(Team Press Release) There are three, basic, elements in the game of hockey; offense, defense and goaltending. The Odessa Jackalopes addressed each of those elements on Thursday, re-signing three members of last years Southern Conference Finals team, announcing the return of goaltender Derek Dolson, forward John Kozoriz and defenseman Andrew Davis.
To bring back these three players is a major step in building our hockey club, said Head Coach & Director of Hockey Operations Don McKee. Weve addressed goaltending, goal-scoring and the blue line with one trio of players.
Derek Dolson, Goaltender
Dols returned to the Jackalopes last season after opening the year with the Fort Wayne Komets of the United Hockey League (UHL). A knee injury limited him to 18 games, in which he posted a 10-5-1 record, with a 3.13 goals against average and a .914 save percentage. In 2004-05, Dolson was a finalist for the Central Hockey Leagues Most Outstanding Goaltender Award after setting franchise record for goals against average (2.05) and save percentage (.934).
Derek originally joined the Jacks as a free agent prior to the start of the 2004-05 season after an outstanding, two-season collegiate career at York University (Toronto, Ontario). He also spent four seasons in Juniors in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).
Odessa Coach Don McKee on Dolson:
Bringing Derek back gives us as good, or better, a goaltending tandem as there is in the CHL. He and Mike Gorman are an outstanding combination, and theyll push each other to higher and higher levels. Last season was a very frustrating year for Derek. To have him with the Jacks from the start of the season
and for him to be healthy
will really be a key to his season and to our team. We know what Dols can do, and having him at top form makes us a much better hockey club.
John Kozoriz, Forward
Johnny K had a breakout season with the Jacks in 2005-06, scoring 51 points (26 goals + 25 assists) and nearly doubling the output from his rookie season (31 points). He finished fourth on the club in scoring with a solid + 8 rating. He ranks among the franchises top 15 career goal scorers (34) and is 16th in franchise history in scoring (72 points).
Kozoriz came to the Jacks in a trade with the Wichita Thunder in December of 2004, scoring 25 (10 + 15) points in 41 games with the Jacks. John had opened the season (two games) with the Johnstown Chiefs of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) before joining the Thunder, coached at that time by former Jacks assistant coach Derek Laxdal (LACKS-dahl). Before turning pro, John played two seasons (2002-04) at the University of Prince Edward Island and played four seasonof Juniors in the OHL (1998-2002).
Odessa Coach Don McKee on Kozoriz:
John really came into his own last season, and hell play a very important role with the Jacks this season. John is, in many ways, a very underrated player who does so many things well. Hes also a very intelligent hockey player and he has two seasons in the CHL under his belt. I think youll see his offensive output continue to increase. John will have an expanded role and will be a leader in may respects for this hockey club.
Andrew Davis, Defenseman
The rookie defenseman out of Concordia University (Montreal, Quebec) was an impact player on the Jacks blue line after coming to the club in a November, 2005 trade with the Memphis RiverKings. In addition to 17 points (1 + 16) in 54 games, Drew brought a physical presence with 112 penalty minutes.
Prior to his four-year career at Concordia, Davis spent three seasons in the OHL with the Mississauga Ice Dogs.
Odessa Coach McKee on Davis:
Andrew went from an unknown quantity to becoming a very good blue-liner for us. When we lost Drew to an injury in the first game against Laredo (Southern Conference Finals), I felt it was a turning point in the series. Thats very high praise for a rookie d-man, and it says a lot about what Drew brings to our club. Ive always felt second-year players are very important at this level, and Andrew Davis, in his second pro season, can be an impact player for us on the blue line.