• September 28, 2020

NORTH AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE: Jackalopes' affiliates add new players in draft - Odessa American: Sports

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NORTH AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE: Jackalopes' affiliates add new players in draft

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Posted: Saturday, April 25, 2020 6:41 pm

The Odessa Jackalopes got a glimpse into the future of the team thanks to the NA3HL Draft. The draft took place virtually Thursday as the Jackalopes’ affiliate teams, the Texas Roadrunners and Atlanta Capitals, made six selections over the span of the four-round draft.

For Roadrunners head coach Mike Beavis, the draft was a way to fill some key needs, particularly on the offensive side of the puck.

Anthony Lautz (6th overall), Sam Techel (2nd round) and Eric Gibboney (3rd round) are all forwards while defenseman Spencer Sutera was a fourth-round selection.

“We got some guys that we had been keeping an eye on,” Beavis said. “We knew that we were going to grab a couple of guys that would be impact players for us right away.”

The Capitals made just two picks: forward Jordan Jeffords with the 18th overall pick and Jason Crossland in the fourth round.

Both Beavis and Smith are also scouts for Odessa as part of their affiliation beginning last year when owner Don Stone took over a majority stake in the Jackalopes.

That partnership has created a “ladder of development” according to Beavis and adds that having that flexibility to develop the talent is beneficial for all parties involved.

“We had six guys go up to Odessa to get a chance to play and Atlanta was able to do the same thing,” Beavis said. “I think it’s really good to help bring guys back and forth if they need more ice time.”

Smith echoed a similar sentiment.

“It’s worked out well with being able to go up and feed guys to Odessa,” Smith said. “It’s been really good for all of us so far.”

Smith also got an extra glance to work with the main club this past season. He moved up to work with interim head coach Adam Phillips following Todd Watson’s resignation in January. Smith said it was not an unfamiliar position for him, having performed a similar role during a previous stop in Topeka.

“It’s not an unfamiliar spot,” Smith said. “Meeting those guys and being around them was special. They went through a lot over the course of the season.

“I think they started to come around and it helped me going forward by being able to bounce ideas off each other.”

Those ideas make their way through when it comes to evaluating players. That process, like everything else in sports, has fundamentally changed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Most of the pre-draft combines were canceled along with the chance to go out and evaluate the prospects that they were trying to get more information on.

Despite that, Smith is confident that he can start to put together a quality team.

“Both of those guys can put the puck in the net and they have the strength and the desire to compete at the next level,” Smith said of his two picks.

Beavis echoed a similar sentiment about his picks and says that players like Techel and Lautz could make their way into Jackalopes sweaters in the near future.

A lot of how that movement happens will depend on what newly-hired head coach Jason Fortier wants.

“We want to move our players anywhere,” Beavis said. “There are some familiar faces there (in Odessa). We’re just going to have to figure out what Jason is looking for in terms of the style of player that he wants.

“I think it’s going to be a great relationship. I know Jason likes to pull from his feeder system and give opportunity and that’s what we’re all about. I think it’s going to be a great fit.”

Odessa, TX

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