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Game Preview: Jacks vs. Cats (Feb. 4)

Jacks (19-19-4) vs. Cats (32-7-3)

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MO8s6L6isQ&feature=youtu.be

Tonight’s Matchup: The Odessa Jackalopes and Wichita Falls Wildcats meet for game one-of-three Thursday night. The three-game series will be the final three regular-season games between the two clubs. The Jacks are 0-7-0 this season against the first-place Wildcats and 0-3-0 at home. Odessa is 10-30-4 against Wichita Falls all-time dating back to 2011.

Last Time Out: The Odessa Jackalopes are coming off a 4-1 win versus Lone Star last Saturday evening at Ector County Coliseum. Head coach, Greg Gatto, touted the win as the teams most complete game in two years. In the first, Tomas Brejcha gave the Brahmas the early edge at 5:49 but Ryan MacKellar found the equalizer just a 1:33 later. In the second, Odessa found its stride. Scoring three unanswered goals. First, Derek Brown poked home the go-ahead tally at 2:00. Hampus Sjodahl then ripped home a high-slot snipe at 8:37 and Zach Zech capped off the three-goal second at 14:39 with a 2-on-1 tally. In the third, Jon Flakne stopped all six Brahma’ shots en route to the 4-1 win and his first victory as a Jack in his first game.

Downtown Brown: Jacks winger Derek Brown, 19, snapped his 21-game scoreless drought two minutes into the second period of last Saturday night’s game against Lone Star. Brown also added an assist and now has points in five straight games. The Niagara (Hockey East, D1) committed winger has 32 points this season (5 goals, 27 assists) and a +3 rating in 37 games played.

Mac Attack: Odessa’ forward Ryan MacKellar, 19, netted his fifth goal of the season last Saturday, snapping a 28-game goalless drought. MacKellar now has 15 points (5 goals, 10 assists) in his second year with the Jacks. MacKeller began the season with goals in his first two games of the year.

Sparkling Special Teams: The Jacks PK unit has been perfect in their last 12 straight attempts, including going 11-for-11 against Lone Star last weekend. Despite a current hot streak, the Jacks are the 15th (82.0%) in the NAHL when down a man. On the flip side, one of the major factors too the success of the Wildcats has been their tremendous special teams. Wichita Falls has the 4th (21.3%) best power play in the league and the 3rd (87.2%) best PK unit in the NAHL.

Drift Wood: The Jacks traded Eric Carreras, 20, to the Aston Rebels (NAHL) in exchange for Alabama-Huntsville (WCHA, D1) committed right-wing Connor Wood, 19. Wood’s (5’9”/180) acquisition returns the Buford, GA native to the comforts of the Southern Division where he played 59 games between the Amarillo Bulls (10) and Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees (49) in 2014-15.  Wood has seven points (3 goals, 4 assists) and 164 PIM (2nd Most NAHL) in 30 games with the Rebels this season. Wood had two goals and 136 PIM in 49 games played with Rio Grande Valley last season. The trade returns Carreras back to his native state of Pennsylvania, but the former Philadelphia Jr. Flyer leaves Odessa as the team’s second-leading goal scorer (14) and fifth-leading point getter (24) in 37 games played. Carreras is no stranger to trades; the 5’7” 150 lb forward was acquired by Odessa from Lone Star last season around the same time.

Really Goodsir: Cats forward Adam Goodsir (6’2” 182), 17, has been a force in his first year in the NAHL. The Denver University (NCHC, D1) committed winger is tied for the league lead in goals (25) with Fairbanks’s Ryner Gorowsky and is ninth in the league in points (38). In seven games against the Jacks, Goodsir has five points (3 goals, 2 assists) and a +4 rating.

Southern Twang: The Jacks and Cats are the only Southern clubs in action Thursday, but the remainder of the South will be at it Friday and Saturday. The Brahmas (25-9-7) welcome the Corpus Christi IceRays (17-18-4) into NYTEX Sports Centre while Amarillo (9-27-4) hosts Topeka (26-16-1) at the Amarillo Civic Center.

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