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Weekend Preview: IceRays on the Road at Lone Star

The IceRays hit the road to North Richland Hills for a two game set with the Lone Star Brahmas this weekend.  This season, the Rays have the edge of the Brahmas in the season series winning three of the four matchups, but this will be the first time that home ice is in favor of Lone Star.  The first four matchups between the two teams this season all took place at American Bank Center.

The first series between the two sides, which was also the first home series of the season in September, had the Rays win in dramatic fashion on night one in overtime and completing the sweep on Saturday.  Lone Star started the second series with a 3-0 win over Corpus, but a bounce back effort on night two gave the Rays a win on New Years Eve.

With this being the first time that the IceRays hit the road against the Brahmas this season, it marks the first road trip to NYTEX Sports Centre since February of 2020.  In the NAHL era, Corpus Christi has struggled at the Brahmas home in North Richland Hills going 12-23-5 including both the regular and postseason.  The one postseason series between the two sides came in 2017 for the divisional championship, which Lone Star won in five games.  In that series, Corpus Christi won one of its three games played at NYTEX with the other two being overtime losses.

Since the two teams last met just over two months ago, Lone Star has continued their success of climbing up the standings.  The Brahmas currently occupy the second place spot in the South Division, three points behind New Mexico.  A lot of the Brahmas success can be found upon the defensive side of the ice where they have allowed the second least amount of goals in the league this season.

The IceRays, though, are an outlier to the Brahmas success this season and have been able to score on Lone Star up to this point this season.  Lone Star typically gives up 2.46 goals on average per game, but the IceRays have put up a 2.75 per game on Lone Star while holding the Brahmas to 2.5 per game.  Although the Rays were shutout in their one loss to Lone Star this season, Corpus Christi has scored three or more in all other matchups.  When the Rays score three or more this season, the Rays are a tough team to beat at 21-5-0.

Big factors in scoring in droves against the Brahmas has been timely plays from two of the top scorers for Corpus, Nathan Butler and Jude Kurtas.  In the overtime win on September 24th, Kurtas was able to strike shorthanded to put the Rays ahead and scored the game winner in overtime to give the Rays the win.  He has scored one other goal in matchups against Lone Star this season.  Butler is tied with Kurtas for the team lead in points against the Brahmas with four, which includes the game tying goal in the home opener to force overtime.

Damon Beaver has also played a big role against the Brahmas this season as he has started all four games versus the foes from the DFW area.  Beaver has a stat line of a 3-1-0 record, .928 save percentage, and a goals against average of 2.48 in games against Lone Star this season.  Down the stretch of the season, Corpus Christi’s usage of both goaltenders has been more even with Stefan Carney growing into his game more.  Although Carney has struggled lately in the win department, he has a 5-0-0 record in starts on the road this season.

The season series has sparked tight contests between the two sides with only one game being out of reach down the stretch.  This season, things have leaned in the IceRays favor when things are close.  Corpus Christi has an 11-3-2 record this season in one-goal games, which two of four games against Lone Star have been.

Coverage for the two games at Lone Star this weekend will be on Brewster Street Radio and HockeyTV.  IceRays Pregame powered by HEB is scheduled to get underway around 7:10 both nights ahead of a 7:30 puck drop at NYTEX Sports Centre.