CORPUS CHRISTI, TX – Heading into the 2014 North American Hockey League Draft, the Corpus Christi IceRays had a plan to get bigger and fill the possible void between the pipes with the possible departure of Forbes Ploszaj to the USHL. When all was said and done, the coaching and scouting staff came through to increase the size and add skill for the upcoming season.
“Today was a very good day for the future of the of the IceRays,” said head coach John Becanic. “We went into the draft with a plan and it went as well as we could¹ve hoped. We knew we needed to get bigger up front and we did that in drafting kids like Tanner Lomsnes (6’4’’), Nic Laburn (6’1’’), Owen LaClare (6’2’’), and Carter Johnson (6’3’’). Offensively to add such dynamic scorers like Ryan Cusin, Blake Gober, and Jeremiah Luedtke, along with the previous four guys means that we will be able to hold on to the puck more and create more offense.”
Along with the size came lots of offense with the picks. Lomsnes brought size and a 20 point season this past year while Laburn, the second draft pick for the IceRays this year scored 53 points in the CCHL and comes in at 6’1’’ 194lbs.
“I'm very excited to be joining the IceRays next season,” said Laburn. When the season starts next year, fans in Corpus Christi can expect to see that I am a gritty and physical player. In addition, hopefully I'll score a lot of goals as well.”
Carter Johnson scored 43 points in 44 games during the 2012-2013 season and this past year tallied 11 points in just 13 games. LaClare also brings size and a 42 point season with the La Ronge Ice Wolves. Ryan Cusin, a Michigan native and the IceRays first overall draft pick dominated in the CCHL for the Brockville Braves putting up 72 points in 55 games.
“It was an honor being the first pick for the IceRays in this year’s draft,” said Cusin. From what I’ve heard it’s a great place to play, and I’m beyond excited for the season to start. The fans can expect tons of offense from me. I love to put the puck in the net and that’s what I plan to do.”
Blake Gober and Jeremiah Luedtke combined for 88 points last year as well.
“The 2014 Draft class brings experience, leadership, skill and importantly achievement that will fit with the IceRays culture,” said director of scouting Rick Ellison. “The focus for the staff was to target in the draft, players with these attributes so as to complement our returning and tendered players. Overall, we are pleased with how the draft developed for us towards our goal of building a championship team. I am excited to see all of these players at camp as they are all bring key gifts that are important components to the overall plan.”
Overall, the IceRays had eleven total draft picks to get to their 30-man roster heading into Main Camp from July 16th – 20th in Taylor, MI. After goaltender Ben Myers aged out and Forbes Ploszaj was drafted by Bloomington in the USHL, the ‘Rays needed to add goaltenders and they did so with extreme potential.
“With the potential departure of Forbes Ploszaj to the USHL, we found ourselves without a goalie,” added Becanic. “We feel strongly about both Matt Penta, a proven winner at this level and Andrew Lindgren, a teammate of tendered IceRays Taylor Karel and Jack Jensen. Coach Flynn, head scout Rick Ellison did an outstanding job at guiding us in the right direction and bringing this type of talent to Corpus Christi.”
Lindgren was in net for Eagan High School and this past season posted a .932 save percentage along with a 1.71 goals against average in the regular season. In the playoffs, the save percentage increased to .941.
“I can honestly say I'm very excited to see all our picks in camp,” said Brad Flynn. “Our first round pick Ryan Cusin is a dynamic player in the CCHL. We were also very thrilled to get Owen LaClare where we picked him. Owen is a '95 birth year who played for Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge. He is a big, strong scoring winger who plays much like Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars. I am also looking forward to seeing Tanner Lomsnes. Tanner played in the league I coached last year (MJHL) and went to the Semifinals at the Canadian National Jr. A tournament the Royal Bank Cup.”
With the 30-man roster set, the IceRays will host Main Camp at the Taylor Sportsplex from July 16th – 20th in Michigan. From there, the remaining squad will be brought down to Corpus Christi to kick off training camp.
“This will be a group that will make some noise in the South Division this year,” finished Becanic.
Season tickets for the 2014-2015 season of IceRays hockey are on sale now. Call the front office at 361-814-7825 for details or check out the pricing and seating chart online at www.goicerays.com.
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