Rays Sweep Mudbugs on the Road
On their last road trip of the 2017-18 regular season, the IceRays put an exclamation mark on the weekend by sweeping the first-place Mudbugs for the first time this year. It was the first time Shreveport was swept on home ice since February 4th, 2017, when the IceRays kicked off their seven-game winning streak last season.
Chad Veltri was stellar in goal, stopping 53 of 54 shots. To the IceRays’ credit, they helped their goaltender tremendously by keeping the bulk of Shreveport’s shots to the perimeter and taking away the middle to limit rebound opportunities. This weekend, they will be facing a team which loves to shoot from the outside and generate second chances.
The Odessa Jackalopes are fighting to lock down third place once and for all, and can secure it this weekend by taking a regulation win. They’ve given the IceRays more difficulty than anybody this season, beating them in eight out of ten meetings.
When the Jacks last visited Corpus Christi, they managed to become the first team to sweep the IceRays since November 25th, which was when they did it the second time. However, the Rays have strung together a three-game winning streak and are riding high after clinching a playoff berth and sweeping the first-place team on the road. Even though it may seem as though there is not much on the line this weekend, there has been more than enough bad blood between these rivals to warrant expecting a dog fight in their final head-to-head series of the season.
Special Teams Continue to Dominate
Special Teams came up big again for the IceRays in last Saturday’s 3-1 victory over Shreveport. Both non-empty net goals were scored on the power play, with Rylee St. Onge tallying the first and Brendan Miller the second. The man-advantage has suddenly become a legitimate, lethal threat. It has gone 7-for-30 (23.3%) throughout March. The penalty kill also extended its streak, fighting off all five to reach 35 successful PKs in a row. The IceRays have not allowed a power play goal in ten games (February 23rd).
IceRays tender and affiliate player Brian Kramer will be making his debut tonight. The Pittsburgh Penguins U18 defenseman has been a high-scoring blue-liner throughout his midget hockey career, and will get a taste of what the next level is like this evening. This season in Pittsburgh, Kramer has helped lead the Penguins to a 25-7-3 record, the second-best U18 record in Tier 1 Midgets. The 17-year-old has scored at over a point every-other-game pace this season (55 GP, 11 G, 19 A, 30 P) and was second on his team in defenseman scoring only to Tyler Love (33 P), who is also tendered by the IceRays. Director of Scouting Mike Mondoux has described Kramer as a highly skilled, smooth-skating defenseman who’s great with the puck and has tremendous offensive upside. He will be wearing the #16 tonight for the IceRays.