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Esmark 18U forward Willoughby-Ray signs NAHL tender

February 9, 2023

The Esmark Stars AAA Hockey Club of the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) are pleased to announce that 18U forward Brooks Willoughby-Ray has signed a NAHL (North American Hockey League) tender agreement with the El Paso Rhinos of the NAHL's South Division.

The 2022-23 season is Willoughby-Ray's first season with Esmark's AAA Hockey program and the Star's U18 squad.

Prior to joining the Stars mid-season this year, Willoughby-Ray was skating for the Junior A Mercer Chiefs of the NCDC league.

The (6'0", 180 lbs.) 18-year-old from Greensboro, NC, has registered 8 points (5 goals, 3 assists) in eight North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) appearances, including three power play goals and two game-winning goals, for Esmark's U18 AAA Midget Major squad.

Overall this season to date, Willoughby-Ray has tallied 28 points (12 goals, 13 assists), including four power-play goals and one shorthanded goal, in 30 games played for Esmark.

"Brooks was a great addition to our squad," said Esmark 18U head coach Dave Kosick. "He is an extremely gifted offensive player who has both size and ability to play with an edge."

Willoughby-Ray becomes the seventh member of the 2022-2023 Esmark 18U AAA team to sign a tender for the 2023-24 season, joining five teammates who had previously signed tenders with NAHL Junior A clubs, Derek Pietrzyk, forward, Corpus Christi IceRays; Wesley Schwartzmiller, forward, Minnesota Wilderness; Ian Norkevicus, defenseman, Fairbanks Ice Dogs; Nathan Burlando, forward, Johnstown Tomahawks; Brody Simkko, Maryland BlackBears; as well as teammate Colin Ruffner, forward, who signed an NCDC tender with the Mercer Chiefs.

The Rhinos, who play in the NAHL's eight-team South Division along with the Amarillo (TX) Wranglers, Corpus Christi (TX) IceRays, Lone Star (TX) Brahmas, New Mexico Ice Wolves, Odessa (TX) Jackalopes, Oklahoma Warriors, and Shreveport (LA) Mudbugs, play in the El Paso County Coliseum in El Paso, TX, and are coached by Head Coach Joe Coombs.

Click here to see a list of NAPHL tenders for the 2022-23 season

A tender is a contract, of sorts, a player signs announcing his intentions to play for that particular NAHL team and that NAHL team only. Once a player signs a tender with an NAHL team, his playing rights belong to that team within the NAHL and he may not be recruited by any other NAHL team. Each team is granted ten (10) tenders, which include two (2) tenders exclusively used on players from the NAPHL - plus or minus any trades - which became active on November 1st. Tendered players are not eligible for the 2023 NAHL Draft.

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