2019-2020 WLC 2006 American
The Washington Little Capitals are pleased to announce that 18u Team Captain Zach Murray has signed his tender contract with the Corpus Christi Ice Rays of the North American Hockey League (NAHL). The Ice Rays are a member of the NAHL South Division.
A 2019 draft pick of the Ice Rays, Murray impressed their staff at preseason main camp and continued that trend through the current Little Caps season. Murray’s work rate and determination to continue his development shone through, and the Ice Rays decided to make it official. The tender means Murray is a protected player on the Ice Rays roster, and he is now slated to play NAHL games with the Ice Rays during the holiday break. He will also continue to skate with the Little Caps as he looks forward to joining the Ice Rays full-time next season.
Murray is one of the more accomplished players in recent Little Caps history. Last season saw him finish as the teams 2nd leading scorer with 54 points in 44 games and earn an invitation to play for the AYHL All-Star Team that competed in the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament during the Robertson Cup weekend. Additionally, he is one of three 2001-born players on the 18u team vying for their fourth consecutive trip to the USA Hockey National Tournament (along with Connor Leslie and Max Thiessen). This season has been more of the same, pacing the team with 20 points in 15 games.
“Corpus Christi is getting a special young man,” says Hockey Director and 18u Head Coach Matt Thomas. “His stat line grabs your attention, but that’s really only part of the story. Zach is a remarkable competitor, tireless worker, and our gold-standard for commitment to the game… he’s earned this.”
Executive Director Doug Plocki coached Murray two seasons ago as a 16u player and sees a similarly bright future. “The on-ice product speaks for itself- he’s a great player. He has the right mix of confidence, drive, and humility to go far in this game. But he’s also an exceptional young man. He’s a natural leader, and certainly knows what it means to sacrifice for something he wants. He’ll go far in life, on and off the ice, it’s great to see him rewarded for his efforts. But as he also surely knows, the real work has just begun.”
For his own part, Murray is grateful for his time with the club and coaching staff. “The Little Caps organization has helped shape me into the player and person I am today. The coaches have always held me accountable and pushed me past my comfort level— challenging me to get better every day.”
Murray will join a number of other former Little Caps currently playing in the NAHL; Reid Leibold (Maryland Black Bears, RPI Commit), Drew Lorinchak (New Mexico Ice Wolves), Finn McLain (New Mexico Ice Wolves), and Trent DeNuccio (Springfield Jr Blues).
While Murray remains focused on the Little Caps and his role as captain, he’s understandably excited about his future. “I’m looking forward to next season… getting a chance to play in an extremely competitive league.”
Representatives from the Finnish Ice Hockey Association (FIHA) recently visited the U.S. to meet with USA Hockey ADM regional managers and teams in several states. The purpose of this visit was to exchange information and ideas between coaches in each country to further the development of youth hockey. The Washington Little Caps were thrilled to be selected for that honor.
FIHA Representatives Vesa Lehtonen and Jari Routtinen, alongside with USA regional managers, Scott Paluch and Rich Hansen, spent several days interacting with Little Caps coaches and players as part of that exchange. They spent time on the ice with multiple age groups, observed off-ice training and classroom sessions, and hosted a coaches meeting to share insights on their development techniques with Little Caps and other coaches from the area. The FIHA representatives also shared their development model, a cooperative, umbrella system focused on player development in a community context.
Little Caps players were fortunate to have FIHA coaches jump on the ice to run a few drills and discuss some concepts of the modern game.
“Before we took the ice with the Finnish coaches, I wasn't sure what to expect because I had never skated with coaches from Europe before,” said 18u forward Declan Martin. “But once we got into the drills it was a great experience, the coaches showed us the importance of moving the puck quick and how to be effective when the puck isn't on your stick. The Finnish coaches gave us a different viewpoint on the mechanics of the game and helped us implement it into our own play.”
Hockey Director Matt Thomas saw a coaching style noticeably different than the North American model. “Given some unique challenges— the language barrier and a new group of players for starters— I was really impressed with Vesa and Jari. They were extremely patient, willing to wait for players to figure it out, and challenged our guys to make harder plays than they might ordinarily try themselves. I thought it was a terrific microcosm of their overall development approach.”
“We are grateful to USA Hockey and FIHA for making this opportunity possible,” said Executive Director Doug Plocki. “Both organizations are committed to exchanging development ideas, and as a result coaches in both organizations are getting better. This was a fantastic opportunity for our players and coaches to learn the latest development concepts from some of the top minds in the game today. It will have a lasting effect.”
The October Saves Goalie Challenge is proud to announce their sixth season supporting breast & pediatric cancer research. October Saves calls on ice hockey goalies — youth, amateur and professional— to raise the most money through gathering pledges per save they make during the month of October.
“Cancer is a disease that has impacted us all at one point or another, whether it be a family member, a friend, a teacher, or a coach,” stated Lara Hopewell, CEO and Founder of October Saves. “Through October Saves, we have watched so many teams and players come together in support of one another, motivate and encourage each other, cheer for each other; it brings out the best in everyone, all for a wonderful cause.”
Proceeds benefit Stand Up 2 Cancer, The Inova Schar Cancer Institute / Life with Cancer, Children’s Hospital of
Philadelphia, CHEO, and the October Saves Scholarship with the Goalie Guild.
Washington Little Capitals goalies will participate in the event again this year. Help support our goalies by donating or making a pledge per save!