Saturday, 03.24.18 / 10:06 pm CT
Playing their last road game of the 2017-18 season, the IceRays skated to a 3-1 victory on Saturday night on the back of a spectacular goaltending performance by Chad Veltri.
For the second straight night, the Rays managed to score the first goal in a relatively short amount of time. At 4:40, they went to the power play, which has been very strong throughout the month of March.
Larry Jungwirth fed a circle-to-circle pass to Rylee St. Onge on the right wing, and the Canadian winger fired a one-timer past Jaxon Castor to give the Rays a 1-0 lead.
Veltri was flawless throughout the first two periods, stopping all 37 shots he faced. He was the biggest reason the Rays managed to come away with the lead in the first two intermissions. Late in the second, his team thanked him for his stellar play.
Brendan Miller scored a power play goal following a net-mouth scramble at 36:31. Mudbugs Head Coach Karlis Zirnis was beside himself on the Shreveport bench, following a trio of what he believed to be chintzy calls going against his team. The Rays capitalized on the last of them, and pushed the Bugs into a 2-0 hole entering the second intermission. Former Mudbug Garrett Hallford found himself engaged in a scrap with Shreveport forward Gueorgui Feduolov.
Referee Robert Esposito kept his whistle in his pocket for the third period, not calling any penalties after the first two stanzas were riddled with them.
Veltri had fought off 45 consecutive shots before he was finally beaten at 52:41. He made the initial save on a long range shot taken through a screen from the blue line, but Jordan Fader pounced on the rebound and backhanded a shot off the inside of the right post past Veltri’s pad, electrifying the crowd and bringing the Mubdugs within striking distance.
Zirnis pulled Castor for a sixth attacker after using his timeout with just under two minutes remaining in regulation. The IceRays kept the Bug swarm at bay, and Miller nailed his second goal of the night with a 150-foot bullseye on the empty net.
Despite not getting the shutout, Veltri had arguably his best game of the season, stopping 53 of the 54 shots he faced to more than earn his 20th victory of the season. Castor denied 21 of 23, being charged with his fourth regulation defeat. The IceRays will return to the American Bank Center to host the Odessa Jackalopes on Friday, March 30th. Puck drop is set for 7:05 pm CT. The game will be broadcast on HockeyTV and on YouTube.