Rays Clinch Berth in 2018 Playoffs
There was no better time to flip the script than last night. The IceRays had dropped seven of their previous eight opening games of series, but they knew last night had special implications.
Playing Shreveport for the first time in over two months, they caught the Mudbugs by surprise and gave them everything they could handle right from puck drop. The Rays got off to the electric start they were hoping for, scoring twice in the first 2:07 of the game. The second strike woke up Karlis Zirnis’ squad, who managed to claw back and tie the game in the mid-to-late stages of the opening period. Rylee St. Onge tacked on his 19th goal of the season to regain the IceRays’ lead, which they would build upon early in the second when Jayson Dimizio buried his second goal of the night.
Cole Quisenberry and Brendan Van Sweden each had two-goal performances for the Bugs. In the third period, they helped Shreveport erase a two-goal deficit for the second time. However, Chad Veltri stopped 3 of 4 shootout attempts, while Adam Kadlec and Brendan Miller each finished off their bids in style. The Rays would win by a 5-4 final, and with help from an Amarillo defeat, punched their ticket to the Robertson Cup Playoffs.
Yesterday, the IceRays had a clear-cut goal they were trying to reach. They knew that if they got the job done and won the game, there was a chance they could clinch a playoff berth. That’s now in the books. Tonight, Shreveport likely has the more pressing motive.
If the Mudbugs so much as take a point from tonight’s game, they will secure first place in the South Division and guarantee home-ice advantage through the first two rounds of the postseason. They will be entering tonight’s game with a clear motivation and a desire to complete unfinished business from last night. There is also a strong chance that this game will be a preview of the first round of the playoffs, which if began today, would see the Rays and the Bugs squaring off in this building.
Very Special Teams
Both special teams units for the IceRays have been on a roll lately. The power play has scored a goal in five of the last six games, going 5-for-25 (20%) throughout March. Their penalty kill has been even more impressive lately, having now fought off 30 penalties in a row, which is the longest streak they’ve gone on all season. The Rays have not allowed a power play goal since February 23rd against Amarillo. However, the last time they had a very long penalty kill streak snapped (25), Shreveport’s Gueorgui Feduolov did the honors at the ABC back on December 28th. Tonight, one of the keys of the game will be continuing to pay due attention to detail on the PK.
IceRays Watch Party
Tonight’s game will be streamed in high definition at Hardknocks Sports Lounge & Grill on 5862 Everhart Road in Corpus Christi. The event begins at 6:30 pm. There will also be a crawfish boil served at $7.99/pound. The IceRays encourage any fans interested to swing by Hardknocks any time before or near puck drop to enjoy the game, food and drink.