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Game Preview: Jacks vs. Brahmas

Jackalopes (11-14-4) vs. Brahmas (21-7-5)

Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016

NYTEX Sports Centre — North Richland Hills, TX

Tonight’s Matchup: The Odessa Jackalopes and Lone Star Brahmas slug it out for the second time in as many nights as Odessa looks for their first regulation win at NYTEX Sports Centre since Oct. 26, 2013. After Friday’s heartbreaking loss, Odessa is 5-14-3 all-time against the Brahmas and 1-7-1 at Lone Star. Including Saturday’s tilt, Odessa and Lone Star will match up nine more times with five on the road and four at home.

About Last Night: The Odessa Jackalopes entered the third period Friday with a 3-0 lead, but a five-goal final frame by Lone Star resulted in a stunned 5-3 loss for the Jacks at NYTEX Sports Centre. Gunner Rivers made 26 saves through two periods but in third, the Brahmas broke through with five goals on 15 shots. After an extended delay in the first due to a broken pane of glass on a shot by Drew McLean, the Jacks got on the board on the power play at 13:39 on a shot from McLean from the right point. Under a minute left in the first, Danny Kiraly (5) made it two-for-two on the power play and ended goaltender Conor O’Brien’s night on a seeing-eye wrister from just inside the blue line at 19:24. In the second, Dakoda Menslage (1) snuck out of the penalty box and ripped a breakaway shot past the blocker of Corbin Kaczeperski at 16:47. The Brahmas went on the power play four times in the second but failed to break through on the man-advantage. In the third, Menslage and Kyle Patava dropped the gloves at 2:35. 15 seconds later Lone Star broke through on a shot from the point by Samu Suominen (1).  After Pierce Pluemer got called for a double-minor checking-from-behind and game misconduct the Brahmas scored twice on the power play. First Tyler Drevitch (1) at 8:20, and then Dalton Skelly at 12:07. Alex Berardinelli (16) netted his second against Odessa this season 15:11 to put the game out of reach. Lone Star ended the night 3-for-11 on the man advantage while the Jacks went 2-for-5. Gunner Rivers (7-7-1) took the loss making 36 saves on 41 shots while Corbin Kaczperski earned the win by making 9 saves on 10 shots of relief.

Power Play Surge: Odessa began Friday night’s game perfect on the man advantage, netting goals on both power-play chances in the first. Despite going 2-for-5 in the game Friday, the Jacks have just 16 power-play goals this year, which is the second least in the NAHL (MN Magicians, 13). Odessa has the 15th best PP unit in the league after Friday, scoring 15.5% of the time. Odessa scored three power play goals against Corpus Christi on Nov. 13, 2015.

Special Team Differential: The Odessa Jackalopes have been on the power play 103 times this year compared to 163 times on the penalty kill, a differential of 60. On the flip side, the Brahmas have drawn 162 penalties which is the most in the NAHL and have been on the penalty kill 128 times, a differential of 34. The closest team to Odessa in power plays to penalty kills in the NAHL is the Austin Bruins who have been on the power play 151 times, and the penalty kill 179 times, a differential of 28. The trend continued Friday; the Brahmas had 11 power plays compared to the Jacks 5. In 29 games this season, Sat, Nov. 14 was the only one in which Odessa had more power plays than the opposition (5-to-2, vs. Corpus).

D-men Dimes: All-three goals scored by Odessa Friday night were scored by the defenseman. Drew McLean (2) netted his first goal since October 17 vs. Wichita Falls on the power play in the first period. Then, Danny Kiraly potted his 5th with less than a minute remaining in the opening frame, his first goal since Nov. 28 vs. Wichita Falls. Finally, Dakoda Menslage buried his fist goal of the year on a breakaway in the second and his first goal since March 3, 2015, vs. Wichita Falls.

Dazzling Dakoda: Jacks defenseman Dakoda Menslage, 20, did a little bit of everything Friday night, he scored his first goal of the year on a silky breakaway finish as he jumped out of the penalty box and he later dropped the gloves with Kyle Patava in the third period. Menlage ended the night with a +1 rating and 27 penalty minutes.  Menslage missed the first 24 games of the year after off-season hip surgery. Through six games, Menslage has two points (1 goal, 1 assist), -6 rating and 35 PIM.

Road Blues: The Jacks are just 3-7-1 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.

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 10-3-1 at home 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 16 goals and is second on the team with 26 points (Clarke Cameron, 28). On Friday, the Pittsburg native put the game out of reach with a third-period tally to make it 5-3 at 15:11. Berardinelli now has four points (2 goals, 2 assists) in three games against Odessa this season with an even rating.

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.com