The Odessa Jackalopes open training camp today at the “Mall Ice Arena” in Odessa Texas. Head Coach Todd Watson and his staff are eager to the show on the road this season. Watson will most definitely set the tone for the programs future.
“I am incredibly excited to come to Odessa and continue the proud tradition of Jackalopes hockey,” Watson said. “We are going to strive to put forward a product that the people of the Permian Basin can be proud of and position our players to succeed at the next level both on and off the ice.”
Watson, 52, brings a vast reservoir of junior hockey coaching experience and excellence to Odessa that spans over 11 years. He previously coached in the Ontario Hockey League with the Saginaw Spirit and the Plymouth Whalers as well as in the NAHL with the now defunct Detroit Compuware Ambassadors.
Serving as general manager and head coach of the Ambassadors from 2000-2003, he guided them to a NAHL league and Robertson Cup championship in 2002 as well as a USA Hockey Junior A Championship. That same year Watson was named NAHL Coach of the Year. Of the 25 players on the 2002 team, 22 of them received full-ride NCAA scholarships. In 2003, Watson finished his NAHL run by winning Executive of the Year honors.
Following his time in the NAHL, Watson served as an assistant general manager and assistant coach for the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL. As an assistant, he helped guide the Whalers to a J. Ross Robertson Cup championship in 2007 and a spot in the Memorial Cup Tournament that same year. The Memorial Cup is the most coveted junior hockey championship in all of Canada.
Watson was named head coach of the Saginaw Spirit in 2007 and remains one of the longest tenured coaches in the Spirits’ history. He coached Saginaw for five seasons from 2007-2011. After one season, Watson was also named the team’s general manager. Whilst in Saginaw he accumulated a head coaching record of 154-115-20-13, and guided the Spirit to the team’s first OHL West Division title in 2011.
After his time in the OHL Watson served as a scout for the NHL’s Dallas Stars organization, focusing on the OHL, NCAA, and USHL, from 2012 to 2013.
Watson is a graduate of the University of Michigan-Dearborn with a Bachelor of Arts and Education. He is married to his wife of 25 years, Nicole, and has four children.
Watson will be joined in Odessa by Assistant Coach Adam Philips. Phillips spent four years as a defensemen at UMass Amherst NCAA D-1 followed by six seasons as a player in the ECHL. This will be Adam’s first position in the coaching ranks but his playing experience and knowledge of the game will be a great asset to the Jacks staff.
RoadRunners coach Mike Beavis will also be a part of this seasons training camp in Odessa. “Todd invited me out to lend a hand during the camp and I jumped at the opportunity to work with his players and staff.” states Beavis. The RoadRunners have a couple players at the camp and Beavis is excited to see if they can make the jump and stick with the parent club from the start. “It’s all about development and promotion of our players for both Todd and I. We have made the commitment to work together this season and speak quite often about our plans going forward.” added Beavis
This season will be a huge turn around year for both the Jacks and RoadRunners with a complete overhaul of both programs at the staff level and both teams could be exciting to watch to say the least.