ICERAYS RE-SIGN LAST YEAR’S LEADING TRIO
RICHARDS, QUENNEVILLE, BENNETT TO RETURN NEXT SEASON
The Corpus Christi IceRays have re-signed their top three scorers from last season by inking forwards Chris Richards, Justin Quenneville and Ryan Bennett for the 2009-2010 season, IceRays General Manager/Senior VP, Pat Dunn announced on Thursday afternoon. Last season Richards, Quenneville and Bennett combined to make up 40% of the point production of the entire IceRays roster. The signings continue to solidify the IceRays roster as the trio joins Adam Powell and perennial All-Star Chad Woollard as the five players under contract for Corpus Christi’s upcoming season. The IceRays are currently in preparation for the 2009-2010 season. Season tickets and corporate sponsorship packages are available. For more information please call the IceRays at 361.814.PUCK.
2009 CHL Off-Season Transactions
Richards, 33, returns for his second season in Corpus Christi after pacing the IceRays in goals, assists, and points in his IceRays debut season. The veteran center had 27 goals, 46 assists and 73 points to help the IceRays back to the post-season. For Richards it was the latest in lengthy stretch of high-scoring seasons. It was the seventh straight season that Richards notched 70-plus points. Richards finished tenth in CHL scoring last season and was named a finalist for the league’s MVP award.
Richards consistent scoring and terrific numbers made him an instant favorite in his first season in Corpus Christi. He said that the feeling was reciprocated as well.
“This is by far the nicest city I’ve played hockey in,” said the ten-year veteran of seven pro teams. “From the organization, to the owner, to the GM to the fans, they all treated me, my wife and my son really well here. We like being here. We like spending our summer here, and we’re thrilled to be back for another season.”
Over the past three CHL seasons, Richards has 259 points, trailing only Jeff Christian (275) and Riley Nelson (261) for the most points in the league since the start of the 2006-2007 season. Last season was also a milestone season for Richards. He entered the top five in all-time CHL assists and points, and the top ten in all-time league games.
As he did throughout last season, Richards spoke fondly of his career, but said that there was a missing piece to his time on the ice.
“I’m an offensive player. My job is to put up points,” he said. “It’s nice to score goals and rack up points over a long career. But when you look at team playoff success that’s what’s missing that I want this season. We came close last year, and I want us to improve on that.”
Richards said that recipe for improvement can be seen in the IceRays signings and commitment to winning.
In this league, you have to have a good core group to be successful. With the five we have on board and the organization’s passion for winning, I think we’ll round out this roster with one that can and will compete all year. I know I’m hungry for a championship, and I know the other four guys we have are. If new guys come in and share that same passion, there’s no reason we can’t vie for a championship.”
Quenneville, 27, joins Powell as the longest tenured players on the IceRays, returning to South Texas for his fourth season in Corpus Christi. Quenneville has been with the IceRays since 2006, and has totaled better than a point per game average in each of his three seasons in the Lone Star State. In 170 regular season games for the IceRays, Quenneville has totaled 197 points (78g, 119a). He has been a 20-plus goal scorer in all three seasons with Corpus Christi. Last year Quenneville had 67 points (21g, 46a) in 60 games. His 67 points were second only to Richards on the team, and he tied for the team lead in assists. He finished 19th in the league in overall scoring. In 2007 Quenneville was an All-Star starting forward and a finalist for the CHL MVP Award. Quenneville also continues to make Corpus Christi his off-season home, further solidifying his relationship with the team and community.
“It’s always exciting to be part of an organization for a long time,” said Quenneville. “This truly has become a second home for me. Over the years I’ve built a lot of friendships and it’s really like I have a second family here. It’s a place I’ve really enjoyed being. The weather, the fans, the organization’s commitment to winning – they all add up to this being a great place and I love coming back year after year. I hope to keep doing it for a long time to come.”
The Quebec native has left an indelible mark on the franchise and is approaching some all-time marks. Entering next season, Quenneville ranks 3rd in all-time IceRays franchise goals and 4th in all-time IceRays franchise points. The IceRays have also made the post-season two out of the three years that Quenneville has been with the team. On potentially breaking some of the all-time Corpus Christi records Qunneville said it would be nice, but not his focus.
“I’m fortunate I’ve been put in a position to be successful here, and it would be a fun goal to reach some of thise great numbers. But for me being involved in the community is more important than any statistical accolade. Keeping hockey in this area, making it exciting for fans and trying to bring a championship to Corpus Christi are the things I’m more interested in.
“I’m a big believer in finishing something you start,” added Quenneville. When I first came here that was our main goal and it hasn’t changed. It’s been exciting three years, but the goal I want is a championship. This great city and fan base deserve it, and we’re going to try and deliver it.”
Bennett, 27, also completed his first season in an IceRays sweater last year with impressive numbers. Bennett had 58 points (22g, 36a) in 63 games. He finished third on the team in goals, assists, and points. Bennett got off to a blistering start in his IceRays tenure with 15 goals in his first 22 games with Corpus Christi. Bennett had a solid year in his first complete season back in pro hockey after missing most of the 2007-08 campaign. Bennett said his arrival in Corpus Christi was everything he hoped it would be.
“I loved it here,” he said. “I made a choice to live here year round when I first signed. I really wouldn’t want to play anywhere else. I love the organization, the owners and the fans. Last year, it was a life change and I’ve loved it so far. I want to stay here.”
Bennett’s signing also comes with the recent news from the CHL office that the parameters for CHL veterans for the upcoming season has changed. The new classification for veterans are players who have played over 300 professional games prior to the upcoming season. Bennett has played 298 games in his pro career, leaving him classified as a non-veteran player for the 2009-2010 season. Of the five players under contract by the IceRays, Woollard and Richards are the only veterans. Bennett said the team has laid the groundwork for a fun season ahead.
“I’m really excited for this season,” said Bennett. “Last year, we built a core that wants to call Corpus Christi home. We’ve since added a legitimate scoring threat in Woollard. Plus we hope to follow with new signings that can help bring a championship here. Every aspect of this team is going to be stronger this year. It’s exciting for hockey in Corpus to have this stability. We have good players, good individuals, and in talking to people around town, everyone’s excited.”