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Game Preview: Jacks vs. Cats (Oct. 27)

Tonight’s Matchup: The Odessa Jackalopes welcome in the first-place Wichita Falls Wildcats to Ector County Coliseum for the second time this season Friday night for a two-game weekend series. The Jacks are 0-5-0 versus the ‘Cats this year, with four of the five games being played at Wichita Falls. The ‘Cats gave Odessa its worst loss of the year last Friday, 8-3, in the final regular-season matchup of the year between the two teams at Kay Yeager Coliseum.

About Last Game: On the day, the only goalie in Jacks history to beat the Bulls in Amarillo was called up to the NHL, Connor Hellebuyck, Odessa again topped the Bulls in Amarillo. Zach Zech’s late tally proved to be the difference in the 2-1 victory over the Bulls Sunday night at Amarillo Civic Center. The win for Odessa was the first regular-season win in Amarillo in team history and the first since Hellebuyck backstopped Odessa to a 5-1 postseason win on April 7, 2012. In the opening frame, Odessa struck first when Gray Marr crossed a 3-on-1 pass over to Hampus Sjodahl (10). Both teams were unable to take advantage of their lone power play chance and Odessa ended the period up 1-0. After getting outplayed in the first, Amarillo pumped 26 shots on net in the second and broke through to tie the game at 10:53. After a back and forth final frame, Zach Zech (7) redirected a Drew McLean shot past Anton Martinsson at 17:15 to give the Jacks a 2-1 lead they would not surrender. Dean Shatzer (4-5-0-1) was sensational, earning his fourth win of the year, stopping 42 of the 43 shots faced. On the other end, Anton Martinsson took a hard-luck loss (5-11-2-1), making 41 of 43 saves.

Stop, Ham-pus Time: Jacks forward Hampus Sjodahl, 20, scored again last Sunday to take sole possession of the team scoring lead with 10 goals and 17 points. Two weeks ago, Sjodahl was named the South Division 2nd Star of the Week and has also been named an Honorable Mention twice this season. In 55 games last year, with Odessa he had 34 points (19 goals, 15 assists).

Bash Brothers: Brothers Zach and Cooper Zech scored in back-to-back games for the first time this season on Friday and Sunday. On Friday, Cooper, 16, scored his second goal of the season after being set up by Gray Marr on a 2-on-1 and then Zach, 19, scored his seventh goal of the year and his second game winner Sunday versus Amarillo when he redirected a Drew McLean shot from the point. Defenseman, Cooper now has nine points (2 goals, 7 assists) this season with a +2 rating and forward, Zach is fourth on the team in points with 14 (7 goals, 7 assists), with a +5 rating.

Movember Weekend: This weekend the Jacks are wearing specialty Movember Jersey’s for the first time in team history, when they welcome in the Wichita Falls Wildcats. The jerseys, in observance of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, are to be worn to raise awareness for the deadly disease that affects nearly 220,880 different men every year. Select jerseys will be auctioned off on social media throughout the weekend and the remainder of the jerseys will be auctioned off following Saturday’s game. Friday is also the Jacks Black Friday giveaway and Saturday one special fan will win a cruise giveaway for two, that will be awarded following game.

Home Cookin’: Both Odessa and Wichita Falls have enjoyed their home-ice advantage thus far this season, the Jacks five wins in a row at home from September 25-October 23 is the fourth most in the NAHL, behind the top seeded Cats who had a streak of 8 games from September 24-November 13. Odessa has also seen a major bump in attendace this year, avegaing nearly 500 more fans a game than last year.

Hellebuyck To Make NHL Debut Tonight: Former Jacks Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, 22, is scheduled to make his NHL debut for the Winnipeg Jets against the Minnesota Wild, Friday night, at Xcel Energy Center in Minneapolis, Minn. Hellebuyck backstopped Odessa to its lone postseason appearance in 2012, going 26-21-8 on the year, earning Rookie of the Year Honors.

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.