CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – The Corpus Christi IceRays, proud members of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), are proud to announce the signing of goaltender Chad Veltri from the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite U18 of the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League (T1EHL) to a tender contract for the 2017-18 season.
“I’m so excited,” said Veltri. “I loved every part of being down there, from the coaches, to all the players down there, and the facilities. I just loved being in Corpus Christi.”
Veltri, 18, is in the midst of a strong second season with the Penguins Elite, recording a 11-1-3 record with a 2.01 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage with two shutouts through 15 games. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound goaltender played 31 games in 2015-16 with the Penguins Elite during T1EHL play, Veltri earned a 19-7-4 record with a 1.98 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage with four shutouts in 31 regular season games en route to an eventual National Championship. Between his time with the Penguins Elite U16 and U18, he owns 45 wins with a 2.18 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage with four shutouts.
The Fox Chapel, Penn., product already impressed the IceRays during a brief fill-in appearance with the organization on November 4, marking his NAHL debut with a 41-save shutout during a 3-0 victory over the Amarillo Bulls on the road, becoming the first IceRays goaltender to earn a shutout in his initial NAHL appearance. He’s been on the team’s list for quite a while, and his play coupled with his efforts in T1EHL play helped make the decision a lot easier.
“Our head scout Mike Mondoux banged the table for Chad since the first time he saw him last year,” said IceRays Head Coach Brad Flynn. “He has a quiet confidence about himself and is a very good positional goalie. Mike Chiasson works with him during the year with the Penguins Elite U18, and he raved about his ability to stay calm in high pressure situations. I feel very confident moving forward with Chad for years to come.”
“He’s considered one of the top goaltenders in all of midget hockey,” said IceRays Director of Scouting Mike Mondoux. “He has yet to lose a Tier 1 Elite game this year. Chad plays with great confidence. He has a very calm demeanor both on and off the ice. He challenges shooters with appropriate depth, depending on shooter position. He has the ability to limit rebounds and always battles to make the second saves.”
A tender contract is an agreement that reserves the playing rights to a prospective player for the upcoming 2017-18 season in NAHL play and adds the player automatically to the 30-man protected list. Each team begins the season with ten tender contracts, barring any trade agreements, which became active on November 1. Tendered players are not eligible for the NAHL draft and cannot be recruited by other NAHL teams. Veltri is the first player to sign a tender for the 2017-18 season.
During his small stint with the IceRays, Veltri gained a taste of the NAHL both on and off the ice, which can be a large transition coming from midget hockey to the junior level. The positive experience and result has the netminder excited to join the red, black and gold next season.
“It was a great experience to get a taste of where I’m going to be playing next year and to feel what it’s like to play in that league as well as know what it takes to perform in that league,” said Veltri. “The intensity and the skill level of the players is completely different. It’s a lot faster paced in the league.
“And I can’t wait to be down there in front of all those fans. The IceRays have the best crowds, and I’m really excited to play in front of the fans.”
The IceRays return to the American Bank Center on Friday, Nov. 18 at 7:05 p.m. to continue their season series with the Lone Star Brahmas. Season memberships for the 2016-17 season are still available with full and partial season plans. 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), Snapchat (@goicerays), and Periscope (@goicerays).