Saturday, 09.30.17 / 10:05 pm CT
Photo: Chip Pitcairn
Looking to split their first home series against the Odessa Jackalopes before heading into an extended road stretch, the IceRays made a late push but fell 5-3 on Childhood Cancer Night.
An up-and-down start to Saturday night’s game kept both goaltenders on edge. Camden Burggrabe (Corpus Christi) and Brett Epp (Odessa) each had a strong showing in net on Friday night and earned a consecutive start on Saturday.
Just 1:18 into the contest, Viktor Johansson crossed through the IceRays’ zone and left the puck in the wheelhouse for Evan Rochowiak. The Odessa sharpshooter fired the puck past Burggrabe to open the scoring for the visitors and immediately silence the American Bank Center crowd.
The spectators did not remain silent for long, however. At 5:59, Aleksi Peltonen found himself with time and space to weave into the slot and place a shot perfectly over Epp’s shoulder and tie the game for the IceRays.
It looked as though the Rays would be able to grab the lead as they were given a power play four minutes after Peltonen’s goal. Instead, the Jackalopes emerged on a 2-on-1 immediately after fighting off the penalty. The triggerman, Petr Miko, snapped a shot to beat Burggrabe and regain the Odessa lead.
Several opportunities presented for the IceRays to level the score in the second stanza, but Epp showed brilliance again to keep his team in the lead.
Larry Jungwirth had a gaping chance at the left side of the net after being fed a cross-crease pass by Aleksi Peltonen on a Corpus Christi power play. Jungwirth’s one-timer was accurate, but it did not have enough velocity to beat Epp. The Jackalopes’ net-minder snatched the puck out of the air and kept his team in the lead.
Killing off an extended penalty to Jayson Dimzio gave the Rays a solid start to the closing period. The teams would go on to exchange goals in a hectic final 20 minute span.
Evan Somoza started things off at 44:28, but was answered just over two minutes later. Jayson Dimizio sprung Garrett Hallford through center ice with speed, and the veteran IceRay buried his first goal of the 2017-18 season from the right circle.
Somoza scored again to re-establish a two-goal lead for the Jackalopes at 48:01. He pounced on a big rebound and shelfed the puck past Burggrabe to make the score 4-2.
With just over five minutes remaining in regulation, Noah Roofe found the puck on his stick in the deep slot. He spun around and whipped it at the net, and it sailed over Epp’s shoulder and into the net to rejuvenate the crowd and the bench.
A late push by the IceRays was not quite enough, as Rochowiak iced the game with an empty-net goal from his own blue line in the closing seconds.
Burggrabe was charged with his third regulation defeat of the season after stopping 26 of Odessa’s 30 shots on goal. Epp was solid again, halting 29 of 32. The IceRays will take on the Amarillo Bulls next Saturday, October 7th at the Amarillo Civic Center to begin a month-long road stretch. Puck drops at 7:05 pm CT.