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Game Preview: Jacks vs. Brahmas

Odessa Jackalopes (11-12-4) vs. Lone Star Brahmas (19-7-5)

Saturday, January 2, 2016 — 7:05 p.m.

Ector County Coliseum — Odessa, TX

Tonight’s Matchup: The Odessa Jackalopes welcomed in the New Year in style and gave head coach Greg Gatto the perfect birthday gift with a 3-2 win over the Lone Star Brahmas as Ector County Coliseum on Friday night. On Saturday, the Jacks will look to earn their first sweep against the Brahmas in team history as they try to keep pace in the South Division Standings.

About Last Night: The Odessa Jackalopes entered Friday’s game losers of eight straight, but Former Lone Star Brahmas' Gunner Rivers and Eric Carreras powered their new club to the first win of 2016, 3-2, at Ector County Coliseum. Rivers made 25 saves on 27 shots to earn his first win since November 14 and his first win against his former club. In the opening period, Eric Carreras collected a perfect feed from Brandon Tucker in the high slot and ripped it past an unsuspecting Connor O’Brien at 4:08. The Brahmas found themselves on the man advantage three times in the first, but it was at even strength that they were able to tie the game 1-1 after Cody Wickline had redirected a Dalton Skelly shot past Gunner Rivers at 11:36. While on the penalty kill Zach Zech snuck a short-side top-shelf snapshot over the shoulder of O’Brien to give the Jacks a 2-1 lead on the team's eighth shorthanded goal of the year. In the third, Derek Brown fluttered a two-on-one pass to Matthew Rypien who perfectly played it around a sprawled out O'Brien and dumped it in the open net. Peter Kessel made it close with a high slot snipe at 17:04 but the Jacks held off the Brahmas in the final minutes to earn the 3-2 win. Conor O’Brien suffered his third straight loss and just his second regulation loss of the year, making 23 saves on 26 shots.

Penalty Kill Production: Zach Zeck’s shorthanded goal in the second period of Friday’s game was the Jacks eighth shorthanded goal of the year, which is the most in the NAHL this season. Odessa’s 27 games played is the least amount in the League to this point. On the other end of the spectrum, Odessa has the 20th ranked power play in the league with only 13 goals scored on the man advantage, which is tied for the least amount in the league. The Brahmas proved why they have the best PK unit in the league (89.1%) by blanking the Jacks on their four power plays chances on Friday, but the Brahmas failed to find their power play tough, going 0-for-7 on the man advantage.

Bygone Brahmas: Ex-Brahmas’ Eric Carreras and Gunner Rivers played key roles in Odessa’s 3-2 win Friday night. Carreras (12) gave Odessa an early 1-0 lead in the first with a snipe from the high slot. For Carreras, it was his first point and win against his former club in three tries. For Rivers, his 26 saves were just enough to earn the victory in his first game against his former mates.

Zach Attack: Zach Zeck’s shorthanded goal in the second period of Friday’s game continued his red-hot shooting touch as of late. Zech has three goals in his last five games and now has 19 points on the year (10 goals, 9 assists). Odessa acquired Zech, 19, from the Johnstown Tomahawks via trade last season. Zech had 9 points (2 goals, 7 assists) in 16 games for the Jacks after the trade.

Rowdy Rypien: Matthew Rypien’s third-period goal was the biggest of the Lethbridge, AB natives Jackalopes career. At the time, the tally was simply insurance but after a late Brahmas goal, it proved to be the difference in the 3-2 win. Rypien now has seven points (2 goals, 5 assists) on the year with a -9 rating and 31 PIM.

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.