Teams: Wichita Falls Warriors (23-15-5-2, 53 pts) vs. Corpus Christi Ice Rays (22-24-2-0, 46 pts)
Where: American Bank Center
Times: 7:05 CST
Corpus Christi is leading the season series 3-1, with the last meeting between the two teams coming back in early December.
Since the calendar’s turn, the Warriors have been strong, winning 12 of their last 16 games and climbing the South Division Standings and head into this weekend slate of games in the third position.
Both teams have played each other close this season, as three games have been decided by only one goal, with the Warriors’ only win against the Ice Rays coming by two goals in a 3-1 victory.
The series in December saw both games needing extra time, with the IceRays winning the Friday contest in the shootout and Saturday in overtime; anticipate seeing another close couple of games this weekend.
Corpus Christi is 15-4-1-0 when grabbing the first goal; Wichita Falls are 15-5-0-1.
In the seven games played in February, the Warriors scored the first goal five times and won those games, dictating the pace of play from the lead.
Special teams can often be the difference between victory and defeat.
Warriors are 2nd in the NAHL in power-play percentage but 26th in penalty kill.
IceRays are top 5 in penalty killing but 24th in the league on the power play.
Despite this season’s stat, Corpus Christi has made the most of their opportunities on the man advantage in the season series. This season, the Warriors have not scored on the power play against the IceRays.
For the IceRays, Damon Beaver has played in three of the four games between the two teams and has collected two wins. He is 14-16-2-0 in the 34 games he has played in this season.
Daniel Duris collected the only win against the IceRays in the crease back in early October in the 3-1 victory. Duris stopped 27 of the 28 shots he faced that game. The Slovakian is proving himself well in his rookie campaign, with three shutouts in his 14 games played.
Brandon Milberg has been hot in-between the pipes for Warriors since his arrival to the team with an 11-3-1-1 record since his acquisition. Milberg has recorded a 2.02 GAA with a .931 SV% for the Warriors in that time. Brandon sits 7th among NAHL goalies.
The IceRays are sitting 6th in the South Division with 46 points. They are pressed against time as they have played the most games in the division with 48. It will be a critical couple of games for Corpus Christi as they are seven points out of playoff contention, three behind the fifth-place Mudbugs.
As big of a weekend as it is for Corpus Christi, it is also a chance for the Warriors to continue their separation from the teams behind them. Wichita Falls are 3rd in the South Division but are tied in points with Odessa with 53. Warriors have a game in hand over the Jackalopes, but these 4 points can go a long way with the points tie, especially if the Jackalopes win their games this weekend.
Written by: Scott Masom