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Game Preview: Jacks vs. Brahmas

Jacks (11-13-4) vs. Brahmas (20-7-5)

Friday, January 8, 2016 — 7:30 p.m.

NYTEX Sports Centre — North Richland Hills, Texas

Tonight’s Matchup: The Odessa Jackalopes travel out to NYTEX Sports Centre for the first time this season as the Jacks cap off a home-home road-road against the Lone Star Brahmas after a pair of games at Ector County Coliseum last Friday and Saturday. Odessa snapped their nine-game losing streak with a win against Lone Star on Friday and is now 4-14-3 against the Brahmas all-time (2013).

Last Time Out: Lone Star used two power-play goals en route to a three-goal second and a 6-2 win over Jackalopes Friday night at Ector County Coliseum. In the first period, the Jacks waited just 1:58 to capture the opening period lead on a long distance shot from Nate Werhane that was redirected by Jon Russell (3) past Corbin Kaczperski. Lone Star’s Martin Mellberg found the equalizer when he fired a high-slot shot through the five-hole of Gunner Rivers at 5:55. After the Brahmas and Jacks had skated to an opening period tie, Lone Star exploded for three unanswered goals in the second including two on the power play.  Bud Madej (6) gave the Brahmas their first lead in two nights on the man advantage at 8:38. Johan Lundgren (10) then was the recipient of textbook puck-movement on a 3-on-1 at 12:05. Lone Star then took a three-goal lead at 15:02 after Peter Bates (8) collected a lose puck on a fortuitous bounce and ripped it past Rivers right shoulder. Odessa salvaged the second on the power play when Hampus Sjodahl poked home his 15th of the year at 17:56 to make it 4-2 after two. In the third, the Jacks were down by a pair and in desperate need of two goals to tie the game, but it was the Brahmas, not the Jacks who found the back of the net in the final period, adding two more goals to earn the 6-2 win. Pesky forward Hogan Davidson (5) made it 5-2 at 13:03 and Alex Berardinelli (14) sealed the 6-2 win at 17:52. Rivers (7-6-1) took the loss making 29 saves on 35 shots while Corbin Kaczperski (12-5-1) collected the win by making 22 saves on 24 shots. The Jacks ended the night 1-for-4 on the power play while Lone Star went 2-for-4.

Extra Special Teams: The Odessa Jackalopes broke through for a league-leading eighth shorthanded goal on Friday and added just its third power play goal in the last ten games on Saturday. Odessa’s 14 power-play goals this season is the second least in the NAHL (MN Magicians, 13). The Jacks head into the weekend series with the 17th best power-play unit in the league (17.2%). Through 28 games played (least in the NAHL), the Jacks have been on the power play 98 times compared to 158 times on the penalty kill, which is the largest differential in the league.

Happy Hampus: Jacks forward Hampus Sjodahl, 20, leads Odessa in goals (15), points (27) and plus-minus (+10) through 28 games played. Sjodahl poked home his team-leading fifth power-play goal Saturday night. Sjodahl, also, leads Odessa in short-handed goals (3) and is second in game-winners (1). The 6’2”, 198 lb. Center had 34 points (19 goals, 15 assists) in 59 games last year in his first year in the US.

Jumbo Jacks: With the new addition of Dartmouth College (NCAA, D1) committed defenseman Ben DiMaio, Odessa now has eight players over 6’2”. DiMaio, who was acquired by Odessa earlier this week from the Des Moines Buccaneers (USHL) for forward Oliver Celec, joins Jacks new additions Dakoda Menslage (6’2”, 225), Pierce Pluemer (6’2”, 201) and Brennan Miller (6’3”, 210) as players to join Odessa after the new year and stand over 6’2”.

Levin Returns: Jacks defenseman Jake Levin, 18, returns to the Odessa lineup for the first time since Nov. 28 against Wichita Falls. Levin has been out for over a month after requiring mid-season knee surgery. The Mequon, WI, native has five points (0 goals, 5 assists) and a +6 rating in 20 games this season. Since Levin missed eight games, the Jacks have gone 1-4-2.

Home Sick: The Jacks are just 9-3-1 on the year away from the friendly confines of Ector County Coliseum and two of those wins came in Blaine, Minn, for the North American Hockey League Showcase. The Jacks are 1-6-1 against the Brahmas at NYTEX Sports Centre since 2013-14.

Pajama Brahma’: While the Brahmas have been equally as good on the road as when there at the comforts of home, they have enjoyed their 2,400 seat NYTEX Sports Centre, going 9-3-1 at compared to 11-4-4 on the road. The Brahmas were merely unbeatable last year at home en route to a South Division Crown, going 26-4-1.

Berardinelli’ Buckets: Brahmas uncommitted forward Alex Berardinelli, 20, spent parts of three seasons with three different NA3HL clubs in the Pittsburg area until getting his first crack in NAHL last year with the Michigan Warriors. In 2015-16, the first year Brahma’ has been a force around the net, scoring a team-leading 15 goals and is second on the team with 24 points (Clarke Cameron, 28). On Saturday, the Pittsburg native put the game out of reach with a third-period tally to make it 6-2.

Jackalopes Broadcast: Join the voice of the Jacks’ Nick Nollenberger live for every game on the Jacks’ flagship station Classic Rock 102.1 FM and fasthockey.com.