CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – The Corpus Christi IceRays of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) are proud to announce the signing of goaltender Austin Park of the Ohio Blue Jackets from the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League (T1EHL) to a tender contract for the 2016-17 season. Park is just the third netminder to be tendered by the IceRays in junior franchise history.
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to be with Coach [John Becanic],” said Park of his signing. “Starting out where I came from playing Double-A, getting 40 shots a game and losing 5-0, to where I am now is just a dream come true. I’m honored to be able to say I’m tendered by the IceRays.”
Park, 17, appeared in 14 games this season with the Ohio Blue Jackets this season in T1EHL play, recording a 7-5-2 record with a 2.19 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage in 741:18 minutes played. The 6-foot, 175-pound native of Highlands Ranch, Colo. currently ranks sixth in the T1EHL in save percentage and tenth in goals-against average while peaking at the top spot heading into December. During the 2014-15 season, Park excelled with the Colorado Thunderbirds 16U, recording a perfect 12-0-0 record with a T1EHL-best 0.99 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage en route to an invite with the USA U17 Selects team last summer.
Success hasn’t always come easy to Park, who has competed with other goaltenders for spots in a very limited position as well as playing time in one of the hardest positions on the ice to advance through. During the highs and lows, Park credits his coaching and teammates along the way for helping to provide the drive to exceed expectations as well as the confidence he currently plays with in the crease.
“Every year has been a developing process. I’ve been lucky to have such great coaching wherever I went. You compete with other goaltenders and have rough patches through the season. My coaches and teammates have always pushed me through that and get through those adversities.”
“We are excited to have added such a quality goalie and an even better person,” said IceRays head coach John Becanic. “Austin has excelled at every level and continues to improve each and every time he is on the ice. We wanted to make sure we signed a goalie with one of our tenders and couldn’t be happier in landing Austin.”
Park is the second player from the Ohio Blue Jackets to sign a tender contract for the 2016-17 season. Forward Trevor St. Jean tendered with the IceRays on December 1 and is the son of a former professional hockey player. The two independently made the decision to join the IceRays next season, and the connection developed this year certainly has its benefits moving to a new team.
“It’s not always easy coming into a new team where the guys know each other,” said Park. “Going in with someone you know and having someone to share those experiences with is going to help a lot. [Trevor] made his own choices, and I made choices that were best for me and it just worked out that we’re going to be on a team together which is a fantastic situation.”
Park is also just the third goaltender in IceRays franchise history to be tendered by the organization, joining William Christopoulos, who signed on Jan. 17, 2012, and Cameron Holland, who announced his signing on Mar. 29, 2011. The netminder is the second player signed this week and joins St. Jean and five others on the 2016-17 protected list: forward Dane Johnson and defenseman Conor Yawney of the Omaha AAA Lancers 18U (NAPHL), forwards Griffin Loughran and Adam Tretowicz of the Buffalo Jr. Sabres 18U (T1EHL), and Tommy Parrottino of the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies 18U (T1EHL).
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).