CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – The Corpus Christi IceRays completed the 2016 NAHL Draft on Tuesday afternoon and now have their 31-man protected list heading into Main Camp in July. The event took two hours, 20 minutes for the IceRays to make all eight selections in this year’s field.
“On draft day, all teams feel they have the team to win the championship,” said IceRays general manager Pat Dunn. “Time will tell as there are many pieces to this puzzle. You’re drafting 18-year-old kids, and you hope they develop the way you think they will. It doesn’t always happen that way, but that’s what makes it fun. Having said that, we are happy with the players that we selected in this years draft.”
This year’s draft class consists of a strong balance of positioning, size and talent, adding four forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender to the IceRays protected list. All selections are invited to the 2016 IceRays Main Camp in July along with those that may not have been granted a selection.
“Going into the draft, we were looking to add some talent and some skill up front, and I think we did that definitely with our top selections,” said IceRays head scout Mike Mondoux, who helped lead the IceRays Draft Room along with Dunn and various members of the organization. “On the blue line, we’re looking to get bigger and stronger, and I think with all three defensemen we chose we did that as well as solidify our goaltending spot by bringing in one of the top goaltenders on the board.”
Prior to the NAHL Draft this afternoon, the IceRays acquired the 64th, 75th and 136th overall selections from the New Jersey Titans in exchange for the ninth overall selection. While the move removed a first round pick for the IceRays, it also filled a void in the third and fourth rounds due to acquisitions during the 2015-16 season, giving the IceRays picks from the second round to the eighth round with two selections in the sixth round.
David Thomson (‘97) of Vaughan, Ont. became the first selection as the 41st overall pick out of the Burlington Cougars of the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL). The 6-foot, 185-pound forward played 53 games last season, recording 22 goals and 39 assists for 61 points while finishing tied for 12th in the league in points. The 18-year-old averaged over one point per game in two seasons with the Cougars. He’s a highly-skilled, play-making center with great puck movement and a very strong compete level, filling a void left by another Canadian center from last season, Carter Johnson.
A familiar face returns to the IceRays conversation with the 64th overall pick in defenseman Logan Gestro (‘96) of South Lyon, Mich. After completing one season with the IceRays in 2014-15 and recording 25 points through 54 games, he was drafted by the Sioux City Musketeers of the United States Hockey League (USHL) and played 49 games, recording one goal and five assists for six points with 88 penalty minutes. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound NAHL veteran is the team’s reach pick with no guarantee of seeing him drop from the USHL, but if he does then the IceRays would find fortune in retaining his rights and aligning him on the blue line.
The IceRays selected another forward at 75th overall with David Baskerville (‘97) of the Buffalo Jr. Sabres of the OJHL. The Eden, N.Y. native was previously drafted 136th overall by the IceRays in 2015 and becomes the second player to be drafted in consecutive seasons at higher places. The 6-foot, 181-pound forward earned a point-per-game last season, recording 19 goals and 26 assists for 45 points with six power play goals through 45 games. He’s already committed to Canisius College, the same NCAA Division I program current defenseman Michael Bevilacqua will be attending, but his all-around skill and penalty kill strength could be a big impact in next year’s team.
Josh Tripp (‘98) of Swan River, Man. became the second-straight forward selected at 105th overall from the Swan Valley Stampeders of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL). The 5-foot-9, 165-pound forward is the third different player to be selected from the Stampeders, joining goaltender Graham Hunt and forward Carter Johnson from last season. In 55 games last year, Tripp earned 23 goals and 24 assists for 47 points with six power play goals, helping to earn him MJHL All-Rookie Team honors. While he may not be the largest forward, he makes up for that in playmaking ability and hockey sense with a proven track record of production throughout his development.
A shift back to a defenseman was made at the 129th overall pick with the selection of Adam Olson (‘98) out of Livonia Stevenson High School. The 6-foot-2, 181-pound defenseman is the only high school player to be drafted by the IceRays this season and the fourth over the last four seasons. The Livonia, Mich. native recorded six goals and 25 assists for 31 points through 28 games and has 41 points over his last two seasons. Olson’s strength was the most attractive asset in his arsenal, taking the body aggressively while also having upside offensively with a solid shot.
With the possibility of goaltender Dryden McKay staying in the USHL with Green Bay next season, the IceRays utilized one of their two sixth round selections to firm up Tomas Vomacka (‘99) of Trutnov, Hradec Králové, Czech Republic at 136th overall. The 6-foot-2, 165-pound goaltender is a young National Hockey League (NHL) potential prospect that has represented his home country in numerous events including the 2016 U18 IIHF Division I Group A World Junior Championship and the 2016 U17 Five Nations Tournament. With his club team, HC Hradec Králové U18, he recorded a 2.37 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in 28 games.
Another young player followed in the seventh round at 153rd overall with the selection of Christian Thomas (‘99) of the Northern Cyclones 16U out of the Eastern Junior Elite Prospects League (EJEPL). The 5-foot-9, 155-pound forward has already made his commitment to a NCAA Division I program, the University of Vermont. The Bloomingdale, N.Y. native earned 15 goals and 13 assists for 28 points through 16 games. He makes up for his size with speed and skill in order to put up points.
The final selection in this year’s draft came at 177th overall in Anthony Hora (‘98) from the Buffalo Jr. Sabres U18 of the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League (T1EHL). The 5-foot-10, 210-pound defenseman from Cheektowaga, N.Y. was the second Jr. Sabres product selected by the IceRays this year after recording 12 goals and 37 assists for 49 points with 30 penalty minutes through 74 games. Hora is another Buffalo product with leadership potential after being alternate captain this season. He also has a high hockey IQ and soft hands to make the right play when needed.
Listed below are all of the 2016 IceRays Draft Picks organized by round order:
2nd Round (41st overall): David Thomson (F) – Vaughan, ON, CAN – Burlington Cougars (OJHL)
3rd Round (64th overall): Logan Gestro (D) – South Lyon, MI – Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)
4th Round (75th overall): David Baskerville (F) – Eden, NY – Buffalo Jr. Sabres (OJHL)
5th Round (105th overall): Josh Tripp (F) – Swan River, MB, CAN – Swan Valley Stampeders (MJHL)
6th Round (129th overall): Adam Olson (D) – Livonia, MI – Livonia Stevenson HS
6th Round (136th overall): Tomas Vomacka (G) – Trutnov, CZE – HC Hradec Králové U18 (Czech)
7th Round (153rd overall): Christian Thomas (D) – Bloomingdale, NY – Northern Cyclones 16U (EJEPL)
8th Round (177th overall): Anthony Hora (D) – Cheektowaga, NY – Buffalo Jr. Sabres U18 (T1EHL)
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