CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced its league-wide honors for the 2016-17 season, as voted upon and selected by the league’s 24 head coaches, and Corpus Christi IceRays general manager Pat Dunn was named NAHL Executive of the Year.
Dunn, 54, has been an integral aspect of the IceRays organization over the franchise’s 19-year history and across all seven junior seasons, leading the Front Office operations since the 2008-09 season. In one of the toughest years for the organization both on and off the ice, the IceRays were able to not only continue their off-ice successes but also break multiple records on the ice en route to their third playoff appearance in five years.
“I am really honored to receive such an honor, but it’s no different than the players receiving an individual award,” said Dunn. “It would be wrong for me to accept this award by myself. It’s a team environment, and we have a small staff that works really hard and spends many hours at work during the season. It’s not a coincidence that we led the league in attendance. It’s the results of many cold calls and knocking on doors as well as a lot of perseverance.”
The Trois-Rivieres, Quebec native began the season by hiring first-year head coach Brad Flynn to lead the team after a coaching release early in the off-season. Under Flynn’s leadership, the IceRays finished with their best record in junior franchise history, recording a 32-19-4-5 record and 73 points, which sets new junior franchise records in: wins, points and win percentage (.608), which doesn’t include individual and smaller team records in-season. The season is also the second-best in the franchise’s 19-year history, which includes 12 years between the Western Professional Hockey League (WPHL) and Central Hockey League (CHL).
“With no Pat Dunn, there is no hockey in the Coastal Bend,” said IceRays head coach Brad Flynn. “The amount of time he puts in to making our product a high level of entertainment on the ice reflects in us having the largest crowds in the league four years in-a-row. Pat dumps his heart into making sure our players feel like they aren’t playing junior hockey but are playing as professionals and making sure they are given every opportunity to succeed not just on the ice but in life.”
Off the ice, the IceRays have continued to lead the NAHL for quality standard in various facets. The organization led the NAHL in attendance for the fourth-straight year, reaching 90,854 fans and averaging 3,028 fans per game, extending their streak of over 3,000 fans per game to 13-straight years since the 2004-05 season, the first year at the American Bank Center. In the process, the IceRays sat 6,046 fans for the Kids’ Day Game and 6,733 fans for the final game of the year, which is the second-best in junior franchise history for a single game and fifth-best in the organization’s history. The IceRays now have the second-longest attendance streak in NAHL history, trailing the record of five years set by the Texas Tornado from 2003-04 to 2007-08.
Now, in 18 of 19 seasons, the IceRays have brought in over 3,000 fans per game despite an economic downturn in the area. On top of that, the IceRays reached over two million fans for the franchise’s history over the last 19 years in one of the most unconventional markets in the United States while becoming a staple of the Corpus Christi area as the longest-running franchise in city’s history. In his own right, Dunn has become a staple of the Corpus Christi IceRays.
“This is well deserving, and I couldn’t think of any other person that deserves this more,” said IceRays assistant general manager Cassidy Lange. “He has held several positions through the years with the IceRays and has experience in every facet of the business. I personally try to take as much advice as I can from him because he has been in this industry longer than anyone I know. It’s such a great honor to earn league wide recognition for all the hard work he does and the hours he puts in year after year.”
“As we all know, we operate in a non-traditional hockey market,” continued Dunn. “Therefore, there are a lot of ‘hockey, not interested’ before we get a ‘yes’ after they’ve attended one of our games. Once fans come to a game and give it a shot, they get hooked. Corpus Christi is definitely a great place to play hockey and be a fan of the game.”
This is the second IceRays representative to earn league honors for the 2016-17 season. IceRays goaltender Tomáš Vomáčka was named South Division Goaltender of the Year as well as All-NAHL Rookie Team and All-South Division Team honors.
The IceRays open the 2017 South Division Finals on Friday, Apr. 28 at 7:30 p.m. from the NYTEX Sports Centre in a best-of-five series. Rise with the IceRays as their quest for the Robertson Cup continues in the South Division Finals, and get ready for next season with a 2017-18 IceRays Season Membership. Call the IceRays at 361-814-PUCK to reserve your seat for next season. In addition, stay connected with the IceRays on Facebook (/CorpusChristiIceRays), Twitter (@goicerays), YouTube (IceRays TV), Instagram (CorpusChristiIceRays), Snapchat (@goicerays), and Periscope (@goicerays).