Saturday, 10.14.17 / 10:07 pm CT
After suffering their largest margin of defeat in over five years, the IceRays convincingly responded with 5-2 victory on Saturday night.
It became clear very quickly that a different tempo was in store. The Rays and the Bugs exchanged scoring chances evenly, but it was Shreveport who managed to convert first.
At 13:03, the veteran Cameron Cook weaved into the IceRays zone and patiently cut his way across the high slot. He fired a wrist shot through a screen which fluttered off of Chad Veltri’s glove and sailed over the Rays’ goaltender to open the scoring for the Mudbugs.
The Rays answered with their best period of the weekend. Just 13 seconds into the stanza, Shreveport goaltender Gustavs Grigals played the puck oddly into the right circle, where Larry Jungwirth rushed to intercept it. Jungwirth fired the puck off the crossbar. Though it appeared he hadn’t scored, he and the IceRays celebrated and the goal stood after a review.
Seven minutes and 23 seconds later, Conor Yawney released a hard wrist shot from the left point. Jayson Dimizio put his stick in the shot lane, and redirected the puck past Grigals’ pad to give the Rays their first lead of the weekend.
At 31:45, Garrett Hallford tracked down a puck which had just been cleared off the glass and into the Shreveport zone. With a Mudbugs defenseman harassing him along the way, Hallford put the puck onto his backhand and roofed it over Grigals to give the Rays an insurance lead against his former team.
Early in the third period, Veltri made an enormous save to keep the IceRays in front by a pair of goals. The Rays’ zone was under siege when the closing stanza began, but they eventually tipped the scales and tallied again.
The Mudbugs grew exceedingly aggressive as the game wore on. They were caught flat-footed on a power play, and veteran IceRays defenseman Matt Acciaioli found himself on a two-on-one rush. Acciaioli decided to pull the trigger rather than attempt a pass, and he beat Grigals inside the short-side post to give the Rays a 4-1 lead.
In an effort to erase a substantial deficit, Mudbugs head coach Karlis Zirnis pulled Grigals for a sixth attacker with over seven minutes remaining. The tactic seemed as though it may pay off, as Jack Jaunich potted a goal past Veltri following a net-mouth scramble.
However, Jungwirth tallied his second goal of the night at 57:38. Scoring a 100-foot goal from center ice on the empty net. The IceRays secured a 5-2 victory to split the series.
Veltri quietly had a rock-solid performance in net, turning aside 27 of Shreveport’s 29 attempts. He was credited with his third consecutive victory. Grigals had his first sub-par performance of an otherwise stellar campaign. He was charged with his third defeat, allowing four goals for the first time all season. The IceRays will play their fifth of the ten-game road stretch next Friday night against the Lone Star Brahmas. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 pm CT from the NYTEX Sports Centre.