Odessa, TX – The Odessa Jackalopes, proud members of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), are expecting to lose 13 players from last season’s team due to aging out and college hockey programs. On Tuesday, Odessa filled those slots by selecting 13 players during the 2016 NAHL Draft, highlighted by seven forwards, five defensemen, and one goaltender.
Evan Rochowiak – F (1st RD, 16th overall): Following a trade with the New Jersey Titans, the Odessa Jackalopes selected Rochowiak in the first round. The big-bodied forward (6-foot-2) has a great chance to jump into the team and run the power play. Rochowiak collected 26 points (10 goals, 16 assists) between Drumheller and Grand Prairie in the AJHL last season while posting 46 PIMS. The ‘97 has played parts of the past two seasons for the Dragons and Storm in the AJHL, accumulating 35 points (14-21-35) in 84 games. Evan will fill the role of a grinder, by using his large frame to screen and fight goaltenders for any puck, while still having a great shot that can fool a goalie.
“Evan isn’t a big hitter, but with his frame, he’s extremely good on the half wall, and has an uncanny shot that can score.” – Head Coach, Greg Gatto.
Chays Ruddy – D (2nd RD, 31st Overall): The large body defenseman was one of the best choices in the drafts for Odessa. Ruddy (6-foot-2, 205-pounds) hails from Cobourg, Ontario, where he played parts of the last three seasons for the Trenton Golden Hawks of the OJHL, accumulating 22 points (2 goals, 20 assists) over 94 games played. The 20-year-old is more of a stay-at-home defenseman who will be one of the hardest to play against in the league. He also brings some championship experience from when he won the Schmalz Cup with the Port Hope Panthers during the 2014-15 campaign.
“He’s a mean, gritty defender who is more than excited to be coming down to west Texas.” – Gatto.
Hugh Anderson – D (3rd RD, 62nd Overall): The ’99 brings fantastic skating capabilities to a very solid Jackalopes defense. The two-way skating defenseman isn’t afraid to jump into the rush or stick his toes in and wait back. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound defenseman played last season for the Stratford Warriors of the GOJHL, racking up 13 points (5 goals, 8 apples) throughout 43 games. Anderson was drafted by the Green Bay Gamberls and Owen Sound Attack in their respective 2015 drafts, and the Dubuque Fighting Saints last month in the USHL Phase II Draft.
“He’s a very skilled player who’s extremely solid in his home half of the ice.” – Assistant Coach, Cody Campbell.
Matthew Brown – F (4th Rd, 85th Overall): The 1999 birth year was amazing for the different New Jersey Rockets teams over the past couple of seasons. Last season in the EHL, Brown put up 51 points (31 goals, 20 helpers) over the course of only 44 games. Brown is a pure goal scorer that will join a stacked left-side of forwards, making it one of the deadliest in the league. Brown has a commitment to play college hockey at UMass – Lowell.
“Matt has tons of skill, and is a great skater on top of it. He’s going to give the Jacks a change of pace from their hard hitters.” – Campbell.
Chad Merrell – F (5th Round, 103rd Pick): The native of Boca Raton, Florida comes to Odessa after playing one season for the Kanata Lasers of the CCHL. While in Kanata, Merrell accumulated 36 points (12 goals, 24 assists) in 61 games on top of 32 PIMS. Merrell is expected to jump right in and be a top 6 forward for Odessa.
“He’s a very skilled, left-handed forward that has above skating, but it all comes very natural to him.” – Gatto.
Lucas Herrmann – F (5th Round, 115th Pick): The younger brother of current Jackalopes defenseman, Zac Herrmann, Lucas brings a different style of play. He’s a big, young, exciting forward that can use his size real well. The Niagara commit played the last two years for Nichols School in the CISAA, accumulating 16 points in 23 games. Lucas has a commitment to play college hockey at Niagara University.
“He came down and skated with us towards the end of last season. He’s very savvy in the offensive zone, while still being able to play with a little bit of an edge.” – Gatto.
Brendan Schultz – F (6th Round, 121st Pick): The 1998 birth year is a very good skater who plays with an edge at all times. The native of Schaumburg, Illinois, Schultz compiled 33 points (18 goals and 15 assists) in 49 games for the Soo Eagles last season in the NOJHL.
“Brendan is a really good north-to-south skater who has a knack around the net to get the point.” – Campbell.
Grant Bondy – D (6th Round, 125th Pick): Filling out the defense will be right-handed shot, Grant Bondy. Originally from Newport, Michigan, Bondy played the last two seasons for the Compuware U18 team. Not much of a scorer (only 6 points in the past two seasons), Bondy plays more of a skilly game. He’s a great skating defenseman who can jump into the rush, and move the puck real well.
“He came to our Michigan camp and really impressed. We’re lucky we got him where we did.” – Gatto.
Max Decoursey – G (7th Round, 148th Pick): After a season of 20-year-old goaltenders, the Jacks have gone young with Decoursey. The ’99 birth year has good size at 6-foot-1, 185-pounds, and plays even bigger. His stats over the past four season have done nothing but decrease, capped off by a .945 save percentage and 1.35 goals against average last season.
“Max is a very good player who stay extremely calm at all times. He has a very good chance at being a Division 1 player in the future.” – Campbell.
Aiden Boehm – F (8th Round, 171st Pick): Not on the draft radar until he was coached by Gatto in the New England Pro Am Pre Draft Showcase, Boehm really impressed by leading the team in scoring. Boehm played for the Long Island Royals near his hometown of Nesconset, NY, where he lit up the league. Boehm scored 32 goals and added 41 assists en route to a 73-point season in only 31 games. The big-framed power forward goes to the net hard and plays with an edge at all times. He has very untapped potential.
“I saw him when I coached the showcase in Boston earlier this year. He’s an in your face hockey player that gives a knock to the opponent each shift out.” – Gatto.
Dylan Johnson – F (9th Round, 194th Pick): Johnson if a very good offensive player who scored a ton while playing at Cloquet High School in the USHS. Johnson has scored 129 points (67 goals and 62 assists) over the past four seasons at Cloquet HS. Described as a 200-ft player, Johnson has great speed and avoidenace that he can bring to a division that’s more hard-hitting.
“He’s a guy that can bring a little bit of skill in every aspect of the game.” – Campbell.
Steve Holtz – D (10th Round, 217th Pick): A really good skater from Detroit, Michigan, Holtz is going to be a wildcard this upcoming season. He has really good size and can break the puck out well, but he has been invited to the Youngstown camp in the USHL. The ’99 birth year netted only three goals, but assisted on 11 more last season for the Compuware 18U team.
“Steve is definitely a division 1 prospect who would fit well if we got him.” – Campbell.
Matt Stoia – D (11th Round, 240th Pick): Needing a little more size on the back end Odessa picked up another right-handed defenseman who could join Wilson and Ruddy to make it one of the fiercest in the south. Stoia is a big kid who has signed a deal in the Ontario Hockey league. He has played in four games over the past two seasons for the Oshawa Generals, but thrived last season for Little Caesars 18U, scoring 11 points in 20 games. The last Jacks player to make it onto the Generals roster was Jalen Smereck, who signed a contract with the Arizona Coyotes this past season.
“If we ended up getting him, he’d be a very offensive defenseman. He’s a really good skater for his size that sees the ice extremely well.” – Campbell.
The Jacks 2017-18 opening day roster will be finalized following the conclusion of the club’s main camp in Chicago from on July 27-29.
In 2017-18, the Jacks will embark on their 21st season in the Permian Basin and 7th as members of the North American Hockey League.
The 2017-2018 Odessa Jackalopes season tickets are on sale now! To reserve your seats, contact the Jackalopes’ ticket office today at 432-552-7825 or log on to www.jackalopes.org for more information.
Also, be sure to follow the Jackalopes on Twitter @LetsGoJacks all year long and don’t forget to ‘Like’ the official “Odessa Jackalopes” fan page on Facebook.
— ODESSA JACKALOPES —