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RYAN BENNETT ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT, JOINS RAYS STAFF

Former Corpus Christi IceRays forward Ryan Bennett has officially retired from professional hockey, and will join the IceRays as the club’s new Director of Scouting, General Manager, Pat Dunn announced on Tuesday.  Bennett becomes the second former IceRays player to retire and join the team’s front office this off-season, joining Assistant Coach and Director of Hockey Operations, Justin Quenneville.  For more information, please call the IceRays office at 361.814.PUCK, or visit their new website at www.goicerays.com.   

Bennett, 28, closes the books on a terrific pro career that spanned six seasons, and saw stints in the CHL, UHL, ECHL, and the AHL.  The close to his career came in Corpus Christi, where he helped the IceRays reach the playoffs in each of the last two seasons.  The Glens Falls, NY native played in all but one game over the last two years for the IceRays, amassing 110 points (35g, 75a) in 127 games.  While his stay in South Texas was only two years, Corpus Christi was always in Bennett’s long term plans once he arrived.  The city has been his year-round home since the summer of 2008 when he signed as a free agent, and started his own real estate business.  He has remained working in the industry while playing hockey, and is currently a realtor for Keller Williams.  Bennett said that even though staying in Corpus Christi was never in question, the chance to remain a part of the IceRays was a tremendous opportunity, and something he is very excited about.

“I am excited about the opportunity to stay involved in hockey and to help build a Championship Team in Corpus Christi in the years to come” said Bennett.

Bennett’s role with the team will consist of scouting and recruiting new players for Corpus Christi.  He will travel throughout North America, attending player showcase camps and visiting with coaches and players in an effort to help build the IceRays roster.  His background makes him an ideal fit, having played both junior and collegiate hockey, including time in the NAHL.  Dunn said that Bennett’s experience and knowledge of the game will pay huge dividends for the IceRays. 

“We are very excited about Ryan joining our team,” said Dunn.  “He is the perfect fit for us because of his background and his ties to the levels and players we’re looking at.  On top of that, he wants Corpus Christi to be his permanent home, and his other jobs give him the flexibility to travel and attend several hockey showcases across the country."

Quenneville, who made a similar transition earlier this summer, knew the type of asset Bennett was on the ice, and is confident that will carry over to his new role.

“Having Benny join our team shows a commitment level from the ownership group and proves that we will do what it takes to build a winning team,” said Quenneville.

On Tuesday, the IceRays also announced two other front office additions, welcoming Rudy Rosas and Franky Mendez as sales executives.  The IceRays additionally announced that they are still looking for billet families to house players for the 2010-2011 season. 

ICERAYS TRIM ROSTER TO 22 AFTER FIRST CAMP

The Corpus Christi IceRays have trimmed their roster to 22 players, and are still active in adding to their club following their inaugural training camp last weekend, General Manager Pat Dunn announced on Thursday.  Last Friday – Sunday in North Texas, the IceRays held their first ever NAHL Training Camp, as the club prepares for their first season in a new league.  22 players made the cut, and will now join new additions over the next month before convening in Corpus Christi at the end of August for a final camp.  For more information please call the IceRays at 361.814.PUCK or visit them online at www.goicerays.com.

After reviewing 80 players who attended the camp, IceRays Head Coach Brent Hughes, Assistant Coach Justin Quenneville, and Dunn have cut the roster down while they continue to finalize their team for September’s start to the season.  The IceRays coaching staff was excited with what they saw in their first look.

“Our first camp was a true success,” said Quenneville, who was primarily responsible for setting up the event.  “Brent (Hughes) and I were extremely impressed with the level of talent.  We are both very excited for the start of our training camp in Corpus Christi at the end of August.”

Among those who impressed at the camp were players who were acquired from the former Alpena IceDiggers in conjunction with the IceRays taking over the franchise’s rights.  Forwards Brandon Marshall and Sam Cheraso, and defensemen Jason Souva and Kyle Hughes are all Alpena returners who performed well in camp to remain on the roster.  They join Ben Hughes, who was recently acquired via a trade with Wenatchee.  New faces to the franchise include Beau Walker, Jake Diamond, and Alaskan-born brothers Phoenix and Navaronne Copley.  Big, power forward Josh Munford also caught the attention of the coaches and scouts present at the camp.

With 22 talented players making it through the opening audition, the IceRays are pleased with their foundation.  However, Hughes said that there is still much to do in the last two months of the off-season.  “We saw from camp that we have a strong nucleus to work with,” said Hughes.  “But we still have a few pieces missing.  (Quenneville) and I are confident that we will find the right players to fill those voids before the beginning of the Corpus camp.” 

Options for the IceRays to add to their roster before the season starts can come via trade, free-agency signing, or picking up unsigned players from other North American major junior hockey leagues.  NAHL rules stipulate the club’s roster size be no larger than 25 by the start of the season on September 15th, and then an additional cut down to 23 players by October 1st. 

In the interim, the IceRays view their first NAHL camp as a big success.  “We all were very impressed with the size, skill level, and intensity of the players at the camp,” said Dunn.  “We can’t wait to get them and some other hungry players down to South Texas, and let the best players form an IceRays team that will take this league by storm.”

ICERAYS HOST TRAINING CAMP IN IRVING

The Corpus Christi IceRays began their NAHL Training Camp at the Dr. Pepper StarCenter in Valley Ranch in Irving, Texas on Friday morning.  80 players from throughout North America, and one European player are trying to make the inaugural IceRays NAHL squad.  IceRays Head Coach Brent Hughes, Assistant Coach Justin Quenneville, General Manager Pat Dunn, and former IceRays player and NAHL alum Ryan Bennett are among those attending the camp.  The three-day camp continued through Sunday, when the IceRays begin making cuts to trim their roster.  For more information, please call the IceRays office at 361.814.PUCK, or visit their new website at www.goicerays.com.   

The IceRays training camp gives the team a look at talented 17-20 year olds from around the globe.  In addition to international players from Canada and Latvia, players from places like Alaska, Florida, and several homegrown products from the Lone-Star State are competing.  On Sunday morning the IceRays made their first cut, dropping their roster size to 40 players.  That afternoon, the remaining players scrimmaged and the following week, the IceRays will make another cut to 30 players.  NAHL rules stipulate the club’s roster size be no larger than 25 by the start of the season on September 15th, and then an additional cut to 23 players by October 1st.  The players who make this weekend’s cuts will attend a second camp in Corpus Christi during the first week of September, and additional new players are still available to sign through free agency.

Dunn said, upon seeing the players on Friday morning, that he was extremely excited about the talent available.  “I think people are going to be very happy with what they see,” he said.  “I knew these players would be good, but their size is really impressive too.  Several of the players in camp are 6’4” or bigger, and they’re hungry and tough.  They all want to come to Corpus Christi so badly, and they’re leaving everything out there, competing nonstop.  When the season starts, the IceRays are going to be a big, talented, hard-working team that people will have a lot of fun watching.”

NEW THIS SEASON: THE Q ZONE

The Corpus Christi IceRays are offering a new partnership opportunity this season for individuals and businesses during the 2010-2011 season.

The Q zone is for individuals or business that wish to purchase a seat for the 2010-2011 season with their name on the seat for the whole season. These seats will be donated to local nonprofit organizations, community events, schools hospitals etc. For each seat (individual purchasing it) will receive the opportunity to donate 100 tickets to a specific game to sit in this section. This is a great way to be involved in the community and advertize your business at the same time. Fee is $250.00 for the season for each seat ( these seats are not season ticket seats but sponsored donated ticket seat).

 

Corpus Christi IceRays hockey returns for a brand new season in September.  Don’t miss the action of IceRays hockey as they enter one of the top developmental leagues in the country.  For more information on tickets, sponsorships, and scheduling, please call the IceRays at 361.814.PUCK or visit them online at www.goicerays.com.

ICERAYS UNVEIL SCHEDULE, NEW WEBSITE

The Corpus Christi IceRays announced their 2010-2011 regular season schedule for the team’s first year of play in the North American Hockey League (NAHL) on Tuesday morning.  The IceRays 58-game schedule will begin on Wednesday, September 15vs. the Traverse City North Stars.  The IceRays first home game will be played at the American Bank Center on Friday, October 1when they host the Wichita Falls Wildcats.  All game times will be announced in the near future.  On Tuesday the IceRays also unveiled their new website as part of the team’s move to the NAHL.  Fans can visit the new site at www.goicerays.com or call the IceRays at 361.814.PUCK for more information on the team’s schedule and the upcoming season.

The IceRays will kick off their inaugural season in the NAHL on September 15 as part of the Eighth Annual NAHL Showcase, held in Blaine, Minnesota.  All 26 NAHL teams will play four regular season games as part of the event.  The IceRays will face off against Traverse City, Chicago, Owatonna, and Dawson Creek.  While the Showcase provides the IceRays a chance to square off against competition from around the NAHL, the remainder of the schedule will be spent solidifying new rivalries for Corpus Christi.  The IceRays will square off against division rivals Amarillo, New Mexico, Wichita Falls, and Texas (Frisco) a dozen times each, with six home games and six road games.  They also will evenly split a six-game season series with Topeka, rounding out the clubs that form the NAHL’s South Division.  The IceRays regular season concludes on Sunday, March 27 at the American Bank Center when the IceRays host the New Mexico Mustangs.    

The IceRays will play 27 home games, 27 road games, and four neutral site games.  Their season long home and road trips come early in the campaign.  Starting with their first ever home game in the NAHL on October 1, the IceRays open up a year-long, five-game home stand.  The following month, from November 12-28, the Rays will be on a seven-game road trip.  The entire schedule can be found online at the new IceRays website www.goicerays.com.   

WIN A TRIP TO LAS VEGAS!

The Corpus Christi IceRays are launching a new promotion for our season ticket holders.

To enter, for every full season ticket purchased for the Corpus Christi IceRays 2010-2011 Season, your name will be entered into the drawing.  One name will be chosen at random in late December 2010.  The more you buy, the better chance you have of winning!  To find out how to increase your chance of winning, contact your IceRays Season Ticket Representative at 361.814.PUCK [PUCK].

Prize includes a round trip flight in a private jet, 3 day/2 night accomodations, limo pick-up and drop-off to and from Corpus Christi and Las Vegas Airports. 

Must be 21 or older to win.  Tickets must be payed in full.

BECOME A PART OF THE EXPERIENCE, HOUSE A PLAYER

As we embark on the 2010-2011 season and expectations run high, we are gratified that so many of our IceRays families are willing to open their homes to the Corpus Christi IceRays players as Billet families. The Billet family is an integral part of our organization, and without their efforts, our club would not be successful!

Billet families invite these IceRays players into their homes to be a part of their family for eight months out of the year. In turn the players, age 16-20, take part in many aspects of normal family life with their billets, from family meals to taking on active "big brother" roles at times with their younger billet brothers and sisters in their homes away from home.

A vital factor in accomplishing that goal is assigning players to Billet families who serve as authority figures, role models, and extended family to their assigned player. The efforts of the Billet families make a significant difference in the lives of the young men who have left their homes and families to pursue a dream. In our past experience we've seen players show dramatic changes in their confidence level, grade point averages, social graces, behavior, work ethic, relationship to others, and so much more. The benefit derived from placing the players with Billet families is truly immeasurable.

The unique bonds your family will form with the player(s) you house will last a lifetime. It is not uncommon for players, years after their time in the league, to keep in close contact with their former Billet family: keeping them informed of their collegiate, professional and family lives and, in many cases, even inviting their former billets to their weddings!

The management and staff of the Corpus Christi IceRays greatly appreciate those considering serving as a Billet family for the upcoming season. The information below documents the benefits and responsibilities involved in serving as a Billet family. Closer to the start of the season, each Billet family will be provided with the "Rules and Regulations" section of the player's contract to ensure that they know exactly what we're expecting of our players during their time with us.

Thank you for taking the time to read the following information and considering the opportunity to change the life of a young man. Please feel free to contact Director of Billeting Shelly Bram by phone at (361)774-4540 or by email shelly_bram@yahoo.com if you have questions or need further information. After reviewing the information, if you want to pursue the possibility of billeting a player, please complete the form that is included in this information and submit to the IceRays attention Jim Carl either by fax (361)980-0003, email jcarl@goicerays.com or by mail 1901 N. Shoreline Blvd suite 300 Corpus Christi, Texas 78401.

Click here for more information

Click here for an application

GET TO KNOW THE NAHL

The North American Hockey League, the only USA Hockey-sanctioned Tier II Junior A league boasting 25 teams from across North America, prides itself on the social maturity and skill development of student-athletes ages 16-20 with aspirations of advancing to collegiate and/or professional hockey. Last season alone, over 100 players with NAHL ties made commitments to NCAA institutions to further their athletic and academic careers, while 15 others with NAHL experience were selected in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Hundreds of NAHL alumni are making an impact on the ice in the collegiate ranks, while hundreds of others are playing professionally, including 2008 NHL Rookie of the Year Patrick Kane.

EVENTS
In addition to its 58-game regular season, the NAHL captures the attention of the entire hockey community throughout the year with a number of high-profile events which draw unparalleled fan and scout participation.
• Showcase Tournament: September’s Showcase Tournament, which highlights all 25 NAHL teams, is held in the Minneapolis suburb of Blaine, Minn., and attracts over 9,000 in attendance and over 200 professional, college and junior scouts.
• Future Prospects Tournament: From its modest beginnings four years ago, the Future
Prospects Tournament, which boasts many of the top Midget and Bantam programs in the country, has evolved into one of the most prestigous scouting events.
• Top Prospects Tournaments: Another prime scouting attraction, the two Top Prospects
Tournaments showcase players from each of the NAHL’s four divisions in a three-game round-robin event.
• Robertson Cup Championship Tournament: Champions of the league’s four divisions,
along with the host team, converge to play for the Robertson Cup Championship, which crowns the NAHL playoff champion and USA Hockey’s Tier II Junior A national champion.

CORPORATE & COMMUNITY SUPPORT
In addition to well over a half a million in annual total attendance, the NAHL has a captive audience of over 2,000 junior and midget-aged athletes and their families.

In individual markets, NAHL teams offer affordable, family entertainment with a professional
presentation of the highest level of amateur hockey.

At the league level, the NAHL is driven by strong corporate support, highlighted by a number of equipment suppliers and a recruiting placement service, all for the betterment of its student-athletes.

The NAHL offers a wide variety of corporate visibility options through multimedia channels
such as radio, television, broadband, print, in-arena and Internet properties, supported
by a marketing staff committed to helping its partners achieve their goals while raising the visibility of the only Tier II Junior A league in the U.S.

CLICK HERE FOR A FULL NAHL MAP

NAHL WELCOMES CORPUS CHRISTI

FRISCO, TEXAS – The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced that its Board of Governors has approved the transfer of ownership of the Alpena IceDiggers membership and its relocation to Corpus Christi, Texas, for the 2010-11 season.

The team will play its home games out of the 7,400-seat AmericanBank Center in Corpus Christi.

"Not only is Corpus Christi an ideal fit for our league, geographically, but it's also home to a first-class facility and passionate hockey fans," said NAHL commissioner Mark Frankenfeld. "What's more, it's backed by a local ownership group and management team that are committed to both the players' and community's success."

Pat Dunn, who boasts varied experiences in hockey both as a player and in the front office, is excited that hockey will remain in Corpus Christi, Texas.

"We couldn't be happier to be a part of the North American Hockey League and everything it has to offer its fans, players and respective communities," said Dunn. "Corpus Christi is a great hockey town and we're excited to showcase some of the best young players in the world as they work their way to the collegiate and professional ranks."

Corpus Christi is now the fourth NAHL team to call Texas home, joining the yet-to-be named Amarillo club, which was introduced to the league last week, the Texas Tornado and Wichita Falls Wildcats.

"The addition of Amarillo and now Corpus Christi bolsters our already strong presence in the Southwest and creates even more exciting rivalries for our fans and our players," said Frankenfeld. "All four of these markets are supported by tremendous ownership groups who are committed to seeing hockey flourish in the Lone Star State."

The IceDiggers, who were owned by Stephen Marks of the Alpena IceDiggers Corporation, played five seasons in Alpena after relocating from Toledo, Ohio, after the 2004-05 season.

In Alpena, the IceDiggers qualified for the playoffs three times – their best season came in 2006-07 when they fashioned a 37-20-5 record, good for 79 points and a second-place finish in the NAHL's North Division – and moved over 30 players onto NCAA programs.

ICERAYS STAR JUSTIN QUENNEVILLE RETIRES

Former Corpus Christi IceRays forward Justin Quenneville announced his retirement from pro hockey and his transition into the world of coaching on Tuesday afternoon.  He will remain with the IceRays for his first post-playing position and assume the role of Assistant Coach/Director of Hockey Operations for the new NAHL franchise.  Quenneville will serve alongside IceRays Head Coach, Brent Hughes and General Manager, Pat Dunn for the upcoming season.  The IceRays recently announced their move to the NAHL – a Tier II Junior A league, and will begin the 2010-2011 season of play in September.  Quenneville will be in the IceRays office on Tuesday afternoon from 1-3pm for local media members who would like a comment from the new coach.     

Quenneville, 28, closes the chapter on one of the most successful playing careers in IceRays history.  He spent four of his six professional seasons in Corpus Christi, and leaves the games as the franchise’s all-time leader in points and assists, and second in games played.  He totaled 255 points (96g, 159a) in 234 IceRays regular season games.  Overall in his career, Quenneville amassed 321 points (125g, 196a) in 337 games.  His on-ice career was highlighted by two CHL All-Star selections, and a MVP finalist nomination in 2006-2007 when he led the IceRays in scoring, while posting career highs in goals, assists, and penalty minutes.  He also reached new heights off the ice in Corpus Christi, being named the CHL Man of the Year last season. 

Quenneville’s move into coaching will be his first full-time position in such a capacity, but it hardly comes without experience as a leader.  Quenneville served as both a player/assistant coach and captain of the IceRays in each of the last two seasons.  He was able to guide the club to the post-season in both campaigns.  Additionally, twice in his career, he’s served as a bench coach for his team during an injury absence, including last season with the Rays when he was sidelined briefly.  Quenneville said that while the close of his playing career is somewhat bittersweet, he is excited for the move into coaching.

“My family has a long history of both playing and coaching,” said Quenneville.  “Before I even started my pro career, I remember being told that one day – whenever it came – I’d know when I was ready to make the change from a player to coach.  I didn’t know at that time when that would be, but it was something I always knew I would look forward to when it came.  I knew the time was right for me now, and I am really looking forward to this opportunity.

“I look at my career, and I’m happy with how it played out,” Quenneville continued.  “I was fortunate enough to be put into situations where I could be successful.  I have a lot of wonderful memories that I’ll never forget, and I can take pride in the fact that I worked hard every night, and always gave my best.  I plan on continuing that into the next phase of my career.”      

After the IceRays departed the CHL for the NAHL earlier this summer, Quenneville became a highly-touted commodity among various teams and leagues, and received several inquiries from clubs who wanted to sign him.  He said that while he still feels like he can play at a high level, the chance to remain in Corpus Christi as part of the IceRays organization was an opportunity that trumped any other.

“When I think about my career, I feel that it was defined by being part of the IceRays, and part of Corpus Christi,” Quenneville said.  “When I got to Corpus Christi four years ago, I said that building something in this organization and in this city was my ultimate goal.  I have such incredible memories here of the fans, the community, and the team.  This isn’t just a place where I stopped to play hockey.  It’s become my home.  Several years from now, wherever I am in my career, I’ll still consider this my home.  I can’t thank the organization, the fans and everybody in Corpus enough for their support over the years.  It’s meant everything to me.  To have the chance to stay here, and stay involved in hockey, is a dream come true.  I feel so fortunate to be able to do what I love to do, in a place I love to be.  This feels more like a beginning than an end to me.  I can’t ask for anything more.”

The Montreal, Quebec native was a fan favorite over the last four seasons, even winning the Most Popular IceRay award last year.  Dunn said that Quenneville remaining with the team is evidence of just how strong the relationship is between the star player and the South Texas community.

“We all know that Justin could’ve gone pretty much anywhere he wanted to this summer,” said Dunn.  “The fact that he’s staying in Corpus Christi shows just how much a part of this team his is, and will continue to be.  In Justin we have not just a terrific person, but also a terrific hockey mind.  Someone who will be a great teacher, a great mentor and a great role model for the players we bring to the IceRays.  I can’t think of a better person to help us move into a new league than a guy who has engrained himself in the community the way Justin has.  We’re very lucky to have him, and anyone who has met him over the last four years knows just how lucky we are.”  

Quenneville’s responsibilities with the IceRays will consist of both on and off the ice work.  He’ll be a full-time assistant coach, play a vital role in recruiting, organizing prospect camps, and overseeing many aspects of the team relative to the community.

Quenneville added that style of play and talent in the NAHL also played a factor in his decision.  “As much as I knew I wanted to eventually break into coaching, I also knew it had to be the right situation,” said Quenneville.  “During the past decade that I’ve been playing hockey in the U.S., I’ve seen the talent level of junior hockey skyrocket.  The players that will be coming here will be at the most crucial point of their hockey playing lives.  They’ll have a chance to be discovered by people at the pro level and the collegiate level, and it’s a chance for them to build their futures.  That’s one of the things I’m most excited about – to be part of that building and teaching process, and helping these kids grow in one of the top developmental leagues in the country.  I think the fans are going to love the style and talent of this team, and I can’t wait to get started.” 

Corpus Christi IceRays hockey returns for a brand new season in a brand new league in September.  Don’t miss the action of IceRays hockey as they enter one of the top developmental leagues in the country.  For more information on tickets, sponsorships, and scheduling, please call the IceRays at 361.814.PUCK or visit them online at www.goicerays.com.