AMARILLO, Texas – If there’s one word you’d use to describe North Iowa Bulls defenseman Jase Sofo, it’s “upside.” His numbers in his first season of junior hockey have been relatively limited…but with the skills and tools at his disposal, just give him time.
The Amarillo Bulls expect that a little seasoning in Mason City is likely all he needs, signing Sofo to a North American Hockey League tender. The Sylvania, Ohio native started the season with four games on the Amarillo roster, before driving 920 miles to Mason City and catching up with the team just ahead of its first action of the new year on January 16 at Alexandria.
“He’s another very solid defenseman that allows us to play the way we want to play,” said North Iowa head coach Todd Sanden. “We even have to coach him down a little bit, he’s so confident in his offensive abilities. He’s been a great addition. We’re very excited to have him here.”
Sofo made an immediate impact on Amarillo, making his junior debut on November 7 at the Odessa Jackalopes. He would announce his presence with two assists in a 6-2 victory, including an assist on the game’s first goal just 4:24 out of the gate. A week later, he added another assist on a pivotal power play goal in the third period of a 5-3 loss to the Lone Star Brahmas.
“Jase is a special player with a lot of intangibles,” said Amarillo head coach Rocky Russo. “He skates very well, sees the ice and defends hard. We felt it was in his best interest to take advantage of our developmental model with North Iowa and play a bigger role before returning to us next season. We expect him to be very impactful in the NA3HL, and we know Coach Sanden and his staff will have him very well prepared to rejoin us in Amarillo next year.”
Sofo has made himself right at home in North Iowa as well, with three assists over his first five games. His first assist came on January 17, a shot from the right point that became the primary assist on Shota Kaneko’s eventual game-winner. He was one of 10 players to notch multiple points in Friday’s 10-2 win over the New Ulm Steel. His appearance on the Bulls’ roster helped to bolster the blue line on a team that has been heavy on the forward lines throughout the year.
“We’re super excited about Jase Sofo entering our group,” said Sanden. “We were sitting at six defensemen before he came here, and with his skating ability, he fits right into our group. He has a knack for the offensive side of the game, too, and that fits our game style. We’re looking forward to having him help us go on a championship run here in 2021.”
Sofo’s resume prior to joining the Bulls family reads like a who’s who of top developmental programs in the Detroit area, logging time with the Belle Tire, Compuware and Honeybaked programs. He becomes the 41st North Iowa player to sign an NAHL tender, and the seventh to do so with the Amarillo Bulls.
A tender is a contract, of sorts, a player signs announcing his intentions to play for that particular NAHL team and that NAHL team only. Once a player signs a tender with an NAHL team, his playing rights belong to that team within the NAHL and he may not be recruited by any other NAHL team. Each team is granted ten (10) tenders – plus or minus any trades – which become active on Nov. 1. Tendered players are not eligible for the NAHL draft.
The North Iowa Bulls congratulate Jase Sofo on signing his NAHL tender agreement with the Amarillo Bulls, and wish him continued success as he continues his time in the North Iowa and Amarillo Bulls family.