CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – The Corpus Christi IceRays of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) are proud to announce the commitment of forward Drake Lindsay to Nipissing University, a Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) program in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) conference, for the 2016-17 season.
“We are always very happy for any of our players that get commitments,” said IceRays General Manager Pat Dunn. “Selfishly, it’s also an honor for our organization that we are recognized by the CIS. Drake’s commitment is very well deserved. They will not only be getting a good player but also a very nice young man.”
Lindsay, 20, closed out his junior career with the IceRays during the 2015-16 after being drafted 81st overall (4th Round) by Corpus Christi in the 2015 NAHL Draft. The Grosse Isle, Man. native played 56 games last season, recording 12 goals and 26 assists for 38 points with a four power play goals, 12 power play assists, and three game-winning goals. Lindsay finished the season atop the team in assists, points and power play assists while sharing the team lead in power play points and game-winning goals. He also was one of four IceRays players to earn a spot in the 2016 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament in February, playing for Team South while becoming just the fourth player in IceRays history to score during the two-game tournament and the first to record a goal and assist in a 4-3 shootout win against Team East on February 15.
Prior to his stint in Corpus Christi, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound forward played three full seasons from 2012-14 with the Neepawa Natives of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL), recording 57 goals and 92 assists for 149 points through 178 games, averaging just under a point per game over his MJHL career and earning 63 points in 60 games during the 2014-15 campaign. Lindsay was named to the MJHL All-Rookie Team in 2012-13 following a 41-point season then MJHL Second All-Star Team in his final season in Canadian junior hockey.
“I watched him a bit in the MJHL in Neepawa,” said Carson Shields, the director of western recruiting for Nipissing University. “He finds the net, and he finds the guys he plays with. I liked his size. I liked his grittiness as well. He wasn’t a guy that walked away from anything. Drove the net hard.”
The CIS is the national governing body for Canadian university athletics comprised of universities within Ontario and Quebec. The structure is very similar to that of the NCAA in the United States: universities grouped together by conference during the season culminating in conference and overall CIS championships at the end of the year. The largest difference between the two associations is the age and size of players. The CIS is an older league comprised largely of players from Major Junior programs that either did not have a professional opportunity arise or want to take advantage of college funds provided by their respective Major Junior league, meaning that players range mainly from ages 20 to 25.
IceRays Head Coach Brad Flynn is a graduate of Brock University, a CIS program in the OUA. He knows first-hand the opportunity the Canadian programs can provide Canadian-born players even in the NAHL.
“We are very excited as an organization to have helped Drake develop into a CIS player,” said Flynn. “The CIS is widely known across the hockey world as the best kept secret in hockey, with the majority of players being ex-Major Junior players. It just proves that even if NCAA does not work out, the IceRays still work hard to get our players to the highest university league possible.”
Nipissing University is a relatively new program in CIS standards, forming in 2009 and looking to make a case as a premier program in the OUA and across the CIS. Their commitment to this program focus has come in their recent additions, including five-year Ontario Hockey League (OHL) veteran forward and Sudbury Wolves captain Danny Desrochers, three-year OHL veteran defenseman Taylor Davis from the Ottawa 67’s, and three-year Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) veteran forward Deverick Ottereyes. Other additions have come from other Tier II Canadian programs, but the size and experience provide Lindsay both with competition and ways to improve his own game.
“When I’m looking at a player, I’m looking for three things: hockey IQ, size and speed,” said Shields. “Three things, in my opinion, that you can’t really teach. When it comes to Drake, I think he has all three of those. Now, how far he wants to take it is up to him.”
Lindsay is now the third IceRays player in two seasons to commit to a CIS program, joining Canadian defenseman Anthony Cortese (‘14-’15) with Concordia University and American goaltender Graham Hunt (‘15-’16) with the University of Ottawa and providing another outlet for Canadian-born IceRays players to continue their post-junior careers.
The IceRays open the 2016-17 home schedule on Friday, Oct. 14 against the Odessa Jackalopes at the American Bank Center. Purchase your 2016-17 season ticket membership ahead of opening night! Reserve yours by contacting the IceRays Front Office at 361-814-PUCK. In addition, stay connected with the IceRays on Facebook (/CorpusChristiIceRays), Twitter (@goicerays), YouTube (IceRays TV), Instagram (CorpusChristiIceRays), Vine (@goicerays), and Periscope (@goicerays).