CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – The Corpus Christi IceRays of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) are proud to announce the signing of defenseman Conor Yawney of the Omaha AAA Lancers 18U from the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) to a tender contract for the 2016-17 season. Yawney joins Omaha teammate Dane Johnson on the team’s protected list for next season.
“It’s certainly an honor to have this opportunity,” said Yawney. “It’s definitely been a lot of work by the coaching staff here in Omaha, Coach [Dave] Wilkie, my teammates and everyone involved. I feel honored to see Corpus Christi give me that opportunity to show what I can do next year.”
Yawney, 18, appeared in 49 games with the Omaha AAA 18U Lancers over the last two seasons, recording four goals and 16 assists for 20 points with six penalty minutes while earning one goal and 14 assists for 15 points with six penalty minutes through 25 games during the 2015-16 season. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound defenseman helped the Lancers to the NAPHL Championship Game during the 2014-15 season while earning one goal and one assist for two points through five games in the tournament. The Anaheim, Calif., native also participated in the NAPHL 18U All-Star Game on January 9 and was named team captain prior to this season.
“Conor has continued to improve throughout the season to the point where we feel he can come in next year and compete for a spot,” said IceRays head coach John Becanic. “Coach Wilkie does an excellent job in preparing his players for junior hockey, and we feel that way about Conor.”
Yawney comes from a groomed hockey family as the son of former National Hockey League (NHL) defenseman and current Anaheim Ducks assistant coach Trent Yawney. Trent was drafted in the 3rd Round of the 1984 NHL Entry Draft and played 593 games during his 12-year NHL career with the Chicago Blackhawks, Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues, and he also served numerous assistant and head coaching positions including the Head Coach of the Blackhawks for parts of two seasons from 2005-06, Assistant Coach for the Blackhawks in 1999-00 and San Jose Sharks from 2008-11, and Head Coach of the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League (AHL) from 2000-05 and again from 2012-14.
Conor models much of his game after his father’s style, taking pride in strong defensive zone play, but also making his own mark to contribute offensively and assist his forwards. He gives a lot of credit for his play style and improvement to the hockey knowledge bestowed upon him by Trent throughout his life.
“At times it’s tough, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” said Conor. “He’s definitely given me a lot of things that I would not know otherwise. A lot of his years and years of experience growing up when I was little and up through the ages. He’s definitely helped me out a lot.”
Conor Yawney is the second member of the Omaha AAA Lancers program to sign a tender contract this year and third in three seasons, joining tender Dane Johnson and current forward Mason Krueger in the organization. Speaking with Johnson helped his decision to select Corpus Christi as his junior hockey destination, and Yawney believes their relationship will help the transition.
“I asked [Dane] about it, and we heard nothing but good things. It’s really exciting to have someone I know going in there next year. We have a good relationship, so it was definitely a huge factor in my decision … I’m looking forward to the opportunity to play at a higher level, play on a junior team and really help out. They’ve got a lot there, and I can bring an extra factor that I’ve developed here in Omaha.”
Yawney also joins four other players currently signed to tender contracts for next season. Tier 1 Elite Hockey League (T1EHL) forwards Griffin Loughran and Adam Tretowicz of the Buffalo Jr. Sabres 18U, Tommy Parrottino of the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies 18U, and Trevor St. Jean of the Ohio Blue Jackets 18U committed during November and December.
The IceRays return home to the American Bank Center on Thursday, Jan. 21 for the first of two games against the Topeka RoadRunners and the first home set of 2016. Contact the IceRays Front Office at 361-814-PUCK or go to www.goicerays.com for details on season tickets along with pricing and seating. In addition, stay connected with the IceRays on Facebook (/CorpusChristiIceRays), Twitter (@goicerays), YouTube (IceRays TV), Instagram (CorpusChristiIceRays), Vine (@goicerays), and Periscope (@goicerays).
(Cover Photo: North American Prospects Hockey League)