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CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – The Corpus Christi IceRays, proud members of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), are proud to announce the signing of defenseman Kaelan Taylor of the Los Angeles Jr. Kings U18 in the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League (T1EHL) to a tender contact for the 2017-18 season.

“I’m really excited to be part of the IceRays organization,” said Taylor. “I’m really looking forward to having the opportunity to play at a higher level and make the next step in my hockey career.”

Taylor, 18, played 32 games with the Jr. Kings U18 during the 2016-17 season, recording four goals and five assists for nine points with 10 penalty minutes and two power play goals. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound defenseman has logged two seasons with the Jr. Kings organization, recording seven goals and nine assists for 16 points with 24 penalty minutes and four power play goals through 64 games between the U16 and U18 rosters. Taylor was also a member of the 2016 USA Hockey Select U17 Development Camp in Amherst, N.Y., playing five games with Team Columbia.

The Oceanside, Calif. native was a product of a growing hockey culture in Southern California, learning the game on the ice rather than in the streets of his hometown and joining a rising number of West Coast players like Jayson DiMizio (Goleta) and Conor Yawney (Anaheim) seeing appearances on the IceRays roster. While ice hasn’t been as large of an issue as his East Coast counterparts, Taylor will be on the younger side as a 1999 birth year. He doesn’t see this as a disadvantage but as a way to grow his game from junior veterans and to continue his development as a player.

“I’m going to be newer to the league, but at the same time it’s a good opportunity to learn from older players, gaining their knowledge and wisdom. The Kings did a lot of work stressing puck movement and keeping a physical presence as a defenseman. I worked a lot with our defense coach getting the right positioning and mentality of a junior hockey player to get that pass-first idea and solidifying that to make it to a junior roster this coming year.”

“I saw Kaelan play in the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League and also at the California Prospects Camp,” said Mike Mondoux, IceRays Director of Scouting. “He has improved his game throughout the whole year. Kaelan has tremendous poise and hockey sense on the ice with great agility for his size. He’s a solid all-around defenseman. Kaelan will bring stability to our defensive core next year as well as great character and excellent grades off the ice.”

Taylor becomes the ninth player and fifth defenseman to be tendered by the IceRays for the 2017-18 season. He joins defenseman Christian Dahl of the St. Louis AAA Selects (NAPHL), forwards John Moncovich and Brandon Osmundson of the Hampton Roads Whalers (USPHL), goaltender Chad Veltri of the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite U18 (T1EHL), defenseman Chris Wilkie of the Omaha AAA Lancers 16U (NAPHL), and forward Bud Winter of the St. Louis AAA Blues U18 (T1EHL). With a similar climate and joining a developing environment, Taylor has no reservations with the IceRays for next season.

“I talked a lot with [Head Coach] Brad Flynn. There’s no complaints here. It’s a really good organization. They obviously care about developing players and moving on to better leagues and [NCAA] Division I schools. It helps that Corpus Christi isn’t too far from San Diego in being sunny and warm, so it’s a nice, similar environment from what I grew up with.”

Rise with the IceRays and get ready for next season with a 2017-18 IceRays Season Membership. Call the IceRays at 361-814-PUCK to reserve your seat for next season. In addition, stay connected with the IceRays on Facebook (/CorpusChristiIceRays), Twitter (@goicerays), YouTube (IceRays TV), Instagram (CorpusChristiIceRays), Snapchat (@goicerays), and Periscope (@goicerays).