Thursday, 01.04.18 / 7:48 am CT
The IceRays came to terms with 17-year-old defenseman Brian Kramer late last week. He is the second tender signing of the 2017-18 season and the second straight to come from the Pittsburgh Penguins U18 team.
Kramer has played in 24 games for the U18 Penguins this season, and is in his fifth year with the program. Pittsburgh is listed as the fourth-ranked team in Tier 1 U18 midget hockey with a 17-4-3 record. Kramer is currently teammates there with fellow IceRays tender Tyler Love, and played two years behind IceRays goaltender Chad Veltri.
“We’re very excited and fortunate to tender Brian,” IceRays head coach Brad Flynn said. “He’s somebody we targeted early this season. We were impressed with his hockey sense, his skating, his offensive puck movement, and the fact that he could defend as well as contribute offensively from the back end. We’ve had good success with the Pittsburgh Penguins U18 program. Coach Quinn, as well as the rest of their development team, has done a great job of preparing players to move on to our league and elsewhere, and we feel very fortunate to be getting two players whose character matches their skillset.”
The 5’10”, 170 pound rearguard leads all Pittsburgh defensemen in goals this season with five, and has tallied six assists throughout his 24 games played in 2017-18. He and Love have complemented each other nicely, having been defensive partners for the better part of this season.
“He’s a highly skilled defenseman who’s great with the puck,” IceRays Director of Scouting & Player Development Mike Mondoux said. “He’s a good skater with high-end offensive ability. He moves the puck well and loves to join the rush. Plays in all situations and is the top power play defenseman on Pittsburgh.”
High-scoring defensemen are always a welcome commodity, especially considering the IceRays’ top-scoring blue-liner this season Matt Acciaioli (3 G, 18 A, 21 P) will be aging out after this season. Kramer is confident he is prepared to make an impact in the rigid NAHL South next season, believing his hockey sense and awareness will help him in making the adjustment in the next step of his hockey career.
“I try to be a fast, puck moving defenseman who knows when and when not to join the play,” Kramer said. “I also take pride in my vision and hockey sense and always being in position.”
Advancing to the next level in his development was always a goal for Kramer, but joining the IceRays is an opportunity for which he is particularly thrilled. “After talking with Chad Veltri and a few others, I learned that the coaching staff and organization is top-notch,” Kramer said. “I feel like with their help, I will make it to the next level with my development. Through the support that the community shows for them, I am very excited to come to Corpus!”
The Pittsburgh Penguins midget program has a proven track record of preparing players for the NAHL level and beyond, and Kramer will become the third player in the last two seasons joining the IceRays from the organization. He is poised to be yet another promising addition to the IceRays’ defense-corps and will be seeking to crack the roster for the 2018-19 season.