ODESSA, TX (KWES) - The Odessa Jackalopes are back on the ice for their 22nd season of hockey in the Permian Basin. Last season, the Jacks fell short in the first round of the playoffs to the defending champs the Lone Star Brahmas.
During the offseason, several Jacks committed to play at the NCAA level which left slots in the roster that needed to be filled. Odessa added 13 players in the NAHL draft. Although the Jacks are just getting started with their new squad, they feel their chemistry is at a good spot.
"Chemistry is definitely there. We all fit in pretty well. Hockey is kind of a small world everyone knows everyone through a friend. So we know most of the guys now on a first name basis so it's really good," said second year player Eric Huss.
"Hockey. It's a weird bond between your teammates. No team will ever be the same back to back years. You form a new family every year. Obviously it is early, but all the guys we go eat together, we go hang out together, we do stuff. It's there obviously. It'll definitely get stronger over the year, but it's definitely there from the beginning," said second year player Connor Fedorek.
This year the Jacks only have five returners, but to the second year players that's not something they're concerned about.
"We have some good talent on this team so I don't think age is going to effect that. But leadership wise the younger guys need to come in and take on that role," said Fedorek.
For first year player, Rex Moe, this is his second year in juniors and hopes he along with his teammates can bring something a little different to the team
"Hopefully we'll bring a little size and a little intimidation, but just work as a group and try to chase the cup that's for sure," said Moe.
For many of the players getting to the Robertson Cup Championship is the ultimate goal and although the season is just getting started, the returners feel this squad has potential to go further than last season.
"We just want to build off last year, obviously no one wants to lose in the playoffs but we're happy we got there and for us our goal is to win a Robbie (Robertson Cup)," said Huss.
"We just have to show it to everyone else. Last year they said we weren't going to make playoffs and we did and this year they're probably going to say the same thing. We're going to prove them wrong once again," said Fedorek.
The Jackalopes will travel to Amarillo Friday to open pre-season play against the Amarillo Bulls.