CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – The North American Hockey League (NAHL) announced this morning they have selected goaltender Graham Hunt and forwards Brad LeLievre and Drake Lindsay to represent the Corpus Christi IceRays on Team South at the 2016 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament on February 15 and 16 in Plymouth, Mich. at USA Hockey Arena.
“I’m very happy for all three players,” said IceRays head coach John Becanic. “It’s always bittersweet as some very deserving players get overlooking through no fault of their own. Drake has consistently been one of our top scorers all year and deserves the opportunity on a bigger stage. Brad epitomizes what an IceRay is and plays like a pro every day. Graham was a key cog in our turnaround and deserves a chance to play against the league’s best shooters.”
Hunt, 20, has appeared in 23 games during his lone season of NAHL play, recording a 10-10-3 record with a 2.59 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage with one shutout. The Concord, Mass., native earned his lone shutout on January 1 against the Topeka RoadRunners in a 3-0 road victory, which came during the midst of a five-game win streak finishing later that weekend. The 6-foot-2, 178-pound goaltender played in all five games during that streak while only conceding more than two goals once and has overall stopped three goals or less in nine of his last 11 games. The veteran junior goaltender is showing his value and the reasoning for his first selection by the IceRays in the 2015 NAHL Entry Draft through the team’s recent run to vault into playoff positioning.
“This is really exciting,” said Hunt. “There are going to be a lot of good players there. I’m definitely trying to have the strongest last few months of my junior career, so it’s nice to get opportunity to play in front of eyes and play with players from all over the league. It’s a nice way to close out a pretty fun junior career.”
LeLievre, 20, has played 33 games this season, recording seven goals and four assists for 11 points with 69 penalty minutes an even plus-minus rating, and one shorthanded goal. The Brier, Wash., native has been a consistent presence both on and off the ice for the IceRays since his arrival in Corpus Christi during November 2013. Since joining the Becanic-led IceRays, the 5-foot-10, 185-pound forward as played 118 games while earning 21 goals and 25 assists for 46 points, ranking tied for third all-time in games played only behind Beau Walker (146) and Eric Purcell (131) while sharing the position currently with Joe Ginley. The payoff comes toward the end of a journeyed NAHL career spanning three teams and 186 games.
“It’s really a honor to be selected,” said LeLievre. “I’m excited for the opportunity to play with other top players. After my time spent in the NAHL, it’s truly gratifying to gain this type of recognition and showcase my talents to college scouts.”
Lindsay, 20, has appeared in 37 games this year during his lone NAHL season, recording eight goals and 17 assists for 25 points with 24 penalty minutes, a +4 rating and one power play goal. Currently, the Grosse, Manitoba native leads the IceRays in assists and ranks second in goals and points while being one of the most consistent players on the ice in terms of point production, owning the season-high in longest assist point-scoring streak at four games as well as the most assists in a game with three on September 24 against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights at the NAHL Showcase. That consistency and strong production has helped the team throughout the season so far, and Lindsay hopes that can continue for the tournament.
“It’s exciting and an honor to be picked,” said Lindsay. “It’ll be good exposure to play in front of scouts and show them what I can do at the next level. I’m looking forward to playing with some of the top guys in the league.”
Over the last five seasons, the IceRays have sent 19 players to the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, including Perry D’Arrisso (Clarkson), Kyle Froese (Alaska-Fairbanks), Tanner Lomsnes (Niagara), Frank Misuraca (Alabama Huntsville), Emil Romig (Denver), Hayden Stewart (Cornell), and Anthony Stolarz (Nebraska-Omaha) who all earned NCAA Division I scholarships after attending the tournament. Nine of the 19 players also recorded at least one point during the two-game event.
The number of representatives for each team at the event is based upon team winning percentage following games on January 17. Each of the four divisional team consists of a 20-man roster with 12 forwards, six defensemen, and two goaltenders without a commitment to a NCAA program. The league has also pick a NAHL Selects team consisting of those identified as players of interest by National Hockey League (NHL) Central Scouting or have excelled in season play thus far. The NAHL has also invited the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP) U-17 team for a six-team tournament. Last season, over 200 scouts attended the event featuring NCAA and NHL representatives. Team South will play Team East on Monday, Feb. 15 at 1:30 p.m. and Team Midwest on Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 11:00 a.m. All six games will be broadcast live on FASTHockey.com.
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).