CORPUS CHRISTI (CC ICeRays) - After completing his third season behind the bench in Corpus Christi leading the IceRays to their first ever North American Hockey League playoff berth, Justin Quenneville announced he has stepped down as head coach to flip the page on the next chapter in his life.
Quenneville left behind a legacy in Corpus Christi in his seven total years both on the ice and eventually behind the bench. In four years spent playing for the IceRays, he became the all-time franchise leader in goals, assists, and total points. Quenneville picked up 96 goals and 159 assists for 255pts in the 234 games he played in, which is second all-time in Corpus Christi.
"Wow, this came as a shocker when Justin pulled me aside late Friday afternoon and announced that he was stepping down," said IceRays general manager Pat Dunn. "That was the last thing I was expecting at this time. I thought Justin was a fixture and would have been here forever. Remember we did offer the job to Justin at the time although he lacked experience. Having said that I never had any doubts or remorse in giving him the job. There are lots of things that you can keep track of. You can counts wins and losses, but you can't measure what a coach does in the community and Justin ranks as one of the finest young man I have ever been around in hockey."
The decision to come to play for the IceRays was an easy one for Quenneville. "As a player, it was a big decision to come to the CHL, but everyone I knew that had played here or been to Corpus Christi raved about it. As a player you dream about playing in front of thousands of fans, and to be in an environment like this was a no brainer. I am forever grateful for Ken McRae to offer my original contract here seven years ago."
During his on-ice career, he dominated. Highlighted by two team MVPs, four All-Star selections, and a CHL MVP finalist nomination in 2006-2007 when he led the IceRays in scoring, along with posting career highs in goals, assists, and penalty minutes.
It was his off-ice dedication that also won over the city. He reached new heights in Corpus Christi, being named the CHL Man of the Year in 2009-10, which presented annually to the Central Hockey League player that best exemplified strong leadership qualities on and off the ice, while making significant and noteworthy humanitarian contributions to his community. The role the community plays with the IceRays fueled Quenneville to give back.
"The community plays a major role in the success and growth of hockey in Corpus Christi. The support for the organization is undeniable and their dedication makes being a part of this organization so special."
The IceRays then made the switch from the Central Hockey League to the North American Hockey League and when a new era started. The choice was either continue playing and leave, or stay and coach. He stayed.
"Making the transition from player to coach was a difficult decision especially at my age at that time," said Quenneville. "But I knew it was not only the right one, but a huge opportunity I could not pass up. I always dreamed of staying involved in hockey after my playing years, but to begin that chapter of my career in an organization and city I loved ultimately was an easy decision."
In his first year, Quenneville served as assistant coach before being named to the head coaching position on August 12, 2011. In 120 games during two seasons as head coach, the former captain tallied 55 wins and led Corpus Christi to its' first ever NAHL playoff berth this past season.
Before going pro, Quenneville attended St. Michael's College and played there for four years while receiving a degree. While playing in 99 games, Quenneville scored 59 goals and 70 assists for 129 points.
After graduating, Quenneville played two years of pro hockey while suiting up for four different teams before landing in Texas. The first year was spent in the UHL with both the Richmond Riverdogs and Missouri River Otters. The next year was spent in the ECHL for the Bakersfield Condors and Phoenix Roadrunners. Overall, in six total season in pro hockey, Quenneville amassed 134 goals and 201 assists for 335 points.
The decision to step down and move on was not an easy one for the man who called Corpus Christi his home for seven years. However, he felt the time was right. "While leaving was a hard decision to make, I am excited about pursuing opportunities that are out there for me. But I'm most excited about beginning the next chapter in my life with my future wife and starting a family one day."
"Q will be fine," Dunn added. "He is a well-educated person that comes from a wonderful family. He also has a degree in his possession. Whether he stays in hockey or not he will have a bright future. We respect his decision to get closer to his fiancée and start a family. Making that decision tells you of what kind of person he is. Justin will remain an IceRay forever, and more important of all, he will remain my good friend. On behalf of the IceRays organization , I want to thank Justin for his dedication to hockey in the Coastal Bend but more importantly to his involvement in our community. Good luck my friend!!!"
Although leaving was tough, Quenneville stamped Corpus Christ as his second home.
"In the end I will remember Corpus as a second home and second family. The fans are incredible, the organization is top notch and it's a dream environment for any hockey coach and player. I am forever grateful to the incredible fans of the IceRays, and most of all Tim Lange, Cassidy Lange and Pat Dunn for giving me an opportunity I will cherish the rest of my life. I am going to miss the office, my amazing colleagues, and the good people of Corpus Christi."
"Having said that, it's business as usual in the office," Dunn finished. We have actively started the search for a replacement coach."