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WICHITA, Kan. – After announcing two returnees, the Wichita Thunder stayed on the blueline with the announcement of their third player signing of the offseason.

Joining the club for the 2018-19 campaign is defenseman Keoni Texeira, a 21-year-old defenseman who was the captain of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks last season.

“Keoni came highly recommended by Mike Johnson (former Pittsburgh Penguins coach) his coach in Portland,” stated Head Coach Malcolm Cameron. “He was a part of some very successful junior hockey teams and played a key role in that success. He’s a captain so we know he exhibits excellent leadership qualities as well as being a defenseman that can play any role. We look forward to Keoni making a big impact with us this season.”

A native of Fontana, California, the 6-foot, 210-pound defenseman sits in second place all-time in Winterhawks history with 344 games played and notched 143 points (39g, 104a) over that span.

“I’m very excited to be turning pro this year,” commented Texeira. “I’ve been working very hard and preparing a long time for this. I’m excited to get to meet my new teammates and help contribute to this team in any way I can in order to win the Kelly Cup. I’ve heard the fans and the city are both amazing and I’m excited to get things started!”

He was ranked the 143rd-best North American prospect by the NHL’s Central Scouting Service prior to the 2015 NHL Draft. Texeira attended developmental camp as an undrafted free agent that season. Last summer, he was invited to mid-summer development camp with the Vegas Golden Knights and earned a spot in their main camp last September.

Texiera joins team captain Dyson Stevenson and defenseman Jeremy Beaudry as those who have signed for the 2018-19 season. You can keep up on all the player movement around the ECHL by visiting our transactions page at https://thesinbin.net/2018-echl-transactions/.

Qualifying offers are due into the ECHL offices by 11:59 pm Eastern time Saturday night and will likely be released early next week. I’ll have an article on who I think will get qualified on Saturday.

If you are unfamiliar with the process, up to eight players can be given qualifying offers, with up to four of those being veterans (those who have more than 260 regular-season professional games before the start of the ’18-19 season.) The qualifying offer must remain open for acceptance until July 16, at which time the qualifying offer becomes null and void and the team may sign the qualified player to any salary or may elect to take no further action. Teams that extend a valid qualifying offer to a non-veteran player shall retain the rights to that qualified player for one playing season.

If a team extends a valid qualifying offer to a veteran player, they will retain the rights to that veteran until July 16th. After that date, if the veteran player is not signed to a contract by the team, the veteran shall be deemed a restricted free agent and shall be entitled to seek and secure offers of employment from other ECHL teams.

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