Tuesday, December 09, 2014


By: Lee Scheide, Odessa American




Odessa Jackalopes forward Razmuz Waxin-Engback got a little reminder of Sweden in West Texas the past two weeks when his mother flew in to visit.

Along with seeing a familiar face, Waxin-Engback got a chance to partake of some his mother’s cooking.

“Meatballs, Swedish meatballs,” he said, smiling. “And mashed potatoes, like back home.”

Back home is a long way for Waxin-Engback and the three other Swedish players on this year’s team — forward Hampus Sjodahl, defenseman Andrews Soje and goaltender Robin Johansson.

So far (around 5,500 miles as the crow flies) that when the team gets a few days off just before Christmas, it’s too far for the four of them to even think about traveling for the holiday.

Especially with the Jackalopes scheduled for home games on Dec. 26 and 27 at the Ector County Coliseum against the Lone Star Brahmas.

“It’s about a day’s travel each way,” Sjodahl said. “It’s not worth the money it takes to get back home for one or two days before you have to get back on the plane to come back.

“Most of our families will come during the season to see us. Mine are coming at the end of January for a week.”

Until they get to see familial faces, however, the four players do get a chance to speak their native tongue to each other, which wasn’t the case last season when Waxin-Engback was the only Swedish player on the roster.

Though, as Johansson states, it would be rude to talk Swedish in the locker room around their other teammates.

Waxin-Engback smiled when reminded of that.

“Robin doesn’t think we should talk Swedish in here,” Waxin-Engback said, smiling again, before answering a question from Sjodahl in Swedish.

“We speak English and it’s one of the reasons that I didn’t want to have a Swedish roommate with my billet family, so I learn to speak English. But we also have fun talking in Swedish, too.”

Johansson laughs about his rule, but said he doesn’t want to be rude to his teammates and have them think he’s talking about them.

In fact, he added, English is taught in school in Sweden, so he came to the United States with a solid base, but needed to polish his vocabulary some.

“English is one of the required subjects in school,” he said. “So I knew it when I came over here, but it’s still different and hard to understand some times.”

Also hard to do, as Waxin-Engback knows, is to get little tastes of home.

That’s why Johannson and Soje are looking forward to the four-day break and a possible trip to Dallas with their billet family, or host family.

“They have an IKEA there,” Johansson said. “It will be nice to get in there and get some of the candy they sell.”

Until then, however, the Jackalopes have a pair of games against Lone Star this weekend and two more against Rio Grande Valley on Dec. 19 and 20 at home.

Four games that could give the Jackalopes a nice momentum boost heading into Christmas, and 2015. Impetus they sorely need as they wallow at the bottom of the North American Hockey League’s South Division after being swept by Amarillo this past weekend.

“We have to play better as a team and I have to play better in goal,” said Johansson, who will fly to New York City in February to meet his family during a break in the schedule for Odessa.

“We have good players on the team and it’s just a matter of us doing the right things.”




In 2014-15, the Odessa Jackalopes will embark upon their fourth season in the North American Hockey League and 18th in the Permian Basin. 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.


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.