ODESSA, Texas – With 35 North American Hockey League games under his belt, Carter Wagner certainly won’t be mistaken for an NAHL rookie. After spending a few days with the Odessa Jackalopes earlier this month, Wagner has gone from a South Division test-drive to signing on the dotted line, tendering late this past week with the Jackalopes.
Wagner did not appear in the Bulls’ recent exhibition game against Shattuck-St. Mary’s, earning a call-up to Odessa for a weekend road trip to Topeka. Wagner did not appear against the Pilots, but made enough of an impression on the coaching staff to earn a tender offer on his way back to North Iowa.
The Lino Lakes, Minnesota native has long been a highly-thought-of prospect among the junior hockey community. In November of 2017, the Magicians signed him to a tender out of Centennial High School in nearby Circle Pines. He led the Cougars to a fourth-place finish in the Minnesota Class AA state tournament last year to finish his prep career, before tallying six points in eight games with the Magicians to start his junior career.
This past May, the USHL’s Cedar Rapids Roughriders chose him with their 15th-round pick in the league’s Phase II entry draft. Wagner played the first half of the year with the Magicians, adding five points in 27 more appearances with A.J. Bucchino’s team.
Wagner’s tender agreement does not mean an automatic recall to Odessa, but his NAHL playing rights have been committed to the Jackalopes, and he will start the 2019-20 season in Odessa. He will not be eligible for this spring’s NAHL Draft. Any NAHL appearances he makes during the remainder of this season will also be made in an Odessa Jackalopes uniform.
More than 30 North Iowa Bulls players have reached the NAHL since the team’s inaugural season in 2011-12. Three of those players are currently active in NCAA Division I hockey, with several others playing for professional teams. Wagner is the fourth North Iowa player this season to sign a tender with an NAHL team.
Odessa finds itself on the outside of this year’s NAHL South Division playoff picture looking in, with a 15-22-1-1 record two-thirds of the way through the season. However, one brief run could vault the Jackalopes up the leaderboard – just 14 points separate them from second place in the division, with two games in hand on each of the four teams in front of them.
The North Iowa Bulls congratulate Carter Wagner on taking this important next step in his junior hockey career, and wish him the best in his future with the Odessa Jackalopes.