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Preview: IceRays vs. Amarillo Bulls (Game 37)

Rays Falter in Season’s Last Game at NYTEX

The IceRays were having their way with the Lone Star Brahmas in their own rink. They’d swept them on the road for the first time in franchise history, they took them down in overtime twice and racked up three consecutive wins against them. Additionally, Lone Star was ending its ten-game home stand and had not fared overly well during it. However, they flipped the script and dictated the game on Saturday, defeating the IceRays 5-1.

It was the first time the Rays had lost a game in regulation in three and a half weeks, and just the fourth time since October they failed to extract at least a point. It marked the end of a six-game point streak and also cited the 3/5 point of the 2017-18 season. Three quarters of the remaining games on the IceRays’ schedule will be played at the American Bank Center, and they will begin tonight.

The Matchup

Amarillo pays its first visit to the American Bank Center this season. They are the last team the Rays have yet to host, and it seems as though they’ll be doing so at an opportune time. The Bulls have struggled as much as any team in the NAHL lately, winning just one of their last ten games. They’ve dropped seven straight, falling victim to back-to-back sweeps against Shreveport and a three-game skid against Odessa.

However, the IceRays cannot write them off simply because they’ve been slumping. Amarillo swept the Rays in back-to-back nights the last time they squared off back on October 28th. They’ve also made major changes to their roster recently, sending their leading scorer Jon Russell as well as Steven Ipri to Lone Star in exchange for Austin O’Rourke and Jared Domin. The playoff picture is slowly beginning to form and Amarillo is currently on the outside looking in. With the IceRays holding the fourth and final playoff spot in the division, the Bulls will be playing tonight like it’s a must-win game.

Rylee on a Roll

Rylee St. Onge has scored a goal in each of his last five games, which is the longest active goal-scoring streak in the NAHL. He delivered three of the Rays’ four regulation strikes last weekend and was the only one who was able to light the lamp against Lone Star on Saturday. In junior franchise history, only Larry Jungwirth and Mason Krueger have done what St. Onge has done in a consecutive five-game span.

It’s no coincidence his surge began right when Aleksi Peltonen returned to the lineup. Peltonen was an excellent playmaker with exceptional vision and skill, and having him as a linemate and power play counterpart certainly helped St. Onge to extend his streak. However, he has proven to be an elite goal-scorer regardless of who’s passing him the puck, and he’s shown he can make things happen on his own accord. It will be interesting to see whether he can prolong the streak tonight, with the absence of Peltonen.

Thomson to Partake in Opening Faceoff

IceRays veteran David Thomson will return tonight and take part in the opening faceoff. The faceoff will be mainly ceremonial, as Thomson is still preparing to make the full return to action. However, tonight marks a significant step for him as he gets ready to rejoin his team and help them make a playoff push.