Thursday, December 3, 2009

Insider Preview: Corpus Christi @ Texas Brahmas

Ice Rays seek first win against Brahmas in almost four years

The Texas Brahmas (8-9-3, 19 points) play host to the Corpus Christi Ice Rays (8-8-2, 18 points) on Friday night at the NYTEX Sports Center. It is the first of six meetings between the two teams this season.

Since rejoining the league in 2007-08, the Brahmas have owned the IceRays, who are 0-7-2 against Texas since Dan Wildfong took over behind the bench.

Corpus Christi’s last win against the Brahmas came on Feb. 11, 2006, when Randy Murphy scored in overtime for a 3-2 win over the Fort Worth Brahmas. You can also add the fact that head coach Brent Hughes has not coached a win over Wildfong’s Brahmas since the Austin Ice Bats won the final game of the 2007-08 season on March 22, 2008.

With all that said, I would not discount this Ice Rays team. Now, I’ve only seen them play in person once and that was a solid performance against a very good Allen squad. They’ve also had a couple of wins against Laredo and Rio Grande Valley. Are they good enough to beat the Brahmas. No. But that depends on which Brahmas team is on the ice on Friday night.

The Ice Rays are coming off a 6-1 home win against the lowly Arizona Sundogs on Thursday night. The Brahmas are well rested after their 3-1 victory over the Tulsa Oilers on Sunday.

The Ice Rays are 4-4-1 on the road thus far this season. The Brahmas are 4-4-0 at home.

Corpus Christi’s top three scorers include Chris Richards (C) with 16 points (4 G, 12 A, -2), Jereme Tendler (LW) with 15 points (10 G, 5 A, +2) and Justin Quenneville (C) with 14 points (7 G, 7 A, +3). Their leading defensive scorer is Jason Tessier with 13 points (3 G, 10 A, -3).

Their top goons are forward Ryan Garbutt (69 PIM) and defenseman Tyler Sheldrake (61 PIM).
On special teams, the Oilers have the number eight power play with a 15.52 percentage and the number eight penalty kill with an 83.33 percentage. They have scored two short-handed goals this season.

The Ice Rays haven’t really had a number one goalie since Kris Tebbs was waived on November 19th.

My choice would be Kevin Nastiuk (4-3-0), who signed with the team as Tebbs departed. He stopped 27 of 28 goals on Thursday night against Arizona and is ranked third in the league with a 2.41 GAA and second with a .926 save percentage.

Kevin Desfosses (2-3-0) is their other backstopper. I saw him play against the Allen Americans on November 7th and he seemed pretty solid in net. He is ranked 14th in the league with a 2.78 GAA and 12th with a .911 save percentage.

The Brahmas top three scorers are Kevin McLeod (D) with 16 points (9 G, 7 A, -3), AJ Gale (F) with 15 points (8 G, 7 A, 0) and Jordan Cameron with 15 points (4 G, 11 A, -2). McLeod is the only defenseman in the league that leads his club in scoring. On Saturday in Allen, McLeod
registered his first professional hat trick.

On special teams, the Brahmas remain last in the league with a 10.17 percentage and 12th on the penalty kill with an 81.68 percentage. They lead the league in short handed goals with six.

According to Greg Rajan, the IceRays placed defensemen Jeff Alcombrack (retroactive to Sunday) and Steven Later (retro to Nov. 17) on injured reserve. Later is expected to start skating again next week. Meanwhile, Jereme Tendler didn't play much of the third period after taking a puck off the leg.

Jason Deitsch has been a scratch for a few games and is not expected to play on Friday. The Brahmas now list newly acquired forwards Scott Thauwald (#20) and Mark Kolanos (#25) on their roster. Thauwald is scheduled to play on Friday. Kolanos' status is unknown.

This should be an entertaining game. Also, it’s
puck night at the NYTEX Sports Centre. The first 1,000 ticketed fans will receive a free Texas Brahmas puck courtesy of Capital One Bank. If you can’t be there in person, tune in to CHL-TV for free (Friday night only).

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