CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – The Corpus Christi IceRays have hired former forward Michael Benedict as the team’s fourth assistant coach in junior franchise history, IceRays General Manager Pat Dunn announced on Thursday. Benedict returns to the IceRays after spending the last four seasons with Niagara University.
“When John [Becanic] gave me the name of Michael Benedict, he received my instant blessings,” said IceRays general manager Pat Dunn. “Michael was a silent leader on and off the ice, and his blue collar style made him one of our better players and a fan favorite. He comes highly recommended from the coaching staff at Niagara. Michael is a great person and comes from a great family. He will be a huge help for our players in the pursuit of NCAA scholarships. John will enjoy working with Michael, and he will be a great mentor for Michael.”
Benedict, 24, spent his first three seasons with the NCAA Division I program playing as a forward, earning nine goals and eight assists for 17 points with 36 penalty minutes and one power play goal in 87 games. The Eden, N.Y., native tallied a career-high six goals and nine points during his sophomore year during the 2012-13 season and also scored his lone power play goal. A shoulder injury during his junior season cut his year short prior to graduation.
After earning his Bachelor of Sciences in Computer Information Sciences in May 2014, Benedict served as a graduate assistant coach under David Burkholder during the 2014-15 season, noting it as “a chance to work on my M.B.A. and continue schooling” while developing his style of coaching. He transitioned his defensive mindset as a forward and penalty killer in Corpus Christi and Niagara University to his philosophies behind the bench as well as keeping focused on the small details. The young coach received high praise from Burkholder during the team’s search for a new assistant coach, and IceRays head coach John Becanic took notice.
“Michael is a perfect fit for what we are trying to build here in Corpus Christi,” said Becanic. “He’s an outstanding individual who is passionate about the game. As an IceRays alum and recent graduate of Niagara University, his experiences will be very helpful in guiding our student athletes to reaching their goals. He’s a welcomed addition to our family, and I am confident that his impact will be felt immediately.”
The Eden, N.Y., native spent the inaugural 2010-11 junior season with the IceRays, earning 24 goals and 20 assists for 44 points with 125 penalty minutes and a -6 rating through all 58 games played by the IceRays. Benedict led the team in goals and power play goals (10) while also landing as one of five players to notch a shorthanded goal. He is also one of only four players to play every game possible in a single season with the IceRays (Frank Misuraca, 2011-12; Rudy Sulmonte, 2012-13; Jake Durflinger, 2013-14). Benedict returns to Corpus Christi with an eagerness to develop and help the IceRays reach their ultimate goal.
“I’m really excited for this new opportunity,” said Benedict. “I’m looking forward to giving back to the organization that helped me get to a scholarship at Niagara. I love Corpus Christi itself. I thought to myself that I wanted to come back down and live here for a couple years after college. It’s a simpler way down there and not as busy as it is here in Buffalo.”
He is expected to arrive in July and will join the team for the IceRays Main Camp in Sugar Land, Texas.
Season tickets for the 2015-16 IceRays hockey season are on sale now. New to full season plans are first round tickets for the 2016 Robertson Cup Playoffs. Contact the IceRays Front Office at 361-814-PUCK for details or check out pricing and seating online at www.goicerays.com. In addition, stay connected with the IceRays on Facebook (/CorpusChristiIceRays), Twitter (@goicerays), YouTube (IceRays TV), Instagram (CorpusChristiIceRays), and Vine (@goicerays).