Corpus Christi IceRays head coach Brent Hughes has always believed in treating each one of his players equally, no matter if they are a leading scorer or a habitual healthy scratch.
This year that stance includes one of his children, as Kyle Hughes is a defenseman for the IceRays.
“Coaching your own kid is always hard. Anyone who’s ever done it remembers what the circumstances are,” Brent Hughes said. “You’re always harder on your own kid.”
It’s quite the coincidence that Brent and Kyle are spending the season together after the son has been playing hockey away from home the last three years.
Kyle Hughes played in 48 games with Alpena during the 2008-09 season and another 56 with the IceDiggers last year while his father was coaching Corpus Christi’s minor-pro team.
It just so happened that when IceRays management decided to go the junior route, Alpena was one of the organization’s available.
“They were looking over different scenarios for this year, and Pat (Dunn, the IceRays’ general manager) didn’t even have a clue my kid was on that team,” Brent said.
Kyle could have gone and played hockey at Division III Saint Mary’s, but he opted to return for his last year of juniors in hopes of earning a Division I scholarship.
“I left the decision up to him,” said Brent, who played in the NHL with the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders and Winnipeg Jets. “I’m hoping he gets what he wants.”
Kyle has been one of the IceRays’ top defensemen this season. His 12 points (one goal, 11 assists) are second to Ben Hughes (no relation) among Corpus Christi blueliners.
Coaching Kyle has gone smoother than Brent has anticipated because his son has shown a strong work ethic and the team has understood the coach won’t play favorites.
Early in the season when Brent was naming captains, he was a little hesitant to make Kyle an alternate, but ultimately felt that Kyle deserved to wear the “A” on his jersey.
“I see him as a better hockey player now than he was at the start of training camp,” Brent said. “A lot of colleges have talked to me about him, so we’ll see what happens.”
At the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament in Boston this week, Brent was able to play the role of dad, watching his son play on Team Rafalski from the stands.
But come this weekend against Wichita Falls, he’ll go back to being Kyle’s coach for the rest of what will be a memorable season for the Hughes family.
“It’s been a great opportunity to coach my son,” Brent said. “And he now knows what I’m all about, too. He’s only seen me as dad before and not as a coach.”
SOUTH DIVISION NOTEBOOK
AMARILLO BULLS: Zack Smoot and Matt Johnson scored a goal in each of the Bulls’ wins over Corpus Christi last weekend. Goaltender Steve Bolton won his first game in a Bulls uniform, kicking aside 26 of 28 shots he faced in Saturday’s 5-2 victory.
NEW MEXICO MUSTANGS: The Mustangs are still looking for their first road win this season, but they came away with a point in Fresno thanks to a third-period comeback. Kevin Zugec and Michael Lafrenier erased a two-goal deficit Friday, but Fresno won in overtime, 4-3.
TEXAS TORNADO: Rock Einersen led Team Rafalski in scoring with four goals and an assist at this week’s Top Prospects Tournament. Texas’ Dave Rigatti (three assists) and Jimmy Kruger (.953 save percentage) also made some noise in Massachusetts.
TOPEKA ROADRUNNERS: Justin Hussar’s streak of recording a point reached 10 consecutive games in Topeka’s road split against St. Louis. Hussar has 15 points during that span. In Friday’s 5-2 victory, Brian Christie had a four-point performance and Nate Milam scored twice.
WICHITA FALLS WILDCATS: Ryan Frost and Mac Olson each registered two assists at this week’s Top Prospects Tournament. Defensemen Daniel Hildebrandt and Steven Hoshaw also had an assist representing the Wildcats, who were idle last weekend.