Slow Start, Strong Finish
It’s playoff hockey. It’s Game One. It’s a rematch of last season’s divisional semi-finals. It was clear that both teams would come out of the gates fired up last night, wanting to set the tone and convert their excitement into success on the ice. Yesterday, one team just had more than the other to start.
The first few shifts were mostly played in the IceRays’ zone, until eventually Cole Quisenberry converted with a shot from below the right circle to beat Chad Veltri low blocker-side. Cam Cook added a shorthanded goal midway through the second period, and Gueorgui Feduolov scored the eventual game-winning-goal 14 seconds into the third. Though Shreveport had an electrifying start to the closing period, it would be the best 20 minutes the Rays played all night.
The game ended up being closer than many realized. Had Brendan Miller converted on his penalty shot, it would’ve been a one-goal game. Towards the end, the Mudbugs, who’d been moving their feet like men possessed at the start of the game, were beginning to slow down and be out-paced by the IceRays in all three zones. If the Rays can carry some of what they did in the third period into tonight, the script for the game will be very different.
Last night was Shreveport’s first playoff win as a junior franchise. What’s more, it came against the team which eliminated them last year. They are riding high on momentum right now, but they’d be wise not to let it get to their heads.
The IceRays have never been swept by the Shreveport Mudbugs. Not once, in two years. They are also a veteran-heavy team with players who’ve been in these situations before. The Rays have nine players with Robertson Cup playoff experience, all of whom have won at least one playoff series. Yesterday’s slow start was a wake-up call which alerted the team midway through the game. By the third period, they were competing at a high level and made the game close. Expect a different start to tonight’s tilt.
With the NHL playoffs coinciding with our own, opportunities present themselves for teams at all levels to draw parallels from the highest level and apply them to their current situations. The one which is probably the most applicable to motivate the IceRays is the Pittsburgh-Philadelphia series. The Flyers, lower seeds against the reigning champion Penguins, started the series on the road and dropped Game One 7-0. They came back last night, played Game Two in Pittsburgh, and ultimately caused the Pens to derail in a 5-1 victory to split the road stint and shift home ice advantage in their favor. What happened in Game One was irrelevant to them, they simply took care of business in Game Two and suddenly seized an advantage in the series after losing their first game by a touchdown. The IceRays did the exact same thing six months ago, losing 7-0 in Shreveport on October 13th before responding with a 5-2 victory the following day.
Game Three Tickets Available
Game Three will be played at the American Bank Center, regardless of tonight’s outcome. Puck drop is set for 7:05 pm CT on Thursday, April 19th. The game will be broadcast on HockeyTV and on SportsRadio Corpus Christi. Game Four will be necessary if the IceRays win either Game Two, Game Three, or both. It will be played on Friday, April 20th, with puck drop scheduled for 6:30 pm CT. Tickets are available now by visiting or calling the American Bank Center Box Office at (361) 826-4700, or by going under the Tickets tab on the IceRays’ website, goicerays.com.