This past playoff weekend was anybody’s win between the first-year Shreveport Mudbugs and the Corpus Christi IceRays.
By Brianne Oricchio
The closely-ranked Shreveport Mudbugs (sixth overall) and Corpus Christi IceRays (seventh overall) battled it out in the first round of the North American Hockey League playoffs.
In a bit of an upset, a la this year’s Nashville Predators, the Ice Rays swept the Mudbugs three games to zero.
Head coach Brad Flynn did not hesitate to say what has helped the IceRays get this far.
“The one constant all season long for us has been the character of our team,” said head coach Brad Flynn.
“They showed tremendous character to buy into what I was preaching, especially early when we were inconsistent. They just dug deeper and kept believing and we started to get rewarded for our efforts.”
Although the IceRays won the best of five series, that certainly didn’t mean the games were easy. In Game 3, they just narrowly won with an overtime goal to make the final score 2-1.
That game was, as all NAHL playoff games are, broadcast live via subscription on HockeyTV.com.
Offense is essential for scoring goals, but a strong defense is just as important to prevent opposing shots from going in.
No matter what position or where on the ice a player is, there is always the opportunity to help defend in some way, which is something Flynn has noticed his players doing more of in just the past three games.
With nine NCAA Division 1 commitments to notable schools like 2017 NCAA champion the University of Denver, Northern Michigan and the University of Connecticut, the IceRays have proved they have a strong group of skaters who have helped progress the team throughout the year.
Rather than name a few key players, Flynn commented on the team mentality. That, he said, defines every one of his players on the ice.
“Through all 14 forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies, on any given night, different guys step up and lead,” Flynn said.
The IceRays may have made it to Round two, but tough competition lies ahead. The Lone Star Brahmas (second overall in the NAHL) beat the Wichita Falls Wildcats with an identical 3-0 sweep. However, Flynn is confident in what his team needs to do to keep advancing.
“We need to limit our unforced turnovers [and] put more pucks and bodies to their net,” said Flynn. “We [also] will continue to work on our special teams and our offensive zone time.”
The first game of Round 2 will be played at the NYTEX Sports Center in Richland Hills, Texas. It all starts at the home of the Brahmas on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. (Central)
Read past North American Hockey League articles in our archives: