Bakersfield, Calif. – The Bakersfield Condors have announced that Matt O’Dette will be the team’s fourth head coach in history. The announcement was made today by Condors President Matthew Riley.
O’Dette, 35, comes to the Condors bench from the Stockton Thunder, where he has served as an assistant coach for the past two seasons under head coach Matt Thomas. The Oshawa, Ontario native completed a 13-year pro career with the Thunder in 2009-10, competing in 14 games as a player/assistant coach, and spent the entire 2010-11 campaign as a full-time coach.
A familiar face to Condors fans, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound former blueliner also spent over four seasons patrolling the blueline for the Fresno Falcons, including three as the team captain. His 2005-06 Falcons squad clipped the Condors in a 7-game, 2nd round series, eventually losing to Alaska in the conference finals. Prior to that, O’Dette spent six seasons in the American Hockey League with three clubs. He began his pro career in 1996-97 in the ECHL with the Roanoke Express. The following season, and again in 2002-03, he was a part of clubs that reached the AHL’s Calder Cup Finals.
O’Dette was drafted in the 7th round in 1994 by the Florida Panthers, and played 663 professional games, including 263 in the AHL, with 38g-78a-116pts and 1,587 penalty minutes in his playing career.
“We’re happy that we got our guy,” said Riley. “Matt seems like a great fit for us. He was a great player, and more importantly, a great leader during his time on the ice, and a hard worker in his transition to coach. As a former arch-nemesis of the Condors, he knows what we’re all about, and he probably knows the West as well as anybody out there. With his experience and reputation, the players will want to play for him.”
“We worked very hard throughout the process,” Owner Jonathan Fleisig added. “Matthew Riley, John Olver, and myself spent a lot of time on this decision. We were impressed by the overwhelming number of people who wanted to come to Bakersfield. O’Dette is a great fit for us because of his hockey background and his work ethic. He is going to care about this team and believe in them just like I do, and that speaks volumes to me.”
“I’m extremely excited; this is a great opportunity,” said O’Dette. “I know I’m a first-year coach, but I feel I’m ready for the challenge. In a way it’s surreal with the history I have against the Condors, with the rivalries I’ve been a part of, but I’m excited to be on this side of the fence now. The Condors are a great organization with a great fan base, and I’m happy to be a part of it.”
O’Dette will be formally introduced as the Condors Head Coach at a press conference on Tuesday, July 19 at Rabobank Arena. The event will be open to all active season ticket holders and corporate partners, and full details will be announced at a later date.
The Condors home opener is just 95 days away, when the ECHL’s brand new team, the Colorado Eagles, come to town. Game time is 7 p.m. Ticket packages for the 2011-12 season are now on sale, starting at just $48. The Condors will battle the rival Stockton Thunder in Bakersfield in preseason action on Saturday, Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. Visit www.BakersfieldCondors.com or call 324-PUCK(7825) for more information.
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