CORPUS CHRISTI (CC IceRays) - Mike Economos and Emil Romig each scored twice as Corpus Christi IceRays held off a late push and officially qualified for the 2012-2013 NAHL Playoffs with a 7-5 win over the Odessa Jackalopes in front of 4,655 fans in the American Bank Center on Friday night.
Emil Romig put the IceRays on the board at 5:44 of the first period as he took the puck to the front of the net from the right wing corner sliding it behind Odessa goaltender Nick Deery for a 1-0 lead. The goal was assisted by Perry D'Arrisso.
A heads up play by Rudy Sulmonte gave the IceRays a 2-0 lead 11:07 into the game. After a Beau Walker shot, Sulmonte picked up the rebound in the left wing circle and found Emil Romig waiting in the slot for his second goal of the period and 14th on the year while on the power-play.
Odessa tallied a power-play goal of their own just 46 seconds later as a shot by Corey Hoffman tricked by goaltender Hayden Stewart with the lone assist going to Jimmy Peplinski at 11:53 splitting the IceRays lead in half 2-1. The goal was Hoffman's 4th of the year and 12th point overall.
In the second period a Rudy Sulmonte shot was originally stopped by Nick Deery and hopped straight up into the air to an awaiting Charles Baldwin who batted it into the net for his 11th on the year with the second assist going to Nick Monfils at 1:58 of period two to take a 3-1 lead.
Grant Hutton gave Corpus Christi a 4-1 lead at the 8:05 mark of the second frame after letting a rocket go from the top of the circle beating Deery on the glove side with the assists to John Roisum and AJ Jarosz. The goal was Hutton's fourth of the year and third in five games.
The third period was a crazy one and it started just 30 seconds in as Trace Jablin wired a shot by Hayden Stewart to split the lead in half and Corpus Christi now lead 4-2.
Rudy Sulmonte answered back feeding Ryan McNeely with a give-and-go pass who returned it right back to Sulmonte for his 27th of the season and the IceRays regained a three goal 7:17 into the third.
Eric Purcell then took a 5min major penalty for kneeing at 9:19 of the third but it was Mike Economos who capitalized beating Nick Deery with a wrister, his second goal of the game, this time short-handed and Corpus Christi took a 6-2 advantage.
Odessa then scored three straight goals while Purcell sat in the box in a span of 60sec to pull within a goal. Mike Mezzano who was injured by Purcell responded with a power-play goal at 10:34 to get the Jackalopes within three goals.
Just 54 seconds after that, Taylor Portner scored on a wrist shot from inside the left wing circle at the 11:28 mark of the final period, his 11th of the season and Odessa was two goals away from tying the game.
Off the next faceoff, Brett Wagner pushed the puck up the right wing side and snapped his 4th goal of the year over the shoulder of Hayden Stewart, just six seconds later, and the Jacks' were one goal away from tying the game.
However, Mike Economos provided the insurance with 28 seconds left in the game with his second goal of the evening and the IceRays held on 7-5.
Wichita Falls lost at home to Topeka 2-1 which qualified Corpus Christi for the 2012-2013 NAHL playoffs and will face the Amarillo Bulls in round one which begins next Friday and Saturday night in Amarillo.
Hayden Stewart stopped 33 of 38 in the win.
The IceRays return for the final game of the regular season tomorrow night against Odessa. Puck drops at 7:05PM, coverage begins at 6:50PM with the IceRays Pregame Show on sportsjuice.com, ustream.com, the TuneIn Radio APP, and fasthockey.com.
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