ODESSA, TX — The Jackalopes are proud to announce that head coach Jason Fortier has accepted an assistant coach position with the University of Maine Black Bears. The Black Bears are an NCAA Div. I hockey program that competes in the challenging Hockey East Conference.
“We are all excited that Jason was able to get this opportunity and we wish him nothing but success,” said Jackalopes President Rick Matchett. “The North American Hockey League is a ladder of development, not only for players but for coaches as well. Jason is an exceptional hockey coach and terrific teacher, and he will be missed in the Permian Basin.”
Fortier, in his only season with the Jackalopes, led Odessa to an improved 12-36-4-4 record. Fortier saw over 16 of his players committed to an NCAA institution by the end of the season, and helped establish a solid foundation from which the Jackalopes program can continue to build.
“I am very pleased to have been rewarded with this opportunity to Coach at the NCAA Div. I level. I want to thank the great Jackalopes fans for being loyal supporters throughout our rebuilding season. The amount of loyal, friendly people, that showed support during this pandemic was outstanding. I wish my time in Odessa was longer, but I was offered a job with Maine that could be considered a dream come true. ” Fortier added “I have confidence in Rick Matchett and his staff with the Jackalopes, they were outstanding to work alongside, and I will miss them. I want to thank Jackalopes ownership for the opportunity to call West Texas my home and I am thankful for the opportunity to coach the Jackalopes. The hardest part about leaving Odessa will be not seeing the Jackalopes players on a daily basis, and watching their development. We were blessed with a great group of young men last season, it was a tough year statistically, but the wins don’t display the character behind the curtain. I am thankful to have worked with those players and the Jackalopes staff.”
“I would like to thank owners Don Stone and Steve Wade for supporting me throughout this process. As I depart from my journey in Odessa, I want to say a final thank you to the players, billet families, Jackalopes staff, Ector County staff, Mall arena staff, sponsors and companies that help grow this amazing game in West Texas. I am sorry we didn’t bring a championship to town but I am thankful for your kind hospitality.”
Based in Orono, Maine, the Black Bears started playing college hockey at the Division I level in 1977. In their forty-plus-year history Maine has won two national championships and have appeared in 11 NCAA Frozen Fours. Maine is a longtime member of the Hockey East Conference.