NAHL South Training Camp Preview – Corpus Christi Icerays


The NAHL South as a division has undergone wholesale changes this offseason. The division has grown to seven teams with the addition of the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees, there are also four new head coaches looking to make their mark. There is a decided CHL slant with past CHL markets of Amarillo, Odessa, Corpus Christi, Rio Grande and Lone Star having made the move from minor pro to the ranks of junior hockey.

 

The NAHL South has long been considered the toughest division in the league and from the looks of things this season will be no exception. If statements made by new coaches coming into the division play out, they will only further the NAHL South Division’s reputation as the “Black-n-Blue” division.

 

John Becanic who has had two previous coaching stints in the NAHL will be replacing Justin Quenneville behind the Corpus Christi bench. Becanic knows what he is getting himself into. “In the South, every night you have a worthy opponent. And that makes you a better team,” Becanic told the Caller Times. “The Topekas, Amarillos and Texases, they should make us better. We should be a better team every time we play them. We shouldn’t cringe every time we see them on the schedule, we should be looking forward to it. We will learn to embrace the hard.”

 

Joe Coombs who will be coaching the new Rio Grande Killer Bees took it even one step further in remarks to the Rio Grande Valley Monitor. “We want kids that hate to lose and want to battle,” said Coombs. “If that means hitting somebody or blocking a shot or, quite frankly, losing their teeth because they had to get in a fight then that’s what’s going to happen.”

 

Over the past ten seasons the NAHL Robertson Cup Champions have come from the South Division seven times and last year was no exception as Amarillo raised the cup after defeating the Wenatchee Wild. Look for the rough and tumble South Division to make another run at post season glory. Over the next week we will take a look at each team in the South, their roster movements and what you can potentially look for going into training camp.

 

Corpus Christi Icerays

 

In early June after completing his third season and leading the Icerays to the NAHL playoffs for the first time, Head Coach Justin Quenneville resigned his position for personal reasons. Quenneville’s departure paved the way for John Becanic to step back behind an NAHL bench for the third time. Becanic has coached in the OHL, AWHL and most recently with the Wenatchee Wild of the NAHL. In 1993 as head coach of the Pittsburgh Forge, Becanic won the Robertson Cup awarded to the NAHL National Champions.

 

While the Icerays did not move quite the number of players on to college as did Amarillo, who we reviewed yesterday, they did see a seven head off to the NCAA. The Icerays also had three players age out with two of them signing Pro contracts.

 

As with Amarillo, both of the Icerays netminders are eligible to return for the 2013/14 season. Both came into NAHL play last season at a young age trying to make the Corpus Christi faithful forget about Philadelphia Flyers draft pick Anthony Stolarz. Both Hayden and Myers showed flashes of talent that could take them toward the top of the league leaders. The year of experience under their belts will further their development.

 

While the Icerays are losing their top five scoring forwards, they will return a strong, physical core of eight players who put up 125 points last season. Berkley (6), Purcell (7) and McDiarmid (9) were more than ready to drop the gloves last season. Another year of growth and looking to take more of a leadership role on the team could boost those numbers.

 

Defensively, Becanic will have a lot to work with. The team could potentially return over 200 games of experience on the blue-line. The group would be one of the most experienced in the division. Williams put up some impressive numbers as a rookie last season and could be set for another big campaign if he returns to South Texas.

 

 

2012/13 Roster – Potential returning veterans shown in Bold.

 

 

 Player  P    GP    G      A     PTS    +/-    PIM    Comments
 Rudy Sulmonte  F

60

27

41

68

+5

42

 Signed Pro Contract with Mississippi  Riverkings of SPHL
 Emil Romig  F

54

17

37

54

-7

66

 University of Denver Pioneers
 Perry D’Arrisso  F

43

18

26

44

+8

16

 Clarkson University signee
 Michael Economos  F

59

15

20

35

+7

137

 Plymouth State D III
 Beau Walker  F

32

7

25

32

0

53

 Wisconsin-Stevens Point signee
 AJ Jarosz  F

40

10

19

29

+1

24

 6’ 0” – 180 / 1993
 Eric Purcell  F

54

15

12

27

+6

88

 6’ 1” – 180 / 1993
 Brandon Smith  F

53

12

15

27

+7

40

 6’ 1” – 190 / 1994
 Charles Baldwin  F

45

12

9

21

-1

17

 Signed Pro Contract with Tranas in Swedish Div 1
 Joe Ginley  F

57

5

13

18

+1

20

 1992 Birth Date – Aged Out
 Ryan McNeely  F

47

6

11

17

-4

12

 5’ 11” – 175 / 1993
 Brandon Berkley  F

50

5

9

14

-10

149

 5’ 10” – 183 / 1993
 Nick Monfills  F

15

2

5

7

+1

4

 5’ 7” – 165 / 1994
 Lucas McDiarmid  F

25

1

2

3

-5

84

 6’ 0” – 185 / 1993
 Chris Stovall  F

5

1

0

1

-2

6

 5’ 9” – 185 / 1995
 Wayland Williams  D

51

3

21

24

+8

26

 5’ 11” – 185 / 1994
 John Roisum  D

51

1

19

20

-14

20

 University of St Thomas recruit
 Caleb O’Brien  D

45

6

7

13

-9

40

 6’ 0” – 190 / 1993
 Jalen Schulz  D

48

5

8

13

+6

57

 Selected by Tri City in USHL Draft
 Andrew Paras  D

55

2

10

12

+9

80

 Headed to Wisconsin-River Falls
 Grant Hutton  D

42

4

6

10

+16

53

 6’ 2” – 180 / 1995
 Ryan Chiasson  D

49

1

9

10

-2

121

 6’ 0” – 195 / 1994
 Trevor Heuser  D

22

0

3

3

-1

68

 5’ 10” – 175 / 1996

W

L

OTL

SO

GAA

SV%

 Ben Myers  G

13

11

0

0

2.97

.912

 6’ 3” – 200 / 1993
 Stewart Hayden  G

13

13

3

0

3.22

.912

 6’ 2” – 184 / 1994

 

 

With the potential of such a strong defensive core returning, the Icerays focused on the offense during the draft. Becanic selected four forwards including a player from France. The final selection was used on a defenseman

 

F – RJ Salvato 6’ 1” – 161 / Colorado Rampage / Scored 12G + 17A in 40 games.

F – Josh Ward 5’ 10” – 160 / Compuware U18 / In 30 games played logged 16G + 7A

F – Nathan Krusko 5’ 9” – 157 / TPH Thunder / Over 2 seasons 4G + 7A in 27 games played.

F – Maurin Bouvet 5’ 11” – 154 / HC Amiens U20 France / In 25 games notched 14G + 35A. Has played in 15 World Juniors games.

D – Jesse Foskey 6’ 0” – 190 / Dallas Stars U16 / 12 points on 4G + 8A in 40 games played.

 

The Icerays tendered a set of twins from Denmark who both play the forward position to go along with forwards from the NA3HL and NAPHL. They also inked two defensemen with one coming from the NAPHL.

 

F – Mikkel Hojbjerg 6’ 0” – 176 / Djurgarden J20 / 11G + 15A in 42 games to go along with 34 games on international experience.

F – Martin Hojbjerg 6’ 0” – 183 / Djurgarden J20 / Scored 14G + 12A in 39 games. Has 40 games of international experience logging 18 points.

F – Jacob Howie 5’ 8” – 150 / Flint Jr Generals / 21G + 33A in 42 games for over a point per game average.

Tommy Djerl 6’ 0” – 175 / Texas Tornado U18 / 30 points in 25 games on 13G + 17A.

D – Ryan Burr 5’ 10” – 180 / New Jersey Jr Titans U18 / Scored 6G + 8A in 26 games plus 66 PIMs

D – Frank Dini 6’ 1” – 205 / Milwaukee Jr Admirals U18 / 2G + 6A in 58 games played.

 

It appears that the Corpus Christi Icerays have filled some potential holes with their drafted and tendered players. In addition to players who have logged significant international ice time, Becanic looks to have gone after size and strength. Of the 10 newcomers six stand at or above six feet tall. With the players eligible to return the Icerays may put one of the largest, physical teams on the ice this season.

 

After tasting the playoffs for the first time last season and with championship experience behind the bench in John Becanic, look for the Icerays to rally around their veteran core to make a run at a division title this season.

 

Tomorrow we will take a look at the Lone Star Brahmas who finished third in the division last season and advanced to the Division Finals against Amarillo after sweeping Topeka in round one.

Tags: Corpus Christi Icerays Featured NAHL South Division Popular Preview Training Camp