Saturday, 03.17.18 / 10:06 pm CT
Photo: Bryan Williams
Hosting the Amarillo Bulls for the 12th and final time in the 2017-18 season, the IceRays capitalized on their scoring opportunities and triumphed by a 4-1 score on St. Patrick’s Day.
The IceRays went to two early power plays, but could not convert as Jason Grande backstopped the Bulls to a strong penalty kill in the first period.
Scoring at even strength was something the Rays did not manage to do on Friday night, but they did at 11:48 on Saturday. Larry Jungwirth flung the puck over to Adam Kadlec from the left half wall, and Kadlec gloved it down to his stick below the right circle. He then fed a cross-crease pass to a wide open Brendan Miller for a tap-in goal. Miller’s strike was his 19th of the season, which put him at sole possession of second-highest on the team behind only Jungwirth (24).
Amarillo controlled the pace for long stretches during the second period, heavily out-chancing the IceRays at times. However, Chad Veltri was outstanding in goal and turned aside all 25 shots he faced through the first two periods of play.
At 35:28, Trevor Wilhelm caught Grande off-guard and ripped a shot through his five-hole from the bottom edge of the right circle. Assisted by his fellow St. Louis native Noah Roofe, Wilhelm doubled the Rays’ advantage and gave them their first insurance lead of the weekend as the teams entered the second intermission.
Less than two minutes into the closing period, Jungwirth and Nikita Sokolov found themselves in a tussle at center ice on an IceRays power play. During the distraction, Rylee St. Onge continued playing and fed Grayson Gavin a circle-to-circle pass. Gavin buried his second goal of the season past Grande to extend the Rays’ lead to three.
After the initial third period media timeout, the Rays went to their fifth power play of the game. Just nine seconds into it, Stephen Rex hauled the puck down the left wing and lifted a shot past Veltri’s blocker to score a shorthanded goal and bring the Bulls to within two.
Despite putting on a flurry of shots, Amarillo couldn’t solve Veltri again after spoiling his shutout bid. Garrett Hallford added a fourth IceRays goal at 55:06, skating down the right wing and unleashing a heavy shot low blocker-side on Grande. Conor Yawney tallied the lone assist on the goal, extending his assist streak to five games.
Veltri was outstanding in goal, stopping 32 of the Bulls’ 33 shots to earn his 18th victory of the season and Third Star of the Game recognition. Grande fought off 26 of 30 in his 19th regulation defeat. The IceRays will travel to Shreveport, LA next week to take on the Mudbugs at George’s Pond Coliseum. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:11 pm CT both nights. The games will be broadcast on HockeyTV.com and on SportsRadio Corpus Christi (1230 AM, 95.1 FM, 96.1 FM).