TONIGHT’S GAME … The Corpus Christi IceRays host the Texas Tornado for the first of two games at the American Bank Center this week. It is the final set of games at the American Bank Center for the IceRays in the month of February.
THE SERIES…Tonight’s game marks the eighth meeting of twelve this season between the IceRays and the Tornado. Corpus Christi holds a 1-6-0 mark against the Tornado while Texas is 6-0-1 against the IceRays. Texas has not visited the American Bank Center since October 23rd and 24th when they swept Corpus Christi. The last time these two teams met was in Frisco when David Rigatti scored a shorthanded goal in the final two minutes of the third period to give Texas a come-from-behind victory over the IceRays.
PRE-PINK IN THE RINK… Although Corpus Christi’s official “PINK IN THE RINK” night is tomorrow, the team is wearing their pink uniforms tonight. The same jerseys will be auctioned off following tomorrow’s game with proceeds benefitting the local chapter of the American Cancer Society.
PLAYOFF PICTURE… The IceRays are ten (10) points behind the Wichita Falls Wildcats for the fourth and final playoff spot in the South Division. Wichita Falls has played two fewer games than the IceRays. Wichita Falls played last night at home against Amarillo and knocked off the Bulls, 4-3, in overtime. There are no remaining meetings between Corpus Christi and Wichita Falls. Corpus Christi was 5-6-1 against the Wildcats this season.
TIGHT GAMES WITH TEXAS…The last two games in the series have been decided by one goal with one of those contests ending in the overtime period. On November 28th in Frisco, Michael Benedict tallied in overtime for Corpus Christi’s only victory of the season, 3-2, against Texas. The Tornado responded with a late shorthanded game-winner on December 18th to complete a two-goal comeback and nip the ‘Rays, 4-3.
TWICE AS GOOD…Corpus Christi’s 20.5% PP at home is double their output on the road.
BENEDICT CLIPS 20…Michael Benedict has been a feature on the top line for Corpus Christi this season and on February 4th, he became the first IceRays in NAHL history to eclipse the 20-goal mark this season with a third period tally.
WALKER JOINS 40 POINT CLUB…Beau Walker became the first IceRay to hit the 40-point mark and sits just two points shy of 50 points for the season. On the year, Walker has 17 goals and 31 assists for 48 points.
BEWARE OF LEEF AND SLIWINSKI…Jackson Leef and Nathan Sliwinski have been thorns in the side of Corpus Christi this season. Through seven games, the duo has combined for 11 goals and 11 assists for 22 points.
DROPPING A LEAD IN 3rd, A FIRST…When the IceRays relinquished a 3-1 lead after two periods last Thursday against Topeka and fell to the ‘Runners, it was the first time the team lost when leading after two periods of play. The team had won all nine games when they were in that situation previously.
COPLEY’S A WORKHORSE… Goaltender Pheonix Copley has played in 18 of the last 19.
TORNADO SPIRILING DOWNWARD? … After a combined 16-3-1 record through the months of October and November, the Tornado has played .500 hockey since. Over their last 15 games, Texas is 7-7-1. The team from Frisco is 9-9-2 away from the Dr Pepper Arena, but is a strong 16-3-3 on home ice.
SECOND IN ATTENDANCE… Corpus Christi (3,070) only trails Wenatchee (3,256) in average attendance. They are the only two teams over 3,000 average fans.
MEET THE CAPTAIN… Defenseman BEN HUGHES (JACKSONVILLE, FL) was named the first captain in the history of the NAHL Corpus Christi IceRays following the NAHL Showcase in Blaine, MN at the beginning of the season. Hughes came to the IceRays from the Wenatchee Wild (NAHL) and also spent time with the Chicago Steel (USHL), Boston Jr. Bruins (EJHL) and Shattuck St. Mary’s. KYLE HUGHES (ROUND ROCK, TX), SAM CHERASO (BRUNSWICK, OH), and COLTON SAUCERMAN (COLORADO SPRINGS, CO) will serve as alternate captains for the team.
MEET THE COACH… Born in New Westminster, British Columbia, head coach Brent Hughes enjoyed a 12-year professional career. In 357 NHL with Boston, Winnipeg, Buffalo and the New York Islanders, Hughes scored 41 goals and tallied 39 assists for 80 points. He amassed 831 penalty minutes.
LISTEN TO THE RAYS… All IceRays’ games will be aired live on News/Talk 1440 AM KEYS available online www.1440keys.com with the voice of the Rays, Ryan Holt. In addition all games will be available through the league’s video website, www.fasthockey.com.