CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – The Corpus Christi IceRays of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) have named the leadership group for the 2016-17 season, including naming forward Mason Krueger as team captain, the team announced this afternoon.
“There were plenty of candidates that could have worn the ‘C’ this year,” said IceRays Head Coach Brad Flynn. “In the end, we left it up to the players through a team vote, and Mason was a unanimous decision. Mason is a lead-by-example kind of guy. He’s extremely dedicated both on and off the ice, he’s a good person, and he backs up what he says.”
Krueger, 20, is one of four players on the IceRays roster with at two seasons dressing in the red, black and gold. The Bettendorf, Ia., native was tendered by the IceRays on Nov. 5, 2013 out of the Omaha AAA Lancers program and was a member of the record 2014-15 season. As his time with the IceRays expanded as did his leadership both on and off the ice. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound center blossomed in the second half of that season and coming into the 2015-16 season was named alternate captain. Last year, he finished tied for second in goals scored (13), second in power play goals (5) and fifth in points (27) on the team. Krueger sits tied for fifth in IceRays games played (117) and owns 22 goals with 24 assists for 46 points heading into the 2016 NAHL Showcase.
“This organization has so much to offer from top to bottom with our General Manager [Pat Dunn], to our coaching staff, fans and other players, it’s just an honor,” said Krueger on being named captain. “Overall, I’m just excited for this season and being part of these guys coming together to do some special things. We have high expectations as a team, and we are working and will continue to work towards achieving them every day all while having fun. I couldn’t ask anything more for my final year of junior hockey.”
The IceRays also named five alternate captains for the 2016-17 season with two returning from last season’s leadership group, including forward David Baskerville, forward Nathan Bryer, defenseman Trevor Heuser, forward Brendan Miller, and defenseman Tucker White.
“We have a good mixture of NAHL veterans and junior hockey veterans that are going to bring a lot of different expereinces to help the rest of the team,” said Flynn. “With that said, there are many players without a letter that will be relied on heavily for their leadership roles.”
Baskerville, 19, is one of five players entering the 2016-17 season with NCAA Division I commitments after spending two seasons with the Buffalo Jr. Sabres in the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) and over four seasons in the Buffalo Jr. Sabres system. The Eden, N.Y., native was a captain of his Buffalo Jr. Sabres 16U squad in the 2013-14 season and alternate captain for the Jr. Sabres last season. The 6-foot, 181-pound forward has a calming maturity with productive ability, amassing a point-per-game last season through 45 contests in the OJHL.
Bryer, 20, is the second of five NCAA Division I commits and one of three players in total returning to leadership positions. The Clarkston, Mich., native was one of two co-captains last season and owns 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. Like Krueger, Bryer is in the top-10 for games played in IceRays junior franchise history, playing 116 games and sitting seventh overall. In two prior seasons, Bryer has recorded 18 goals and 24 assists for 42 points.
Miller, 19, enters his second season with the IceRays and is the second Buffalo Jr. Sabres product in this season’s leadership group. Like Krueger, the North Tonawanda, N.Y., native began to pick up production in the second half of his first NAHL season in 2015-16 and helped in high locker room chemistry with his personality and support for his teammates. In his first NAHL season, the 6-foot-1, 183-pound forward recorded seven goals and 14 assists for 21 points with four power play goals and was one of five players with a shorthanded goal on last season’s roster.
Heuser, 20, is the longest-active tenured IceRays player on the roster and is poised to set the record for games played, sitting third currently and ten games away from breaking Beau Walker’s record (146 games). The Farmingdale, N.J., product has been named alternate captain for his third-straight season, showing the poise and veteran qualities in a veteran NAHL player in his sixth NAHL season. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound defenseman signed as an affiliate with the IceRays on Nov. 23, 2011 and joined the squad the following season. In his sixth NAHL season, Heuser owns five goals and 23 assists for 28 points with 239 penalty minutes and a +14 rating, including 24 points and a +9 rating over his last two seasons.
White, 20, owns the highest petigree of playing experience in this year’s roster with two seasons of Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) play under his belt between the Moncton Wildcats and Acadie-Bathurst Titan. The Holden, Mass., native played 61 games between 2013-15 in Major Junior action, and while he hasn’t gained a plethora of points heading into his fourth and final junior season, that experience along with his physicalty and wisdom slot him strongly in a leadership role. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound defenseman played 45 games with the Miramichi Timberwolves last season, recording two goals and eight assists for ten points with 154 penalty minutes.
“We have a tight-knit group this year and enjoy being around each other,” said Krueger. “When you’re doing the right things day in and day out, great teams feed off that. Our leadership group is full of great guys. It really shapes our locker room. The younger players and other players coming in are able to see how we do things in Corpus Christi and learn everyday based on our leaders’ actions.”
The IceRays begin the 2016 NAHL Showcase from Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, Minn., on Wednesday, Sep. 21 at 2:15 p.m. against the Aberdeen Wings.
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).