By: Suzanne Freeman
The IceRays have more than a new coach this season. They have a whole new attitude that coach Brad Flynn and General Manager Pat Dunn say will put the Corpus Christi hockey team back on top of the ice.
After a stint two years ago as assistant coach for the IceRays, Flynn returns to the team as its leader. Dunn has nothing but praise for the 31-year-old, who just signed a three-year contract with the team.
“We haven’t made the playoffs two of the last three years. The year we did, Flynn was part of the team,” Dunn said. “He’s young, he’s eager, he’s got a great future ahead of him.”
A Canadian, Flynn worked last year as assistant coach for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He was assistant coach for the IceRays during the 2014-15 season, helping lead the team to the junior franchise’s best regular season record: 31-24-5. The IceRays also made an appearance in the Robertson Cup Playoffs.
Flynn brings a new style of play to the game that Dunn said will put the IceRays back in the running for a possible title while providing more opportunities for players to showcase their talents.
“That’s what these boys need to play,” said Dunn, who invented the term “heart attack hockey” to describe the more uptempo game now dominating ice rinks around the world. “If we hold them back and play a more conservative style of hockey, we are shortchanging them.”
Flynn has his own terminology for how to build a winning team, something he calls OWE: Out Work Everyone.
“I want the team to outwork me and to outwork the guys beside them,” Flynn told Corpus Christi Business News. “Hard work is the basis of our program and our culture. We strive to be good people and hard workers.”
Calling the team a powerhouse off the ice by virtue of its involvement in the community, Flynn pledged to “get the on-ice to where the off-ice is.”
The IceRays have been active volunteers in the community since the team came to town 19 years ago. Corpus Christi returns the love, consistently putting the IceRays in first place in attendance among the league’s 24 teams. As the main tenant in the American Bank Center, the IceRays draw more than 3,000 spectators a game, which adds up to more than 100,000 attendees each year.
“Everybody throughout the hockey world knows who the IceRays are, primarily because of the tremendous fan support we get,” Flynn said. “When I tell people about the organization, they can’t believe the amount of support we get.”
Flynn has set himself three main jobs as a coach: team success, individual player success and audience entertainment.
“We want to make sure we have an entertaining team — an uptempo, exciting team,” he said. “When you see an IceRays game, we want you to feel like you’ve had a great night of entertainment.”
With that in mind, the American Bank Center has brought in new talent to choreograph the music and movie clips for the team’s big screen. The goal is to keep fans on their feet during the few minutes of downtime on the ice.
So while Flynn and the team strive for first place on the ice, Dunn said he plans to work hard bringing people to the arena to keep the IceRay’s top attendance ranking. This year, league changes have provided an extra challenge in that arena as well.
“This year, the Shreveport Mudbugs have joined our league,” he said. “They are going to give us a run for our money in attendance.”
Opening weekend for the Corpus Christi IceRays is Oct. 14-15. On Friday, Oct. 14, when the IceRays take on the Odessa Jackalopes, the first 1,000 fans will receive a free magnetized season schedule. On Saturday, Oct. 15, is Childhood Cancer Awareness Night, benefitting Brooke’s Blossoms for Childhood Cancer.
To become a season-ticket holder or to buy individual game tickets, visit goicerays.com or call (361) 814-7825 (PUCK). Tickets range from $9-$22. The IceRays play home games at the American Bank Center, 1901 N. Shoreline Blvd. in Corpus Christi.