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Game Preview: Jacks vs. Cats (11-20-15)

Tonight’s Matchup: The Odessa Jackalopes travel to Kay Yeager Coliseum for the fourth and final time this season in search of their first win against the Wichita Falls Wildcats in their fifth opportunity. Odessa is 0-4-0 at Wichita Falls this season and 5-9-4 all-time against the Cats on the road (2011).  The Jacks and Cats will become very familiar with one another in the month of November, the two teams will face-off two more times in Odessa on November 27th and 28th and then not see each other until February.

About Last Game: The Odessa Jackalopes twice erased one-goal deficits, but couldn’t make it a third in the final frame falling to the Wichita Falls Wildcats, 3-2, Tuesday night at Ector County Coliseum. In the first, Odessa looked like they were going to take a 1-0 lead on Matthew Rypien wrap-around only to have the goal waved off because the net had come off its moorings. The Cats would officially strike first at 14:32 when Garrett VanWyhe beat Dean Shatzer five-hole after Odessa couldn’t clear the Zone. After failing to score in the first, Derek Brown (3) tied the game 1-1 at 16:51 of the second on the penalty kill after sneaking behind the Cats defense. Less then a minute and a half later the Cats regained its lead on a controversial goal in which Jonathan Lazarus jammed home a loose puck with the net slightly dislodged at 18:09. Under a minute left in the period, Danny Kiraly ripped a long distance seeing-eye snap shot over Justin Kapelmaster’s left shoulder at 18:09 to tie the game 2-2. In the final frame, Adam Goodsir buried a rebound from the high slot to give the Cats a 3-2 lead, and Odessa couldn’t mount another comeback. Justin Kapelmaster earned his tenth win of the year (10-1-1) making 26 saves on 28 shots. On the other end, Dean Shatzer took the hard-luck loss (3-5-1) making 32 saves on 35 shots.

Man Dis-Advantage: The Odessa Jackaopes have scored a shorthanded goal in three-straight games and the teams four shorty’s on the season is tied for second in all of the NAHL. The Jacks only had three shorthanded goals all of last season.

Muhammad Ollie: Jacks forward Oliver Celec, 19, missed Tuesday’s game because of an illness but the Swedish winger is playing some of the best hockey of his Jackalopes career. Celec was named a Weekly Star Honorable Mention in the South Division for his four-point weekend (1 goal, 3 assists) versus Corpus. The Gothenburg, Sweden native also dropped the gloves in the first period of game-two Saturday and returned in the second period to assist Zach Zech on his go-ahead goal. On Friday, Celec got the scoring started in the first period when he shoveled a perfect pass to Derek Brown on a 2-on-1 and Brown finished off the feed for his second goal of the year. Celec ended Friday with three points (1 goal, 2 assist) and is now tied for third on the team in goals (6) and tied for fourth in points (13).

What Can Brown Do For You?: Jacks forward Derek Brown, 19, has begun to heat up in the attacking zone. The Phoenix, AZ native has two goals in three games, plus a shootout winner. Both of Brown’s goals were shorthanded tallies. In two years prior with the Jacks, Brown had zero shorthanded goals. The Niagara (NCAA D1) bound forward has 13 points on the season (3 goals, 10 assists) with a +6 rating. 

Mean Dean: Jacks goaltender Dean Shatzer, 19, earned his third start of the year against the Wichita Falls Wildcats on Tuesday night. While Shatzer took the hard-luck loss in the 3-2 defeat to the Cats, the Castle Rock, CO native made several crucial saves to keep the game close. Shatzer is 3-5-1 on the season with a 3.19 GAA and a .904 SV% in nine starts. The former Culver Prep product is committed to play at Dartmouth College (NCAA D1) in 2016-17.

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.