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Comeback Attempt Was Too Little, Too Late

The Odessa Jackalopes entered Saturday night’s game with the Corpus Christi IceRays with the advantage in season series 3-0. All three games were decided in the Jackalopes favor by one goal each.

It looked like Saturday was going to be a lot of the same as Odessa got on the board first thanks to a couple of new, fresh faces. The Jackalopes would head to a power play after Corpus Christi’s Josh Tripp received a two-minute minor for tripping.

The first power play unit pumped a lot of shots on net with none of them falling, so now it was time for the second unit. Chase Thudium found Zac Herrmann who faked a shot before sliding in closer and wristing one on net. IceRays’ Cam Burggrabe kicked out a rebound in which newcomer, Peyton Frantti, was able to whack one home for the 1-0 lead in the first period.

Corpus Christi was able to retaliate a couple minutes later as their captain, and a man that is a puck magnet, Mason Krueger, sniped one past Jacks’ goaltender, Jonny Hogue, for the tie game. Hogue popped up and accidentally dislodged the net as the puck sailed in for the 1-1 tie at the end of the first period.

Thudium took a two minute minor for holding early in the second period, leading to a power play goal by Tripp. A second goal would come 5 minutes later as Cody Fleckenstein netted his first of the night. A defensive breakdown allowed Fleckenstein to find open space in front of the net and beat Hogue for the 3-1 lead.

Only 40 seconds after that goal, we would see our second fight in as many games. On Friday, it was Joe Kinsella and Brendan Miller that went after it. Saturday night featured the champion himself, Riley Bechard. Bechard scrapped with Cole Gammer halfway through the second period. Gammers jabs would hit Bechard’s arm, as Riley had the better placed punches before separation by the officials.

Five more minutes after the fight, Fleckenstein netted his second of the game past Hogue for the 4-1 IceRays lead at the end of the 2nd period.

Odessa knew they had to get something going to mount the comeback, so the physical play began. The hits kept rolling, allowing the line of Pietrowski, Poindexter, and MacKellar extra time on the ice, and it worked. Pietrowski took the puck and gave a soft pass to MacKellar across the blue line. MacKellar was then able to deke the goaltender badly enough to give himself an open net to bring the Jacks back within two.

With the officials giving both teams more free roam in the third, there were no penalties called, but the late Jacks efforts were working anyways. A clearing attempt by Corpus Christi was gloved by Joe Kinsella who passed ahead to Zach Zech. With a shot like Zech’s, it would be a pretty good chance to score, and he did. Zech was able to snipe a shot from the right faceoff circle to bring the Jacks back within one, with 1:15 remaining in regulation.

It was too little too late for the Jackalopes as even with the extra attacker, time would work against Odessa. Great chances on net were saved by Burggrabe and the IceRays defense, allowing time to run out and hand Corpus Christi the victory.

Jonny Hogue played the first two periods, saving 18 of 22 shots before Jon Flakne came on to save all 10 in the third. Cam Burggrabe saved 32 of Odessa’s 35 shots, en route to an IceRays victory.

Odessa has a quick turnaround as they’ll see the Amarillo Bulls at the Ector County Coliseum on Tuesday, January 31st for college night. Then Odessa will host the Topeka Roadrunners for two games next Friday and Saturday before they hit the road for the following six games.

Host families are an important part of the junior hockey experience. A host family will house the Jackalopes players, as well as be their home away from home. If you would like to be a host family, please email kleisgang@jackalopes.org or call 432-552-7825 for more information.

— ODESSA JACKALOPES —