NAHL South Training Camp Preview Odessa Jackalopes

The NAHL South as a division has undergone wholesale changes this offseason. The division has grown to seven teams with the addition of the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees, there are also four new head coaches looking to make their mark. There is a decided CHL slant with past CHL markets of Amarillo, Odessa, Corpus Christi, Rio Grande and Lone Star having made the move from minor pro to the ranks of junior hockey.

 

The NAHL South has long been considered the toughest division in the league and from the looks of things this season will be no exception. If statements made by new coaches coming into the division play out, they will only further the NAHL South Division’s reputation as the “Black-n-Blue” division.

 

John Becanic who has had two previous coaching stints in the NAHL will be replacing Justin Quenneville behind the Corpus Christi bench. Becanic knows what he is getting himself into. “In the South, every night you have a worthy opponent. And that makes you a better team,” Becanic told the Caller Times. “The Topekas, Amarillos and Texases, they should make us better. We should be a better team every time we play them. We shouldn’t cringe every time we see them on the schedule, we should be looking forward to it. We will learn to embrace the hard.”

 

Joe Coombs who will be coaching the new Rio Grande Killer Bees took it even one step further in remarks to the Rio Grande Valley Monitor. “We want kids that hate to lose and want to battle,” said Coombs. “If that means hitting somebody or blocking a shot or, quite frankly, losing their teeth because they had to get in a fight then that’s what’s going to happen.”

 

Over the past ten seasons the NAHL Robertson Cup Champions have come from the South Division seven times and last year was no exception as Amarillo raised the cup after defeating the Wenatchee Wild. Look for the rough and tumble South Division to make another run at post season glory. Over the next week we will take a look at each team in the South, their roster movements and what you can potentially look for going into training camp.

 

Odessa Jackalopes

 The Jackalopes suffered through what has to have been one of the worst seasons in league history in 2013/14. After a respectable 2 – 2 record in the season opening NAHL Show Case, Odessa went 4 – 49 – 3 to finish the season with a mere 15 points.

 

The season before Odessa had secured the final South Division playoff spot on the last day of the season. So Head Coach Paul Gillis and the team entered the season looking for another trip to the post season. The epic collapse, would cost Gillis his job. Assistant Matt Cressman was named to replace Gillis on April 10. Cressman had spent the past six seasons as the Jackalopes Assistant Coach. To complete the coaching staff Craig Sarner and Donnie Margettie we named as Cressman’s assistants while Cody Campbell was named as the teams first full time goalie coach.

 

“One thing I know is, if you don’t work hard, you don’t have a chance,” Cressman told NAHL.com, “I want hard-working, low-maintenance, keep your head down and work kind of guys…we’ll play a smart brand of hockey with the belief that if you want to get to the next level, it starts with sacrifice and hard work.”

 

Despite the large number of players eligible to return for next season the Jackaolpes protected only seven players from last season. Those seven players are goaltender Nick Deery; forwards Steve Haydon, Corey Hoffman, Anthony Olguin and Josh Racek; and defenseman Cody Slocum and Chris Taff.

 

With just 7 protected players from last season the Jackalopes have tendered 15 and drafted 8 with four coming in the first 47 picks of the draft. With the massive roster turnover, coming up with any feel for what to expect next season is next to impossible.

 2012/13 Roster – Potential returning veterans shown in Bold

 

Player P GP G A PTS +/- PIM Comments
Anthony Olguin F

53

12

18

30

-32

33

 5’ 9” – 187 / 1994
Taylor Portner F

54

11

13

24

-29

123

 Wisconsin-River    Falls
Matt Volonnino F

48

10

11

21

-35

29

 5’ 10” – 174 / 1994
Josh Racek F

52

7

8

15

-52

4

 6’ 0” – 174 / 1994
Jimmy Peplinski F

55

4

10

14

-48

41

 6’ 3” – 195 / 1993
Corey Hoffman F

32

4

9

13

-25

14

Cornell University recruit
Dylan Campbell F

38

1

10

11

-27

66

 5’ 10” – 190 / 1993
Brett Wagner F

27

4

4

8

-27

4

 5’ 8” – 180 / 1993
Steven Haydon F

55

4

3

7

-36

138

 6’ 3” – 201 / 1994
Jude Warner F

37

1

2

3

-24

22

 5’ 9” – 165 / 1994
Johan Sjoden F

41

0

2

2

-24

126

 6’ 2” – 175 / 1994
Trace Jabiln F

15

1

0

1

-13

6

 5’ 10” – 155 / 1994
Chad Guderian F

2

0

0

0

-2

2

 5’ 10” – 165 / 1994
Mike Mezzano D

54

4

10

14

-35

57

 St Mary’s University MIAC
Cody Slocum D

48

1

8

9

-32

56

 5’ 10” – 170 / 1994
Chris Taff D

22

2

6

8

-19

42

 6’ 0” – 175 / 1994
John Feemster D

33

3

3

6

-32

35

St Olaf D III
Matthieu Audet D

23

1

2

3

-19

47

 6’ 1” – 190    / 1993
Dylan Rosen D

17

0

3

3

-12

54

 6’ 5” – 210 / 1994
Stephen Inman D

32

1

3

4

-34

36

 St Michael’s College signee

W

L

OTL

SO

GAA

SV%

Nick Deery G

4

21

1

1

4.88

.874

    6’ 2” – 190 / 1994
Erick Majerle G

5

8

0

0

4.23

.875

 6’ 6” – 200 / 1993

 

The Jackalopes selected a total of eight players in the NAHL Entry Draft including five forward, two defensemen and a goalie. Three of the players will have some support as they all played together as members of the St Louis Blues U18 team last season.

 

F – Brady Crabtree 5’ 11” – 190 / St Louis Blues U18 / #20 overall pick 23 points in 38 games on 8G + 15A

D – Thomas Stahlhuth 5’ 11” 170 / St Louis Blues U18 / 40 games played with 10G + 14A for 24 points

F – Matt Beranek 6’ 1” – 190 / Team IL U18 / 5G + 5A in 30 games

F – Tyler Nabozny 6’ 0” – 187 / Mattawan HS /

D – Brendan Wilson 5’ 11” – 185 / St Louis Blues U18 / 36 Games played with 1G + 13A

F -LukasLaub 5’ 10” – 165 / Indiana Jr Ice / Registered 8 points on 4G + 4A in 24 games played.

G – Tanner Colberg 6’ 2” – 135 / Grosse Pointe North HS /

F – Mitchell Emerson 6’ 1” – 174 /Hill Academy/ 73 games played resulting in 71 point on 31G + 40A.

 

With the Tenders, Odessa once again pulled multiple players from a single team in signing three players from the Dallas Stars U18 team and a pair of players from Cranbrook HS. The Jackalopes had stock-piled tenders last season as they dealt away some of the top line players as it became obvious a post season trip was out of the question. As a result they inked eight forwards, seven defensemen and a goalie who is a native of Japan.

 

D – Phil Garza 5’ 10” – 185 / Flint Jr Generals NA3HL / 19 Points in 43 games on 4G + 15A.

F – Austin Murray 5’ 7” – 163 / Texas Tornado NAPHL / Registered 28 points on 20G + 8A in 22 games.

F – Razmuz Waxin-Engback 5’ 11” – 194 / Indiana Jr Ice NAPHL / Swedish native notched 7G + 22A in just 17 games played.

D – Dylan Adler 6’ 0” – 194 / Chicago Fury U18 / 20 games played with 2G + 8A.

F – Alex Alger 5’ 11” – 154 /Cranbrook/ Point per game player with 30 points in 23 games played on 8G + 22A.

D – Connor Chambers 5’ 11” – 185 / Dallas Stars U18 / Scored 4G + 21A in 40 games.

D – David Chavis 6’ 2” – 187 /Grosse Point HS/ Registered 2G + 12A in 30 games played.

F – Drew Gannon 6’ 0” – 165 / Dallas Stars U18 / 16G + 13A in a total of 40 games played.

F -Chad Guderian 5’ 10” – 165 / Dallas Stars U18 / 40 games scoring 9G + 22A.

F – Alex Gleason 5’ 8” – 181 / Team Comcast / 25 points on 15G + 10A in 39 games.

G – Yoshihiro Kuroiwa 5’ 10“ – 150 / Richmond Generals / 1.54GAA and a .944SV% in 18 games for the native of Hokkaido Japan

D – Jefferson Martin /Cranbrook HS

D – Andrew McLean 6’ 1” – 164 / Oakland Grizzlies U18 / 4G + 13A for 17 points in 40 games played.

D – Michael O’Riley 6’ 1” – 180 / Little Caesars / 31 games played registering 3G + 3A

F – Joey Palumbo 5’ 11” – 168 / Belle Tire / Scored 27 points in 37 games with 16G + 11A.

F – Rob Stautz 6’ 2” / Roseville HS / 12G + 14A in 25 games.

 

With so many new faces in camp this season, it will be up to Head Coach Matt Cressman, his staff and small group of returning veterans to try and pull together a group that will jell quickly to snap the 21 game losing streak carried over from last season. This group can not afford to get off to a bad start or doubts will once again start to creep in.

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