Friday, 11.17.17 / 10:08 am CT
Now that the IceRays’ season is a third of the way through, the roster moves have seemingly come to a complete halt and the players have settled in. The same can be said elsewhere, at all levels of hockey, as coaches and general managers compete with the pieces they’ve brought together. Among those pieces are former IceRays who continue to represent the coastal bend all over the world and, while they now sport the logos of other clubs, will always refer to the IceRays as the franchise that got them there.
College (Division I)
The IceRays have 27 alumni who are currently active on college hockey rosters. Sixteen of them play for Division I programs, the vast majority of which are based in either the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) or the Atlantic Hockey Conference (AHA).
There has been a vast shift in commitments from the former conference to the latter over the years, with five of last year’s IceRays heading east to play Atlantic Hockey this season. Nathan Bryer joined 2013 IceRay Tommaso Bucci at Mercyhurst and scored his first goal as a Laker last Saturday against Logan Gestro and the Canisius Golden Griffins. Though Gestro was on the ice for Bryer’s tally, Canisius scored five unanswered third period goals to roll to a 7-3 victory. David Baskerville still awaits his first start as a Griffin.
Cody Fleckenstein, another alum waiting in the college wings, is again teammates with former IceRays captain Mason Krueger. Krueger has already made seven appearances for Army-West Point and assisted on a goal against RIT in just his second game as a Black Knight.
The seventh and final active AHA player, Tanner Lomsnes, has enjoyed a successful career at Niagara University. Now in his junior year, Lomsnes has been a fixture with the Purple Eagles since he was a freshman and has already scored 11 points in just 10 games this season. Former IceRays assistant coach Michael Benedict had just graduated from Niagara when Lomsnes was recruited. Benedict is now the assistant coach with the Minnesota Wilderness of the NAHL.
The second most common conference as a destination for IceRays has been the NCHC. Though the NCHC didn’t add any IceRays from last season’s roster, five alumni still compete in the Midwest-based conference.
Two of them play at Miami of Ohio. The most recent IceRay, Carter Johnson (15-16), appeared in an impressive 35 games in his freshman season for the Redhawks last year. His teammate, Grant Hutton (12-14), has been a vital component of Miami’s season thus far, scoring eight points in just ten games to start his junior year.
Two more play in Colorado. Jake Durflinger (13-14), who started his junior career with the IceRays, now begins his college hockey career at the University of Denver. As a freshman, he’s already played in nine games for the defending national champions and has four points to his credit. His former teammate, Wes Michaud (13-15), is now one of his greatest adversaries. The IceRays’ all-time leader in single-season points with 73, Michaud is now in his junior season at Colorado College and has become a mainstay after red-shirting his freshman year. He’s scored eight points in 12 games this season for the Tigers.
Jalen Schulz (12-13) is also in his junior year, and has played in all eight games this season for the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
The last IceRay standing in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association is Kyle Froese (13-14), who is embarking on his fourth and final season at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.
As for the Ivy League, Hayden Stewart commences his senior year at Cornell University and made 13 of a possible 14 saves in his first start this season in a victory over Princeton on November 4th.
Nico Sturm (13-14) is entering his sophomore year at Clarkson University and is tied for third on the Golden Knights in scoring with 10 points.
College (Division III)
Half of the alumni who are active in Division III college hockey play in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Joe Chitwood (13-15) and Matt Colford (14-15) enrolled at St. John’s University (Minnesota) together in 2015 and are now juniors who have scored at a point-per-game pace this season.
Now in his senior year, Jon Grebosky (11-13) is the captain at Concordia College and has scored a whopping 73 points throughout his college career.
Ben Myers (12-14) has had a stellar start to his season at the University of St. Thomas, and backstopped his team to a 3-2 win over Brady Crabtree and the Hamline Pipers on October 29th.
Ryan Cusin (14-16) transferred from UMass-Boston after an outstanding freshman year and is now playing at Adrian College in Michigan. His former linemate Adam Canepa (15-16) has just begun his sophomore year at the University of New England.
College (Canadian Intra University)
Three former IceRays are now playing their college hockey north of the border. Drake Lindsay (15-16,) Graham Hunt (15-16,) and Tucker White (16-17) are all active on Canadian college teams. Lindsay has made four appearances this season at Nipissing University, Graham Hunt has tended goal seven times so far in his sophomore year at the University of Ottawa, and Tucker White has already played 10 games as a freshman at the Ontario Institute of Technology.
Five former IceRays now play in the United States Hockey League, all of whom have already committed to Division I programs.
Tomáš Vomáčka (16-17) has finally cooled off after a red-hot start with the Lincoln Stars and will be squaring off against Griffin Loughran and the Fargo Force this Friday. Loughran has scored 14 points in as many games and is third on the Force in scoring.
Another alum who’s made waves in the USHL this season has been Dryden McKay (15-16). He was named the USHL Goaltender of the Week three weeks ago and had made nine starts for the Madison Capitols this season.
Simon Butala (15-16) is playing his final season in the USHL with the Central Illinois Flying Aces before heading off to Maine next season, and his fellow defenseman and former teammate Michael Bevilacqua is wrapping up his junior career with the Green Bay Gamblers before going to Canisius.
Two IceRays (juniors) alumni have donned an NHL sweater, both of them goaltenders. Anthony Stolarz (11-12) and Pheonix Copley (10-11) each made their NHL debut fairly recently. Stolarz is currently injured, but will return to the AHL’s Adirondack Phantoms once he recovers. Last season, he played in seven games for the Philadelphia Flyers and boasted a 2.07 GAA with a .928 SV%. Copley debuted for the St. Louis Blues last season, and was later traded to the Washington Capitals’ system. He now tends goal for the Hershey Bears, the Capitals’ affiliate team.
Four junior alumni currently play American minor league hockey. Two of them were a part of the Brad Flynn assistant coaching era in the 2014-15 season. Anthony Cortese and Travis Howe are both in the East Coast Hockey League, playing for the Indy Fuel and the Utah Grizzlies, respectively.
Austrian-born Emil Romig (12-13) just finished four full seasons at the University of Denver, and was recently traded from the Flyers’ system to the Colorado Avalanche affiliated Colorado Eagles. Romig now anticipates his professional debut.
Finally, the former IceRays standout defenseman Colton Saucerman (10-11) is now in his second professional season. He played five games in the AHL last season with the Hershey Bears and the Springfield Thunderbirds, but is now with the Los Angeles Kings’ ECHL affiliate—the Manchester Monarchs. He currently leads all Manchester defensemen this season with 11 points through 13 games.
A pair of former teammates and fellow imports with the IceRays have gone across the pond to extend their hockey careers. The German Mychal Monteith (10-12) and the Canadian Perry D’Arrisso (11-13) are now playing in Germany and France, respectively. Monteith enters his third professional season and is currently with ESV Kaufbeuren of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga following a long college career at Mercyhurst and a brief ECHL stint with the Jacksonville IceMen. D’Arrisso took a similar route, playing four seasons of Division I college hockey (Clarkson) followed by a brief ECHL spell with the Elmira Jackals. He is now playing his first season with Les Diables Rouges de Briançon in Southeastern France.
Every one of the aforementioned players spent a significant time of their junior careers in an IceRays sweater, and will remember Corpus Christi as the launching pad which propelled them to where they are today. The team’s junior franchise legacy is already rich and impressive, and if history is any indication, promising things are on the horizon for the 2017-18 IceRays.