Jacks Sold Hockey Franchise Purchased By Local Ownership Group

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Jacks sold! Hockey franchise purchased by local ownership group

Odessa Jackalopes co-owner Rick Gasser confirmed that he and fellow owners Bill and Tracey Nyborg have reached an agreement to sell the team, effective immediately, to a group of local investors led by several former Jackalopes players.

Adam Doyle, Brian Swiniarski, Dan Lavergne and Donnie Margettie all are part of the group, with four other investors from Midland rounding out the ownership.

“These are guys that I love and trust,” Gasser said Thursday evening. “They all played for the Jackalopes and they have a good group that is focused on what they want to do and that is move the organization forward.

“It’s bittersweet because all of us are emotionally attached and it’s hard to let things go. But this is going to keep hockey in the Permian Basin for a long time and that was the key for me and the rest of the ownership.”

According to Gasser, Doyle and Swiniarski, the only changes being made are with the ownership as coach Paul Gillis, assistant coach Matt Cressman, general manager Joe Clark and the rest of the team’s staff will remain in their current capacities.

Gillis, Cressman and Clark all have contracts with the team through the 2012-13 season and how they have built the franchise this season was a major factor in the new group’s interest.

“We want to take the reins and keep it running,” Doyle said. “We want to be considered one of the premier junior franchises and want kids to say they want to come to play in Odessa.

“The businessmen we have in our group all have hockey backgrounds and they are all in it for the right reasons and that’s to reinvest in youth hockey. No one is doing this to say ‘I own a hockey club.’ ”

Swiniarski agreed, adding “that we are just going to take it over and run it as it is. They are running a pretty good organization; they are a model franchise for the NAHL.

“Obviously we are excited hockey is still here and we are thankful to Rick, Bill and Tracey for all they’ve done and the sacrifices they’ve made to keep hockey in Odessa.”

Gasser added that he and Tracey Nyborg will be around the team and the offices through the end of the season to help the transition for the new ownership group. Several players already have been tendered for next season and the scouting staff is preparing for the league’s draft in May.

And if ever the new group is looking for a change, Gasser said that he would be willing to move back into an ownership role, if needed.

“I’m going to be involved,” Gasser said. “This group understands that the goal is to help develop the players and get them to the next level and that was one of the big keys for me in agreeing to the sale.”

The Jackalopes made the move from the Central Hockey League to the North American Hockey League this season and currently are battling for the final playoff spot in the South Division.

They open a crucial home-and-home weekend series against Corpus Christi at 7:05 tonight at Ector County Coliseum. Odessa trails Corpus by nine points for fourth place.

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