Weekend Recap: IceRays Sweep in El Paso

FRIDAY, January 21, 2022

ICERAYS 4, El Paso 3

The IceRays struggled last weekend in Shreveport and were looking to bounce back against El Paso on Friday.

Period number one was not in the IceRays favor with the Rhinos striking twice in the games opening frame.  It was not that Corpus Christi did not have chances in period number one.  The Rays just could not capitalize on them.

In the second period, Corpus finally was able to capitalize.  Charlie Merkley found the back of the net to start the Rays scoring on the night.  Merkley’s fourth goal of the season was his first since November and broke a six game point draught.  Merkley’s goal was assisted by former Rhino Stepan Kuznetsov.

Later on in period number two, the Rays found the back of the net again.  Kuznetsov found the back of the net for goal number twelve of the season.  The goal was also Kuznetsov’s 20th point on the year as well.  Goal number two for Corpus was assisted by Charlie Killian, his first point with the team.

With the score at two aside coming out of intermission, the Rays looked to change that quick in period number three.  Under two minutes into the period, at four on four, Blake Lewis deflected a Charlie Killian shot in for his first with the team.  Alternate captain Brady Carlock was awarded the secondary assist on the goal.

The Rays were not done scoring as the fourth unanswered of the night came off of the stick of Stepan Kuznetsov.  The tic-tac-toe goal, coming on the power play from Butler and Zagrzebski, snapped a four game draught from the man-advantage.

El Paso struck back with five minutes to go to bring them back within one, but it was too little, too late. The IceRays skated away with the 4-3 victory in game one of the two-game set.

SATURDAY, January 22nd, 2022

ICERAYS 6, El Paso 3

The IceRays were back in the home of the Rhinos for the back end of a two-game series with El Paso.  Following a win on Friday, the Rays were looking to complete the sweep of the Rhinos.

Corpus Christi fell behind 2-0 on Friday night, but this was not the case on Saturday with Stepan Kuznetsov tallying his third goal of the weekend to put the IceRays up 1-0.  The goal was a greasy rebound that sat there for Kuznetsov, who had his stick propelled by the one of Merkley.  The one-goal lead remained throughout the rest of the game’s opening period.

The feisty Rhinos crawled back in period number two and gained the lead at 2-1.  The IceRays answered back on the power play off of the stick Trey Zagrzebski.  The goal for Zagrzebski was his first with the team in his second weekend after joining the Rays in Shreveport last weekend.  Assists on the goal were given to Matt Harvey and Cam Crolley.  The score remained at two aside into the second intermission.

In period number three, the IceRays got out to a quick start with Dylan Contreras slamming home a goal at four on four.  The goal for Contreras was his third of the season with assists going to Kevin O’Keefe and Blake Lewis.

El Paso struck back ten minutes later to make it a tied contest with under seven minutes to go in the third.  Just two minutes after the evening goal for the Rhinos, the IceRays took a penalty for too-many men.  The Rhinos had all momentum in their favor and were heading onto the power play.

It was the Rays special team unit striking, though, as Colby Seitz and Nathan Butler found themselves on a two on one while shorthanded.  Seitz fed a pass to Butler who returned the favor.  Seitz slammed home his third of the season, and more importantly, the Rays fourth of the game with 3:30 to go in the third.

After giving up a short handed goal late, the tension was building on the Rhinos bench.  The Rays, still on the penalty kill, attempted to get the puck down the length of the ice.  A tactic used to kill time on penalty kill, put a dagger in the Rhinos chances.  El Paso goaltender, Jacob Zacharewicz, went to play the puck in the corner.  The problem for Zacharewicz was that the puck was headed in a different direction.  The Brady Carlock clearance found its way into the back of the net to extend the Rays lead to 5-3.  The goal for Carlock was the first this season for the alternate captain.

With three minutes to go, the Rhinos had a late push to try and get back in the game, but it was a push into the back of Matt Harvey that sent an El Paso player to the penalty box and the IceRays power play back to the ice.  On the ensuing man advantage, the IceRays struck again with Blake Lewis burying his second on the weekend.

The Rays skated away with a 6-3 victory and a two-game sweep of El Paso.  Out of six goals for the Rays on Saturday night, only one was scored at five on five.  The Rays special team units prevailed on Saturday night with two power play goals, two shorthanded goals, and one goal at four on four.

Corpus Christi now sits only four points out of a playoff spot behind the Amarillo Wranglers.  The Rays host those very same Wranglers at American Bank Center next weekend with a chance to be in a tie for a playoff spot at weekend’s end. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 pm on both Friday and Saturday night.  Tickets are on sale now on Ticketmaster and at the ABC box office.