CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – The Corpus Christi IceRays of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) are proud to announce team captains for the 2015-16 season, naming forwards Nathan Bryer and Brad LeLievre as co-captains with defenseman Trevor Heuser and Mason Krueger as alternate captains for home games as well as defenseman Tucker Bender and forward Carter Johnson as alternate captains for road games. This marks the first time in IceRays franchise history that the IceRays have named co-captains or rotating four alternate captains.
“I felt we had a luxury of multiple leaders,” said IceRays head coach John Becanic. “I’ve never done this before, but I just felt that the burden leading this team shouldn’t fall on two or three people. To be successful, we had to have more people shouldering the responsibility of living our lifestyle and playing to our expectations. There was nobody not deserving to be picked in our leadership group.
“Brad is a four-year veteran and a four-year ‘Coach B’ veteran. He’s a guy that has been drinking the ‘Kool-Aid’ for that long and knows our lifestyle. Nathan inspires you everyday to be a better person. He takes pride in everything that he does: his appearance, profession, and relationships. Nathan reminds me of myself. He and Brad were easy picks, but both bring such unique qualities of inspiration to our team.”
Bryer, 19, has been a stable force for the IceRays since joining the team last season. The Clarkston, Mich., native came to the IceRays on a tender contract signed just after the advent of the 2014 calendar year after a strong campaign with Victory Honda U18. The center has had a history of leadership prior to his appearances in Corpus Christi, being named captain for Detroit Compuware U14 and Victory Honda U16 as well as alternate captain for Victory Honda U18. He committed to Mercyhurst College before joining the team in 2014-15 and followed that up with 12 goals and 13 assists for 25 points with 18 penalty minutes and a +3 rating through 54 games last season.
“Obviously, it’s a huge honor,” said Bryer. “Having co-captains just goes to show you how deep the leadership group and the character on this team. Being a captain for a junior team is a lot bigger of a role, but we have seven returning players that are all good kids off the ice, which is most important, and a good group of people in the locker room and in the community.”
LeLievre, 20, was the first player acquired by Head Coach John Becanic in the 2013-14 season, trading then-captain Eric Purcell to the Kenai River Brown Bears for the promising forward. The two had worked together in Wenatchee prior to each person’s departure from the organization and were reunited during the team’s injury-plagued season. Since then, LeLievre has become a staple not only of the IceRays organization but also of the NAHL. In now his fifth season in the NAHL, the Brier, Wash., native has played 158 games between the Wenatchee Wild, Kenai River Brown Bears, and IceRays with 90 of those games coming in the Coastal Bend, recording 26 goals and 31 assists for 57 points with 171 penalty minutes. He currently ranks ninth in games played in IceRays junior history.
“It’s very humbling to be named co-captain,” said LeLievre. “We have a deep group of leaders. Just because we have letters on our jerseys doesn’t mean there aren’t other guys in the locker room who aren’t leaders. We each hold each other to our highest standard every day. I know what Coach Becanic expects out of us, and I hope to lead this group by example and help continue our lifestyle both on and off the ice.”
In addition, the IceRays will also be rotating four alternate captains this season. At home, two veteran IceRays skaters will wear the “A” in white uniforms. Heuser, 19, returns as an alternate captain for a second-consecutive season in his fifth NAHL season and fourth with the IceRays. He trails only LeLievre in games played on the active roster, suiting up for 91 games at the NAHL level with 84 of those coming in Corpus Christi and ranking just outside of the to-10 games played in IceRays junior history. In 2014-15, the Farmingdale, N.J., native had a personal banner season, recording a career-high three goals and 11 assists for 14 points with 38 penalty minutes and a +12 rating through 48 games.
Krueger, 19, returns for his second season with the IceRays and first in leadership following a surge in the latter half of the 2014-15 campaign. In 56 games, the Bettendorf, Iowa, native registered eight goals and nine assists for 17 points with 31 penalty minutes and a -3 rating, however ten of his points came in his final 20 games of the season. Already this season, he has two assists in his first six games.
On the road, two new members of the IceRays roster will garner the “A” wearing black. Bender, 18, came into the organization one day prior to the 2015 NAHL Draft as the final tender contract from last season and working his way to a prominent role both on and off the ice in his short stint in the NAHL. The Snohomish, Wash., native derives from the heralded Shattuck St. Mary’s Prep program following one season in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL).
Johnson, 20, joins the NAHL in his final season of junior eligibility after blossoming in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL). Since his arrival to Corpus Christi, the Gimli, Man., native has been embrace and respected by this year’s crop of IceRays players off the rink while leading the team in goals with three through six games this year.
The IceRays open their 2015-16 home schedule on Friday, October 2 at 7:05 p.m. against the Amarillo Bulls at the American Bank Center. 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).