series before hitting the road again.
In the IceRays locker room, there is a quote on the wall that reads “We don’t lose. We win or we learn.” As painful as last night’s tilt may have been, it was ultimately an enormous lesson that was needed by a team still seeking to mold together. Losing by seven goals has the exact same impact to a team’s record as losing by one, only there is typically more to be learned from the former.
There is simply too much talent and compete-level on the roster for the Rays not to bounce back in a strong way tonight. As for Shreveport, they may have lost their most skilled players over the offseason, but they’ve lost none of their work ethic. Losing superstars like Erik Zohovs, Croix Evingson, Frankie Melton and others only seems to have ignited the remaining players to compete harder. With that said, tonight could turn into a battle of sheer willpower. Expect a close tilt.
Power Play Struggles
Dropping all ten power plays yesterday was capped off by a shorthanded goal against, leaving the Rays’ man-advantage with a 10% success rate on their season. Shreveport plays a similar shorthanded style to the IceRays, as a team that depends on aggressively preventing their opponents from setting up in the attacking zone.
Their opponents’ style made things difficult for the Rays to establish an offensive foothold for any extended period of time. Even on a full 5-on-3, the majority of the two minutes were spent recovering the puck and searching for ways to cross the blue line without conceding possession. The man-advantage did seem to improve as the night went on, and there were a number of key takeaways the coaches gathered from the contest to look out for tonight.