CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – The Corpus Christi IceRays, proud members of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), have named their leadership group for the 2017-18 season, and forward Brendan Miller has been selected as team captain.
“Brendan Miller possess the qualities that we look for not just in a captain but every single player,” said IceRays head coach Brad Flynn. “He has extremely high character, he’s honest, has a good skill set and is a determined guy. He is going into his third year with the organization, and the qualities that he showed wearing an ‘A’ last year set the table for him to expand his leadership role. I believe one of the best compliments you can get is from your peers and from our team last season unanimously voting him into a leadership role.”
Miller, 20, begins the 2017-18 season as the longest-active tenured player on the IceRays roster, recording 115 games through two full seasons while serving as alternate captain last season. In that time, the North Tonawanda, N.Y. native has recorded 16 goals and 27 assists for 43 points with 203 penalty minutes, seven power play goals and three shorthanded goals. Last season, he finished the season with nine goals and 13 assists for 22 points with 134 penalty minutes, three power play goals and two shorthanded goals, setting career-highs in goals, points, penalty minutes and shorthanded goals while earning three assists in eight playoff games. Miller currently sits tied for second all-time in shorthanded goals and fifth in penalty minutes.
The 6-foot-1, 183-pound forward evolved his role on the team as the 2016-17 season went on, leading the team as an energy player and becoming a spark for the team both with his skill set, physical play and vocal motivation. The adjustment to his role was one of the many factors leading to the turnaround in the second half of the season for the IceRays, and his production picked up by season’s end. Off the ice, Miller has kept a light-hearted locker room presence that has bound the team together as a counter balance to the intensity the sport brings.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity to lead this team,” said Miller. “Being part of last year’s leadership group definitely helped me grow as a player and a person. My role last year was keeping things a little bit lighter. Some guys are more vocal, and some show guys what to do. I have a little bit of both. I like to be pretty vocal on the bench during games but also go out and prove that I can walk the walk. I think we’re going to have a good mixture this year of being able to do both.”
The IceRays also named three alternate captains for the 2017-18 season, all of whom are new to wearing letters on the team. Veterans Matt Acciaioli, David Thomson, and Conor Yawney will be in the leadership group as alternate captains.
“Acciaioli, Thomson, and Yawney are three returning players that grew as players and people last season all in their own way,” said Flynn. “Each player, including Miller, brings a different aspect to the leadership group. In saying that, they all have one thing in common. They were all big contributors to the foundation of our culture that we set last year and are continuing to build on this season.”
Acciaioli, 20, is in his third season with the IceRays after beginning his IceRays tenure on Nov. 13, 2015. In 87 career NAHL games, the Rochester Hills, Mich. product owns three goals and 17 assists for 20 points with 66 penalty minutes, a +1 rating and one shorthanded goal. From the outset of the 2016-17 season, Acciaioli took a large step forward in his development and was rewarded with top-line minutes and roles on special teams, showcasing a strong anchor heading into the upcoming season after losing four veteran defensemen while taking on a larger locker room role each season.
Thomson, 19, enters his fourth junior season and owns the most career junior hockey games while also holding previous leadership experience as an alternate captain with is previous team. Through 164 games between the Burlington Cougars of the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) and the IceRays, the Vaughan, Ont. native has put together 66 goals and 85 assists for 151 points with 120 penalty minutes, 22 power play goals and two shorthanded goals. In his first season with the IceRays, Thomson finished third on the team in scoring and tied for first in power play goals with 21 goals and 21 assists for 42 points with 38 penalty minutes and eight power play goals. The 6-foot, 189-pound center has produced a consistent career of production and will be the highest-scoring veteran on the team from last season’s roster.
Yawney, 20, was one of the largest evolutions during the 2016-17 season, growing from a back end piece to a strong top-four defenseman with large minutes on the penalty kill and in crucial late-game situations. The 6-foot-2, 171-pound defenseman earned seven assists in his first 54 games of his NAHL career with 18 penalty minutes and a +6 rating as well as two assists through eight playoff games. Yawney also stepped up as the season went on as a vocal locker room presence, providing veteran acuity despite his limited experience at this level. The Anaheim, Calif. native was previously the captain of the Omaha AAA Lancers 18U prior to joining the IceRays.
“These guys are great guys, and it’ll be nice to have some other good people around to help with the leadership group,” said Miller. “There are some more guys that may not be wearing a letter, but we’re going to have a big leadership group this year. That’s a big key for us to be successful.”
The IceRays begin 2017 Training Camp at the American Bank Center on August 25 and open the 2017-18 season on September 15 in Topeka. The IceRays home schedule begins on Friday, Sep. 29 against the Odessa Jackalopes.
Season Tickets for the 20th Anniversary season are on sale now! Call the IceRays at 361-814-PUCK to reserve your season plan for the 2017-18 campaign. In addition, stay connected with the IceRays on Facebook (/CorpusChristiIceRays), Twitter (@goicerays), YouTube (IceRays TV), Instagram (CorpusChristiIceRays), Vine (@goicerays), and Periscope (@goicerays).