Rays Win in Dramatic Fashion to Force Game Five
Friday night’s game, win or lose, was the last home game of the postseason for the IceRays. The pressure was on for them to defend their home turf, not only because it would be their last chance to do so, but because if they did not, they would be eliminated. In an exhilarating display of heart, the Rays tied the game with just 1:08 remaining on the clock, forced overtime, and defeated the Shreveport Mudbugs to set the stage for a winner-take-all Game Five at George’s Pond tonight.
The game became an instant classic, and could arguably go down as the most dramatic victory in IceRays history. Brendan Miller, who has played more games for the IceRays than anyone in the history of the junior franchise, turned a no-look shot past Gustavs Grigals seconds after Brad Flynn’s timeout with Chad Veltri pulled for a sixth attacker. 11:43 into sudden death, third-year NAHL veteran Grayson Gavin ripped home the game-winning overtime goal to complete the comeback and put the pressure on Shreveport tonight.
The IceRays planted the seed of doubt with a convincing 5-1 victory on Thursday night, which has now grown even further in a series which Shreveport’s wanted to have finished by now. The pressure has shifted from the Rays’ shoulders to the Mudbugs’.
Since 2005, only two NAHL teams have come back from down 2-0 in the series and emerged triumphant. The St. Louis Bandits managed to rally against the Texas Tornado in 2010, and the Minnesota Wilderness did so against the Coulee Region Chill in 2015. Both of those teams who pulled it off had home-ice advantage, and won the decisive Game Five in their own rink. The Rays can be the first team in recorded history to overcome a 2-0 series deficit with a road win. However, to pull it off, they will have to play their best game of the series against a top-seeded team looking to exorcise their playoff demons once and for all.
For the first time all series, there’s a large degree of uncertainty as to who will be in net for Shreveport. Jaxon Castor came aboard two-thirds of the way through the regular season from the USHL, and pitched an impressive .931 save percentage and a 1.50 goals against average in 18 games played. In the playoffs, he was rock-solid in his first two games, but had an extremely shaky Game Three. As a result, Grigals was put in for Game Four and made 24 of a possible 27 saves. As for the IceRays, Chad Veltri has played just about every minute of the postseason and has been consistently dominant, backstopping the Rays to a .934 save percentage in the playoffs. He will be the undisputed choice for tonight.
Watch Party at Hardknocks
The IceRays would like to invite anyone interested in watching this pivotal Game Five to Hardknocks Sports Lounge and Grill at 5862 Everhart Road in Corpus Christi. Food and drink specials will be provided, and boiled crawfish will be served at $7.99/pound. Puck drops at 7:11 pm CT from George’s Pond. The game will be broadcast in high definition on HockeyTV, and on SportsRadio Corpus Christi (1230 AM, 95.1 FM, 96.1 FM). Fans of all ages are welcome to attend.