Jackalopes fill open spots in NAHL draft

ODESSA - The Odessa Jackalopes, proud members of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), have 13 slots to fill on their roster for the second straight season. On Tuesday, Odessa filled those slots by selecting 13 players during the 2018 NAHL Draft, highlighted by six forwards, five defensemen, and two goaltender.

Joey Foss – D (2ndRD, 39thoverall): The Odessa Jackalopes traded their first overall pick for James Crossman last season, leaving the second round as their first choice. After Nick McKeeby announced he is heading to school this season and Erik Nilsson was traded to the Minnesota Wilderness along with Dylan Johnson for a tender, the Jacks only have two returning defensemen for the team. Foss solidifies the left defensemen, joining Crossman and Connor Fedorek with three potential all-stars.

“Joey is a monster D-man that covers a lot of space and has offensive upside. He is a player that will garner a lot of D1 and NHL interest.”

Eric Linell – F (3rdRD, 64thOverall): The Jacks traded their 3rdround pick to the Brookings Blizzard, but acquired the Wilderness’ 3rdround pick only 1 spot later to draft. The Great Neck, NY native played in the BCHL last season for the Coquitlam Express where he posted 46 points in 58 games. Linell is a guy who can score for Odessa after showing off his skills with 28 goals and 18 assists last season, adding a goal and assist in 4 playoff games as well.

“Eric is a fast skilled forward that put up almost 30 goals in the BCHL last season. He will make an immediate impact on our top line.”

Christopher Lipe – D (4thRD, 87thOverall): The ’99 has two years of junior hockey experience already, with another two years of eligibility. Lipe is another Fox Motors product who has had success in the NAHL. Two seasons ago, the Rockford, Michigan native put up 22 points in 60 games for the Kenai River Brown Bears before picking up only 7 points in 55 games with the Des Moines Buccaneers last season. Lipe starts off the look for a complete new right side of the defense.

“Chris is a big, rangy D-man that has had success in this league previously. If we get him from the USHL, he is going to be a huge part of our defensive core.”

Kellen Tharaldson – D (4thRd, 94thOverall): The 1999 birth year is a very offensive-minded defenseman. Tharaldson is the second right-handed defenseman in a row the Jackalopes have drafted this season. Tharaldson has always been a pretty disciplined player and around a point every other game. Last season in with the Soo Eagles was no different as Tharaldson posted 12 goals and 19 assists (31 points) in 56 games, while also picking up four assists in 7 postseason games in the NOJHL playoffs.

“Kellen is a good 2-way defenseman that will add to our depth on the right side. He has a year of juniors under his belt, so he should come in and have a very minimal adjustment period.”

Dominic Dumas – F (6thRound, 135thPick): The native of Boise, Idaho comes to Odessa after playing his past two seasons in Canada, split between the KIJHL, BCHL, and OJHL. Over the past two years, Dumas has 28 points in 87 games, with the majority of them being goals. Dumas is another 1999 who has played two years of junior hockey with two more years of eligibility

“Dominic is a natural center that has size and speed. He also has junior experience and should step right in and contribute in our forward crop.”

CJ Hapward – G (7thRound, 159thPick): CJ will come in this season with a chance to earn some starts along with returning goaltender Alex Camarre. Hapward is a ’99 birth year who has had a save percentage above .900 since he started junior hockey three seasons ago. Last year, Hapward had a .923 save percentage for the New Jersey Colonials. He also played two games for the Jackalopes last year, picking up a victory in his first start. He now gets a chance to put his name on the back of a Jackalopes jersey this season.

“CJ is an athletic, competitive kid that just finds a way to make saves. He played really well for us against Amarillo last season in his 1st junior game.”

Carl Skärström – F (8thRound, 183rdPick): With no import spots being used for Odessa, it opens up space for Skärström to move in as a Swedish forward and make a play for the Jacks. A ’98 birth year, Skärström is in his final season of junior hockey and will come in after playing in the top Swedish league, the SuperElit. Carl put up very good numbers in the SuperElit putting up 44 points (13 goals, 31 assists) with the majority of them coming last season.

“Carl is a fast and tenacious player that had great year this past season in Sweden. His game will translate very well to this league and to college hockey.”

Jesper Wikström – D (9thRound, 207thPick): Wikstrom adds a third right-handed defenseman for the Jackalopes. Odessa has had great success when acquiring players from Sweden and hope Wikström will do much of the same. Jesper joins his teammate from last season, Skärström, in back-to-back draft picks from the Södertálje SK J20 in the SuperElit.

“Jesper is an undersized puck moving D that will be able to break pucks out and add offensively from the blue line.”

Adam Bricker – F (10thRound, 231stPick): Bricker is a smaller forward, standing at 5-foot-9, 170-pounds. The Jackalopes have found great success with smaller players, including guys like Zach Zech and Matt Brown. Bricker netted eight goals and added 20 assists last season playing in his first year of junior hockey in the NCDC for the P.A.L. Junior Islanders.

“Adam Bricker is an undersized, skilled forward that had a very good year in the NCDC. As an ‘00 he has a lot of upside.”

Ryan Dickinson – F (11thRound, 255thPick): Dickinson is only a ’99, but has already played two years of junior hockey in the NAHL. Dickinson started the last two seasons with the Topeka RoadRunners before being traded to the Brookings Blizzard at the Showcase last season. Dickinson is a big-bodied defenseman, standing at 6-foot-2, 223-pounds and provides a veteran presence in a division he can thrive in.

“Ryan is a big strong D-man that has almost 100 games of experience in our league. He will fit into the south division very nicely.”

Louis Jamernik – F (12thRound, 279thPick): Jamernik gets to join the Jackalopes as another 200 birth year with three years of junior hockey eligibility available. For such a young guy, he already has a year of junior hockey experience after playing 43 games for the Brooks Bandits over parts of the past two seasons in the AJHL. As one of the youngest players in the league last season, Louis has posted 13 goals and 14 assists as well (27 points) over only 43 games. Jamernik is a young presence the Jacks can look forward to the next couple of seasons.

“Louis is a young 00 that had very good numbers in the Alberta Junior league and will be a great addition to our forward group next season.”

Sean Dynan – G (13thRound, 303thPick): Dynan is the second goaltender drafted by the Jackalopes and has a chance to compete with Hapward for the backup goaltender spot to Alex Camarre. Dynan is 6-foot-1, 185-pounds who has posted some pretty good numbers these last couple seasons. The ’99 from Reading, Massachusetts has put up a save percentage above .925 in each of the past three seasons.

“Sean is a big kid that fills the net and has a great track record of winning hockey games at the prep level.”

Matt Minerva – F (14thRound, 327thPick): Minerva was the final draft pick for the Jackalopes this season, but should not be slept on. Matt is a big-bodied, 6-foot-1, 185-pound forward who had excellent success last season for the P.A.L. Junior Islanders 18U squad. Minerva is a ’99 who picked up 11 assists on top of his 6 goals last season.

“Matt is a big kid that can absolutely fire the puck. He has the size and talent to be a very difficult player to play against.”

The Jacks 2018-19 opening day roster will be finalized following the conclusion of the club’s main camp in Chicago from on July 26-29.

In 2018-19, the Jacks will embark on their 22nd season in the Permian Basin and 8th as members of the North American Hockey League.