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Former Coquitlam Express coach back on track in Texas

Jason Fortier to coach team in the North American Hockey League, a Tier II junior circuit similar to the BC Hockey League
Jason Fortier
Former Coquitlam Express coach Jason Fortier has a job. He's coaching the Odessa Jackalopes in Texas.

Less than two weeks after leaving his position as coach and general manager of the Coquitlam Express, Jason Fortier has landed on his feet. Deep in the heart of Texas.

Friday, the Odessa Jackalopes of the North American Hockey League announced Fortier as its new coach and general manager.

Odessa, with a population of just under 100,000 people, is located on the southwest edge of Texas.

The NAHL is a Tier II Junior hockey league, similar to the BC Hockey League. It’s comprised of 26 teams from Maine to Alaska to Texas. Some of its alumni include former National Hockey Leaguers Pat Lafontaine, Mike Modano and Dough Weight.

The Jackalopes play in the 5,131-seat Ector County Coliseum. The team finished seventh in the NAHL’s south division after winning just nine of 50 games before the season was cancelled by the COVID-19 pandemic. Odessa last played in the playoffs in 2018, when the team was ousted in three straight games by the Lone Star Brahmas in the division semifinals.

“We plan to create a culture that will become our identity,” Fortier said in a Jackalopes’ press release, adding his new team will play with “grit and pride.”

Fortier, along with assistant coaches Sam Waterfield and Jamie Jackson, left the Express at the end of March after three seasons. The team said it couldn’t reach a contract agreement with the bench boss who guided Coquitlam to a regular-season points championship and a four game sweep of the Langley Rivermen in the first round of the BCHL’s playoffs before further play was cancelled.

Since Fortier took over from former coach Barry Wolff in November, 2017, Fortier amassed 87 wins, 51 losses and 11 ties.