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NORTH AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE: Jackalopes introduce Rick Matchett as new general manager - Odessa American: Sports

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NORTH AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE: Jackalopes introduce Rick Matchett as new general manager

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Posted: Friday, February 28, 2020 8:36 pm

In a season of change for the Odessa Jackalopes, the organization made a move Friday with eyes on its future, introducing Rick Matchett as the team’s new general manager.

“I’m so excited to be here,” Matchett said. “I just want to thank the Jackalopes organization for giving me this opportunity to come to Odessa and continue to be in hockey.

“We are just going to continue to get better and stronger and help these young men. At the same time we want to entertain Odessa, we want to get involved with the community and you are going to see me anywhere and everywhere.”

Matchett, a West Texas native, was the general manager for the Amarillo Bulls from 2012 to 2019, during which time the Bulls won the 2013 North American Hockey League championship.

He also earned recognition as the 2018-19 NAHL South Division General Manager of the Year.

Drawing on his experiences in Amarillo, Matchett is looking to hit the ground running to increase the team’s recognition, not just in Odessa and Midland, but throughout the Permian Basin.

“We are going to talk with the Ector County school district, the Midland school district,” Matchett said. “If there’s a parade somewhere in one of the surrounding towns, we are going to be in it.

“There are so many things that you can do to make the game family friendly.”

The Jackalopes currently are mired in last place in the South Division, struggling through a season that saw head coach Todd Watson leave in January and assistant coach Adam Phillips move into the top spot on an interim basis.

Odessa is in Shreveport this weekend for a pair of games against the Mudbugs before returning home on March 6 and 7 against the Topeka Pilots.

Fans are likely to see some changes even during the final three home weekends as Matchett and his staff transition toward the 2020-21 season and beyond.

“We need to get people out to a game and then figure out how to get them back,” he said. “I think that once someone comes to a game for the first time, they’re hooked because it’s such a great sport.

“There’s a lot to do, but I’m excited about what we can do here.”

>> Follow Lee Scheide on Twitter at @OALeeScheide

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