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CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – The Corpus Christi IceRays, proud members of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), have announced the commitment of defenseman Tucker White to the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, a U SPORTS (formerly CIS) program in Ontario University Athletics (OUA), for the 2017-18 season.

“It’s good that I can play hockey and get an education at the same time,” said White. “I’m excited to be a Ridgeback in such a good educational and hockey program. There’s always life after hockey. Hockey is only a short period of your life, and to get the opportunity to go to school and play hockey is perfect.”

White, 21, completed his junior career with the IceRays during the 2016-17 season, recording one goal and 10 assists for 11 points with 200 penalty minutes and a +17 rating through 49 games. The Holden, Mass. native recorded his first NAHL goal and assist on Dec. 10, 2016, which began a three-game point streak through December 17, earning one goal and three assists for four points in that span. His numbers across the board are the best of his junior career, and his plus/minus rating ranked fourth on the team as well as first among IceRays defensemen and tied for 12th among NAHL defensemen. Over his four-year career, White earned three goals and 25 assists for 28 points with 431 penalty minutes through 180 games.

The 6-foot-4, 203-pound defenseman’s journey through junior hockey was kick started in 2013, heading to the Moncton Wildcats after being selected 123rd overall (7th Round) in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) Entry Draft as a 17-year-old. He played 41 games, earning two assists with his first career junior point coming on Sep. 29, 2013 against Blainville-Boisbriand. After starting the 2014-15 season with Acadie-Bathurst Titan for 20 games, White made the move to the Maritime Hockey League (MHL) and the Miramichi Timberwolves, where he’d spend the next season and one half through the 2015-16 season. There, he earned two goals and 13 assists for 15 points with 177 penalty minutes through 65 games.

“I might have taken the jump too early, but it was good to get the experience of playing at that level with such high-caliber players. I learned how to play my role, which is the biggest thing, and the speed and physicality was a professional mentality. That was a good atmosphere to learn in. It was really good then to go to [Miramichi] to develop my game, get out of my comfort zone and do things I wouldn’t normally do.”

Though his experience with the IceRays began with a rocky start on the first day of training camp in the adjustment to Texas ice, White’s impact both on and off the ice became swiftly apparent with his selection as an alternate captain and how his presence on the ice changed how opponents approached the defensive zone. His presence in the locker room quickly became a cohesive force to help bind a team that would be considered one of the best and closest in program history. Combined with his personality, community presence and on-ice role, White quickly became a favorite among IceRays fans throughout the season.

For White, his experience in Corpus Christi became the culmination of everything he had learned.

“I kind of put everything together. I figured out my role on the team as a leader, as a player on the ice including when to take penalties and when to not, and I remembered all my playoff experience in the past. It all came to my 20-year-old year, where I could finally be one of the older guys on a team making a run for [a championship] and use my experience to help the IceRays to where we finished. When I first got here, I wasn’t what I was at the end of the season, but I give a huge thanks to [Head Coach] Brad Flynn for teaching me a lot, including how to present myself on and off the ice. He was one of the better leaders in my junior career, and I learned a lot from him.”

“We are very proud of Tucker moving on to OUIT,” said Flynn. “Tucker came to us with Major Junior experience and brought leadership, experience, physicality, a strong work ethic and extremely high character. Tucker is a throwback defenseman that played a hard nose brand of hockey that our passionate fans loved. It will be extremely hard to replace the intangibles that Tucker brought to us. OUIT is extremely fortunate to land him.”

White joins a University of Ontario Institute of Technology program fresh off a second-straight winning season and an appearance in the Queen’s Cup Playoffs. The program began in 2007, just five years after the founding of the university as a public research university, and has made the playoffs in seven of their previous 10 seasons. U Sports has become a strong outlet for IceRays players with Canadian ties through citizenship and former Major Junior experience, now with four players over the last three seasons entering Canadian universities. White will play against former defenseman Anthony Cortese (Concordia University), goaltender Graham Hunt (University of Ottawa) and forward Drake Lindsay (Nipissing University) and is the second American-born player in the last two seasons to play collegiate hockey in Canada. White will be seeing more former Major Junior players in an older league, and he hopes that parlays into a professional career after college.

“The league I’m going to is a lot older with guys from Major Junior and Canadian junior hockey. They had a similar experience to what I had, but they’ll be a lot older, which means they’ll be a lot faster and stronger. It will be good to play at that level for four years, really mesh myself into that playing style, and develop to a point where I’ll be able to go play professionally.”

White becomes the fifth player to make a college commitment this season from the IceRays, joining Cole Gammer (Liberty University), Logan Gestro (Canisius College), Mason Krueger (Army West Point) and Tomáš Vomáčka (University of Connecticut). He’s also the ninth player on the 2016-17 active roster and 11th with ties to the IceRays to play college hockey, including David Baskerville (Canisius College), Nathan Bryer (Mercyhurst University), Camden Burggrabe (Northern Michigan University), and Cody Fleckenstein (Army West Point). From the locker room, to the fans, and to the city, this year will be one that White will never forget.

“I’ve had some unbelievable teams. All four years have been memorable, but Corpus Christi will be one for the books. I never got along with so many guys in the locker room. I could go around to every single guy, talk to them each for about 20 minutes and just go around the room all day. Every single guy had a different character trait, and it all meshed together. We were laughing and having a good time, but when it came time to be serious, we were serious. Corpus Christi has amazing fans. They represent us, give us the energy, and they put time toward us. What I learned is to give as much time back to the people as you can. It means a lot to them, they’ll remember it, and you’ll remember it as well.

“Texas forever, baby.”

Season Tickets for the 20th Anniversary season are on sale now! Call the IceRays at 361-814-PUCK to reserve your season plan for the 2017-18 campaign. In addition, stay connected with the IceRays on Facebook (/CorpusChristiIceRays), Twitter (@goicerays), YouTube (IceRays TV), Instagram (CorpusChristiIceRays), Vine (@goicerays), and Periscope (@goicerays).