Tag Archives: news

BRADY CRABTREE COMMITS TO HAMLINE UNIVERSITY

CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – The Corpus Christi IceRays of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) are proud to announce the commitment of forward Brady Crabtree to Hamline University, a NCAA Division III program in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC), for the 2016-17 season.

“It’s just a huge relief,” said Crabtree on his commitment. “I’ve been trying to figure it out for a long time. My parents helped me a lot in deciding it all. It’s just a relief knowing where I’m going to be for the next four years.”

Crabtree, 21, concluded his junior hockey career with the IceRays, playing 18 games since being acquired in a trade on February 3 from the Amarillo Bulls and recording two goals and three assists for five points with one shorthanded goal. The St. Louis, Mizz. native was no stranger to the South Division, playing his entire NAHL career between the Bulls and IceRays, recording 17 goals and 15 assists for 32 points with 146 penalty minutes, three power play goals, and one shorthanded goals. Crabtree played his 100th NAHL game on April 7 in a 4-1 road loss to the Wichita Falls Wildcats. 82 of his 100 NAHL games came with the Bulls. Over his 129-game junior career, he earned 23 goals and 22 assists for 35 points with five power play goals and one shorthanded goal.

The 6-foot, 195-pound center first came out of the St. Louis Amateur Blues U18 program of the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League (T1EHL) in 2013-14 after three seasons to join the Sicamous Eagles of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) for the first 28 games, earning 13 points before moving to the Salmon Arm Silverbacks of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) for a short stint and then returning to the T1EHL with St. Louis. The following season, he earned a place with Amarillo in the NAHL, and his game altered with the change in style.

“I really didn’t plan to change my game. What worked for me in the past was what I was going to keep doing, but the speed was different, and to survive in the South Division you had to be more physical. I couldn’t skate around everyone like I used to, so I had to start running people over.”

The South Division is notorious for playing closer to a minor professional level: tough, physical, and gritty. The elevation in that aspect of Crabtree’s game led to a strong fit for the forward within the system, helping him to his most productive season from a points perspective, totalling 13 goals and six assists for 19 points through 49 games. It did lead to more penalty minutes (92), but soon the name “Crabtree” was synonymous with that style of game throughout the division. Leading into his second season, his presence became apparent around the locker room with helping others transition and improve their game, eventually solidifying himself with becoming one of the team’s alternate captains.

“I had a good first year, and I knew the possibility going into the second year that I would get that opportuinity. Even with the coaching changes, I’d have a chance to do that being a verteran player coming back. Starting from training camp, I just kind of embraced it.”

These traits, along with his continued persistence as a physical, aggressive forward along the boards and in the faceoff circle led to the IceRays acquiring Crabtree right before the NAHL Trade Deadline. The move came as a shock across the board, but the role he developed over two seasons became a peak interest and a need for a team fighting for a playoff spot in the same division. The familiarity continued to help grow his game, something he knew the league could help with in his transition to collegiate play.

“I think it made my overall game better. College hockey is going to be the same way. I think the South Division especially, but the NAHL in general, developed me as a player a lot and will help my game in college more so than less physical leagues.”

“Hamline is not only getting a great young man but also a real warrior,” said IceRays general manager Pat Dunn. “Brady played his heart out for us the minute we got him in the trade. He played through some pretty serious injuries but never gave up and refused to sit out. He’s the real deal. Coaches never get enough of guys like Brady. He also excels in the faceoff circle, therefore he will be key in critical situations for his new team.”

Crabtree joins a competitive Hamline Pipers program in the MIAC for next season and will be in good company with numerous IceRays and NAHL alumni. The Pipers made the MIAC Playoffs despite falling to eventual champion Augsburg College in the second round. The program saw three players named to the D3Hockey.com Team Honors, two were named ACHA Division III Men’s Hockey West Division All-Americans, and one was named MIAC Player of the Year. Notable names within the conference include Joe Chitwood (‘13-’15), Matt Colford (‘14-’15) and Connor Kelly (‘13-’15) at Saint John’s University, Jon Grebosky (‘11-’13) at Concordia College, and John Roisum (‘12-’13) and Ben Myers (‘12-’14) at the University of St. Thomas.

The program wasn’t the only element that attracted Crabtree. It was also a former teammate that tipped him off to the idea.

“My captain from Amarillo my first year, Mitch McPherson, was egging me on to go for a visit at least,” said Crabtree. “I started talking to the coach and really liked Coach Cory [Laylin], what he had to say about the program, and his goals for the next four years. He took me on a tour, and I loved how everything was close, right in the Twin Cities.”

Crabtree is the eighth member of the 2015-16 IceRays squad and seventh active player to make a NCAA commitment, joining Michael Bevilacqua (Canisius College), Nathan Bryer (Mercyhurst University), Adam Canepa (University of New England), Carter Johnson (Miami University), Cody Lichtenvoort (Buffalo State College), and Jimmy O’Brien (Colorado College). Canepa, Crabtree, Lichtenvoort, Johnson, and O’Brien all committed during the 2015-16 season. In total, 66 players have moved on to NCAA programs in the last six seasons with 25 joining NCAA Division I programs and 41 on NCAA Division III teams.

From the bus trips and hotels to playing in front of home crowds to time outside of the rink, the memories Crabtree retains are the best times with his teammates throughout his junior career. And in Corpus Christi, more specifically, knowing he had a welcoming place in seemingly hostile territory made the end of his career that much more enjoyable.

“I came in late, and I’d never been through a trade. I didn’t know what to expect, and before I knew I was on the team that a lot of guys probably hated me there. There were all very welcoming, and it made [the trade] really easy for me to jump on to a new team and get on the ship.”

Full and partial full season memberships for the 2016-17 IceRays season are on sale now! 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), Vine (@goicerays), and Periscope (@goicerays).

2016-17 SEASON TICKET MEMBERSHIPS ON SALE NOW

CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – Season ticket memberships are now available for the 2016-17 Corpus Christi IceRays hockey season starting today at the IceRays Front Office.

IceRays Season Ticket Memberships provide access to the organization not available to outside patrons. In addition for a reserved seat for your selected 28 home games during the 2016-17 season at the American Bank Center, members gain access to exclusive player, coach, and staff events including the year-opening and year-end IceRays banquets, meet the coaches and players events, and more. Fans with memberships also receive one (1) reserved parking pass for every game for the season ticket holder’s lot, first renewal rights for the 2017-18 season, first round playoff tickets for the 2017 Robertson Cup Playoffs, discounts at the Official IceRays Team Store, and more.

This season, the IceRays are happy to announce that prices will not increase, meaning that basic full season memberships start at just $39.99 per month after down payment, and partial season memberships begin as low as $82.00 for the entire package. Children ages 12 and under receive discounted pricing and have range to sit around the American Bank Center at that same price.

To order your 2016-17 season membership, call the IceRays at 361-814-PUCK. For more information including full pricing and seating charts, click here.

Keep up with the IceRays all off-season long, and contact the IceRays Front Office at 361-814-PUCK or go to www.goicerays.com for details on season tickets along with pricing and seating. In addition, stay connected with the IceRays on Facebook (/CorpusChristiIceRays), Twitter (@goicerays), YouTube (IceRays TV), Instagram (CorpusChristiIceRays), Vine (@goicerays), and Periscope (@goicerays).

ICERAYS SELECT EIGHT PLAYERS IN 2016 NAHL DRAFT

CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – The Corpus Christi IceRays completed the 2016 NAHL Draft on Tuesday afternoon and now have their 31-man protected list heading into Main Camp in July. The event took two hours, 20 minutes for the IceRays to make all eight selections in this year’s field.

“On draft day, all teams feel they have the team to win the championship,” said IceRays general manager Pat Dunn. “Time will tell as there are many pieces to this puzzle. You’re drafting 18-year-old kids, and you hope they develop the way you think they will. It doesn’t always happen that way, but that’s what makes it fun. Having said that, we are happy with the players that we selected in this years draft.”

This year’s draft class consists of a strong balance of positioning, size and talent, adding four forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender to the IceRays protected list. All selections are invited to the 2016 IceRays Main Camp in July along with those that may not have been granted a selection.

“Going into the draft, we were looking to add some talent and some skill up front, and I think we did that definitely with our top selections,” said IceRays head scout Mike Mondoux, who helped lead the IceRays Draft Room along with Dunn and various members of the organization. “On the blue line, we’re looking to get bigger and stronger, and I think with all three defensemen we chose we did that as well as solidify our goaltending spot by bringing in one of the top goaltenders on the board.”

Prior to the NAHL Draft this afternoon, the IceRays acquired the 64th, 75th and 136th overall selections from the New Jersey Titans in exchange for the ninth overall selection. While the move removed a first round pick for the IceRays, it also filled a void in the third and fourth rounds due to acquisitions during the 2015-16 season, giving the IceRays picks from the second round to the eighth round with two selections in the sixth round.

David Thomson (‘97) of Vaughan, Ont. became the first selection as the 41st overall pick out of the Burlington Cougars of the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL). The 6-foot, 185-pound forward played 53 games last season, recording 22 goals and 39 assists for 61 points while finishing tied for 12th in the league in points. The 18-year-old averaged over one point per game in two seasons with the Cougars. He’s a highly-skilled, play-making center with great puck movement and a very strong compete level, filling a void left by another Canadian center from last season, Carter Johnson.

A familiar face returns to the IceRays conversation with the 64th overall pick in defenseman Logan Gestro (‘96) of South Lyon, Mich. After completing one season with the IceRays in 2014-15 and recording 25 points through 54 games, he was drafted by the Sioux City Musketeers of the United States Hockey League (USHL) and played 49 games, recording one goal and five assists for six points with 88 penalty minutes. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound NAHL veteran is the team’s reach pick with no guarantee of seeing him drop from the USHL, but if he does then the IceRays would find fortune in retaining his rights and aligning him on the blue line.

The IceRays selected another forward at 75th overall with David Baskerville (‘97) of the Buffalo Jr. Sabres of the OJHL. The Eden, N.Y. native was previously drafted 136th overall by the IceRays in 2015 and becomes the second player to be drafted in consecutive seasons at higher places. The 6-foot, 181-pound forward earned a point-per-game last season, recording 19 goals and 26 assists for 45 points with six power play goals through 45 games. He’s already committed to Canisius College, the same NCAA Division I program current defenseman Michael Bevilacqua will be attending, but his all-around skill and penalty kill strength could be a big impact in next year’s team.

Josh Tripp (‘98) of Swan River, Man. became the second-straight forward selected at 105th overall from the Swan Valley Stampeders of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL). The 5-foot-9, 165-pound forward is the third different player to be selected from the Stampeders, joining goaltender Graham Hunt and forward Carter Johnson from last season. In 55 games last year, Tripp earned 23 goals and 24 assists for 47 points with six power play goals, helping to earn him MJHL All-Rookie Team honors. While he may not be the largest forward, he makes up for that in playmaking ability and hockey sense with a proven track record of production throughout his development.

A shift back to a defenseman was made at the 129th overall pick with the selection of Adam Olson (‘98) out of Livonia Stevenson High School. The 6-foot-2, 181-pound defenseman is the only high school player to be drafted by the IceRays this season and the fourth over the last four seasons. The Livonia, Mich. native recorded six goals and 25 assists for 31 points through 28 games and has 41 points over his last two seasons. Olson’s strength was the most attractive asset in his arsenal, taking the body aggressively while also having upside offensively with a solid shot.

With the possibility of goaltender Dryden McKay staying in the USHL with Green Bay next season, the IceRays utilized one of their two sixth round selections to firm up Tomas Vomacka (‘99) of Trutnov, Hradec Králové, Czech Republic at 136th overall. The 6-foot-2, 165-pound goaltender is a young National Hockey League (NHL) potential prospect that has represented his home country in numerous events including the 2016 U18 IIHF Division I Group A World Junior Championship and the 2016 U17 Five Nations Tournament. With his club team, HC Hradec Králové U18, he recorded a 2.37 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in 28 games.

Another young player followed in the seventh round at 153rd overall with the selection of Christian Thomas (‘99) of the Northern Cyclones 16U out of the Eastern Junior Elite Prospects League (EJEPL). The 5-foot-9, 155-pound forward has already made his commitment to a NCAA Division I program, the University of Vermont. The Bloomingdale, N.Y. native earned 15 goals and 13 assists for 28 points through 16 games. He makes up for his size with speed and skill in order to put up points.

The final selection in this year’s draft came at 177th overall in Anthony Hora (‘98) from the Buffalo Jr. Sabres U18 of the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League (T1EHL). The 5-foot-10, 210-pound defenseman from Cheektowaga, N.Y. was the second Jr. Sabres product selected by the IceRays this year after recording 12 goals and 37 assists for 49 points with 30 penalty minutes through 74 games. Hora is another Buffalo product with leadership potential after being alternate captain this season. He also has a high hockey IQ and soft hands to make the right play when needed.

Listed below are all of the 2016 IceRays Draft Picks organized by round order:

2nd Round (41st overall): David Thomson (F) – Vaughan, ON, CAN – Burlington Cougars (OJHL)
3rd Round (64th overall): Logan Gestro (D) – South Lyon, MI – Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)
4th Round (75th overall): David Baskerville (F) – Eden, NY – Buffalo Jr. Sabres (OJHL)
5th Round (105th overall): Josh Tripp (F) – Swan River, MB, CAN – Swan Valley Stampeders (MJHL)
6th Round (129th overall): Adam Olson (D) – Livonia, MI – Livonia Stevenson HS
6th Round (136th overall): Tomas Vomacka (G) – Trutnov, CZE – HC Hradec Králové U18 (Czech)
7th Round (153rd overall): Christian Thomas (D) – Bloomingdale, NY – Northern Cyclones 16U (EJEPL)
8th Round (177th overall): Anthony Hora (D) – Cheektowaga, NY – Buffalo Jr. Sabres U18 (T1EHL)

Keep up with the IceRays all off-season long, and contact the IceRays Front Office at 361-814-PUCK or go to www.goicerays.com for details on season tickets along with pricing and seating. In addition, stay connected with the IceRays on Facebook (/CorpusChristiIceRays), Twitter (@goicerays), YouTube (IceRays TV), Instagram (CorpusChristiIceRays), Vine (@goicerays), and Periscope (@goicerays).

2016 NAHL DRAFT: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

BY: COLLIN SCHUCK
June 6, 2015

The next chapter in the Corpus Christi IceRays franchise has officially begun, and the focus now shifts to the future of the organization both on and off the ice with the 2016 NAHL Entry Draft tomorrow afternoon. In case you're new to the junior draft process, let's go through how the draft will be formatted.

The NAHL Draft is a maximum 30-round process that helps retool all 24 teams in the NAHL for the upcoming season. Much like the USHL and other junior leagues, there is no fixated number of rounds like professional drafts, only the number of rounds it takes for a team to reach 30 players combining protected lists, tenders, and the players drafted. Teams like the Northeast Generals and Shreveport Mudbugs, who are the league's two expansion franchises for the 2016-17 season, will need most of the available rounds to build their team from the ground up while most of the league will not need most selections.

Players that are 20 years old or younger on December 31, 2016 and have played less than ten (10) NAHL games in the 2015-16 season are eligible for the draft. This means that players that are born in 1996 or younger are eligible. For perspective, players like Carter Johnson and Drake Lindsay, who were born in 1995, would not be eligible for drafting if they were looking to continue their junior careers and had not been on a NAHL roster the previous year. On the other hand, if a player like Trevor Heuser, who was born in 1996, had not played more than 10 games last year, then he could be drafted by an organization.

Draft order is determined by the final league standings for the 2015-16 regular season with preference given to any expansion franchises. Unlike the NHL Entry Draft, a team’s success in the NAHL Playoffs does not determine draft placement, meaning that the regular season standings are what is looked to for order of selections. For instance, even though the Aston Rebels made the Robertson Cup Semi-Finals, they will not pick in the final four picks because their position at the end of the regular season was eighth. The first overall selection was decided by a coin flip by the NAHL.

The draft order lists as follows, with South Division teams labeled with an asterisk:

1. Northeast Generals (expansion)
2. Shreveport Mudbugs* (expansion)
3. Kenai River Brown Bears
4. Amarillo Bulls*
5. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights
6. Aberdeen Wings
7. Minnesota Magicians
8. Brookings Blizzard
9. Corpus Christi IceRays*
10. Odessa Jackalopes*
11. Austin Bruins
12. Springfield Jr. Blues
13. Johnstown Tomahawks
14. Coulee Region Chill
15. Topeka RoadRunners
16. New Jersey Titans
17. Aston Rebels
18. Minnesota Wilderness
19. Minot Minotauros
20. Janesville Jets
21. Bismarck Bobcats
22. Lone Star Brahmas*
23. Wichita Falls Wildcats*
24. Fairbanks Ice Dogs

After a disappointing 2015-16 campaign, the IceRays will select ninth in this year's draft. While this falls short of the team's farthest selection (14th in 2015), it is far from the team's lowest (3rd in 2014) while keeping them below mid-pack. This year, the IceRays have eight picks available after holding 22 players on the team's protected list in combination with tendered players and returning veterans. The hours leading up to and during the draft present numerous trade opportunities to jockey for positioning, and the IceRays have notably done this in the past. Last season, the IceRays traded for a 5th Round Pick with the Kenai River Brown Bears to select Regen Cavanagh, one of the team's best point-per-game players during 2015-16.

The IceRays made 13 selections in the 2015 NAHL Draft, and five of the first six picks were all impact players throughout the season. Goaltender Graham Hunt (49th overall) and forwards Brad Power (55th overall) and Carter Johnson (67th overall) were the first three picks all in the third round followed by forward Drake Lindsay (81st overall) in the fourth round and Regen Cavanagh (91st overall) in the fifth round. Hunt helped lead the IceRays back from the brink through the midway pole of the season with five-straight wins including four in five days, Power finished tied for second on the team in goals (13), Johnson committed to a NCAA Division I program in Miami University (OH) while leading the team in goals (16) and placing second in points (37), Lindsay led the way with 26 assists and 38 points, and Cavanagh shared the team lead in power play goals (6) and finished second in points-per-game (0.622) behind Lindsay (.679) while missing 15 games.

Coverage of the 2016 NAHL Draft begins Tuesday, June 7 at 12:45 p.m. on www.FASTHockey.com with live broadcast coverage provided by NAHL Director of Communications Alex Kyrias with the draft officially commencing at 1:00 p.m. All selections can also be seen live on www.NAHL.com for all 24 teams. The IceRays will have exclusive content and selections on Twitter (@goicerays) including every, information on each selection, and reactions. A full recap of the NAHL Draft will be released following the conclusion of the day’s events.


Collin Schuck is the Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations for the Corpus Christi IceRays. He can be contacted at cschuck@goicerays.com or on Twitter at @CollinDSchuck.

LAST CHANCE TO REGISTER FOR ICERAYS PRE-DRAFT CAMP

Today and tomorrow are the last days to send in registration for this weekend's 2016 Corpus Christi IceRays Pre-Draft Camp at The Ice Zone in Hazelwood, Mizz. The camp is a three-day event with four guaranteed games culminating in a Camp All-Star Game on Sunday and invites to the 2016 IceRays Main Camp in July.

Forward and defenseman spots are still available for this weekend for players still looking to get a look by the IceRays scouting staff prior to the 2016 North American Hockey League (NAHL) Draft one week from today. The IceRays advise pre-registering for the camp in order to make the registration process run smoother and more efficiently.

Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. on Friday, and each skater will be guaranteed four games not including the Camp All-Star Game, which will conclude the weekend. In total, 80 skaters (48 forwards, 24 defensemen, eight goaltenders) will take the ice on a first come, first serve basis. Players may be selected from this camp for main camp in July.

Registration for the camp is $300 payable by cash, check, or credit card. Payment must be made all at once and submitted prior to registration on June 3. Participants must also complete and return the registration form, consent to treat form, and international try-out notice (if applicable) along with the desired payment. All forms and information should be sent to predraftcamp@goicerays.com. The participant must make hotel accommodations individually. If there are any questions, please contact the IceRays Front Office at 361-814-7825.

For complete information including registration forms, click here.

The IceRays brand stands for more than just playing junior hockey. It represents a lifestyle both on and off the ice that prepares young men to become the next round of professional hockey players domestically and abroad as well as builds the foundation to become upstanding men in their respective communities and instills core values to enrich quality of life and personal character. The IceRays family extends beyond the Corpus Christi community and the sport of hockey

Keep up with the IceRays all off-season long, and contact the IceRays Front Office at 361-814-PUCK or go to www.goicerays.com for details on season tickets along with pricing and seating. In addition, stay connected with the IceRays on Facebook (/CorpusChristiIceRays), Twitter (@goicerays), YouTube (IceRays TV), Instagram (CorpusChristiIceRays), Vine (@goicerays), and Periscope (@goicerays).

CODY LICHTENVOORT COMMITS TO BUFFALO STATE COLLEGE

CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – The Corpus Christi IceRays of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) are proud to announce the commitment of defenseman Cody Lichtenvoort to Buffalo State College, a NCAA Division III program in the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC), for the 2016-17 season.

“I’m excited to go in there as a freshman and hopefully make the team better,” said Lichtenvoort on his commitment. “They had a pretty good season last year, but I hope coming in and being a younger guy and skilled defenseman will help on the back end.”

Lichtenvoort, 20, joined the IceRays on Dec. 18, 2015 in a trade with the Springfield Jr. Blues for the IceRays 2016 4th Round Pick and played 28 games for the organization, recording four goals and nine assists for 13 points with 94 penalty minutes and a plus-five rating including two power play goals. The 6-foot, 190-pound defenseman made an immediate impact upon joining the team, helping the IceRays to an overtime-winner in his first game on December 29 against the Odessa Jackalopes. Two of his four goals with the team were game-winning goals, including his first on January 15 against the Lone Star Brahmas and March 5 in a road win over Odessa. He earned two three-game point streaks in the span of eight games and finished his junior career with a goal on April 8. All the while, he became an example of devotion playing through multiple injuries in his short time with the team.

The Algonquin, Ill. native is a journeyman in the NAHL, recording 136 games among five teams in his three-year NAHL career, earning 15 goals and 30 assists for 45 points with 282 penalty minutes and five power play goals after spending his first junior season with the Peoria Mustangs of the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) in 2012-13. He played his 100th NAHL game on Oct. 31, 2015 with the Springfield Jr. Blues and his 100th junior hockey game exactly one year prior on Oct. 31, 2015 as a member of the Michigan Warriors. Lichtenvoort does remember the jump to juniors and even up to the NAHL as a steep transition, but coaching helped with his early development.

“It was a little tough at first, but I had a great coach that year [in Peoria]. I had a great group of older teammates that really helped me develop my game. They taught me a lot about the game, how to take care of my defensive responsibilities before jumping up in the play, and making sure I was a solid two-day defender instead of just an offensive defenseman.

 

“[The NAHL] was a big jump. It was just playing with a lot of stronger guys and who knew what to do with the puck a lot more. They were a lot smarter, and it look them less time to figure out what they were going to do. Midway through my first year I started to get more comfortable, and in my second year I felt really comfortable with my team as a veteran, so the coaches leaned on me a bit more. I used what I learned and helped the new guys out, so it was a good experience.”

After two seasons with the Warriors, the team folded, which forced Lichtenvoort to look at other options. He initially joined the Janesville Jets knowing it would be a tough team to make the roster, and after only seeing two games at the NAHL Showcase, he made the move to Springfield to begin his final junior season full-time. He did gain more ice time, but the system didn’t fit his playing style, so after asking the team for other options, the IceRays stepped in. It was a move he wishes he made sooner.

“The system really fit well, and I feel like I jumped in really easily with the guys. I felt like I helped the team become a little stronger on the defensive end and also at the defensive end. By far, the best venue and best fans. I really enjoyed my time there. I wish I could have played my entire junior career there if I had to go back and do it over again. I just really enjoyed being there for the last second half of the season.”

“We are all very happy for Cody and it’s certainly well deserved,” said IceRays general manager Pat Dunn. “Although his tenure with the team was a short one, he certainly left his mark. When we made his acquisition in late December, that’s when our team started winning. Cody is a fierce competitor that battled through injuries throughout his career and always gave it his best night in and night out. He played hurt and never complained. He will soon become a leader on that Buffalo State team.”

Lichtenvoort joins a Buffalo State Bengals program that is on the rise in the SUNYAC, falling to third-ranked SUNY Geneseo in the SUNYAC Semifinals in their sixth-straight SUNYAC Tournament appearance. The SUNYAC is home to four former IceRays: Brandon Adams (SUNY Oswego), Ryan Chiasson and Chris Taff (SUNY Plattsburgh), and Tommy Telesca (SUNY Potsdam), all of whom will be playing in the conference next season. SUNY Geneseo finished in the semifinals of the NCAA Division III tournament, and they along with SUNY Plattsburgh finished the season in the top-10 of the last USCHO.com poll. The Bengals just saw senior forward Ryan Salkeld sign with the Norfolk Admirals of the ECHL this season.

Professional advancement is the goal for Lichtenvoort, but for right now the focus is learning from his teammates, applying himself in the classroom, and continuing his development both on and off the ice while enjoying the proximity to Buffalo.

“I want to be a good student in class and be at the top of my class eventually,” said Lichtenvoort. “I hope with the team I can learn from the older guys with a lot of experience who have been there and done hockey and studying at the same time. They know what it takes to be at the top of the game for both and be the complete student-athlete.”

Lichtenvoort is the seventh member of this year’s IceRays squad and sixth active player to earn a NCAA scholarship, joining Michael Bevilacqua (Canisius College), Nathan Bryer (Mercyhurst University), Adam Canepa (University of New England), Carter Johnson (Miami University), and Jimmy O’Brien (Colorado College). Canepa, Lichtenvoort, Johnson, and O’Brien all committed during the 2015-16 season. In total, 65 players have moved on to NCAA programs in the last six seasons with 25 joining NCAA Division I programs and 40 on NCAA Division III teams. Lichtenvoort is the second player in as many days to commit to a NCAA program.

At the end of his junior career, the people he met will resonate heading into his next chapter.

“I met a lot of good people. The billet families have been great along the way and got friendships that I’ll keep forever. I developed really tight bonds with some of the guys, and they’ll be guys I talk to forever. Hopefully, 30 years down the road I can still catch up with them and let them know what’s going on. Just the friendships and meeting everyone along the way has been great.”

Keep up with the IceRays all off-season long, and contact the IceRays Front Office at 361-814-PUCK or go to www.goicerays.com for details on season tickets along with pricing and seating. In addition, stay connected with the IceRays on Facebook (/CorpusChristiIceRays), Twitter (@goicerays), YouTube (IceRays TV), Instagram (CorpusChristiIceRays), Vine (@goicerays), and Periscope (@goicerays).

ADAM CANEPA COMMITS TO UNIVERSITY OF NEW ENGLAND

CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – The Corpus Christi IceRays of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) are proud to announce the commitment of forward Adam Canepa to the University of New England, a NCAA Division III program in the New England Hockey Conference (NEHC), for the 2016-17 season.

“It was really relieving,” said Canepa on his commitment. “That’s what I came to the NAHL and the IceRays for: to commit to a college (and a good school at that). It was relieving halfway through the year. I felt there was a lot of pressure to perform this season, and it kind of took that off my back because I didn’t have to worry about what I was going to do next.”

Canepa, 20, earned a spot on the IceRays after attending the 2015 IceRays Pre-Draft Camp, receiving an invite to IceRays Main Camp, and fighting for a spot on the final 30-man roster and then the cut to 23 players at the October 1 deadline. In 38 games, the Santa Cruz, Calif. native earned two goals and three assists for five points with 94 penalty minutes. Both goals came at impactful points: his first to take away a shutout against the Minot Minotauros on September 26 with ten seconds remaining, and the game-winning goal in a 3-2 win over the Amarillo Bulls on January 30.

Over the course of his junior career, the 5-foot-9, 175-pound forward has learned the difficulties of playing from level to level. After coming out of a stout Shattuck St. Mary’s program, the adjustment to the Saskatoon Junior Hockey League (SJHL) and U.S. Premier Hockey League (USPHL) later in the 2014-15 season proved to be steep, playing 16 games with the Estevan Bruins in the SJHL then recording three goals and an assist in 18 games with the Portland Jr. Pirates in the USPHL. Canepa felt the effects coming right out of Shattuck St. Mary’s.

“Playing at Shattuck was almost a little bit easier because every player that was there was so good. It felt like the teams we played against couldn’t compete with us. Then making the jump to Estevan … It just seemed like everyone was huge. All the players were faster and stronger, so that jump was hard. The league was pretty tough. It was similar to the NAHL South Division how physical it was and the toll it took on my body.”

After the drop to the USPHL after the holiday season, Canepa kept his eye on the NAHL, knowing he wanted to finish his career at that level. The 2015 IceRays Pre-Draft Camp was his first proving ground, and after impressing the staff he earned an invite to Main Camp, where he gained a spot on the roster, beating out other invitees and members of the 2014-15 roster. Using what he knew from his past experiences, Canepa’s game changed from a scorer to a role player, and that helped him make the IceRays.

“That’s what I had to do to make it through juniors. I had to change my role on the team. What I wanted wasn’t going to work out, and guys were too big and strong to have my way with the league. It really sculpted me to change my playing style to that bottom six role and being that energy guy and a two-way forward.” 

Once on the team his largest on-ice impact was his energy and ability to be a pest to opposing teams. What most didn’t see was the impact he had on the team behind-the-scenes as a strong locker room presence. It’s those intangibles like a locker room energy that can make a lasting impact on the team in multiple facets, and Canepa’s presence was a welcome one in helping keep a strong bond among teammates.

“I just try to joke around and keep a light mood in the locker room. When it gets to games, I just try to do what I can to inspire guys, be motivating in the locker room, and say the little things but not overstep any boundaries. No matter what’s going on in the game, I just try to keep the guys happy so they’re able to do what they’re meant to do on the ice.”

“It’s always great news when you hear that one of our players get’s a college commitment because, at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about,” said IceRays general manager Pat Dunn. “Whatever team that will align themselves with a player like Adam Canepa cannot go wrong. Not only from his world class skating abilities but also what he brings off the ice. Adam kept the group together for us last year and is a great person that comes from a great family.”

Canepa joins a University of New England Nor’easters program coming off a NEHC Semifinals appearance in the inaugural NEHC season. The NEHC formed with members of the East Coast Athletic Conference (ECAC) East into their own conference and contains one other IceRays alum: Dmitry Ermakov (‘11-’12), who plays for Norwich University. Also contained in the conference are third-ranked UMass-Boston, who finished their season in the NCAA Division III Semifinals, and 10th-ranked Babson College. Canepa’s new style of play and energy was just what Head Coach Kevin Swallow was looking for, and that along with his campus visit made everything fall into place.

“Once I saw the school and took my visit, I really fell in love with the campus and the area. It was hard to say no to that. It’s nice going to a school where you know somebody and there’s a familiar face around. It was mostly the coach, the program, and how they’ve turned the team around in the last two years.”

Canepa is the sixth member of this year’s IceRays squad and fifth active player to earn a NCAA scholarship, joining Michael Bevilacqua (Canisius College), Nathan Bryer (Mercyhurst University), Carter Johnson (Miami University), and Jimmy O’Brien (Colorado College). Canepa, Johnson, and O’Brien all committed during the 2015-16 season. In total, 64 players have moved on to NCAA programs in the last six seasons with 25 joining NCAA Division I programs and 39 on NCAA Division III teams.

He’ll be going into business for his collegiate studies in order to partner with a training program he goes to in Langley, B.C. every off-season. The hope is to bring more hockey training opportunities to his home state of California and the Los Angeles area as well as keep him close to the game after his playing career is over. After the games are over, Canepa said the memories with the players are what will remain.

“The thing I’ll remember the most about Corpus Christi is the locker room. Everybody liked each other, and we were all good friends. Outside of Shattuck, I’ve never been really been on that close of a team before. Everyone has their clicks, and it didn’t feel like, in Corpus, there was any clicks. Everybody was friends with everybody, and we did everything as a team. It felt like a family.”

Keep up with the IceRays all off-season long, and contact the IceRays Front Office at 361-814-PUCK or go to www.goicerays.com for details on season tickets along with pricing and seating. In addition, stay connected with the IceRays on Facebook (/CorpusChristiIceRays), Twitter (@goicerays), YouTube (IceRays TV), Instagram (CorpusChristiIceRays), Vine (@goicerays), and Periscope (@goicerays).

ICERAYS TENDER CANADIAN WINGER COLE GAMMER

PHOTO: Greg Southam / Edmonton Journal

CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – The Corpus Christi IceRays of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) are proud to announce the signing of right winger Cole Gammer to a tender contract for the 2016-17 season. The signing is the final tender available for next season.

“I’ve heard nothing but great things about Corpus Christi,” said Gammer. “I was looking to change things up after last year, and I feel like it’s going to be a really good move. I’m extremely excited to wear that jersey next year.”

Gammer, 19, played two seasons with the Sherwood Park Crusaders of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), recording 20 goals and 21 assists for 41 points with 93 penalty minutes through 73 games. Coming out of midget hockey, the Edmonton, Alta. native was drafted 197th overall (9th round) by the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey League (WHL) the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft but remained with the Canadian Athletic Club (CAC) Edmonton Canadians AAA team in the 2013-14 season. He also appeared with the Edmonton North Oilers during the 2012 Alberta Cup as well as Canada West U19 in the 2014 World Junior A Challenge in Saskatoon, Sask.

Gammer played a full season with the Crusaders in during 2014-15 but suffered an injury during the playoffs, missing 10 months of action. He did return for 19 games during the 2015-16 season, recording three goals and five assists for eight points, but it’s been a long road back to playing form, and a change was needed.

 “I came back this year really not into it and had to get my legs back under me. And I’m just getting them back under me as the season closed off. When this year ended, I was really looking for a change. I heard a lot of great things about the NAHL. I looked more into it and found the best fit for me, which turned out to be the IceRays. I’m really excited to work with the staff and the rest of the guys.”

The 6-foot-2, 190-pound right winger plays like a power forward with physicalty in the low areas with a nose for the puck and a want to both score and distribute the puck. His decision didn’t come without the help of two larger former Canadian IceRays with NCAA Division I commitments: Tanner Lomsnes, who played during the 2014-15 season and committed to Niagara University, and Carter Johnson, a member of last year’s team who committed to Miami University of Ohio. Their phone conversations were a large reason why Gammer chose Corpus Christi.

“You can only hear so much, but when you get the opinion from a player who has done it, you know what it’s going to be like. They said nothing but great things  about the staff, the atmosphere, the arena, the type of guys in the room … It was just amazing. They’re all really down-to-Earth guys and told me how it was both good and bad. They’ve both got scholarships. There’s a great opportunity for that as well, and that will be my goal next year.”

Gammer is the ninth and final player to be tendered for the 2016-17 season. He joins forwards Dane Johnson and defenseman Conor Yawney of the Omaha AAA Lancers 18U (NAPHL), defenseman Andrew Froese of Traverse City High School, forwards Griffin Loughran and Adam Tretowicz of the Buffalo Jr. Sabres 18U (T1EHL), goaltender Austin Park and forward Trevor St. Jean from the Ohio Blue Jackets (T1EHL), and forward Tommy Parrottino of the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies 18U (T1EHL). All tenders will attend the IceRays Main Camp in July and compete for a spot on the 2016-17 roster.

Keep up with the IceRays all off-season long, and contact the IceRays Front Office at 361-814-PUCK or go to www.goicerays.com for details on season tickets along with pricing and seating. In addition, stay connected with the IceRays on Facebook (/CorpusChristiIceRays), Twitter (@goicerays), YouTube (IceRays TV), Instagram (CorpusChristiIceRays), Vine (@goicerays), and Periscope (@goicerays).

BOTB: FINALS – (9) ACCIAIOLI VS. (11) KIRCHER

The field was been narrowed down to the 16-best goals, moves, and saves from the 2015-16 season and seeded based on organizational rank. You have decided the final two best plays this season. Now, YOU must decide which will be crowned the 2016 IceRays Best of the Bend!

(9) Acciaioli Nets First NAHL Goal
Round 1: 69% of the vote
Quarterfinals: 54% of the vote
Semifinals: 52% of the vote

Many players on this year's IceRays squad scored their first NAHL goals, but none was as impressive as the snipe made by defenseman Matt Acciaioli. He joined the team in mid-October and was in and out of the lineup the entire season, but his first (and only) goal looked a lot like another play in our competition. On December 29, the IceRays began their four-game, five-day stretch against the Odessa Jackalopes, and they found themselves tied in the middle of the first period, 1-1. Not even one minute after the first, the IceRays got their second. Acciaioli received a pass at the left point and with room to work moved along the left wall into the circle. An unintentional two-man screen allowed the 18-year-old to set up a shot from the left side. He waited until he reached just above the goal line extended to flip a shot at the top of the net. It slipped underneath the short side of the Odessa goaltender and into the back corner of the net just inside of the crossbar. The goal was also his first point as an IceRay out of the six he would claim in 25 games.

(11) Kircher Goes The Distance For OT Win
Round 1: 61% of the vote
Quarterfinals: 66% of the vote

Semifinals: 91% of the vote
It seems that center Toby Kircher has a flair for the dramatic, picking up three overtime game-winning goals this season across two teams, but this came on a play created on his own while on the road in Odessa during December. With the three-on-three format, Kircher had time to collect the puck at his own blue line and range around the zone to create the next attack and think about his decisions. After two wide circles, he led the charge right at the Jackalopes defense and advanced to their blue line. Much like Cavanagh would do in February, he slipped through two stick checks and found an open lane to the right of the Odessa goaltender and flipped a backhanded shot over the near-side shoulder to reach top shelf and seal the victory for the IceRays. For the second-straight day, the bottom seed is a thread through stick lifts.

The decision is up to YOU. Which play will become the 2016 Best of the Bend Play of the Year: Acciaioli's first NAHL goal from just above the goal line, or Kircher's do-it-yourself backhanded overtime-winner? Voting will last two days, concluding on Thursday, May 26 at 11:59 p.m. CDT.

The winning play will be the inaugural Best of the Bend.