The defending Southwest Division Champion Odessa Jackalopes have announced two key player signings for the 2006-2007 season. All-Star goaltender Mike Gorman returns to Odessa, as does physical presence Jeff Ewasko. The pair now give the Jackalopes eight signed returnees from the 2005-2006 campaign. Below are team press releases on each player.
Back in a Flash, 3-Time Jackalopes MVP Mike Gorman signs on for 2006-2007
Upon returning from the Central Hockey League Spring Conference in Scottsdale, AZ this past weekend, Head Coach & Director of Hockey Operations Don McKee came home to find a nice surprise; two-time CHL All-Star and three-time Jackalopes Co-MVP (the most of any Jackalope to ever take home the distinguished award) Mike Flash Gorman would return to a Jackalopes sweater for the 2006-07 hockey season.
Gorman will enter his sixth full season as a Jackalope when the ice freezes in October. In his previous five seasons, Mike has placed himself at the top of the record book in nearly all Jackalopes goaltending categories. With Mikes All-Star performances in the past five seasons we are optimistic that he will be the needed building block for a successful hockey club in 06-07, McKee said.
Last season, Mike Flash Gorman surpassed the 200 games in net mark (the most ever by a Jackalopes goaltender). Mike has joined and surpassed former Jackalope greats Grant Sjerven, Joe Harris, Billy Pye and Michael Tornquist as an all-time Jackalopes goaltender. This hockey club has always been built on great goaltending and we are very glad that Mike will be in net for us this next season, McKee said.
At the end of last season, Gorman was in the top ten in the Central Hockey League in nearly every goaltending category, including a fourth place finish in save percentage. At the seasons end Gorman was a finalist for the Central Hockey Leagues Most Outstanding Goaltender. Mike has placed himself in the top crust of the league each and every season and we are very happy that one of the elite goaltenders in the CHL will be returning to the Permian Basin for his sixth season, McKee said.
Mikes accomplishments in a Jacks sweater do not end with personal awards though, he was been a vital ingredient to past playoff success and helped the Jackalopes fight back against the Amarillo Gorillas after being down 2-games-to-none in the semi-finals of the 2006 Western Divisional Championship. Having Mike in-between the pipes for the Amarillo series was a huge key to winning the series 4-games-to-2. His never say die attitude and leadership qualities helped provide an extra boost as we faced elimination in the semi-finals, McKee said.
With the signing of Mike Gorman and in addition to the previous signing of Donnie Margettie, the Jackalopes roster will include team MVP winners from the past two hockey clubs (Margettie in 04-05 and Gorman co-MVP in 05-06). When you can say that you have that much experience already signed to the team in the month of June, its easy to get excited about the upcoming season, McKee said.
The addition of Gorman also means that the Jackalopes have amassed eight signings (all of which were a part of the 05-06 playoff squad). I feel great that we were able to ink a deal with Mike for next season. Everyone knows that goaltending has been my number 1 priority in building teams here with Jackalopes. We have had some excellent signings in the past month and we hope to continue that trend as the summer months move along, McKee said.
Size of this Signing? Mark it XXXL
A seven-foot-tall Jackalope is tough to miss. From the moment he stepped onto the ice last season, Jeff Ewasko made his presence felt in the Central Hockey League
with Jackalopes fans
and, perhaps most important, with his teammates.
Head Coach & Director of Hockey Operations Don McKee has announced today that Ewasko, an assistant captain for the club last season, will be back for the 2006-2007 CHL season.
Were bringing back a leader of this hockey club, McKee said. As big a man as Jeff Ewasko is, his presence and influence on our team is even bigger.
At 6-8 (thats about 7-feet on skates), E-wak figured to make an impression, but few players in the franchises first nine seasons had made such an immediate impact, on the ice or with the fans. Apparently, the feeling was mutual.
As the Jacks head coach, there was no doubt I wanted to bring Jeff back as part of the leadership and foundation of our hockey club, McKee said. I think Jeff has really found a home here, and he expressed a strong desire to come back.
Its a good thing, too, because our fans would have come after me with hockey sticks if we didnt bring him back, McKee joked.
Ewasko set a franchise record for penalty minutes with 268, eclipsing Paul Fioronis mark of 239, set in 1997-98.
Jeffs physical presence is undeniable, and its so important to the team, because our guys know hell be there to back them up, McKee said. It goes well beyond dropping the gloves. I think the true measure of what E-wak means to this team is the fact that he was named assistant captain in his first season. Thats a remarkable statement, because its the players themselves who choose their captains.
After playing defense early in the season, the 6th-year pro went on to set a personal career high with 10 goals, and had five points (2 goals + 3 assists) in the playoffs. The line of Ewasko, Mike Carter and John Kozoriz proved to be a very productive combination. Ewasko scored seven of his 10 goals in an 8-game stretch between January 31 and February 18 and had three, 2-goal games in that time.
When you look at last season, we asked Jeff to play the blue line (defense)
to provide a physical presence and to contribute offensively, the Jacks coach said. Anything we asked he did, and was a leader in every respect. Hes not afraid to speak his mind in the (locker) room, and he commands respect because he backs up his words with action and commitment.
The native of Sherwood Park, Alberta, made his professional debut in 1997-98, playing in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL). He then spent three seasons (1998-2001) at the University of Alberta, where he was a member of two CIAU national championship teams (1999 and 2000) with the Golden Bears.
He returned to the pro game in 2001-2002, playing for the Long Beach Ice Dogs of the West Coast Hockey League and spent two seasons in the WCHL. In 2003-2004, he played with three clubs in the United Hockey League (the UHL), and one of those stops would turn out to be good fortune for the Jackalopes, as one of Jeffs teammates with the UHL Rockford IceHogs would be Donnie Margettie. Margo would return to the Jacks the following season, with E-wak playing in England, where he was the Basingstoke Bisons 2004-2005 player of the year. Margettie then suggested his former Rockford teammate would be a good fit with the Jacks.
I hate to admit it, but Margo was right, McKee joked. In fact, the two are very much alike in their passion for the game.
and this community
really took to Jeff. Hes a player who fits West Texas, because hes tough, hes a great teammate and he plays the game with dedication and heart.