NAHL Approves Sale of Owatonna Membership
The team will relocate to Odessa, Texas, next season and become the Jackalopes
March 31, 2011
FRISCO, TEXAS – The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced
that its Board of Governors has approved the transfer of membership
and relocation of the Owatonna Express to Odessa, Texas, for the
The team will change its name to the Odessa Jackalopes and play its
home games out of the 5,131-seat Ector County Coliseum in Odessa.
"We're excited to welcome the Jackalopes to the North American Hockey
League family," said NAHL commissioner Mark Frankenfeld. "Odessa
already boasts a long and proud hockey tradition and, with an
experienced ownership group and management team committed to its
continued success, we have no doubt the organization will flourish,
both on and off the ice."
Before joining the NAHL, the Jackalopes served as the Central Hockey
League AA affiliate of the New York Islanders. Their head coach is
Paul Gillis, who spent over a decade as a player in the NHL and
another decade coaching in the professional ranks. He is assisted
behind the bench by Matt Cressman.
"The Jackalopes will be celebrating their 15th anniversary of hockey
in the Permian Basin next season, and this move to the NAHL will allow
us to continue to have hockey here for another 15 years and beyond,"
said Jackalopes general manager Joe Clark. "Our fans expect to see an
entertaining product on the ice, and they'll get it.
"Players in the NAHL, including those in a Jackalopes jersey, have
their whole careers in front of them," Clark added. "We'll do whatever
it takes to help these young men launch their careers and move to a
higher level, just as we've done in the past."
The Jackalopes are the fifth NAHL team to call Texas home, joining the
Amarillo Bulls, Corpus Christi IceRays, Texas Tornado and Wichita
"Odessa's addition is sure to not only strengthen the already-spirited
rivalries amongst our existing Texas teams, but ease the travel
demands of our student-athletes as they strive for excellence not only
on the ice, but in the classroom and community as well," said
The Owatonna market has been part of the NAHL since the 2005-06
season. In its first year as the Southern Minnesota Express, the team
won the league's Central Division regular-season title. It also made
two appearances in the Robertson Cup Championship Tournament (2006 and
2007) in addition to developing and advancing dozens of players to the
collegiate and professional ranks.
"I can't say enough about Owatonna and what it's meant to our league,
" Frankenfeld said. "It's a great hockey community and one that's
provided so many great opportunities for our student-athletes over the
The Jackalopes will hold a pre-draft camp from May 13-15 at Center Ice
of Dupage in Glenn Ellyn, Ill. More information and registration forms
can be found on the team's official Web site,
About the NAHL…
Celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2010-11, the NAHL, the only USA
Hockey-sanctioned Tier II Junior A league boasting 28 teams from
across North America, prides itself on the social maturity and skill
development of student-athletes ages 16-20 with aspirations of
advancing to collegiate and/or professional hockey. For more
information on the NAHL, visit http://www.nahl.com/.
– NAHL –