Corpus Christi IceRays (19-18-2, 40pts) vs. Odessa Jackalopes (21-14-1-3, 46pts)
at Ector County Coliseum in Odessa, TX
Time: 7:15 p.m. CDT
Broadcast: (Home) HockeyTV | Listen Live Here
What You Need to Know:
Season Series: 1-1-1
COR: 30pts, Butler (14g-16a)
ODA: 27pts, Duclair (14g-13a)
The Jacks and IceRays will play their 40th game of the season tonight. The most out of any South Division teams. Shreveport has played the least number of games (36). Odessa lost in a shootout last night to Lone Star, 4-3. While the Jacks did not earn the victory, they did get a point out of it and as a result, no matter what happens against Corpus Christi, they will finish this weekend in third place. The IceRays though are tied with Amarillo for fifth place with 40 points. Wichita Falls (41pts) holds the last playoff spot. The Mudbugs are also fighting for a playoff spot as they are in seventh place with 39 points. Tonight starts game one of five straight between Odessa and Corpus Christi.
The Jacks have had four weekend sweeps so far this season. Their opponent for this weekend has five. The Jacks have only been swept twice and the first time was at the hands of Corpus Christi on Dec. 17-18. The IceRays enter this weekend on a four-game win streak after sweeping El Paso and Amarillo. Corpus Christi is 6-4 in their previous ten games whereas Odessa is 4-4-0-2. The Jacks have not swept Corpus Christi since March 2-3, 2018. The last time the Jacks beat the IceRays at the Ector County Coliseum was on Nov. 15, 2019. These two teams have a history of playing multiple games in a row against each other. Between Dec. 7-15, 2018, the Jacks and IceRays faced each other five times in a row with Corpus Christi winning all of them. From Oct. 4-12, 2019, they faced each other six-straight times and the Jacks only win was the final game. They were also shut out three times during those six games.
The IceRays have allowed 122 goals this season which is the second-most in the South. Odessa has allowed 118 which is the third most. However, the Jacks are tied with Wichita Falls for the second-most goals in the South (127). Alex Proctor is ranked 18th among NAHL goalies with a 2.75GAA. His save percentage of .919% puts him eighth in the league. He has the fifth-most wins by a goalie (16). Proctor is tied for second in games played with 29. Damon Beaver was between the pipes both nights when Corpus Christi swept Odessa. Beaver has played 28 games which puts him in a tie for the fourth-most. Beaver has the third-most losses with 13. Both Beaver and Proctor are in the top-five minutes played this season. Beaver is 2-3 in his last five games and Proctor is 1-2-0-2.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
IceRays (F: #8 – Nathan Butler)
The Wylie, TX native is in his third season in the NAHL. He currently leads the team in assists (16) and is tied for first in goals (14). The 20-year-old was drafted #107 overall in 2019 by the Fairbanks Ice Dogs. He spent the last two seasons playing for Fairbanks (68gp, 6g, 13a). He leads the IceRays in short-handed goals with three. Butler will be playing for the South Team at the upcoming NAHL Top Prospects Tournament. The 5’10”/165lb. right-handed forward earned South Division Star of the Week for December 13-19, 2021. Butler has three goals and four assists in his last five games. He has played in all three games against Odessa and has three goals.
Jackalopes (F: #25 – Nick Ahern)
The Chicago, IL native is in his first season in the NAHL. He started this year by playing five games (1g) for the Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL). The 19-year-old has only played 16 games for Odessa this season and already has 11 points (3g). The 5’10”/170lb. left-handed forward picked up a goal and an assist in last night’s game versus Lone Star. Ahern has two goals and four assists in his previous five games. Last season, Ahern played 26 games (18g, 17a) for the Utica Jr. Comets (NCDC). He finished that season with the most points and goals. Ahern also played eight games (4g, 2a) last year for Fredericton Red Wings in the MJAHL.
Photo credit: Danne Braden