CORPUS CHRISTI, TX — Hockey players travel from all over the world to skate for the IceRays under head coach Sylvain Cloutier.
"This year we got a new coach and he's really helping me out a lot and I really like him," Stepan Kuznetsov, IceRays left wing, said.
During the holidays it can be tough playing away from family.
"Well it's really hard. I miss my family a lot and my friends in Russia," Kuznetsov said. "Katherine treats us really well. She's a great billet."
Stepan Kuznetsov lives with Katherine Dain. She treats him and his two teammates like family.
"I cook and we sit down and eat dinner together and I think that's so important," Katherine Dain, IceRays Billet Family, said. "We visit and we're not on our phones. Just trying to connect with each one of them on something that's important to them."
Dain has supported the IceRays since 1998.
"She's a diehard fan for us. She never missed a game for us. Actually, no. Once," Kuznetsov said. "Every time we come after the game she has a smile on her face no matter what if we lose or win."
This is Dain's first Thanksgiving without her husband Daniel. He passed away after fighting lower esophageal cancer for 19 months.
"Since my husband and I worked together, and we did everything together," Dain said. "There was a big missing piece there."
The hockey players, now family, are the blessings.
"Having them move in, really it is a comfort. I don't even have to be around them," Dain said. "Just knowing that someone is in the house is really nice, and so I feel like that's a blessing."
The IceRays host the New Mexico Ice Wolves for a double-header. The puck drops Friday at 7:05 p.m. at the American Bank Center.