CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – The North American Hockey League (NAHL) announced this morning the rosters for the 2017 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament on February 27-28 at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth Mich., naming Corpus Christi IceRays defenseman Logan Gestro and forwards Larry Jungwirth and Brad Power to Team South as well as goaltender Tomáš Vomáčka on the NAHL Selects Team.
“We are extremely excited for all four players we are sending to the Top Prospects Tournamet, said IceRays general manager Pat Dunn. “All four players have been impact players on both sides of the ice. Logan and Brad have been with the team for two seasons and continue to be team leaders at their respective positions. Larry hasn’t been with the team long, but he’s made an immediate impact since coming to Corpus Christi. Tomáš deserves the reward of being on the NAHL Selects team for his hard work and adjustment to the North American style of play this season. We wish all four players all the best at the event and hope they perform well.”
The number of players represented for each NAHL team is determined based on their winning percentage on Feb. 5, 2017. Each team consists of a 20-man roster–12 forwards, six defenseman, two goaltenders–and only showcases those players without a college commitment with the exception of the NAHL Selects squad. Last season, over 220 scouts attended the event, which featured almost every NHL team and NCAA Division I school. Over half of the players who played in last year’s Top Prospects Tournament earned an NCAA Division I opportunity following their participation in the event.
Gestro, 21, earns his second appearance with Team South in two NAHL seasons, joining the tournament roster during the 2014-15 campaign. The South Lyon, Mich., product played 44 games with the Sioux City Musketeers of the United States Hockey League (USHL) last season and returned to the IceRays as a key cog in the defensive core. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound defenseman owns eight points through 39 games this season, and over his 93-game IceRays career, Gestro has recorded five goals and 28 assists for 33 points with a +4 rating. He’s counting on his maturity over the last two seasons since his last appearance to provide a more positive outcome.
“I was a lot younger in experience and age last time,” said Gestro. “I was 18 years old playing in front of a lot of schools with a team of mainly 20-year-olds. Now, I’m a lot older and much more experienced with three years of junior hockey under my belt, and I’m one of those 20-year-olds. I want to perform at a better level than I did the last time I made the trip.”
Jungwirth, 19, joined the IceRays on January 3 after starting his second NAHL season with the Coulee Region Chill, and he’s made a strong impact in just over one month. The Bloomington, Minn., native has been averaging a point-per-game since coming to Corpus Christi, recording points in seven of eight games. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound forward also has USHL experience with the Waterloo Black Hawks in 2014-15, earning 12 points through 47 games before joining his hometown Minnesota Magicians. In 87 career NAHL games, Jungwirth has 22 goals and 43 assists for 65 points including 13 goals and 18 assists for 31 points this season while sitting second on the IceRays in all major scoring categories. Jungwirth hasn’t been with the team for more than a month, but getting the recognition is a nice feather in his cap to be among the top prospects in the South Division.
“This feels really good, but we still have three weeks left before we leave for Michigan,” said Jungwirth. “We still have to focus on the games at hand, especially this weekend against Odessa. It’s a great opportunity to be seen by a lot of schools. Division I is the next step, and this is a great opportunity to reach that goal.”
Power, 20, is the third Canadian in three seasons to represent the IceRays on Team South, joining forward Tanner Lomsnes (Niagara University) and Drake Lindsay (Nipissing University) during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, respectively. After finishing third in scoring last season, the St. John’s, N.F., native already has set a career-high point total with a goal on Saturday and became the third player to breach 30 points on the team. The 5-foot-11, 193-pound forward is second in goals and third in assists and points on the team, owning 30 points through 37 games with four power play goals and a +8 rating, and in 91 NAHL games he has 26 goals and 33 assists for 59 points. He sits eighth in career goals and ninth in career assists among all IceRays players in junior franchise history.
“Since last year, I feel like I’ve improved a lot between skating, my skill set, and my determination,” said Power. “It’s truly an honor to be headed up to the tournament. I’m looking forward to playing with some of the best players in the league and doing my best in front of all of the schools. It’ll be great to meet other South Division players and to meet new friends.”
This year’s NAHL Selects Team was picked by members of NHL Central Scouting, who develop rankings and ratings for potential prospects leading up to the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago, Ill., including the recent mid-term rankings. Last season, three of the five NAHL players selected in the 2016 NHL Draft were members of the NAHL Selects Team. Three NHL prospects and nine NCAA Division I commits are listed on the roster, and six members of the NAHL Selects Team, including Vomáčka, are members of South Division teams: forward Justin Addamo (Lone Star), defenseman Matthew Barnes (Topeka), defenseman Croix Evingson (Shreveport), defenseman Simon Loof (Lone Star), and forward Erik Zohovs (Shreveport).
Vomáčka, 17, has drawn attention by NCAA and NHL programs since his entry into the NAHL during the 2016 NAHL Entry Draft as a sixth round selection, appearing on all three rankings released by NHL Central Scouting, including 13th among North American goaltenders in the most recent mid-term rankings. The Trutnov, Czech Rep. product has backed up the recognition as of late, earning wins in seven of his last nine starts and keeping opponents to three goals or less in 11-straight starts dating back to Dec. 4, 2016. He owns a 12-11-2 record with a 2.53 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage, ranking eighth in the NAHL in save percentage and ninth in goals-against average. Vomáčka becomes just the sixth player and second goaltender in junior franchise history to be named to the NAHL Selects roster and second in as many seasons.
“We’re really happy for Tomáš to be selected as one of the NAHL Selects for the Top Prospects Tournament,” said IceRays head coach Brad Flynn. “He’s a worthy candidate. As he’s transitioned from the European style game to the American style, you can see his game has really escalated. Tomáš shows up to practice and works hard everyday, and that hard work has paid off. The whole organization is very happy for him as well as our three Team South representatives.”
Over the last six seasons, the IceRays have sent 23 players to the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, including Perry D’Arrisso (Clarkson), Kyle Froese (Alaska-Fairbanks), Tanner Lomsnes (Niagara), Frank Misuraca (Alabama Huntsville), Emil Romig (Denver), Hayden Stewart (Cornell), and Anthony Stolarz (Nebraska-Omaha) who all earned NCAA Division I scholarships after attending the tournament. 12 of the 23 players also recorded at least one point during the two-game event.
The 2017 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament features the NAHL Selects on Monday, Feb. 27 at 3:00 p.m. CST followed by Team South at 6:00 p.m. CST. Team South plays at 1:00 p.m. CST on Tuesday, Feb. 28 with the NAHL Selects closing the tournament at 4:00 p.m. CST. All six games of the tournament are available on Hockey TV with coverage provided by Collin Schuck, the “Voice of the IceRays,” and Austin Bruins broadcaster Michael Keeley.
The IceRays begin their four-week home stand at the American Bank Center tonight at 7:05 p.m. to begin a two-game weekend set against the Odessa Jackalopes. Season memberships for the 2016-17 season are still available with full and partial season plans. Reserve yours by contacting the IceRays Front Office at 361-814-PUCK. In addition, stay connected with the IceRays on Facebook (/CorpusChristiIceRays), Twitter (@goicerays), YouTube (IceRays TV), Instagram (CorpusChristiIceRays), Snapchat (@goicerays), and Periscope (@goicerays).