Saturday, 03.31.18 / 9:47 pm CT
Photo: Chip Pitcairn
The IceRays’ first-round opponent was confirmed on Saturday night after they were beaten 3-0 by the Odessa Jackalopes at the American Bank Center. The defeat marked an end to the IceRays’ four-game winning streak, and was just the second time the Rays were shut out on home ice all season,
Playing Odessa for the 12th and final time of the season, the IceRays challenged Brett Epp a handful of times in the early going. Brendan Miller was the recipient of a rapid three-way passing play, firing from the right side of the net but being denied by Epp’s left shoulder. Epp would later make a similar save on Matt Novo, who received a nice give-and-go pass from Pavel Koreshkov at the bottom of the right circle.
Chad Veltri had a solid first period, as well, stopping all dozen shots he faced. He made an enormous save on Peyton Frantti to keep the game scoreless, and forced Matt Brown to miss the net wide on a shorthanded breakaway.
Whereas the Rays dominated the second period on Friday night, the Jacks did so on Saturday. They outshot Corpus Christi 16-9 in the middle stanza and found the net three times.
At the start of the second, the IceRays were serving the carryover time from Angus Scott’s slashing penalty from the first period. Only 46 seconds into the middle frame, Viktor Johansson ripped a shot from the mid-slot to beat Veltri low glove-side. Johansson had scored Odessa’s first goal for the second straight night.
Looking to ignite his team, Grayson Gavin dropped the gloves with Noah Poindexter. The two squared off in a fight in the neutral zone. While Gavin managed to haul Poindexter to the ice, the Jacks absorbed most of the momentum. Ricky Carballo scored just two minutes after the scrap, and would set up Zach Heintz for a tap-in goal shortly after, just seconds after a faceoff in the IceRays zone.
The IceRays looked as though they would be able to chip away at the deficit in the third period, when Larry Jungwirth rushed down the left side on a 2-on-1. Jungwirth gave Gavin a perfect pass, but Epp jolted over to make a miraculous glove save and remain perfect in net. He would keep the door shut for the rest of the game, and secured his second shutout of the season.
Epp stopped all 36 shots he faced to earn his 14th win, while Veltri denied 30 of 33 in his 13th regulation defeat. The IceRays will host the Lone Star Brahmas on Friday, April 6th at the American Bank Center to kick off No Kid Hungry Weekend. The team will be wearing specialty jerseys to benefit No Kid Hungry for both games, which will be auctioned following Saturday night’s game at the bottom of Section 112. Both games will be broadcast on HockeyTV and on YouTube.